As Big as the Rolling Stones?
CoC interviews Tom Klimchuck of Pro-Pain
by: Aaron McKay
You're never too old to learn something. It wasn't long into my forty-five minute talk with Tom, Pro-Pain's lead guitarist, that I re-discovered that truth sometimes is a lot stranger than fiction. Would you believe it if I told you that on the new effort, _Run for Cover_, these hard-hitting veterans cover a song by a band that draws a crowd at least equal to that of the Rolling Stones? It's true; among the Celtic Frost, Agnostic Front, Motorhead and Slayer tracks redone by Pro-Pain (with their one-of-a-kind sound), Tom, Gary Meskil, Eric Klinger, and Eric Matthews offer their listeners some preliminary exposure to a German band called the Bohse Onkelz. You'll never guess what Tom had to say about their (tons of) fans. Let's get this thing rolling and I'll let my articulate interviewee fill us all in...

CoC: I've always considered Pro-Pain to be more of a -live- band because of the energy rather than having your best stuff done in the studio...

Tom Klimchuck: Yea, I think you're right. I think it comes mostly from the environment. Playing shows is just -so- much more enjoyable than being in the studio. I've been engineering Pro-Pain's stuff in the studio and Eric Klinger is getting involved with that too now, so he and I are a little more comfortable in the studio than Gary. <laughs> It's such a sterile and uptight environment in the studio. It's much more fun to tear it up on stage.

CoC: Is this the first time that you guys went to Pittsburgh to record in Eric's studio?

TK: Hum, let's see... Yea, I believe it is.

CoC: Was that any different for you guys having things kept so close in the family right down to the recording of the album?

TK: I think a lot of the appeal of this record is that we did it really fast. We didn't spend a whole lot of time on it and it was something that was as close to spontaneous as we get in the studio. It was something that we took on as more of a fun project and not get so wrapped up in it. Being as such they are all cover songs, we should have a chance to enjoy them a little bit. I think the recording was done in a matter of a couple of weeks. I think all that captured the amount of fun we had doing this album.

CoC: Having members in the band involved in the recording, mixing and engineering, treating the band like a business, do you find that is another opportunity to keep creative control?

TK: Oh, yea -- totally. The reason we started doing that back in late 1995 was that we released our first two records using a producer that we were fairly happy with, but, comparatively to other stuff being released at the same time, it was a little more punk/hardcore, where we'd have to go a little more metal in the production aspect of it. Just because there are records like _Vulgar Display of Power_ coming out at the same time and those are some pretty heavy, serious productions -- that is what we were hoping to keep up with. I introduced the idea of taking the money we would have spent on going with another producer for the next album and buying some equipment and doing it ourselves. I had a little bit of experience at engineering at the time, but really, thinking back, I had a lot of balls to bring that up. <laughs> Then it got handed to me, so then I thought I should figure out how to do this... <laughs> I think that we are the type of people who'd rather just have ourselves to blame if things don't work out rather than go through the frustration of having someone else screwing your stuff up.

CoC: Who shoulders the responsibility for keeping the band on track?

TK: As far as the tunes go, the majority is done by Gary; he writes all the lyrics since he's singing them, but Eric and myself contribute in terms of music and we do the recording aspect of it as well. We each count on ourselves for our own instrument. We all police ourselves and have a checks and balances kind if system. It's more of a team effort than anything, but the majority of writing falls to Gary.

CoC: Like the music you create, you guys must be tight personally, too, I'd think...

TK: Yea, Gary and I have been doing this for closing in on a dozen years now and with the kind of schedule that we've kept you can't help but really know each other -- weather that's for the good or for the bad. <laughs> We're still together and we seem to be getting the hand of this. I think we're working better together these days than we have in the past and long the way you can't help but become close with one another.

CoC: A lot of bands don't enjoy the longevity that you guys have. Having a rigorous touring schedule, do you guys have a favorite venue? Fan base somewhere?

TK: Wherever we play, we must attract a certain type of person, so that the people that do come to our shows are Pro-Pain fans. We've never been the flavor of the week; the people coming to our shows have our records and they are familiar with us. All around the world, I see more similarities than differences -- from the Germans to the people in the Czech Republic to places like Croatia. All over the place they seem to be there because they have a similar feel they get from the music. They seem to come as many times as we play, they'll show up! I can't say that we've had a gigantic amount of success, but we've certainly kept it respectable, especially for an independent band these days.

CoC: I remember a show I caught Pro-Pain at Jaxx in Alexandria, Virginia with Sacred Reich...

