Interview: Black Reuss
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Thinking back, I think it was Elvis Presley's influence. Music was always around during my childhood, but only when I discovered the king of rock, a new dimension came along. I wanted to perform and inspire people like he did. I realized that you could spread a mood with music and that's what I wanted to do. If it wasn’t music, I would probably do visual art. the theme of spreading a mood remains, but in a different form. That fascinates me a lot.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Since I can't live from music, I have a job and I like it a lot. I work in marketing since more than 20 years and have also worked in the music industry as a marketing director and A&R. Family is something central for me. I like good food and good wine and I love to move in the nature. With Black Reuss I have a project which describes my life in 4 sections. These are Metamorphosis, Journey, Arrival and Death. So, life now is my biggest inspiration.
How long has your band been around?
Black Reuss is conceived as a band, but there is no band at the moment. It is a one man show. I write, play, produce everything alone. The only instrument on the recordings who's is not played by me are the drums because my sk. Therefore, I invite studio drummers but it's not a band. I've been working on the Black Reuss project since 2017 and the first album Metamorphosis came in 2021.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I currently live in the Principality of Liechtenstein, in the Rhine Valley. That's also where I grew up. In between, I was in Zurich for 20 years and came back to the Rhine Valley 1.5 years ago. I don't think that the area has influenced me musically wise as the scene is much too small for that. The influences of musical nature came more from the, musically speaking, larger countries. But the mood here in the Rhine Valley is sometimes a little depressing. The landscape and the area have a certain melancholic beauty especially in autumn and winter. It may be that this had an influence on my melancholic streak.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
When I started the project in 2017 of course I had to have a name. Thematically, Black Reuss is about the river of life and because I lived on the river Reuss at the time, the name of the river also came into focus. I then connected the whole thing symbolically with the color black, because what I'm doing has a certain weight and melancholy.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Since I don't have a band right now, I won't be touring with Black Reuss. Maybe I will in the future.... I would love to do that. Right now I'm concentrating a lot on producing and live touring is not in focus yet. But who knows.... it would be great to tour with Black Reuss.
With bands I've played with in the past, we've toured a lot. One band I formed in 1991 was Excidium (the Swiss, not the Italians :-)) Between 1993 and 1997 we toured more intensive and there are a lot of good memories from that time.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I haven't been on tour the last few years, so it's hard to say which is my favorite venue. I prefer medium-sized clubs between 800-1700 capacity. There are a lot of cool venues I would like to play but to name one it is definitely Wacken festival. If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
To a young person starting out with a band I would only give one hint. Do exactly what you want and do it well. Follow through with what's in your heart and persevere. I would say the same to myself. I started my first real band when I was 16 and back then we just did what we wanted and followed through. As our success grew, we lost our way too often and listened to people who didn't help us and actually had other priorities than to help us do what we do best. Only if you are one hundred percent authentic, it comes across that way.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
See answer before
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
It is always difficult when you ask a father which is his favorite child. In fact, I don't have a favorite song. But I have songs that are very close to me in theme. One is certainly Love, from the first album Metamorphosis. In this song I talk about how strong the love for my son is and that this power is actually insurmountable.
From the new album Journey it's Integrity and Redemption. Redemption because I got out of my comfort zone and dared to do things compositionally that I couldn't do before. And Integrity, because that is so important to me. Integrity is one of my highest values.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
As I am not touring, I can not answer this question.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
My process is such that I usually compose the music first. I start from a mood that I want to translate musically. Then I make the lyrics and add the voice at the end. I also always do a pre-production first in which I also incorporate a lot of spontaneity. I then try to capture that in the final production by re-recording everything. Usually with a certain distance to the pre-production. I consciously don't listen to them for a few weeks, so that I can go to the recordings with fresh ears, so to speak.
Since I don't have a band, there is usually no external feedback, my closest ally in this regard is my wife, she embodies the listener very well and her judgment is very important to me. Otherwise, I pull it through as I want it. This is also like a photo for me. Songs are also partly like snapshots. They are momentary recordings. Some fade with time and some stay forever.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
No. And that’s exactly why I don’t want to have a band anymore :-) It was often too much discussion and less doing music. I don’t like that situation.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I am currently working on a new project with my father-in-law. He has published his first book of poetry, some of his poems have impressed me and my music has impressed him. So we have decided that Black Reuss will put some of his poems to music. If it comes out well, I will release 5 songs next fall.
Then I'm already working on the third album Arrival for which I want to give myself a little more time. Journey came less than a year after Metamorphosis. Let's see...