Interview: The joy of music with Rusty Pacemaker

Ruins is the fantastic new album from Rusty Pacemaker. An exciting gothic metal album that features a lot of dark vibes and tonnes of creativity. The album is quite impressive for a one man band, so with that I reached out to Rusty Pacemaker for an interview. It has been nearly a month since I posted the album review, you can read it HERE.

The interview provided below gives the man a chance to explain his music to the people of the world which  is worth a listen if you have the time. Enjoy!

Tell us about your musical background:

Well, concerning any musical education I can tell you that I have none. I’m self taught on the instruments, on recording and producing. Everything happened quite naturally, I just did it. I started to play guitar pretty late at the age of 29 and suddenly discovered my creativity. I wanted to write my own songs and make an album, so I practised and tried to improve my skills and got all my stuff together to make this come true. I’ve built a small studio and finally founded my label SOLANUM RECORDS to be able to publish my music. That’s the short story of how I became a musician. As a listener I am into heavy music since my early childhood. As most metal fans of my age I started to listen to bands like Sabbath, Ozzy, Priest, Motörhead, etc. My first concert was Ozzy 89 on the ‘no rest for the wicked‘ tour. I was 14 years and still I think that this was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

About your previous work:

Another short story. I have released two albums so far. My début album ‘Blackness and White Light‘ has been released 2010. I did everything for the first time in my life back then, song writing, recording and also mixing and mastering and I had no experience at all. Especially the mixing was like searching for colours in the dark for me. Sometimes I wonder that the overall sound of the album is not so bad at all though a professional sound engineer might think differently about that. Today I consider ‘Blackness and White Light‘ more as a demo, my first try but the start up for my career as a solo artist.

You have a new album “Ruins” out, tell us a little about it:

Well, I could tell you a lot about this album. It is the best album I could have done at this point of my life and career. I’ve invested a lot of time, energy and money in it and that we are talking about it right now is amazing for me and some kind a reward for my hard work.

The writing and recording process took a few years, must of been a relief to finish it?

Actually the writing process didn’t take so long, maybe a bit more than one year or so. Song writing and preproduction happens at the same time in my studio. I come up with any riff or intro or whatever on the guitar and record. Then I build up the whole song on this idea. The recording process unfortunately took more than 2 years. There are different reasons for this situation. I really took my time for practising and recording. I wanted to achieve a satisfying result and a good quality audio signal for the sound engineer to work with. For private reasons which I don’t want to discuss any further at this point I have been held out of the studio for months. Also a technical issue of my PC prevented me from working on the album for more than one month. I had to be patient and yes, finally finishing it was a relief, a nice one.

Ruins has a unique sound, what influenced your choice of sound?

Working as a sound engineer seems like an act of scientific art or artistic science to me. You need a lot of experience and equipment for mixing an album. After finishing my début album it was clear for me that I will never ever mix and master an album by myself. When I recorded Ruins I only took care of a good quality direct signal. For sure my sound is defined by the choice of instruments, how I play my guitar and which settings I use. After the recordings were finished I was looking for a sound engineer which I found in Markus Stock, a.k.a. Ulf Theodor Schwadorf from The Vision Bleak and Empyrium. He runs the Klangschmiede Studio E in Germany and has been the best choice for my album. I have sent him the raw tracks of Ruins and he immediately agreed to do the mix. After a few e-mails I had the feeling that he totally understands my music. So I decided to hand over this job completely to Markus and in fact I didn’t want anything to be changed. The mix was done within two or three weeks and I’m still happy with it. The unique sound you are talking about emerges from the ideas and skills of each person who worked on this album, my drummer Franz Löchinger, Lady K, Markus Stock and myself.

A lot of reviews are not sure about the vocals. It seems to split listeners down the middle.

You are very polite and respectful in saying that a lot of reviews ‘are not sure about the vocals’. Actually many of the reviewers are damn sure that my singing is the main flaw of my music. But I’m lucky that often enough I read that someone likes my voice and my singing. Some reviewers even wrote that my vocal style seems to come from another dimension. Well, this could be good or bad but I believe that it was meant positive.

