The Truths Hurts (Energy)
An interview with Gary Meskil
by Scott Hefflon
After two long years, the follow up to Foul Taste of Freedom is finally out. With the recording debut of Nick St. Denis, who joined the band during the Slamfest Tour with Body Count, and additional guitarist Mike Hollman, formerly of California’s thrash/death demons, Possessed, this foursome is now a rage machine on par with staple heavies like Biohazard, Helmet, and Pantera. The latter seems to have had a significant impact on Gary Meskil as his vocals are distorted barbarian howls similar to “Fucking Hostile.”
Another adaptation/mutation from Foul Taste is the megaton production, courtesy of Alex Perialas and Gary. While Alex produced Foul Taste as well, that was back in ’92. Heavy, yet crisp, chuggings, were the rave and Metallica was still considered a pretty darn heavy band. This is ’94 and each chord, each drumbeat and each vocal bark of the The Truth Hurts has the sonic impact of a large building falling on your head.
Rather than writing a CD review of this monstrosity, we got a phoner with Gary, whose credits include writing the songs (that make the whole world scream?), bass, singing almost all the lyrics and co-production.
I caught up with Gary after a rehearsal late (even by rock’n’roll standards) one Thursday night before he headed off to CT to lay down some vocals for Insult to Injury (Century Media). Guest appearances are always cool to hear and often raise eyebrows as far as who’s sucking up to who and what politics are involved in various associations. Gary’s doing backing vocals, of course, brings up the topic of household name Ice-T’s collaborating on “Put The Lights Out” which, surprise, surprise, is one of the two singles.
“When we toured with Body Count, Ice was really supportive and into what we were doing. We hung around a lot during the tour and all became good friends. We set up to do a song together and “Put The Lights Out” was it. Both lyrically and stylistically it was right.” Just right for a video filled with “Ebony and Ivory” happy crappy and a tip of the hat to the Judgement Night soundtrack.
“This was all arranged before Judgement Night, so yeah, the whole concept has become cliche. One thing we feel strongly about is that once you decide to do something, you do it. You can’t be influenced by what people might think or who else is doing what. You do what you want and make it strong enough to stand on its own.”
Another obvious topic was the CD’s cover. Even within the ranks of Lollipop (a fiercely independent collaboration of strong willed, passionate individuals who demand their editorial freedom) we had heated arguments: “It’s pointless and stupid. It’s trying to be offensive and will scream censorship the second someone pulls it out of the stores.” Most of us just shrugged apathetically and pleaded atrocity burnout. One writer dealt with it swiftly and decisively. “I ripped off the cover and threw it away. I still have all the lyrics and credits. And the music, of course, which is the important thing.” Censorship on a personal level. Is that such a difficult concept? If you’re wondering what all the hoopla is about, go find a copy and make your own judgement. If you see only a cover with a litter-strewn courtyard, you know you’re shopping in a “socially conscious” store, part of some mega-corporate conglomerate, which has decided for you that you don’t like it. The address to Energy Records is inside the stripped down interior and with a mere S.A.S.E., you can get the fold-out version the band wanted you to have. (Incidentally, what a perfect way to do survey as to where post-hippie yuppies in suits are taking things away from us “for our own good” versus a high volume of free-thinking individuals saying: “I believe that belongs to me.” You could set up independently-owned stores in those areas, make mega-money, wipe out the sissy competition and do a noble American deed in the process. Hey, we can always dream of true freedom right?) To sum up the controversy, Gary stated, “It’s easy to shoot us down because Pro-Pain isn’t a household word. But the more records we sell, the more the industry is likely to go with it.” (Two cheers for capitalism).
After we dissected all the social/political baggage, we actually got around to discussing the music. There are elements of a Pro-Pain song that make it distinctly their own, despite the fact that many bands play in a similar style and with similar lyrics. The recipe is not a conscious decision; it’s just the way it comes out. While fellow New York exports such as Helmet and Biohazard (among others) play something-core as well, Pro-Pain keeps to the hardcore streets they know so well.
Back in the day, both Gary and Dan Richardson, the drummer, were in the Crumbsuckers. For those of you who snicker ’cause you don’t know ’em, they were, in over-simplified terms, a ground-breaking progressive hardcore band with gruff hardcore vocals, beautiful instrumentals intros and transitions, chunky rhythms and searing solos. Most of hardcore was anti-metal, so the amazing solos were left to speed metal and Rock.
“We always liked solos. And Alex? Jesus, he loves solos. He produced Anthrax, Testament, M.O.D., S.O.D., and does a lot of work with local New York bands.” As Gary paused, I have flashbacks of the late ’80s stacks of vinyl I’ve carried ever since from bands nobody else admits to knowing…
The final topic was lyrical content/context. Rage is so trendy that we’re all overly cautious to weed out the bandwagon jumpers. That, fortunately, doesn’t apply here. No “Let’s record heavy, ambiguous songs with powerchords and driving beats and get signed, rule the world, try to gain respect as musicians, fail and disappear into obscurity” syndrome in this case. Gary is from suburban New York and understands middle class hopelessness. Trapped in the bourgeois mindset and running the treadmill making rent with bills to pay; coming home from work, exhausted, catching up on the disasters in the news, sucking down a few beers to ease the pain and try to pass out before you realize the only reason to bother to breath anymore is the force of habit. Yeah, it’s in there, in all it’s brutal glory. Direct, honest, and not always giving you what you want to see and hear. The Truth Hurts.