Drum! magazine recently conducted an interview with legendary extreme-metal drummer Gene Hoglan (TESTAMENT, DEATH, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, DARK ANGEL, DETHKLOK). An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Drum!: What kind of patch-ups are you doing for [the new DETHKLOK album] “Dethalbum III”?
Hoglan: Seeing that I track the songs the day that I learn them, usually I have some tiny transitional fills to do, or this time Brendan [Small, DETHKLOK songwriter and creator] wanted me to try some different beats to match his new riffs. We’re writing songs on the fly. So as the songs progress we’ll play something different to match the new riffs. I rarely get to do that sort of thing but this time I did, so a few tiny little spots were fixed.
Drum!: How do you learn a song and record it the same day? That’s unorthodox.
Hoglan: It is unorthodox. But I’ve had so many projects that are like that where the band or artist hands you the song and you play it. You need a large stockpile of fills that work and ones that you can cull from your mental brain trust of fills. Like, “Okay, I know in this style of music I have a bunch of fills that could work well.” Or the artist might say, “I am not feeling that fill,” so you access a different memory bank of fills. So then you try those. Option anxiety happens a lot when I work like this, usually it’s the people I’m working with saying, “Let’s try this or throw that up against the wall.” Sometimes it bogs down the session and it can make you real tired at the end of a long day.
Drum!: How do you learn a song that fast? Do you have a Pro Tools demo or a chart?
Hoglan: I don’t read, so sometimes it’s a demo. When it comes to DETHKLOK recording tracks for “Metalocalypse”, whatever the length of the song is in the episode, if it’s 35 seconds of a song or a minute of a song or sometimes there are songs that are two and a half minutes, then we’ll flesh out the rest of the song and Brendan will work on a bunch of riffs to complete the track. He usually works on them the night before and brings them in and shows me all his ideas. Sometimes I have 47 seconds of a track down on a demo. That will be the main body of the song and then we throw in another three minutes on top of that. So I have a quick memory. Devin Townsend [STRAPPING YOUNG LAD] used to say I have a “steel trap mind.” I am really good; if you write a riff and forget it I will remember exactly how you played it and play it back for you.
Read the entire interview from Drum! magazine.