Gene Louis is a musician from St. Louis, known for being the frontman of the hard rock band Bullets & Octane and is now working solo.
Q: I understand you grew up in St. Louis, how did you start getting involved with music?
Gene Louis: Yes, I was about five or six years old when my father introduced me to jazz and blues in New Orleans style music big-band all that stuff it was a lot of fun I began as a drummer playing on riverboats on the Mississippi River in St. Louis Missouri.
Q: Did you always wanted to be a singer?
Gene Louis: I definitely did not start off wanting to be a singer or guitar player songwriter I was always a drummer and I took that very seriously drumming was my passion but I think what happens is as you get older something happens inside of you where you feel you need to get some sort of melodic therapy out of it so when you’re young you want to beat the shit out of the drums and as you get older something that calls you to harmonies and melodies and songwriting I guess that’s just called life.
Q: Are there any musicians or bands that really made you want to be a musician?
Gene Louis: I’ve been heavily influenced my whole life by several different people for starting off with my father and him teaching me about as I said earlier jazz music and stuff that radio wasn’t going to show me and of course all my friends listen to punk rock and rock ‘n roll and as that goes on the been heavily influenced by Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Amy Jean Davis, Patty Griffin, Brian Setser,the Beatles….. I don’t know man it’s hard to think of them I feel like I’m not giving the best examples those of the easy ones it’s those small bands that did something really neat to kind of fall off the map That’s somehow influenced you even a small way better forgotten about.
Q: “Goodbye Love” is a great album, talk about the writing process for the album?
Gene Louis: My album “Goodbye Love” took almost a year to make but not because it was a lot of work, I just had other projects going on so it constantly got pushed to the back burner it’s a pretty cool record I don’t know if it’s my best work but it was fun to make with my friend Joesph Holiday he helped engineer and master and produce it so it was fun just having my way with some old school country influences you can definitely hear the Elvis Costello and the Wilco and Brian Sesser influences on that maybe even some Mike Ness solo project stuff anyway was a great time was a fun record to make.
Q: The songs seem to be very passionate, can you talk more about the themes of the lyrics?
Gene Louis: Well my songs and lyrics kind of fluctuate from what’s going on in my life my next record that’s coming out on iTunes and Amazon in the next year is a lot easier on the ears and on the mind it’s not so deep and dark little more fun I notice when I play shows I’m in a very good mood so playing songs that are really dark and depressing don’t match my energy on stage when I’m very happy so I tried to make a real fun summertime record which might seem cheesy to some people but it feels really good to play live when you’re in a good mood!
Q: Are you currently touring or planning on a tour?
Gene Louis: As of now, I am completely on my own and I’m just focusing on getting my songs together my music videos on my YouTube page which is GeneLouismusic On YouTube my goal is to make a video for every song that’s going to be out on my new record so there is no touring in the future as of now but if you have any leads on booking agents and shows to get to the UK let’s do it. Currently I play a weekly residency at a place called the parlor hollywood on Melrose and Hollywood California with my lady friend fiancé beautiful angel of love life and happiness Amy Jean Davis Every Tuesday at 10 PM you can find us there doing an acoustic duet show it’s a lot of fun.
Q: What is your favorite part about performing?
Gene Louis: Oh man I still get such a great enjoyment out of playing live I think my favorite moments are when I get to play a song I’ve never played for anyone before or sometimes just to mess with Amy I will make up the song on the spot and really challenge my songwriting chops no one really seems to notice the difference between the songs it took me months to write for the ones I write on the spot ha ha Ha.
Q: Are there any current bands or musicians you would love to tour with?
Gene Louis: Well with some of my new music it could fit with different types of bands all over the map with this one it would be fun to tour with The Gaslight Anthem with the Civil Wars Patty Griffin Brian Setser Elvis Costello anything would be great all different types of music I have so many different kinds of records I’ve made over the years that I can kind of fit with a lot of different kinds of bands I think I have 10 full-length records out right now holy cow I can’t believe it and are all on iTunes and Amazon yeah I just plugged myself that’s right.
Q: Besides playing music, what other activities do you enjoy?
Gene Louis: Well besides playing music this might sound really strange but I get a lot of enjoyment and piece out of a night job that I work for the working there for four years and I’ve always been a fan of long drives so at night in the evenings I go and I drive chickens around for about five hours to different locations it’s a lot of fun maybe I like the job because it reminds me of the long drives when I was touring a lot I don’t know but I guess what I’m getting at is other than music I really enjoy traveling in vehicles what a strange answers.
Q: Can you talk about your tattoos, how many do you have and what do they mean?
Gene Louis: My tattoos oh my goodness I’ve lost count I have so many tattoos I think it’s spreading I went to the doctor and he says if I take this medicine it won’t get to my face so it’s only going to stay worth staying Kahaha tattoos permanent mistakes, Well my buddy Adam Daniel Tattoos me at the Perri Inc Cartel in Hollywood the last tattoo I got was of Amy Jean Davis her face is on my rib cage I am running out of room on my body for too many more tattoos plus I’m getting a little bit older and getting tattooed hurts more and isn’t really so much of priority so I probably have over 300 or 400 tattoos.
Q: Is there a tattoo that really means the most to you?
Gene Louis: The tattoos that mean the most to me are pretty easy on my left forearm I have Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dancing from one of my dads big-band fliers and it is outlined in roses which I got when my nephew was born about 15 years ago, I also have the writing on my list that says birth of the blues which is the first song I have ever played drums to my dad taught me when I was about five or six, I also have on the top of my wrists Louie Belson where my dad named me after this big-band drummer that’s why my name is Louis and on my other wrist is Jean Krupa is another big-band drummer I was named after so other than Amy Jean Davis’s face on my ribs I would say these other ones are pretty important for me and of course my mother’s name on my chest Kahaha.
Q: How do you feel about political personalities using a musician’s music for political rallies?
Gene Louis: As far as people using music for political reasons hey man as long as the musicians and bands and artists are cool with their music being used for it I don’t see a problem with it I just like writing songs.
Q: You seem to be very Twitter friendly, following users back and all, is that something you feel a lot of bands or musicians should do consistently?
Gene Louis: Yeah obviously the Internet and all of its tools are super important for bands and artists especially the small ones that are trying to grow and keep up with everybody else and these new young people in their attention spans coming go so quick it’s easy to be forgotten about so yeah I feel I should probably work a little bit harder at communicating with people who care about music and care about my music I do the best I can, but sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day.
Q: Is Bullets and Octane getting back together for another album anytime soon?
Gene Louis: Bullets and Octane, there is definitely no tours in the future the band really doesn’t exist other than we have an almost finished record just sitting there collecting dust and we all kind of agreed that it’s probably our best record yet I know everybody says that about their new record but we’ve been sitting on this one for about a year now and it still seems to be a mix of our past records so maybe one day we’ll get our shit together and actually put this album out it would be nice if we had a label to put it out once again if you have anybody interested you have my email address ha ha Ha.
Q: Any final comments?
Gene Louis: If I may add one more thing, this goes out to all the young musicians out there who might happen to read this and if this reaches you and thank you for reading my silly little interview anyway all I can say to you young musicians is remember to make music for yourself don’t try to make music to become famous or to make money you will certainly lose all sense of self along the way! Make a record with the music that you love and believe in the matter if it doesn’t fit the style of today go out there pass it out to everybody and meet as many people as you can and try to be understanding about other types of music share with everybody play with as many musicians as you can and just have a great time be nice to each other that’s when things will happen for you.
Interview by: Eriq Rivera