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PRO-PAIN-2


Pro-Pain - The End is Near 


Interview with Tom Klimchuck by Dr. Abner Mality

Sometimes it takes years for everything to gel. That seems to be the case for the durable NYHC soldiers Pro-Pain. These guys have been rock-solid for all of their 17 years but with their latest effort "No End In Sight", the stars seem to have aligned in order for Pro-Pain to issue their most accessible yet powerful album so far.

Talk about reliable, these guys have never let more than 16 months go by without a new album of some kind. And most of it of extremely high quality. However, "No End In Sight" is noticeably better written, more tuneful and catchier than any previous Pro-Pain album. A sell-out, cry the knuckle-dragging skinheads who live in a perpetual 1996. Up yours, I respond, and so will any lover of music that's powerful and true.

Guitarist Tom Klimchuck has stuck with this unit through thick and thin. Along with founder Gary Meskil, he's the most integral part of Pro-Pain. It was recently my honor to talk to Tom about many subjects and the result, I think you'll agree, was one of the most interesting and far-ranging interviews ever to appear at Wormwood Chronicles. Tom is incredibly articulate and self-assured yet easy to talk to. We wound up branching out on many different paths on the following interview.

Read on and discover why there is "no end in sight" for Pro-Pain...


WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Your latest record "No End In Sight" is the catchiest Pro-Pain ever. The vocal hooks are absolutely addictive on this one. Was there anything different about the writing and recording of this compared to the previous records?

TOM KLIMCHUCK: There's a number of things that differentiate this from past efforts, but I would say mainly that this one was a little more self-indulgent on our part. We made this record for ourselves just so we could say we ventured into some new territory. We made the record that we purely wanted to make for ourselves. There's always going to people who will say it strays too far from Pro-Pain's nature but I think it's a healthy thing for the band to do something like that. And it frees up the playing field for us to write whatever we really want to write.

WC: I think it would open you up to new audiences you haven't reached before.

TK: It's a possibility, but the trouble lies in the state of the current music industry. It's not like a band of our history is going to be placed in the forefront of what labels are trying to push. I think we have our fanbase, which is a great one. It's healthy and we have great fans that are really supportive. We're not really looking to build our fanbase per se but just to stay true to ourselves as artists. We want to release the music that we want to release.

WC: Has the reaction from that fanbase been pretty positive so far?

TK: Yeah, it has been! Primarily we may find some journalists that want to take something away from the record because its lacking certain thrash elements or something like that. But the general reaction from the fans has been really enthusiastic.

WC: The music still has the same underpinnings that have always been there. There's just something new on top of that base.

TK: I think no matter what we tried to do, even if it was a polka album, it would still sound like Pro-Pain doing a polka album.(laughter) We're forever trapped in our own gravity, so to speak. I don't think we're ever gonna drift too far from the roots of Pro-Pain.

WC: The band has now been around for 16 years. Are the same forces guiding Pro-Pain now as they did on the first album?

TK: That's a good question! I would say, no, I don't think they are. As you say, the band is actually 17 years old now in 2009. As time goes by, hopefully everyone is evolving and maturing at their own rate and growing as people. I'd like to think that the four people that make up Pro-Pain have grown as people in that time. Along with that growth comes different concerns, different motivations, different everything. Everything changes. We're not the same angst-ridden 20 year olds that were striving to get out of their apartments. We're in different situations now...we have kids now. As you grow in your life, it's going to have a major effect on your music. Music should be a genuine reflection of yourself.

WC: It's not just the musical sound, but I think the lyrics have broadened a lot,too. The early albums were really brutal, like a fist to the face. Some of the subjects you talk about now would not have been possible in the early Pro-Pain.

TK: Some of the subject matter has definitely gotten a little more in-depth. I think there's a lot of truth-seeking going on in our lives and that gets reflected in the lyrics. And yeah, the band is different...the whole planet is different...from 1992. Being somewhat of an observationalist type band, I like to think of our records as being time capsules. They represent what was going on at that time.

WC: Religion is the subject of several songs on the new album. Do you see religion as a negative or positive influence? I know there's condemnation of phony evangelists and fanatics.

