This interview was made in Lyon the 1st of october 2007.
O.S. has met Gary Meskil (Vocals/Guitar) & Tom Klimchuck (Guitar).
Tom : Yes it's great! This is the third leg of our 15 years anniversary tour. We did fairly sizeable run 25/30 shows in April and May and we came back in June and did a small run and played some festivals, and now we're back again doing about 24 shows, and with the potential of coming back in December as well, for a very short run.
It's a long tour!
Tom : Yeah it's great! (Laugh)
Gary : We divided between different territories. Although this is our third European tour offered for this new record it's just the first time coming to France, Spain, we also did Russia on this tour, Poland. It's not the same territories again, again and again.
Do you plan to go somewhere else like Japan, Australia....?
Tom : Only Europe for now!
Gary : We will put together a US run as well for the 15 year anniversary. We get work on that pretty soon and do some US dates. And then maybe Japan and maybe South America, but we will see.
Tom : We are waiting for a faster airplane so that the flight to Japan doesn't take so long. Then we can go. (Laugh)
How are the relations between all the bands on this tour, with the Demia, ZUUL FX and Anonymous?
: It's great!
Your back with a new record called "Age Of Tyranny - The Tenth Crusade". After two waiting years, how was the response from the fans and the medias about it?
Tom : It's been received very well. Right from the beginning we got favourable reviews, very good reviews and it's continuing. I think there is some songs on the record that people are really enjoying. I've heard reports back, that they can't seem them out of their heads, that's good thing. (Laugh)
Gary : From press stand point it's our most favourable albums since "Foul Taste Of Freedom". We get probably 98% good reviews on this album and I don't recall that happening since "Foul Taste Of Freedom", so I think 15 years down the road we still have some pretty good quality control over our music and I think it's obvious to people that we still have a lot of good music to offer to the fans.
Why do you think is this album is so appreciate?
Gary : Cause it fucking rocks man! (Laugh)
But according to you what are the most important differences between this one and the previous ones?
Tom : Simply we are aging like fine wine. (Laugh) Just keep getting better.
Gary : It's hard to tell. Each album, you have a certain plan to make out your best album, you know with everyone. But it takes a lot of good studio work, takes a lot of good production, it takes a lot of thing to go right. And that doesn't always happen. Sometime the stars and the planets align properly and nothing goes right so it makes for whatever stronger releases. But again it even takes some luck sometimes in the studio in terms of getting the right tones and the right mood and the right production for the songs. Aside from having some really strong material on "Age Of Tyranny" we did get a little bit lucky in the studio. We didn't make many mistakes.
And about the lyrics, do you think this one is stronger than the others?
Gary : Yeah, I think so!
Tom : It's probably closed to a concept album as we've come. Usually there is a variety of topics and there is on this but it's all seemingly is under one umbrella, one general theme. Oh I guess I shouldn't speak about the myrics! (Laugh)
Gary : We have always been a politically charged band. The ironic thing is that the worse things get in the United States politically, the more unrest there is, the better Pro Pain products are being made. The quality of our albums can goes up with the amount of political turmoil in our country. Our lyrics are a big part of what we do. I've always been inspired by current events and what's going on in our country and around the world. The United States policies and politics effects the rest of the world. These are the times where we really shine. If everything was going great I suppose at home, politically, perhaps the Pro Pain records would become a little bit more personal - lyrically - and perhaps not as affective.
Tom : I think that's a bit of defining a characteristic that although we have different influences and stuff in our music that defines us as a hardcore band because that's the true nature of it, it's supposed to be about something, not girl friend problems or that kind of stuff. (Laugh) We are a hardcore band at the roots. And that's what speaks to it, because when one thing are in a bad state it's important to be aware of it. It's what punk rock is been about from the beginning and hardcore as well.
The cover is also a big part of the concept of this new record, in which we can see a book, maybe the bible
Tom : Perhaps! (Laugh)
Gary : Well there are some direct correlations between things that have been happening through out of the course of history and the bible. I guess it's up to the public to figure out why these things are happening whether they are religious or nature or are they made by man manipulation.
Do you think with your new album you are more close to bands like Bad Religion, Ministry or even Fat Mike (from NOFX) who try to rise these ideas with "Rock Against Bush" compilations?
Tom : I don't think we've made any adjustments for this record. I think this record is very much a Pro Pain record. So I see this is very similar, too. In that way we haven't really changed. There hasn't been any kind of metamorphosis into a politically charged band. And the bands that you mentioned are great and I think we do have similarities, but not just because of this record.
Gary : I think Pro Pain, lyrically speaking, is a little deeper than some of those bands. I think that those bands, they do what they do very well, but some of them just scratched the surface. But a lot of people only scratching the surface, including some of the most politically inspired artists, like Don Henley and Neil Young. I mean their political statements that they make to me are juvenile. If you gonna say something politically on a record and write something you better know what you are talking about.
