Six Questions with Grisly Amputation/Vulture Guitarist Gene Fikhman
by Asya Yanyo
My second Person or Persons Unknown is with Gene Fikhman, guitarist for Grisly Amputation and Vulture (one of my personal favorite bands EVER), horror and gore movie enthusiast, and all around cool and collected kind of guy. I must admit that I don’t know Gene very well, but in my personal interactions with him it has always seemed like he was the type of person who knew lots of information once you scratched the surface. I’ve had a lot of men in my life that are like this — in fact, I am married to one — and it’s been my personal experience that you are never disappointed when you get to know these kinds of guys. They are usually extremely intelligent, full of useless knowledge, helpful in all kinds of situations and hell to play trivia against. This is what made me want to interview him, not about just GrisAmp or Vulture, but about him personally so I could see if I was correct and I think you’ll see from this interview that I wasn’t disappointed. I hope you won’t be, either.
Asya: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Gene, and be my second interview subject for Person or Persons Unknown. I know that you’re currently the guitarist for Grisly Amputation and Vulture — both metal bands, but very distinctly different types of metal. I’d like to ask you a few questions about what has influenced your direction and led to you becoming the musician you are today.
Gene: No problem, Asya. Glad to do this.
Asya: Many musicians have a particular moment in their lives that they can trace back to that was the defining moment that inspired them to want to play music. What do you think this moment was in your life, and why did you choose guitar as your instrument of choice? Was it a particular guitarist or band? If so, do they still influence you today?
Gene: As a kid growing up in the 90’s, I was exposed to only a limited amount of bands. In high school all the metal kids listened to the same 4 bands -– Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, and Slayer. I had friends who played guitar and of course I had to try it. At first it wasn’t serious, just pretending to play music, then one day I saw a used acoustic at a flea market and decided I was going to learn to play it. Like everyone I knew, I started learning Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. It wasn’t until I was seventeen when I purchased my first electric, a Washburn Dimebag Darrell model. This is when shit got serious; at this point Dimebag, James Hetfield, and Tony Iommi were a huge influence on me. The fact that Iommi is missing half of his fingers and still plays fantastic is always an inspiration.
Asya: What are some of your favorite pieces of memorabilia that you have collected as a music fan? Anything in particular that you are really attached to or would like to brag about?
Gene: I have various signed crap, including a dollar bill signed by Sepultura. Buying music on vinyl is a very strong addiction right now. Among the ever-growing collection, the Bongzilla Gateway blacklight vinyl and the Exhumed All Guts No Glory saw blade vinyl are the most unique ones.
Asya: GrisAmp seems to have obvious roots in horror movies and gore (and beer!), and Vulture also seems to be influenced by the macabre, dark, and strange. Is this something you find yourself fascinated by or drawn to, whether in movies or in real life? Can you cite some examples of some of your favorite movies?
Gene: Yeah, beer! The horror genre is definitely my favorite, it all started with Nightmare on Elm Street. I was like eight years old when I accidently watched it and it scared the piss out of me for about two years. I was convinced Freddy was coming for me, ha. The Brothers Grimm books also contributed to my bizarre and weird interests; they always had weird tales about the supernatural and creepy folklore. Some of the movies that I still enjoy today are Hellraiser (1-4), Phantasm, Evil Dead, Begotten, Dead Alive, and The Holy Mountain.
Asya: Between Vulture and GrisAmp and other bands you’ve been involved with, I know that you’ve played a ton of shows — you’ve had some pretty amazing ones, like Cannibal Corpse, Deceased, 16, and Sourvein, just to name a few from the past year! But is there anyone that you haven’t played with yet that you would like to?
Gene: There was a show with Vulture when Bongripper was supposed to play, but cancelled due to their van breaking down, so I would like for that show to actually happen. Weedeater cancelled when Dixie shot off his toe, so there’s that show also. As for my fantasy shows, I’d have to pick Dead, General Surgery and/or Inhume for GrisAmp and Eyehategod, Coffins and/or Electric Wizard for Vulture.
Asya: Do you have any “guilty pleasure” bands or albums that people may be surprised to hear that you (as a metal guitarist) are into?
Gene: Umm, geez, this is the hardest question yet. I’m not embarrassed of much anymore, but I do have some, I like Nautilus Pompilius, Kino, and Stratovarius. There are also some 90’s dance club artists like Reel 2 Real and 2 Unlimited.
Asya: Can you describe your musical style in six words or less?
Gene: “Meat and potatoes with gravy.”
Asya: Thanks again Gene, looking forward to hearing Grisly Amputation play again this Thursday at The Smiling Moose with Liquified Guts and Promethean Horde!