1) When/how did you first meet Gene?
That’s one of my favorite stories… It was back in 1990 in Albrecht, Holland and The 77’s were playing a festival there. I had seen Gene and Michele on the streets around town, but hadn’t met them yet. Anyway, we were staying at this hotel and I was tired, weary from the trip, and decided to go down and eat breakfast. I didn’t change out of my pajamas, which for anyone who knows me knows that it is not that unusual. So, I sat down beside Michele to eat breakfast. Later, after I had met Gene he said he saw me across the room and was thinking, “Man, who is this guy eating breakfast, in his pajamas, with my wife.” We became closer when I was going through a difficult time in regards to my divorce, and I called the Broken offices and Gene was the one who answered the phone. I told him what I was going through, and he was going through some similar things, so it was that opening up and sharing our intimate details that really drew and I closer on a personal level. This was back in ‘90, about a year before The Lost Dogs formed in ‘91.
2) What projects did you work on with Gene?
All The Lost Dogs albums before he died… Scenic Routes, Little Red Riding Hood, Green Room Serenade, Gift Horse, and there was the post-humus Live at the Green Room. I also played a little on Michele’s second album One Moment Please.
3) How do you think Gene impacted the music scene?
Gene worked with so many bands, and he gave of himself and his time to all these people. In the studio you become a bands everything, and that’s what he did… and many of these bands were green, but he was always there for them, and it was genuine… he really wanted to be there, he cared about them and their music, and that’s important. A lot of these bands, even if they don’t make it, if they become car salesmen, or whatever, they will remember Gene and what he did for them, what he gave to them and how he was there for them. It didn’t matter how long it took, he gave his best to them.
4) Three words you would use to describe Gene?
It’s not three words, but I came up with this recently. Genius musician, amateur human being and beloved brother. The amateur human being didn’t apply to him when he was in the studio. (laughter)
5) How did Gene influence you?
If there was an influence, it would be a culmination of everything above. For every one band that I produced, Gene produced dozens. He gave of himself on a personal level, and that’s important and what I try to do so also. You give your time and try to become what they need in the studio.
Some funny musings from Mike when talking about Gene were, “Gene was like he was from a different time. It was as if he was one of the Bowery Boys, or the Three Stooges. He should have been a farmer or something because he was a barter guy… like you give him a sack of oats or beans and you barter with him. He was not good at things of this life like money and keeping track of finances. He was intelligent, but not in a book smart way. He was street smart, and could function well in that capacity. He could always spot a mark and he couldn’t wait to get out of the studio and bet on a horse. I was very close to all the people Gene was…”
Gene, Marie McGilvray, and Riki Michele – Photo courtesy of Glenn Holland