What do you think about Bush's international politic inside and outside the USA?
Tom : Well again, as he says there are high profile artists that are making songs like "Impeach The President". In my view that's just a part of they are just following into, being part of the machine, part of the game. It's all about keeping people, it's about dividing and conquering. If you can put them on a pedestal and say "okay you fight for this side and now these others fight for the other side" you just keep arguing and meanwhile that's all set up in orchestrated. Nobody is paying attention what's really happening while there are fighting back and forth about stupid political propaganda. They are to busy talking about border control and blablabla and all the political talking points. The most people don't really - oh I shouldn't say the border situation, but the news is filled with a bunch of nonsense that people really don't care about it, it's just political talking points and it's camouflage to keep people distracted from the real problem.
Gary : Well you know our foreign policy is fucked up. Our government, it's just a puppet government to special interest groups, that's basically what it is. And in order to change that, you have to change the whole core of our system, you have to go rid of it. You can't let our politicians become elected with special interest groups in mind, have special interest group became main priority over the American people. That's the problem. The only way you can do that is to change the roots of the problem which is basically our whole monetary system in America. Our system is run by international bankers and the Federal Reserve is a private organisation. Our whole system is flood, whole money system is flood, but the same people that run our banking system and our monetary system are also running our foreign policy. If you can get rid of special interest groups, at least not be so influenced by them, that thing can start to change. But until that happens it's gonna be more of the same. It doesn't matter weather Hillary Clinton gets elected, or Barack Obama gets elected or
Tom : Mitt Romney (Laugh)
: On other side it's the same!
But how is it possible to change that according to you?
Gary : You have to vote for a person that is uninfluenced by special interest. Somebody like Ron Paul or if you want a democrat Dennis Kucinich, maybe. That takes the person that been educated enough to figure that out. And most people just vote for who has the better hair cut. (Laugh)
Tom : It's funny. I have heard an analogy if you are familiar with Nascar (the car racing). Their sponsors are all over the car. If "Home Depot" (World's largest home improvement retailer) sponsors a race car, the car is orange an black and it says "Home Depot" all over it. If the politicians were the same, their sponsors wear jackets or whatever with their sponsors on it, many of them would look exactly the same. (Laugh)
Gary : Most of our politicians, 95% of them, they are all bought and paid for, They are nothing but horse. They are not working for the people, they are working for special interest groups that have interests, some within the country, but most outside of the country. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who that is.
Tom : We definatly don't sing songs about our girlfriends! (Laugh)
Gary : This is why Pro Pain tends to shine. When things are a little turbulent in our society because we certainly have a lot to say about what's going on. And in more quieter times, in times that are more content for everybody, perhaps Pro Pain is not as affective.
Tom : That's a sense of urgency, we thrive on a sense of urgency. When its that time, when something really needs to happen. Some people take a back seat, othes take an interest.
Gary : But people better start carrying this kind of stuff.
Do you think that the new generation is more open minded?
Tom : I'm not so sure. I was very disappointed in the last election in the Untied States. Because it seems that there was a great youth movement and they seem to be very interested, but the end result was very ineffective. It didn't seem to account for anything. I'm not sure if they are all just slept to late to got to the polls or if the voting system is flood. I have issues with the voting system in the United States as well. I think that's to easily manipulated and corrupted.
Gary : That's true. The electronic voting system is corrupt also. We are not changing back to a paper system, we need that, In order for the elections to be fair. The US always wants third worlds countries to have fair elections. "We need a fair election in fucking Panama, Nicaragua, whatever" But our system is fucked up. It's completely corrupt! (Laugh)
Tom : Back to the younger generation. They are our only hope. I see some weariness, I see especially the following generation like our children, I see an increase of potential, I see an increase of intelligence. So there is hope, but they need to be educated outside of the machine. The parents need to really instil a rebellious nature in them and convince them that they know what's right. They should listen to their hearts and do the right thing.
Gary : I think that as long as the internet remains free that change can happen pretty rapidly. Because with the information the truth is there! If you wanna seek it out now, we don't only have television now or the newspaper, which are controlled by certain sources. Now we have the internet we can find the truth now, if we want. There are a lot of truth seekers out there and they finding out all this information, we are sharing information you know "Did you see this!". It's the greatest thing that we have, our greatest weapon is the internet. An exchange of ideas and finding the truth.
Tom : There is an effort under way to try to limit the internet for everyone. And it's very plain to see the reason why. It's a matter of maintaining control. The internet is the most dangerous thing out for the powers that hand.