TK: I couldn't say that the band per se has a particular view. I think each of us as individual has our own opinion on it. I think the trappings of religion are a very dangerous thing. Every topic that we come up with has pros and cons. A big negative about religion in general is it can be used as a very destructive tool. When you look at the lyrics closely, it's not the entity of religion itself but how people use it and what they use it for. The phrase "the love of money is the root of all evil" gets misrepresented as "money is the root of all evil". It's not, that's not what the saying actually is. It's a matter of people's motivations and what they get from it, as far as religion goes. If people find a certain inner peace in it, I can't imagine anyone finding fault with that. Unfortunately, there are powerful people out there who tend to take advantage of those who might be vulnerable....

WC: They want to belong to something.

TK: Yeah, and they're searching for meaning. They might be susceptible to a con job.

WC: On the song "God's Will", a lot of the lyrics come directly from the Old Testament. Was that done for the listener to interpret it in their own way or was there a certain point that was trying to be put across?

TK: Absolutely the listener is encouraged and borderline obligated to take their own meaning in our songs. That's been a big point for this band since its inception. We're not taking a religious type view of our platform, our podium. We're not on a mission to make people think the way we do. We just want people to think. Hopefully our music generates some debate or at least some conversation on important issues. "God's Will"...it has a lot of different personal meanings for each of us, I believe.

WC: Musically, it's one of the most ominous songs from Pro-Pain.

TK: (chuckles) It is the only song in our catalogue that doesn't have any 4/4 time signature. That alone creates a nervous kind of reaction.

WC: I saw it as almost menacing...

TK: (laughter) That's a great term! I love that! "Menacing"...

WC: The most powerful song lyrically is "Where We Stand". It seems to be dedicated to the prisoners and martyrs who get beat up and tortured and executed for their beliefs. In that song, there's a voice that speaks. Is the voice God? Or is it something else?

TK: Well, I suppose it depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I would say the voice of truth. One of Jesus Christ's nicknames was The Truth. I think there is one all powerful force in the universe and it is the truth. If you can be true to yourself and do the right thing as you see it, you needn't have any fear of those who may try to persecute you.

WC: When the situation is hopeless, the song says "embrace your fate". Take comfort in the fact that you stuck to your guns.

TK: Yeah, I'm sure it's little comfort to somebody who's actually in that position. But you know, maybe somebody needs to speak out for these people. As long as somebody is speaking out, maybe their imprisonment or torture or whatever their situation is is not completely meaningless. The sacrifice is not in vain.


WC: During that song, the voice says "wait". Wait for what? What is the person waiting for? Is is acceptance?

TK: In the direct context of the song, it's just really creating an urgency. As the prisoner is strapped in the chair and the lethal injection is about to be placed into his vein, he might be having a panic moment saying "stop, wait, this is wrong". It's just a matter of creating some urgency and tension. I don't think there's any insinuation of something yet to come.

WC: The most important part of the song seemed to be when it ended with that final word "wait".

TK: There's a bit of a danger there. I think one must be aware of the overtones of end time philosophy, especially in the last two records. Probably the scariest part of religion right now are the people who are waiting for Rapture and seem to be embracing it with all their might. They are highly anticipating the Rapture regardless of those who don't share their beliefs. When that type of fanaticism gets involved with powerful people, that word can be directed in a certain way and not everyone necessarily believes the same thing.

WC: With all the negative things in the news, I'm surprised that there aren't a lot more of these people, that there aren't a lot more doomsday cults and people taking their own lives like at Jonestown. I think more than 100,000 people lost their jobs this week alone.

TK: This is a process that has been ongoing for quite some time now. We're just starting to feel the negative effects that the Federal Reserve has encouraged since its inception. This is the only possible result of having an institution like the Federal Reserve in place and the only possible outcome of institutionalizing the Federal Reserve is to destroy the US dollar. (chuckles) That's what's happening. Unfortunately, I don't think the worst times are behind us. A lot of people are excited about the new administration and its emphasis on change, but I'm not seeing the change that I was hoping for.