What are your thoughts on the contrasting opinions in regards to the vocals?

Generally I think that if you like or dislike a band or artist mostly it hangs on the vocals. For example millions of people love AC/DC and I just can’t listen to them because Brian Johnson’s vocals annoy me, I can’t stand them. My sound engineer Markus Stock keeps telling me that my vocal style is very special and fits well to my music. I know that I’m not a very good singer but honestly, I can say that I like my voice and singing. There is not very much I can do about it anyway cause it’s just the way it is. Of course I always try to improve my skills on the instruments and also on my vocal performance. I love to widen my range of abilities as a musician and singer, it gives me more freedom in song writing. As long as there are fans out there who like my music and my vocal performance I don’t care about the ones who criticize my singing cause I know that it’s always a matter of taste.

What inspired the soft spoken style?

Honestly, I can say that I’m not inspired by any specific singer, I don’t try to sound like someone else. Especially concerning the vocals, that would be a bad idea, I think. I have to deal with my voice which is as individual as any others persons voice and I have to make the best out of it. My style of singing is a result of my abilities and the sound of my voice, inspired by the music I compose.

What was it like working with Lady K and Franz Lochinger? They did great work on ruins.

Lady K is a person I know for almost a lifetime now. She has such a beautiful voice that I can’t think of any other female singer for my songs. Her part was recorded quite quickly and I definitely want her on the next album too. I hope she agrees. My drummer Franz Löchinger lives in the same area as I do and we are good friends for a few years now. He is a professional drummer and worked on so many projects. I’m really lucky that he offered me his extraordinary skills. The drums were the only recordings we did in a different studio together with an experienced sound engineer. You need a lot of good micros and experience to achieve a good result for drum recordings. So we rent a studio in Vienna for two days but Franz is such a machine and so much focused on his playing that he managed to finish the recordings in only one day. I love to watch him playing and we had a great time in the studio that day.

The album art is awfully bleak. Any meaning behind it?

When I decided that my new album will be called, Ruins, I always thought about an old ruin, maybe a church ruin for the cover. When the recordings had finally been finished and I had to design the cover artwork this idea seemed quite boring to me. Especially in rock and metal music there are so many albums with a ruin on the cover and therefore I changed my mind. So I thought about the lyrics of the track‚ Ruins, where I sing‚ “we lie six feet under, still believe we fly, so high. The more we rise the deeper we will fall.” The image of a dead bird came to my mind. The cover photo has been shot by an amateur photographer who gave me the right to use it. Still I’m happy with this decision cause I think it’s an impressing, devastating image and fits very well to my music.

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Any plans to tour the album?

I never perform live and I’m afraid it won’t happen in the near future. Rusty Pacemaker is a studio project and I don’t tour for several reasons which I don’t want to comment as most of the reasons are of private nature. On the other hand, never say never and if there are fans out there who want me to play live maybe I’m going to hit the stage one day.

Whats next for Rusty Pacemaker?

I will finish the promotional and label work soon as Ruins is out for half a year now. I am already hungry for writing new songs and spending more time on playing guitar and making music. I am full of ideas for new songs and I like to try out some new stuff. I am just too curious how my future songs will sound like. Don’t expect a new Rusty Pacemaker album too soon because I run my musical career besides my regular job and I haven’t got much time left for it. But one thing is for sure and that is that there will be a new Rusty Pacemaker album in the future. I am looking forward to it!

I think Ruins is a damn fine unique album, what is your final thoughts on your record?

Thank you very much, it feels so good to know that there are people out there who like my music. A relationship is established through music, art connects and unites people all over the world. That is amazing and really makes me proud and happy! Once again thanks to you Steve for this interview, it has been a pleasure for me! I would also like to thank the readers now who have come this far and read these words right now. Thanks for your interest! Good luck to all of you!

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