1. When/how did you first meet Gene?
Well, I’m not really good with years, but I’m thinking it was probably the mid ‘80’s… somewhere in there. I knew about AA and had seen them perform a couple of times, I knew their records. The first time I ever talked to Gene… it was Gene and Michele, and they wanted me to produce their… I think it was their second record. I met with them at a restaurant and we talked about it, but it didn’t work out in the end. The second time I really connected to Gene was when Daniel Amos was doing Darn Floor Big Bite. I was putting together a group of musicians as background vocalists on a song called “The Shape Of Air,” which ended that record, and I don’t remember how I hooked up with them, probably just thought “Well I know them from AA” so I just gave them a call to see if they wanted to be involved. They came over and there were 7 or 8 of the different people that sang on that record. Gene hung around afterwards and wanted to hear more of the record and I played it for him. He was delighted with it, ya know… he loved it and asked me questions about the back ground vocals and the harmony parts, about how you figure those out. I said basically I get in front of the microphone and I try stuff, and he kinda laughed about that. That was the first time that we really had any extended conversation. The first time I had any full on workings with him, and I may be mistaken about this, but the first time we worked together was on a record of a group called Jacob’s Trouble. He engineered that and was great to work with. Really a great contributor and very humble about his suggestions, and very skilled. I could tell even at that point in time his skill and as time went on he became one of the great studio technicians and grew in his craft. So that how I was introduced to his abilities and skill level concerning engineering and his production work… and that came as his reputation continued to grow.
2. What projects that you worked on with Gene stand out as the most memorable and why?
I think of all the projects, the ones that stand out are The Lost Dogs projects because The Lost Dogs concept – four guys from alternative bands, and we do this one off, originally just one record – it was Gene’s idea. It was in some ways surprising, unexpected for me, to have built the relationships that we did. Mike Roe is one of my dearest, best friends and that came about through Gene.
3. How do you think Gene impacted the music scene?
I don’t really know how to measure that. I know how he impacted me and I know how he impacted others around me. I think he was a champion. He was a motivator who brought the best out in people. He probably had the same effect on those he worked with that he had on me, which was making me better than I am and raising the bar. I know all of us have been involved with a few dud projects where you’re in there, and you’re getting paid just hacking away at it trying to make something out of it. There was never a project that Gene did, no matter how sort of amateurish, that he didn’t just put all he had into it. So if you drew up a list of projects that Gene did that he could be proud of, it would be most of them. He wasn’t in there making records just for the sake of making records. He really wanted to do something, and say something, about the faith and say something that really had some integrity. I think integrity was Gene’s middle name, and he brought that to every project he ever worked on, so in that regard, I imagine in countless ways he had an impact on the overall scene. In other words, Christian music that was relevant and not just a Jesus mantra of some sort, or something that was trite… but music that was relevant. That was Gene’s forte, being able to stay current, at least sonically, and he also sat on people about things like lyrics. If a lyric bothered him that someone had written, he would have input into that… but never with bullying, it was always respectful and humble.
4. Three words you would use to describe Gene and why?
Hilarious (laughter) would be one. Hilarious in the sense that… Gene didn’t tell jokes, Gene would make little, sort of under the radar remarks that would leave me reeling. For instance, whenever I was in the studio and we would be working on a project, invariably at some point Gene would get this impish grin on his face and he would say, “Oops”. That could mean that he had either failed to punch in something he should have punched in, which was a little problem, or it could have meant that he erased the entire drum track (more laughing). You never knew what “oops” meant.
A barterer… he was on the barter system. This was an old school guy ya know. Financial stuff he just wasn’t great at, and he was juggling a lot of balls in that regard, but Gene would always manage to land on his feet. He would use the barter system… for instance, if you loaned him some money and he couldn’t pay you back, he would bring you in for some studio time or whatever. He had a hundred different ways of handling his business situations, because with the business we’re in you’re always robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Champion would be a third word… champion of others, and that goes back to what I was originally talking about earlier. He brought the best out of you in terms of your own musicianship. He loved good music and loved being with good musicians, and he loved the potential of that relationship. He was always able, in any given situation, to bring out the very best in whoever he was working with. Some people that didn’t even have a lot of talent, he was still able to get things out of them, and do things beyond what they even thought they were probably capable of doing. Part of the sadness of that though… is Gene never slowed down. I know as a friend, and I know other friends, would say “Man, you gotta get away, you gotta eat better, you gotta get more sleep, you gotta take a vacation, you gotta get out of this thing for awhile.” He would say he was going to, but he just wasn’t capable of doing less than a hundred percent. So I think that the studio sort of became his life. It not only brought him joy, but I think it brought him a lot of pain to because he was sort of married to it and just couldn’t keep from going all the way.
5. As a friend how did Gene influence you?
I’ve already touched on it a little bit, but Gene taught me to listen. He taught me to listen to other people, and Gene didn’t have to fake an interest in other people, it was natural to him. He would seek them out, and was outgoing in that regard, where I’m more reclusive and less open to people. I think being in Gene’s company would bring… because of the joy he received from hearing other peoples tales and stories, and his affinity for them, and his genuine interest… that would make you want to experience the same sort of joy, and to open yourself up which is of course what happens… and it takes you outside of yourself, it takes you from the inward to the outward so that you’re not consumed with your own story, your own life, your own problems and your own fears. You’ve expanded yourself to listen to someone else and their tale, whether it’s a tale of woe, a tale of joy or whatever it may be. Just having the ability to listen and bring those stories out of people is something Gene did for me. It expanded my life, and consequently when that happens it affects you as a musician because you are the teller of tales. Gene directly affected me in my songwriting because rather than repeating my story endlessly, I was able to tell other peoples story through song and put myself in their place. His ability to listen to people and observe became sort of a habit for me, and one that I exercise in order to not only become a better person, and a better person to those around me, but also to become a better songwriter.
Adam Again promo shot provided by Todd Zeller