Q&A with Gary Meskill
Sheila Rene': Hello, buddy. How about that "Political Suicide" song of yours off the "Contents Under Pressure" album? Pretty timely, and I'm sure you're plugged into our President's plight today. Hey, the guy doesn't seem to know the difference between a blow job and actual intercourse. (joint laughter)
Gary Meskil: (laughing) Hey, you're right. I see what's going on. You can't get away from it.
SR: Gar, you should send him a copy of that CD.
GM: Yeah, I'll think about it. Wouldn't it be great?
SR: The last time I talked to you about your work in Pro-Pain, you were actually at the door of your apartment saying "good-bye." Now you're getting ready to leave again.
GM: We leave on Tuesday as a matter of fact. It's funny that you mentioned the "Political Suicide" thing. (Laughing) He's in a bit of hot water. We'll have to see what happens.
SR: The last time we talked your label, they was still in business.
GM: You mean Energy. They're still in business but from what I understand, they're in the last phase. I'm not sure how far along they are but I know of another group that's been dropped so it doesn't look too good. We bailed just in time I think.
SR: You're making a lot of sense starting your own label and just dealing with distribution. Great.
GM: Yeah it's pretty cool. We started our own label which was the plan, the post-Energy plan. We were too busy to market it ourselves so we licensed it to Mayhem and they'll do all the work for us as far as distribution with ADA and press relations.
SR: I really admire and love the gang over at Mayhem. Paula is so wonderful and such a hard worker. She's truly a music entity.
GM: You bet. She's amazing. You're not the first person to say how much they love working with her and her team. She's really nice and always punctual.
SR: She is tuned into all our favorite bands and keeps us up on all the happenings including 100% Pro-Pain.
GM: She is really into the music and we've found a great home over there.
SR: Any new truck disaster stories for me?
GM: In Europe we'll be traveling around in a couple of buses. In the States we'll probably scale down and do the van thing.
SR: How do you amuse yourselves on those long and lonely roads?
GM: Everybody has their own little things they do on the road...a couple will play video games and a couple watch movies. We tend to split up once we hit the ground and give everybody their own space. We're only in a closed environment on the bus after a show. We're usually so tired we just pass out.
SR: I have a "BIG" hello from Karyn Crisis and the band Crisis. They enjoyed being out with you guys.
GM: Karyn is a real doll. The feeling is mutual about those guys.
SR: Did this album take more or less time than previous outings?
GM: To record it was less time. We found a couple of neat ways of doing things this time to save us time. The first time of recording our own album so there was a lot of trial and error. We took a lot of the sounds where we left off from "Contents Under Pressure." We enhanced those sounds and at least we had a good starting point. And best of all, we saved some money.
SR: On "Contents Under Pressure" you used a broader vocal range. Now what I hear on this one is that the instruments have a broader sound. Plus the songs are shorter and a little punkier.
GM: Definitely. You're right on every count. It's reminiscent of "Foul Taste Of Freedom" days. The songs were short on that one and the tunes were more catchy. Hardcore punk, totally. There's a lot of old school stuff on this one.
SR: You're bringing back the little guitar solo thereby giving Tom a place to soar. It's not your 15 minute things but just some tasteful punctuations. More like 41 second solos like in "No Love Lost."
GM: The cool rock and roll leads.
SR: I love the opening of "Get Real." And, there's no waiting as the first second you hear music.
GM: I really wanted the guitars to do some talking on this album. That's precisely why we opened it up with "Get Real" on this album. My collection is full of albums that have these intros. I think that is boring but enough is enough. We like to cut to the chase and hit 'em full on.
SR: If ever there was an anthem for '90s living it would be "Don't Kill Yourself To Live." It's a groovy little bass opening for you there.
GM: Right. It's one of those songs that I think is a little inspirational. In the end, it's about setting goals and going for the gusto and what you think is right. Tread your own path. It's not about anyone in particular.
SR: I think it's my favorite at least now.
GM: It's one of my two favs on this album.