WC: I'd like to think the new administration is sincere about what they believe in, but I think it comes 20 years too late.

TK: (laughter) You might be right. It may be more like 70 years too late.

WC: There's another side to this and I want to make sure you don't get misinterpreted here. The first song on the new album is "Let The Blood Run Through the Streets" (Tom laughs). That could certainly be interpreted as a call for violent revolution. With all the horror stories we're hearing about all these fat cat executives, I think we are ripe for something like a French Revolution.

TK: Absolutely! In the band, we've been asking ourselves for years now, where is the outrage? Why aren't people angry about this? Why is everybody so complacent? "Let The Blood Run Through The Streets" is exactly that. It's somewhat of a call to arms. Or at least a call to wake up and take a look at what's going on.

WC: The Internet and all the electronic gadgets we are hooked up to are nothing but a big sedative. People used to demonstrate in person. Now they just write a blog about what's bothering them and that's it.

TK: Yeah. You know, gone are the good old days of the 60's when people really knew how to protest. We half-jokingly refer to Pro-Pain as modern day hippies. People look at us and think we're a bunch of skinhead guys. I think there's a whole lot of truth to that. If there was ever a time for good protest music to pop up, it's now. And where is it? Nobody is making music about it.

WC: It's something like Beyonce or Young Jeezy... Today protest music seems to be the province of the underground. If you ever want to feel complete despair about the mental state of humanity, read any of the comments on just about any Youtube display...

TK: (laughs) Yeah, that's very true!

WC: Somebody writes "LOL" five times in a row and thinks it's a comment. It's like chimpanzees. The technology seems to be making people stupider instead of smarter, which was the original idea. It's cut down the English language to the absolute bare minimum it can be.

TK: Gary and I get into these conversations on a daily basis where we start to feel like Lou Dobbs on TV, just showing total despair and utter frustration. But nine times out of ten, what are you going to do? It's a world gone mad!


WC: That's right. Russia and Eastern Europe supposedly are "free" but they are run by gangsters so completely that you wish Khrushchev was back in power. You buy a Cuban cigar and get arrested but the government makes billion dollar deals with China.

TK: If you start to place all of these things under one umbrella, the end goal is New World Order and one world government. Things are becoming clear. Over decades, they've slowly got everybody hooked on television, electronics, mood suppressors, antidepressants. If you look at the timeline over the past few decades, we're becoming more and more sheepish. Everything is becoming unified, everything is produced in China now. They're working on instituting a one world government that is just hanging everybody out to dry, especially Joe Six Pack.

WC: It's gonna be like the movie "Rollerball", which seems more like a documentary than something fictional now.

TK: (chuckles) Isn't it crazy that it's come so close to reality?

WC: What do you think is the biggest misconception about Pro-Pain that people have?

TK: Huh! I'm not exactly sure. I think we're pretty well understood, I think. There's been people throughout the years who have accused us of being fascists, right-wing Nazis. We've been accused of a lot of things. Our reputation has been built primarily on touring and hanging out with our fans, I think they have a very clear idea of who we are and what we're about. Maybe they don't get to see the sense of humor behind the band. That's a pretty large part of this band, strangely enough.

WC: But not immediately apparent in the music.

TK: No, you wouldn't think so by reading our lyrics. But I suppose in this genre, it could be construed as unwise to present yourself as a comedian. (chuckles)

WC: That's interesting that you mentioned being criticized as skinheads and Nazis. If anything, I thought you might get criticized for leaning too far to the left.

TK: I think those who are to the right of center regardless of how far get where we're coming from. I think they find enough common ground with us to where they're comfortable with us and they don't see us as being so liberal or leftist. I switched over to the Republican Party during the last primary season to support Ron Paul. I never considered joining the Republican Party before that, so to a certain degree I guess I could be considered right wing.

WC: You're independent. Most of what is called conservatism now is based on one big idea: money is God and whatever you can do to acquire it is good.

TK: Yeah! The neo-cons are probably one of the least conservative groups in existence. They must be masters of the spin to call themselves neo-cons.