Gary : That's true. That's why they speed the agenda up, also. Because they say "The people are finding out all the things, we have to move fast." That's why all these things are happening everywhere.
Tom : It's amazing to get the news on the internet and if you turn on the television and watch the evening news it's ridiculous! It's a total charade!
Gary : Only two years ago only 33% of the American public thought that the government had something to do with 9/11. Now it's over two thirds!
Tom: Yeah its 68% of Americans!
Gary : That's heavy. So the people are waking up finally, America is waking up. So it's an exciting time. I wanna be at the front of this.
Tom : Yeah! (Laugh) It's funny. We made the analogy in the 60's, the Hippie movement with the entire war, they knew how to protest. We have joking refered to ourselves that we are the new Hippies, Skinheads, but Hippies none the less. (Laugh)
Gary : The new Hippies! (Laugh)
Tom : Yeah, it's the rebellious nature, the ability and technique of rebellion and protest. There is a way to protest and be affective about it.
Gary : Our lyrics are our responsibility and our duty. To help this change come about. In the end, when things do change, we get very proud that we have something to do with it.
Tom : There is an increase of pride in this band, too (Laugh)
"Age Of Tyranny" is your 10th record, this is your 15th anniversary tour. What does it symbolise for you ?
Tom : It's a 15 year rollercoaster of highs and lows. Anywhere from a fiery bus crash to playing the Dynamo Open Air in 1996, our first big festival in front of hundred thousand people. The lifestyle is of an extreme nature.
Gary : It's been a wild ride. But if I had to do it again, I wouldn't change a fucking thing. Because we are really fortunate to have had the chance to do what we have been doing over the past 15 years. I don't take that for granted at all. Sometimes just have to take some bad times and move on. Nothing is ever perfect. Even being in a band, again as he says, everything has it ups and downs, you know... in life is the same as being in a band. Not everyone is as fortunate enough to be in a band like Metallica or something. But bands like Pro Pain have their place also. We've had a really good run over the past 15 years and with any luck we will be around for a few more.
Tom : A lot of the pride comes from all of those 15 years have been done under our terms. Nobody has ever been able to say well, this is what you going to be doing and this new record doesn't sound good enough, we don't like this It's all under our terms, we are the deciders. (Laugh)
What's the secret of such a longevity?
Gary : I think it's because we believe in this band, we've never lost side of the mission. We always believed in our music and the message of this band and I guess most and foremost we still enjoy it and we have fun. Although if somebody listen to a Pro Pain record and read the lyrics, yes it's a very serious nature. But we do have a lot of fun out here as well. That's one of the main ingredients, it's the fun factor.
Tom : And that's also part of that, is that from the beginning we've never been a band go hide in a hotel somewhere and right after show somebody took a robe on you and escort you back to the hotel. We've probably had a beer with just about everyone who's ever bought a Pro Pain record. I mean we're in the club hanging out with everyone before the show and after the show. And that's part of the enjoyment of us. We have an opportunity to travel around the world and meet lots of people making new friends. Make a lot of new friends, and that's exactly what we've done from the beginning. A Pro Pain fan is basically a Pro Pain friend.
Gary : We've heard people saying, its even a couple of nights ago, we hanging out in Switzerland and some fans coming above "This is my 26th Pro pain concert" or "Tomorrow it will be my 11th show"! (Laugh)
Haha, it's my first!
Tom : And not your last, I bet! (Laugh)
Gary : It's great that we've had fans like that have been really following in our career. Following with the passion. And still can't wait for the band come back again and to play. I guess if it never gets old for them it's not gonna old for us, either. So long as that fan basis there for us, we will be there for them. As long as the pipes hold up. (Laugh)
Maybe your longevity comes from your music style with this mix of metal, hardcore, this crossover style
Gary : Pro Pain is never been a trendy band. I think, that's what length to our long career as well. We've never really worried about what the scene stars are doing, we are just really into our own music. I think people appreciate that. No, we've never been the biggest band, but we've hadn't been the smallest either. But we've always had enough of this solid fan base to push us through 15 years, man. That's a lot!
Tom : There is a little bit of an isolationist quality to Pro Pain. It's very difficult to place us in one category. I mean, I wanna asks with the gun on my head, we are a hardcore band. That's what I spoke before, that's the essence of the band, but there are so many different influences; we are a rock band, there is a lot of metal in our music, but it's very difficult to say "Well Pro Pain is a crossover band (I guess used to be the term), metalcore, hardcore, whatever." It's very difficult to put us in one category. When you are in that position, all the categories will be at the high and they'll change, this will be hot and trendy and then the other one will be. But we are always flowing around in the middle, because they can't really put us in one category that's now and nobody is paying attention on it.
