“As an artist, I think that in order to create something genuinely original in today’s musical environment, that there must be some “crossover” elements applied.”
– Gary Meskil
Interview by Raymond Westland
Raymond: Pro-Pain was recently on tour with Zuul FX, Soul Line and KomaH. How did things go? Any funny anecdotes you’d like to share?
Gary Meskil: The tour went well. We played 23 gigs in 23 days in approximately 7 countries. The support bands did a great job, and the response for all bands was very enthusiastic. No particular funny anecdotes come to mind, but everyone had a great time.
Raymond: What I really like about The Final Revolution is the raw energy and integrity on one side and the instantly recognizable songs on the other. How do you manage to find a balance in these elements and how important is it to write actual songs?
Gary Meskil: Thanks for the positive sentiments. A long time ago, I stopped writing “parts” in favor of writing songs. In the 80’s, when I was writing music for my original band Crumbsuckers, I didn’t have much experience in writing songs, so I tended to write a bunch of riffs and glue them together in a forced way in order to somehow make songs out of them. When I got more experienced as a songwriter, I lost interest in writing so-called “rifforama”. Pro-Pain provided me with an artistic outlet to write songs which were more mature (mostly in terms of arrangement). I suppose that speaks for the material being more instantly recognizable (as you say). Having said that, what works for one band may not work for another. Writers should follow their artistic instincts.
Raymond: The Final Revolution is the first album in a very long time where everything is written by yourself. Why did you decide to do everything himself? How did this influence the musical outcome of the album?
Gary Meskil: We initially approached the writing process the very same way which we did on our last album Straight To The Dome, which included more songwriters. Approximately 3 weeks into the writing, it became quite apparent that the material was sounding too similar to our last effort, and so we collectively felt a need to shuffle the deck. Considering that I wrote the lions share of our older material, we thought that it would perhaps be a wise idea for me to take over the reins and to write a Pro-Pain album which on one hand takes people back to the glory days of the band, and on the other hand offers newer influences and elements for the sake of staying relevant (and perhaps picking up some new fans). So far, the results have proved to be quite promising.
Raymond: What can you tell us about the recording and creative process that led to The Final Revolution?
Gary Meskil: As for the creative process, I wrote all of the songs at my home in Sarasota Florida (where I currently reside). I do my writing late at night because I don’t like any daytime distractions interfering with the process. Once the arrangements are finalized, I send them to the rest of the band members via Dropbox, and I make sure to leave enough room for interpretation so that the rest of the guys can incorporate their own embellishments and fills. Lastly, Adam writes his solos and sends the completed demo versions back to the rest of the band. We then send the demo to our producer so that he can familiarize himself with the material prior to us going into the studio. This makes for a smoother recording session. Our producer of choice for the last 3 albums has been V.O. Pulver. He operates out of Little Creek Studio in Gelterkinden Switzerland, and he does a fine job for us. We have known each other for years, and I feel that he knows exactly what a solid Pro-Pain album should sound like.
Raymond: Your lyrics are based on many personal experiences and observations. Can you share some light on the topics and themes tackled on The Final Revolution?
Gary Meskil: I write lyrics about things which I’m passionate about, like the world and where it’s going. I dabble into politics on occasion, but I’m not preachy or agenda-driven. Politically, I‘m neither left or right. As time goes on, I think more and more people are getting away from the two-party system. I think that if most people had the opportunity to write down their worldly concerns and have them published, that the subject matter would not vary too much from what I’m writing about. That’s why our fans take the lyrics to heart.
Raymond: Pro-Pain is an instantly recognizable band sound and besides the occasional twist you guys stick to that sound no matter what. Why is that and how do you manage to find new angles within Pro-Pain’s musical boundaries?
Gary Meskil: The music business can be quite competitive, so it’s important for a band to know exactly what it is that they do best. In Pro-Pain, we understand that very well. We know that it may not be a wise idea to experiment beyond certain parameters because we run the risk of entering the domain of bands which may excel and specialize in that particular style of experimentation. In my opinion, we are very good at what we do, and so we try to do it as best we can. We do experiment with our sound from time to time, however, but we try to keep it at a tasteful level. People should take note that any “instantly recognizable” sound comes via repetition and not via continuous experimentation. For example, Tony Iommi did not achieve his signature tone via changing guitars each album, and Slayer did not achieve their sound via experimenting in prog rock and or folk metal.
Raymond: Many bands seem to mellow with age, but that’s certainly not the case with Pro-Pain. How do you manage to keep this level of energy and intensity up after all these years?
Gary Meskil: I always felt that our lyrics need to be delivered with a certain sense of urgency. I write about the plight of the common man, and there’s certainly no shortage of things to be angry about out there. So, the more intense and energetic our delivery is, the more effective we are.
Raymond: Pro-Pain is no stranger when it comes to line-up changes. Do you see those as a form of necessary evil or do you think having fresh blood in every now and then keeps the band vital?
Gary Meskil: In a perfect world, we would have endured the past 22 years with the same lineup. In the real world, Pro-Pain has struggled to keep things afloat for most of those 22 years and sometimes real life situations take over and shake things up a bit in terms of our lineup. The best that the remaining members can do is to try and move forward with a lineup that represents the band 100% onstage and off. I think we’ve done a fine job of that, all things considered.
Raymond: The band has been treading a fine line between NY Hardcore and metal gaining fans on both sides of the fence. In what scene do you find yourself the most at home and why?
Gary Meskil: Since we are somewhat of a “crossover” band, we can’t help but be a bit of a “bastard child” to both scenes. Scenes are purist by nature, so in order to completely “fit in”, a band must tow the line 100% in the purist sense. It’s ironic that “scenesters” generally claim that they got into the music because in society they feel like an outcast and that they are never wholly accepted for who they are. Once they are accepted into a particular “scene”, they generally shun bands who deviate from their norm. I see the hypocrisy, and so I march to the beat of my own drummer. As an artist, I think that in order to create something genuinely original in today’s musical environment, that there must be some “crossover” elements applied.
Raymond: What’s in the cards for Pro-Pain next year as for touring and other possible projects goes?
Gary Meskil: We are currently discussing some US touring plans. Hopefully we can make something happen in March. If not, then perhaps sometime in the Fall. We have some European Open Air Festivals lined up for the Summer, which include Hellfest, Graspop, G.O.N.D., etc… Other then that, Marshall Stephans and I are also in a band called Darkhaus. We recently released our debut album on SPV called My Only Shelter, and it’s doing very well thus far. Darkhaus will tour Europe in April with Subway To Sally.
Thanks for this interview, and thanks to our fans for all of their support. Check out our new album “The Final Revolution”, and for something a bit different, check out Darkhaus “My Only Shelter”. See you on tour! For more info. Log onto pro-pain.com or visit us on Facebook at Pro Pain Official.