WC: If you could ask any three people from history over for dinner, who would they be?

TK: That's an interesting one. Um, I would say....Baron Rothschild, the monopoly man, as some people call him; Isaac Newton and Gandhi! (laughs)

WC: That would be a most interesting dinner!


TK: It would be pretty cool to be a fly on the wall on that one.

WC: What touring plans do you have for the new CD?

TK: Well, upon its release, we did a tour of Europe which consisted of about 40 shows altogether. We came home and just acquired a new drummer, so we've been spending the last couple of months working him into the fray. We are now booking a US tour for June and July, which we're very excited about because we haven't been out in the States for a few years now. We're going to have a springtime run through Europe and then a follow-up European tour in the fall. Altogether, we'll be doing about a 100 shows in support of this album.

WC: What can you tell me about the new drummer?

TK: His name is Rick Halvorson, formerly of Stephen Pearcy's Ratt and a band called Narcotic Self out of Omaha. I think to a certain degree his time in Stephen Pearcy's Ratt...well, I wouldn't say it was out of character for him, but it was a bit of a stretch. I think if you listen to his own band Narcotic Self you get a little more into Rick's roots. He's known as the Thrashmaster General. He plays with a whole lot of fire and he already is bringing a really, really cool element into this band. He's come in with a great deal of enthusiasm and some mad skills that I haven't seen from anyone in quite some time. We're enjoying the rehearsals we've had. I think everyone is starting to get excited about making a new record which will probably collecting ideas for between touring. So look to us to get in the studio next winter I guess.

WC: Well, you don't have to worry about a lack of activity...

TK: (laughs) You said it, brother!

WC: What was the last CD you got just because you wanted to check out the band?

TK: Boy! I get exposed to stuff in a premier fashion. A lot of the newer bands I pick up on first live and then I buy the record. That might be contributing to the plummeting CD sales....

WC: When's the last time you went to a gig just to check out the artist?

TK: It was a local show here in Sarasota, Florida. It was two bands, a band called Sons of Hippies and the other called Greenhouse Effect. They play the furthest genre from Pro-Pain that you could imagine.

WC: Jam bands?

TK: There are small elements of that but it's more like psychedelic pop kind of stuff. The more artsy side of things. It wasn't a bad show.

WC: You've got to broaden yourself...

TK: Well, the last show Gary went to was Brooks and Dunn up in Tampa.I'm looking forward to Jose Feliciano coming around later this year. It's certainly not just going to metal shows that keeps us busy.

WC: In the long history of Pro-Pain, has there been any Spinal Tap moment you can share with the fans?

TK: Spinal Tap moment? The stories are endless. Anybody who has spent time with us on the road will tell you that the stories can go on and on and on for days. You can choose from an assortment including a bus crash....well, here's a pretty good one. We were flying over to Frankfurt, Germany on Singapore Airlines a few years back and everything seemed fine. The tickets were a little expensive, but we were in a pinch, we needed to get over there. So we buy our tickets, we get on board and the flight is terrific. All the free drinks you can down and the flight attendants were smoking hot Asian girls in silk dresses. It was a good flight! We arrived in Frankfurt pretty smashed by that time on Bloody Marys. We go down to baggage claim and apparently all of our instruments were sent on ahead to Singapore. We were stranded in Frankfurt airport having to wait for all of our fear to come back from Singapore before we could move on, catch our bus and begin the tour.

WC: How long did you wait?

TK: Well, it was gonna be 27 hours before the flight got back from Singapore. The airline put us up in a few hotel rooms at the airport. They were nice rooms and everything, but it was a pain in the ass. We adjourned to the downstairs bar which was beneath the airport in Frankfurt and proceeded to finish the night by having our stage manager get so drunk that he projectile vomited all over the table with about 8 of us sitting there and getting covered in vomit. That included all over the deutschmarks we had at the time to pay for our bill. I had to pick up this soaking wet money out of the puke to hand to the waiter. And then we got up early the next morning to get our gear and start the tour!!!(laughter)

WC: That's rock and roll, I guess.

TK: Yup, that's one way to do it!

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