After Brant Bjork left Kyuss, Gene Trautmann got the call from bandleader Josh Homme to come to the desert for an audition. He played with the group for two weeks, but the gig eventually went to Alfredo Hernandez.
Gene Trautmann did play drums in Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) between 1999 and 2001 though, when Troutmann replaced original QOTSA drummer Alfredo Hernandez. In 2002 it was Dave Grohl who took over the drum seat from Trautmann.
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Gene Trautmann started playing along to records when he was 11 or 12. “The KISS Halloween special was sort of like that moment of clarity that told me I wanted to be involved and I had to do this for living,” he says.
Gene Trautmann began playing in punk bands in high school and eventually joined a group called the Miracle Workers, who were dedicated to reviving the first-generation punk of mid-’60s garage bands like the Standells and the Count Five. He followed the band to Los Angeles and played with it on several albums, in addition to touring the U.S. and Europe.
Though he has always had wide-ranging tastes as a listener, Gene Trautmann is particularly inspired as a musician by some of his stoner-rock forebears. “To be honest, I listen a lot to what Brant Bjork has done, and also to what Alfredo Hernandez has done,” he says. “Part of that is due to the fact that they worked with Josh, and what they did was really great. My main thing that I listen to in what Brant Bjork does and what I aspire to is his right hand and the 16th notes on the ride cymbal—filling up the empty spaces with a shimmering cymbal sound. Conversely, stylistically, I really love the English rock drummers from the ’70s, like John Bonham and Mitch Mitchell. They were like jazz-trained guys playing in a rock medium with a lot of more finesse in their chops and the ability to do more subtle things. I guess that’s where my own path is more divergent from the straight-ahead thing."
“To me, drumming is about complementing the song, and different drummers approach jams or open-ended songs in different ways,” Trautmann adds. “I think ultimately with rock music, the style that’s demanded is the ability to be really solid and simple, so I think the challenge in longer jam-like songs is to not overplay and to keep things interesting. You can’t give it away all at once. When I hear some recordings, I bum out when the drummer is just all over the place all the time, trying to fill in the spaces without respect to the song structure.”
The Queens are more melodic, more psychedelic, and more drone-oriented than Kyuss, and Homme drives his musicians hard to hit the limits of their creativity. “I like that,” Gene Trautmann says. “I don’t want to be in a band where we get to rest on our laurels or where it becomes a formula, because then it becomes boring and my playing ultimately becomes boring. Basically, this is the best gig I’ve ever had. I love what I do with them, we travel extensively, and we tend to have a pretty grueling tour schedule—we play almost every day. It’s what I’ve always strived to do, and I get to do that now, and being involved in the recording process with them is better than anything I’ve done in the past.”
Proudest recorded moments:
“I like ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ because I feel like I had a lot to do with the way the song ended up sounding. It’s all based on the beat, a very drum-driven thing. Josh just gave me the song and said, ‘What would you do with this?’ I did that pounding rhythm and he said, ‘Wow, that’s perfect!’ I also like ‘Monster in the Parasol.’ I didn’t do it to a click track and it’s really tight and disco-y, and I like that. There’s a song that’s not actually on the record, it’s a European B-side called ‘Ode to Clarissa,’ and that’s really awesome; it’s got a great Bow-wow-wow/Bo-Diddley tom-tom thing in the middle of it. It’s really punk rock and very much like me.”
Gene Trautmann: “I’ve got a vintage ’69 Camco set; 26x14 kick, 10x14 rack, and 16x18 and 18x20 floor toms. I’ve got a 1940’s WFL 6x14 snare drum, and I play Zildjian cymbals—I have an endorsement with them. I’ve got a 24-inch ride, 19- and 20-inch crashes, and a 20-inch ride as a crash, and they’re all A’s. I also have a set of bongos and a cowbell and a tambourine, and that’s basically the set-up.”