I think in a way you have inspired the new bands like Born From Pain, Hatebreed, or Throwdown They could be seen as Pro Pain son's in a way
Gary : Maybe, we inspired a lot of the metalcore bands stuff, I guess because of the metal and the hardcore mix but it's just crossover. But the press called it metalcore, they put a fresh face on it. Also some magazines, but it's crossover. I've always been a crossover artist, ever since I played with my old band, too. I play with Crumbsuckers in New York. And we were like pioneering the crossover scene. Yeah, I'm the OJ of the crossover scene. (Laugh)
We can also see a dirty and speed thrash metal revival with bands like SSS, Municipal Waste Do you think you could have had inspired this new crossover scene?
Gary : You never know. The crossover scene has always had a strange place in the overall scene, because most people like to think of themselves that they are purist wanna comes to music "oh I'm only hardcore", "I'm only metal" To me that just means that you are close minded. You should appreciate things that just you like. It doesn't matter if I'm just close a door up, only hardcore, sorry. You go away. That's not right. I like all different kinds of music, like Country music, Classical music, Jazz, a little bit Rap, I like Pop music, hardcore, metal, black metal, death metal a little bit of everything.
Tom : It's part of the adventure spirit. There is a thirst for knowing everything out there. You wanna experience all the world has to offer before it ends, and Not to say "Well, that's for fags!" (Laugh) It's ridiculous.
Sometimes the image is more stronger than the music. For exemple, for me Hip Hop is a part of the hardcore roots and most of the hardcore kids hate hip hop
Tom : That's true!
Gary : Absolutely!
Tom : It's an unmistakable force in music.
: Hardcore is the white Hip Hop.
Tom : The same could be said for
Gary : Pro Pain & Ice-T! (Laugh) (Ice -T did a guest appearance on the "Put The Lights Out" song from "The Truth Hurts" record in 1994)
Tom : Back in the day.. Troy Lee Parker or you'll have Harry James. It's different breeds of the same spirit.
Gary : Hardcore bands should definitely respect Hip Hop, if they don't like the music they should definitely respect the fundamentals of Hip Hop, because it's all about the same thing. If you don't, that means you not respect fundamentals of hardcore, cause it's the same.
Tom : You know what it means? It means that they just got no groove. Their foot never taps. (Laugh)
During the past years, all the bands made a DVD. What about you?
Tom : DVD? I'm still trying to figure out to set the clock at my VHS machine. It's still blinking 12 o'clock! (Laugh) As soon as I get the clock doesn't blink at 12 o'clock, I'll move on! (Laugh)
Gary : I like to put together a DVD. I mean we put one out in 2001. It had a bunch of our album video clips and also had a live concert. But it wasn't very professionally done, I mean it was basically Nuclear Blast, when we were assigned with them and insisted "Oh do a DVD!". I said "Hey man, if you want to sent a camera crew down to film the show, it's fine!" and they sent one guy with a camera. (Laugh) And that's what it is, you see one angle the whole concert. I think it was very cost effective for Nuclear Blast, I think they probably made a lot of money on it. But I would like to put one together, that is significantly more professional. That the band has a lot to do with terms of hands-on approach. I'd like to take my time, making it. There are a lot of different sides of the band, some more personal stuff, more as a summation of the past 15 years, include lots of different stuff from the road, maybe some behind the scene stuff, some hijacks. But make it really fun, interesting, good sound, all different sides. But it's gonna take some time to make, I think.
Tom : It's something that we gonna do ourselves, as he says and generally speaking a DVD it'll have live furniture on it. And it's get very difficult, it means you have to bring others on the road with you and a lot of more equipment and people to run that equipment. It's very difficult to put it together and do it properly. So there is a whole lot of setup involved. We're a band that keeps very busy. It's just hasn't been a priority. But I think, once there is a period of time that we can devote to it, I think we will do something pretty cool. Maybe even like have something on the website, where people could submit videos that they've shot down in the crowd and some really interesting stuff to put out, rather just a concert I mean, our fans have seen a million of our concerts, we'd like to present one on DVD so that they could have it at home, but it should be something special.
Ok, we'll wait! (Laugh)
Tom : (Laugh) Yeah for all good things you have to wait !
To finish, do you have something to say to the young generation, who discover Pro Pain this night perhaps?
Gary : Well, if it is their first experience watching Pro Pain, we hope they'll enjoy the show. I think they will, I think that the band carries itself on a very professional manner on stage, of stage. I think we bring a lot of good things to the crowd. I think that they gonna enjoy themselves tonight. And the old fans are the old fans, I think they know what to expect.
Tom : And for all of them .. THANKS for keeping this going as long as has been gone.
Gary : Merci beaucoup!
Tom : Très bien!
Gary : Vive la France! (Laugh)