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?
BR: Describing myself is not easy. I would describe me as an open, straightforward person who has a certain tendency towards melancholy. I am rather extroverted and very reflective. That is also what this project by Black Reuss is about. Black Reuss is the flow of life of myself, who describes the change and chapter I experienced, through music. The current project consists of four albums, reflective four stages I go through until Death. Metamorphosis, Journey, Arrival and Death. This is my life flow and the four milestones each packaged as an album. The first three are retrospective, the last one will have to be projective
Stylistically, Black Reuss is at home in melodic doomy heavy metal with a touch of melancholy and a certain heaviness and a touch of goth.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
BR: I think it all started with Elvis Presley when I was a teenager. Elvis was the opener to rock for me. As the years went by, it got harder and harder and I was influenced by other artists, but Elvis was the door opener. He was a complete artist. Great songs, a mega performer with incredible charisma. Through him, being an absolute superstar, I realized that music is a universal language with which you can reach everyone in the world. That’s what I wanted to do and learn.
I am the son of an Italian emigrant family and currently live in the Principality of Liechtenstein with my own Family. So Elvis made me start to play guitar when I was about 12 years old and had my first Progressive Death Trash Metal Band when I was 16. After playing in Bands and touring for almost 30 years I had enough and had a break. Suddenly I felt that something in my life is missing. Music makes me feel good is a perfect balance to my life. So, I first started to write song after song and tried different sound designs as well. Until I found the way to do what comes from deep inside. And that’s Black Reuss. Black Reuss is 100% my Music from deep Within.
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?
BR: Inspiration and influence are two different things for me. I find many things inspiring. Not only music, but also other things. There are many people or events that have inspired me. Even a lot of things in the nature is inspiring. For Black Reuss, lifecycle has a big influence. As the actual Project consists of four albums reflective the different stages in my life I actually write about that at the moment. There was a point in my life, where I decided that something had to change in my life, and I worked very hard on myself. That’s the transformation. The current album, Journey, is the journey to arrival and so on….
I have been influenced by many artists. My musical horizon is very broad. I listen to everything from classical to jazz, from alternative rock to metal, from doom to stoner rock…from electronica to urban. But rock is my thing. That’s the music that touches me the most. Something just happens there. But there are also artists who are not only great musicians but also great people. When someone is very authentic and lives what they do, it’s very inspiring and you can hear that in the music.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
BR: My goal is to release music that is as close to me as possible. Music is a super outlet for me where I can fully express myself. Of course, I’m happy if I can reach as many people as possible with it. But I’m more interested in getting people to think about it a little more deeply and not just consume it. That’s difficult nowadays, but I’m lucky that I don’t live from music but mainly work. That gives me the possibilities to make music the way I want to.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
BR: There are a lot of moments I am proud of. But the first that comes to my mind is the release of the first Black Reuss Album Metamorphosis. Actually, Black Reuss is a one man show. It is produced like a band, but its only me. I write everything, produce everything, play all instruments (beside the drums). So, to know, that I can do an album all by myself in being so near to what I really want to do, makes me proud.
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?
BR: Yes, that’s right, it is difficult, but it always was. To be honest, I think it is even easier nowadays. If we think to the possibilities we have to communicate and make content available through so many different channels, than we certainly have better possibilities to reach people than 30 years ago. The difference is the audience and the speed and amount of information’s the audience must deal with. There is a certain shift to mood-oriented music listeners than real fans. What I want to say is, that maybe the audience don’t care a lot about the one who makes the music, but more if the music touches them. I believe, that if you really have good content who can touch people on the emotional side, then you have a chance on to a certain level. From a certain point on, you need support from institutions or people who can open certain doors who allows you to become bigger.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
BR: I don’t have a band to play live at the moment and I don’t plan to in the near future. At the moment I’m concentrating on writing and creating. Playing live turns me on a lot, but it has to be the right time and setting. If I feel that there are really people out there who want to see Black Reuss live, then I will do it.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
BR: Ohh… I could talk about this subject for hours. I’ll try to keep it short. There are two sides that you have to consider. One is the consumer and the other is the artist.
I think it’s great and it makes life easier for the consumer. You can listen to music with one device whenever you want and wherever you want. That’s a great thing. But for the artist, it’s a bit different.
The influence that Spotify and other streaming platforms have on the consumer is really bad. Basically, the algorithms they use make your horizons very small. They only ever suggest music in the genres you’re already into. And it has a bad influence because then the consumer doesn’t discover new things for themselves. Moreover, the product is devalued, so to speak, because you no longer have a connection to a record like you used to, you no longer own it, so to speak. That probably leads to the fact that the listener is no longer a fan of the band, but of a certain style. The last one is the business model; I don’t think that’s right. What the artist or songwriter or producer etc. gets does not correspond to the effort he puts in. In the early days, the labels and the artists simply missed out on that. It seems to me as if nobody thought about how much their music is really worth.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
BR: There are of course a lot of songs I wish I had written. To name two, “Gimme Shelter” of The Rolling Stones. The song has an incredible mood and a great message. I mean, it was written during the Vietnam War and it’s still valid. I’ve had moments in my life, and especially lately with all the events going on around the world, where I’ve thought, give me shelter.
Then I wish I had written Anesthesia of Type O Negative. The song is musically strong, and so are the lyrics. I mean, how far do you have to be to write something so meaningful? In life you are disappointed regularly. And it hits you the hardest, when disappointed by people who mean a lot to you. If you’re a sensitive person, and I think Peter Steele was. Then you probably wish for an anesthetic at such moments, or you just develop that you don’t feel anything anymore when that happens. Like a wall between you and love.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
BR: I mean, I have worked in the Music Industry for almost 20 years and yes, I would change a lot of things if I could. But one should always be careful with hindsight. It is easier to judge in retrospect than to make decisions in the moment they happen.
I still believe that success is mostly based on good teamwork. That is, if everyone does their job with dedication and heart, and does what they do best, then the chance of success is greater. And if every puzzle fits together in such a way that the whole picture emerges, then this power cannot be beaten. So, the record companies, management etc. also have their justification and are important for the industry. Not every musician who writes or performs good songs is also a manager or knows about finances.
What I would change is the copyright. I think that intellectual property is not protected enough and that abusing is not punished severely enough. Don’t get me wrong, punishment is not the way, but sensitivity to the issue is. So, if everyone today has the feeling that you can copy a song at will and use it for all kinds of outrages, then that’s just wrong. The author must be compensated, and fairly.
This applies not only to music, but also to things like the written word. I mean, how is a journalist supposed to do good research if he no longer receives anything from the publisher for his work, and how is a newspaper supposed to produce good content if people are no longer willing to pay for the newspaper? And the same goes for music. If the consumer doesn’t appreciate the value of the thing, then the whole chain doesn’t work. So, I would have invested more there in education and awareness.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
BR: Beside of promoting the actual album, I am working on the 3rd album Arrival, and I am working on Songs where the lyrics are coming from with my father-in-law, who is writing poems and just released his first book. I am doing Music on 5 of his poems, which I want to release as EP before Christmas 2022. The next 3rd album Arrival will than probably be released in autumn 2023.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
BR: …to make the long story short, on www.blackreuss.com you find everything. And of course on a few socials, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok….