Legendary extreme metal drummer Gene Hoglan (DARK ANGEL, DEATH, TESTAMENT) was interviewed on a recent episode of the "Metal Magdalene With Jet" show on Metal Messiah Radio. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On TESTAMENT taking part in SLAYER's "farewell" tour:
Gene: "The tour, as an entire entity, was so amazing, as it always is with SLAYER. From top to bottom, their entire organization is first-class. They treated all the bands so amazingly, and it was so incredible. The energy was awesome at the shows. TESTAMENT was the first band on on the first leg and the second band on on the second leg. And both legs were amazing. There was tons of folks there already. 'Cause we were kind of wondering: 'Are people even gonna be showing up at 5 p.m.?' There was no worry there. There was a lot of folks there. And TESTAMENT brought it as best as we could. And SLAYER, of course, was incredible every night. Their pyro is just unparalleled as far as I know. I don't go to many concerts, and, of course, I've seen RAMMSTEIN live, and they're the kings of all pyro. For our style of music, our underground thrash metal scene, SLAYER's show is the finest in all of history. Totally. So that was great.
"One of my highlights, a few of my highlights… playing the shows every night. And I got to do some shows with ANTHRAX — I filled in for Charlie [Benante] — and that was really cool. But my highlight of the tour was about mid-point through the first leg. We were always at front-of-house watching the show, and anytime there were screens on the side of the stage, SLAYER was not bringing their own director, video director or anything. They were using the local house guys and a lot of those guys are 65 years old, they're country music fans, they don't know. And It was well seen many times where Gary Holt is booming off some killer lead and they're filming Tom [Araya, bass/vocals] staring at Paul [Bostaph, drums]. It's, like, 'Come on!' That was the only thing that was missing. So I went to SLAYER's people and said, 'Hey, let me do this. Let me at least sit next to the guy who is directing and point out, 'Okay, put your camera on the bald guy. It's his lead. Put your camera on the hairy guy. It's his lead.' And then, it just evolved into me taking over the entire video show where I've got the headphones on and I'm talking, 'Camera 1, get on the singer. Camera 2, get on the bald guy.' That sort of thing. And that was really fun. I wish they had more screens at shows, 'cause one out of every three shows or so would have a screen. But that was always really, really fun for me. That was a cool challenge. I had never done anything like that before. Thirty-five years ago, the whole reason why I started working for SLAYER in the very first place, when I was 15, 16, was Tom came up to me at a show and their light guy hadn't showed up that night. And they had a pretty solid light system. And so, he was, like, 'Hey man, can you run that board over there? Can you do lights for us tonight?' I had no idea, but I was, like, 'Yes, I can.' And I went and figured out the board. And this is back in, like, '83, '84 — something like that. SLAYER is playing a club. The next show, the light guy didn't show up again. So, it was, like, 'Hey, can you do it again?' And so after that, I went to every SLAYER show in town, just about. I'd show up at the show, walk up straight to the light board and start working. Just by saying 'Yes' to something that I had no idea, I got to hit the road with SLAYER when I was 16 and all that sort of thing. So, it had just kind of come full circle. And Johnny Araya, Tom's brother, he had pointed out sometime during the tour. He was, like, 'There's only four guys from that very first tour on this tour. And that's you, myself, Tom and Kerry [King, guitar].' And I was, like, 'Wow. I wasn't even thinking about that. But holy moly, you're right!' Every once in a while, a couple of crew guys would come out from the that first tour and catch a show, and that was always fun. So, the whole tour was great."
On TESTAMENT's 2019 plans:
Gene: "I know the band is writing right now. I've been up to [guitarist] Eric Peterson's place a couple of times already since the end of the tour to work out some new stuff. I know that we've got three songs as of now pretty dialed in. There's gonna be some changes here and there. But Eric's got a boatload of ideas coming, and I just go up there and help him flesh them out. That's cool. So, I know they're intending to have the new album… I'm sure they're gonna start recording A.S.A.P. It doesn't mean tomorrow, but as soon as they've got 10, 15 songs ready to go, perhaps a couple of covers. You know, that always happens. As soon as they've got all that [worked out], TESTAMENT's gonna be back in the studio real soon."
On what he misses about the early days of DARK ANGEL and DEATH:
Gene: "There was a lot of innocence. There was a lot of flying by the seat of the pants. We had no idea what we were doing back in the early thrash days, like, back before there were albums coming out from all these bands. Back when thrash was forming, back in '83, '84, in L.A., and through '85 and even '86, there was no scene. There was no, 'Wow, we have this great scene that we're all involved with.' There was no scene in '83, '84, '85. There wasn't. There was a handful of metal bands that would show up to shows, and then that started growing. You might be able to have upwards a couple of thousand fans at your shows. And these are including the same fans that were there a year ago when you were playing in front of 30 people. Now it's grown a little bit. Just having that sort of innocence and not having any… There was no business plan. There was no long-term anything back then. We had no idea how long we were gonna last. I always had a feeling that I would be… I always knew I would be involved in the music scene, involved in the metal scene, playing drums for a bunch of different bands — I always felt that. But that doesn't mean everybody else was able to do that. I suppose there's just that innocence that you might look back fondly on. Like, 'Boy, we sure did not have any clue what we were doing, but something came out of it.' Now, when you go and do a tour, you know exactly what you're doing. You know what you're gonna make. You know what problems are going to arise and all that sort of thing. And back then, we learned as we went."
On how he keeps himself in shape:
Gene: "I keep myself in shape by not touring. [Laughs] I have so much discipline throughout all my life. I don't drink. I don't do a lot of stuff, but I tell you, those endless pizzas that you get as after-show food, and things like that. And when you're on a killer SLAYER tour and there's killer catering, you see all these guys getting salads, and it's, like, 'Look at all that meat right there! Holy moly!' I tend to fluff up a little bit on tour, but when I'm off tour, my life Laura is such a health advocate that I've completely absorbed that. I've expressed this many times to many people that I intend to be playing brutal thrash metal, hauling double bass deep into my 70s —like no problem. So I'm preparing for that. I'm 51 now, and I look and feel better than I did 25 years ago. I'm 51, [but] I feel 27. I've lost 160 pounds from my largest size. I figure I can get away with this carriage that I have at 51, but in my 70s, maybe I can't get away with looking like this in 20 years from now, so it's my intent to be this cut, ripped, 70-year-old dude, hauling the double bass and just crushing the drums. So I figure I'll be cut, I'll be ripped, I'll be super-duper in shape and then, when I'm 70, I might feel like I'm 22. Right now, I feel 27. Laura does not believe in aging, and if you look at her, she's a baby. And I have a baby face, but I'm able to hide it behind shades and goatees and hair and stuff like that, but I have a total baby face, and I'm gonna have this baby face when I'm 70. I don't have any wrinkles. And I smoke. That's my one gnarly non-health thing, but I quit all the other junk. I don't eat a lot of junk food. I eat a lot of salads. But I don't have any wrinkles. I'm looking decent. I feel better than ever. I'm working out. And all of this is in order to maintain my lifestyle of being a touring, wielding, dominating musician in my 70s, in my 80s. So, that's not gonna be a problem at all."
TESTAMENT's most recent studio album, "Brotherhood Of The Snake", was released in October 2016 via Nuclear Blast.
DARK ANGEL is continuing to work on material for its long-awaited comeback album. The band's first CD since 1991's "Time Does Not Heal" will feature the lineup that has performed sporadic live shows since reuniting in 2013: Hoglan, Eric Meyer (guitar), Jim Durkin (guitar), Ron Rinehart (vocals) and Michael Gonzalez (bass).