SR: The lyrics on "My Time Will Come" really hit home with me and I think it'll speak to a lot of your fans. Great words.
GM: Little Skynyrd inspired stuff there.
SR: "Smokin' Gun" has another one of those short solo moves. Hey, this one should make its way to the White House too.
GM: Right. Everyone is looking for a smokin' gun. We have a lot of hidden messages in our songs. There's also a few snippets about my life and experiences as well.
SR: You guys were one of the first bands to write meaningful lyrics. Not the usual love in the backseat tunes; however, I'll fess up to going back to those times and gettin' off on it.
GM: Right. That's cool. I dig different music for different moods. I like a good ballad as much as the next guy. For this hardcore/heavy music, I look at the attitude rather than the message.
SR: You've got it down. Have you fought off all the demons in your life?
GM: Nawww, I don't think anyone is. It's just a matter of coming to terms with them and if you find some peace of mind down the road that's all you need until the next day. (Laughing) That is what life is all about in the real world. No one wants a utopia or a candy land and I think this band has always been pretty realistic about things. That's why we're still here.
SR: Tom looks great. He's doing okay now.
GM: Yeah, he is downstairs rehearsing right now.
SR: You just moved to Florida, how do you like it?
GM: I think it's great. I didn't know how I would take to it at first, but we had come down here to visit a few months ago. We got to like it plus my brother has lived in Sarasota for a dozen years now. My parents just bought a place here too. I've been a New Yorker all my life and I didn't know how we'd adapt.
SR: Let's talk about your bass playing. Are you still learning new things?
GM: Yeah, I'm always learning new things and I'm not much of a noodler. I'm just working on my chops. I'm more of a rhythm guitarist playing bass. When we're just hanging out and writing I'm always playing the guitar and later convert it to the bass. While you're singing, playing bass is easier than fretting six strings.
SR: I'm someone who can barely do one thing at a time, much less six.
GM: It takes a lot to coordinate for me anyway. Some of these guys who play guitar and sing really good melodies, it takes real talent. It's just easier for me to scream and play at the same time. (Laughing).
SR: Hey, we now know you have a real good voice. You're just hiding it behind all that power.
GM: Yeah, that good.
SR: You used a young guy from the San Francisco Bay Area, Vincent Wonjo, who is really making a name for himself as a producer and engineer.
GM: Oh, yeah. He's great. You know about him?
SR: Yeah, he's extremely loved around the bay area.
GM: He added a really nice element to this project. He's just so much fun to be around and he knows his shit too.
SR: He's so young. Can you imagine what he's going to be like when he lives around a little more?
GM: It was like having another band member around. (Laughing) We were joking around all the time while playing tricks on each other. Just hanging out. It certainly wasn't your standard band/producer/engineer relationship. He fit into this project really well and I think he had a really great time working with us.
SR: What do you want to happen with this album? You always need to sell records but what else?
GM: Yeah, I'm anxious to get out on the road. It has been a little over a year ago. We relaxed a little too much at the end of '96 but we got into writing new material and recording. Even if you're busy doing things, time doesn't go by as fast as it does on the road. Playing live shows. That's what we're about at the end of every day anyway.
SR: Paula will keep me posted when you get back from Europe.
GM: I know she will. We'll see ya in Houston.
SR: I love your audiences. They all try to be part of the band. Tell me about "Love/H8"? It's a powerful 2:28 song that hits on our biggest problem today which is intolerance.
GM: Yeah, I think so. They turn us in to monsters while we go to school. How the whole sub-cultural aspect of things takes over adolescents at some time and dictates to them what they're going to be more than your parents. It's a big problem.
SR: We have to learn tolerance which leads to love not hate. Stop this ethnic cleansing crap.
GM: They say people tend to dislike things that are different from themselves and that has more than an ounce of truth. Tolerance is definitely the word and action.
SR: Hey, I think you've got a great album here. I always look forward to your music and talking with you.
GM: It's very nice for me too. I looked down the list of interviews and was happy to see that you're still involved in music. You've always been so supportive. Thanks.