TK: I remember that show!

CoC: It seems like the crowd, weather they were there for Sacred Reich or not, got caught up in Pro-Pain's energy.

TK: It's funny, in that particular venue, we consistently played in front of the same 150 to 200 people every time we played there -- we got to feeling like they had 'em stored in the freezer in the back or something and brought them out for the show. <laughs>

CoC: Taking into mind who I am interviewing here, when I first encountered Pro-Pain way back on _Foul Taste of Freedom_, I guess what drew me in was the Crumbsuckers connection...

TK: Right. Oh, yea... As a matter of fact, the first thing that piqued my interest in Pro-Pain, as far as auditioning for the guitar part, -was- I was such a fan of the Crumbsuckers. I heard the similarities right off the bat, although it is quite a leap -- I could still recognize the style of some of the riffs [between the two bands]. There are at least some imbedded characteristics. From the first time I heard it, I was a fan of Pro-Pain.

CoC: Getting to the new album, on _Run for Cover_, did you guys have a list of songs you wanted to do? Were there songs that you had that didn't make it on that you wished would have?

TK: Yea, actually there was a -huge- list -- probably, all said and done, there was like fifty songs. We all compiled a list of songs that we'd like to do. We would have liked nothing more than to do a Ramones cover, 'cause we're huge Ramones fans, but for Gary to sing the Ramones, it's just not going to sound right. We'd never wanna take something on and not do it justice. The list got narrowed down and hammered down more and more and more. There was a lot of oddball songs floating around -- AC/DC songs, we were talking about doing an Eagles song. There were a lot of different influences that we could have brought to the table, but we just didn't want to sound foolish and we didn't want it to seem like a joke; although people don't realize that our influences may be different than what they may have expected.

CoC: Eric Klinger did some vocals on the new one, too, right?

TK: We refer to him as the "multi-talented Eric Klinger". <laughs> Every e-mail I send him, that's how it is addressed. He's a really talented guy. "The Crowd" by Operation Ivy -- to be honest -- I was never much of a fan of that band; I'm not much for the West coast "happy-core" type of music. When I heard his vocals it really came together for me because he really just tore it up on the vocals on that track.

CoC: "Terpentin"?

TK: Yea, it is a song by a -huge- German band called the Bohse Onkelz.

CoC: My first exposure to these guys...

TK: Let me clue you into this band. Nobody outside of Germany really knows these guys. -In- Germany, they are the biggest rock band out there. As a matter of fact, they have the opening slot for the Rolling Stones tour.

CoC: Damn!

TK: Check this out, this is how popular this band is: the Rolling Stones were booked in probably 65,000 to 80,000 seat venues and they were doing only about 20,000 tickets per show. They looked around for support acts and the Bohse Onkelz came up because these guys have a die-hard group of fans, and within about four or five days of them being up on the bill, the ticket sales doubled! They are probably responsible for more tickets than the Stones. This is a band that we went on tour with as special guests on their tour in 1998. It was quite an experience. It would be like what you'd think of touring with Aerosmith -- just the biggest of the big production and everything else. The Bohse Onkelz were nothing but gracious and generous and very kind. I think that we've managed to earn their respect and they have certainly earned ours! When I think of the following these guys have, I've never seen anything like it; not even in movies. Their fans are -the- most fiercely loyal fans than I have ever seen in my life. They know every single word to the two hour and forty five minute set that they play; these people know every word and are singing them at the top of their lungs -- in an outdoor amphitheater, you can barely hear the band. It is really something to see!

CoC: Thank you for all your time during this interview, Tom! Please allow me to offer you the last words.

TK: A -huge- "thank you" for all the years of support from everyone out there. Rest assured we will be coming back with new material and doing some shows for everyone and we'll see everyone out there!

(article submitted 28/8/2003)

7/3/2002 A Bromley Pro-Pain: The Shocking Shreds of Dignity
12/13/1995 A Bromley Pro-Pain: Painful Pleas From the Pros
2/24/2009 A McKay 8.5 Pro-Pain - No End in Sight
8/28/2003 J Smit 5 Pro-Pain - Run for Cover
5/13/2001 M Noll 7 Pro-Pain - Round 6
3/14/1999 M Noll 8 Pro-Pain - Act of God
3/10/1998 Z Tsarfin 5 Pro-Pain - Pro-Pain
10/11/1996 A Bromley 8 Pro-Pain - Contents Under Pressure
11/18/1996 S Cannon Voivod / Crisis / Pro-Pain Vicious Violence Vented
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