Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
MS: As a solo artist, I’ve never felt confined to any particular style and always strive to do something a little bit different with each new release. While my latest EP is heavy, aggressive, and to-the-point hardcore metal, everything I’ve released prior to that has mainly just been based around acoustic guitars and vocals – longer songs with lots of layers and progressive elements throughout… No matter what I do though, I’m a guitarist first and foremost and really enjoy the art of writing a good riff, so it’s fair to say that most of my music is guitar-driven and riff-based with everything else as accompaniment.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
MS: I was born and raised in Chicago (where I currently live), as well as the southwest suburbs of the city. A lot of my earliest memories are linked to music. I distinctly remember being 3-4 years old and absorbing any music that happened to be playing around me, whether it was at home, in the car, at the store, at a party, etc… I would sit and listen to the top 40 countdown on my parents’ little analog alarm clock radio for hours every week, teaching myself how to sing and probably annoying the crap out of my family in the process. I always loved rock and metal more than anything and was about 11-12 years old when I really got into Van Halen (thanks to my good friend Mike). It was about a year later when I finally got my own guitar – a used Harmony guitar/amp combo at a flea market for $40. If it wasn’t for Eddie Van Halen, I’m not so sure that I would’ve become a guitar player – let alone practiced my ass off to try and become at least a fraction as good as he was (RIP).
From there, I started writing my own stuff right away, took a few lessons, and then started playing in bands with friends at school when I was 15. We would write our own stuff, as well as play a ton of covers – Kiss, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, etc… This was the early/mid ’90s, so metal wasn’t exactly popular at school and we were mostly confined to only playing basement parties for our close friends. After high school and college, me and two other guys from high school broke off and formed a new band called Great Solar Stance, which was a hardcore metal power trio. We released a 3 song EP in 2001 and a full length album in 2009. I was also in a band called Catamount in between those years, releasing an EP and album with that band as well. In addition, I’ve also contributed session guitar work on many albums over the years and continue to do so.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
MS: First and foremost, my love for writing and playing is – and has always been – the main driving force behind everything I do. Besides that, I’m always inspired by other bands/musicians, my own personal experiences, my day job(s), world events, politics, friends, family… anything is a trigger for me in some way. I’ve never been particularly good at expressing my thoughts and/or emotions verbally, so music has always been my main outlet. For that reason, I’ve always tended to write more about whatever internal conflicts I happen to be experiencing at any given time and the emotions that go along with that. However, with the increasingly crazy and scary world that we’re forced to live in now, my writing has shifted a lot more towards external triggers during the past few years. The new EP is a perfect example of that.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
MS: To keep making the best possible music that I can for as long as I am able to do so.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
MS: My latest EP is probably my proudest achievement so far. Not only is it my first solo release of heavy material, but I was able to get a lot off my chest and express myself in a way that I’ve never been able to before.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
MS: As an indie artist doing everything myself, it has always been tough to break any new ground. I learned very early on that I would most likely never be able to quit my day job and do music full time, so that part still hasn’t changed for me at all. What sucks the most is that album sales are a thing of the past. It’s all about streaming now and touring constantly in order to make ends meet for a lot of musicians out there. It’s hard to imagine how much tougher it will be 5-10 years from now with how things are going and the direction everything is headed… As for me, I don’t really play live anymore – at least not at the moment… I’m just another one of the many home studio recording musicians out there simply doing it for the love and not expecting much at all in terms of financial payback or success. If that were to change, then I would obviously be ecstatic and overjoyed, but realistically I’m not about to hold my breath – especially after doing it for well over 20 years now.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
MS: Whoops – I guess I sort of gave that away while answering the previous question…Nothing is planned, but I would never rule out any future gigs.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
MS: I’m one of those people who still like to pay for the music that I download. When I was a teenager, I used to love going into local music stores and buying random albums from bands that I’d never heard. Although I don’t listen to very much new music these days, I still like to buy a new album online without streaming it first. For me, it’s all part of the same type of excitement that I felt as a teenager in the record stores. I only wish that more people would actually put their money where their ears are instead of just streaming it for free. That said, I still think streaming sites are great for new artists to get their music out there to as many people as possible with minimal effort involved. But unfortunately, that’s where it ends for a lot of the artists today.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
MS: There’s not nearly enough room (or time) to list all of the songs here, because I can’t just pick one. However, if I have to pick one randomly off the top of my head at this very moment, I’ll just say The Sound Of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel. It’s got amazing melodies, harmonies, song structure, and is so damn catchy. I’m sure that my answer will be different tomorrow though.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
MS: Like any other massive industry, there are plenty of things to hate about the music industry – especially when it comes to their long and detailed history of screwing over artists in any way that they possibly can. Unfortunately, that will never change, but it’s still nice to wish for.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
MS: Right now, I’m writing an album of acoustic songs, as well as another batch of heavy songs that are longer and more progressive than the new EP. I literally have hundreds of song ideas that I’ve recorded over the years, so I always have something to work on. If all goes as planned, I’m hoping to have another EP or full length album ready for release by the new year.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
MS: Here are a few links to start with:
You can also find my music on any major online outlet – Apple Music, Pandora, iHeart, YouTube Music, etc… Thank you so much for your time!