A while ago Rusty Pacemaker released Ruins (read our review here). Now it’s time for DutchMetalManiac’s Henric van Essen to ask Rusty some questions.
Rusty Pacemaker. That is an unusual name for a band. Where does it come from?
Well, Rusty has always been my nickname long before I even started to make music . A friend of mine started to call me Rusty because of the red color of my hair. When I was thinking about a name for my musical project I just added the word ‚Pacemaker‘. I didn’t want to have a typical doom, gothic or whatever name. I didn’t want that someone immediately associates my name with a specific genre and I think ‘Rusty Pacemaker’ is vague enough for this purpose. I also liked the rhythm of the name as it sounds similar to ‘Lemmy Kilmister’ and it seemed as a nice word play to me. That’s the short story behind my name.
When, why and how has Rusty Pacemaker been founded?
I started to play guitar pretty late at the age of 29 in the year 2003 and only because I got a Strato imitate and a mini amp as a present. I would never even have thought me to start playing guitar that late. Nevertheless I consider that moment when I tried to get the first tones out of this guitar as the start up of my career as a musician. From the beginning on I wanted to make my own music and soon I started to work on my first songs which have been released on my debut album Blackness and White Light in 2010. In the same year I also founded my label Solanum Records. So, officially Rusty Pacemaker came into existence in 2010. The question ‘why’ never came to my mind, it all happened so naturally, I just did. I even didn’t think about the ‘how’ you are asking me. Back then when I started to play guitar it was like if someone would open a valve and creativity started to flow. I collected instruments, recording devices, a proper software and improved my skills on my equipment over the years. I always have been driven by my creativity. I love to compose, write, record, produce and publish my music. Actually, this might be the answer to your question ‘Why’: for the love of music.
You play all instruments yourself, safe the drums, and the majority of the vocal lines are yours as well. Is there a particular reason for that? What do you like to do most? And how did you come in contact with Franz Löchinger and Lady K?
The guitar has been the first instrument I learned to play. By the way, I’m self-taught on everything. From guitar to bass playing it hasn’t been a big step or effort. That felt quite easy to me. To finish a song a singer is needed and so I just got a mic and sang. I have never been part of a local music scene so I didn’t know any other musicians and I never tried to gather some in order to found a band. I think I wouldn’t have had enough self-confidence to play in a band back then. For my first demos the drum tracks have been programmed but I was lucky to get to know Franz Löchinger after a while. He lives in the same area and we became friends. He agreed to play the drums for me what definitely honors me because he is a professional drummer and his skills on this instrument are phenomenal. Lady K is a person I know for almost a lifetime now. I love her beautiful voice and so I asked her if she wants to sing a few parts. Luckily she agreed. She is some kind of a mysterious Lady and she asked me not to give any further information about her person. What do I like to do most? The process of creation in general is extremely vitalizing and satisfying for me and I can honestly say that I like every step in this process the same. Maybe editing is something I don’t like so much as everything else. I always record three, five or even more takes. To listen through the takes, to decide which one would fit best to the rest of the material and to edit is a lot of work what exhausts and sometimes bores me. But in the end also this work leads to a satisfying result and when I‘ve finished a song it just feels good. It’s so nice to listen through the raw recordings when all takes, tracks and instruments harmonize so very well.
Ruins, as the title suggests, is a dark, at times somewhat depressing sounding album. What has inspired you to make Ruins the album it is? And why did you choose this genre of music to be your focal point?
It has never been a question of choosing a specific genre. I don’t care about genres anyway. I follow my intention when composing. I would like to give feelings a transportable form so that the consumer, the listener is being touched by my music. This is what art is all about in my opinion. Nevertheless I am a fan of heavy music since my early childhood. As most metal fans of my age I started to listen to bands like Sabbath, Ozzy, Priest, Saxon or Motörhead. Later I discovered bands like Tiamat, Moonspell, Bathory, Lake of Tears or Cemetary for example. I always liked the dark and melancholic tunes of bands like I named you. Consequently my musical taste leads to a similar sound of my own creations. That’s unavoidable, I think. I totally agree with you that ‘ruins’ is a dark and maybe sometimes depressing album although I would prefer to say melancholic than depressing. I don’t consider melancholy as a negative feeling. It is a very intimate, yet positive feeling whereas depression is a negative, destructive feeling. And for me melancholy and music is a wonderful combination. When I write songs I actually deal with this melancholy and also with pessimistic thoughts. My songs are about greed, fear and the dark sides in our human souls. But in fact I would like to make the world a better place this way. I point out what’s going wrong, I write about fear and these negative feelings which we all have in ourselves. And I hope that the listener is able to reflect on that and to reflect on his own feelings and consequently tries to do things differently.
What is your favorite song on Ruins and why?
To be honest I don’t have any favorites among my songs. If I would have favorites it would mean that I like other songs less and that‘s just not the case. I put so much work and passion in each and every song, you know. I also have different memories to each song and so an individual relationship to every song has developed and this makes it some kind of impossible for me to prefer one to any other.
Are there plans for touring? If so, what countries or even continents will you be playing?
I never performed 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 discuss here at this point as most of the reasons are of private nature. On the other hand, never say never and I want to be open minded to everything what could happen. If there are fans out there who want me to play live maybe I’m gonna hit the stage one day.
Are you working on new material? If so, is it along the lines of Ruins or is it a completely different genre you’re exploring?
At the moment I’m still doing a lot of label and promotional work. But soon I want to finish the promotion of Ruins as the album is out for about half a year now. I am looking forward to be back on the guitar and write new songs as I am just too curious of how my new songs will sound like. I already have a lot of ideas and I even recorded some material yet although I haven’t got a song finished by now. I also wrote down some lyrics and I can’t wait to try out the vocal lines. There is only one song which can be considered as half finished so far. It is called Heavenly Dark and this one is in fact along the lines of Ruins though it offers some new elements as well. As I told you before I truly don’t care about genres. Furthermore when composing it often feels like if I don’t have very much control over my songwriting anyway. I consider Ruins as very diversified. Ocean of Life is completely different to Candlemess and Night Angel totally different to Made of Lies for example. My music is full of variations and features different styles in my opinion. In this sense, my future music will be quite similar, full of variations and surprising but typical Rusty Pacemaker style.
How do you see Rusty Pacemaker ten years from now? Will you have the same one-man lineup with guest appearances? Do you see yourself evolve?
It would be very nice to see the future, wouldn’t it? Life is what happens while you make other plans and ten years is quite a long time. I love to compose and write songs and it’s an amazing feeling to be creative and to share my creations with you and the whole world. This is what motivates me to move on and work hard on my next album. You know, I do all this beside my regular job and beside having a family. Often I’d love to have some more time left for my musical career but at the same time I’m grateful that I have the possibility to be creative and to live this dream. It’s nothing what should be taken for granted. I hope to come up with a new album soon but I will take all the time I need for the process of creation and that’s why I just can’t tell you when my third album will be released. But one thing seems pretty sure to me and that is that there will be a new Rusty Pacemaker album in the future.
Is there anything left you would like to share with us?
First of all I would like to thank you for this interview. I also would like to thank all the readers who have come to this point and read these words right now. Since I am part of this crazy music industry I got an impression of how hard labels and bands struggle to survive nowadays. I would like to encourage the fans to buy a physical album if they like the music and not to download or copy mp3s without paying for it. Music and art are precious and of high importance for our society and must be supported. Stay dark.