EMQ’s with BLIND CROSS
Hi Everyone. Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Heavy Metal band Blind Cross! Huge thanks to vocalist Juan Ricardo for taking part!
What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Hello my name is Juan Ricardo. I am the lead vocalist of Blind Cross. Blind Cross was formed by guitarist Rocco Stellmacher after the break-up of his band Gorgons Eye. He started writing new songs and put together a new band with drummer Andy Korte and bassist Matze Horold from the band Double Action. After a long search for a vocalist, he had a conversation with Pure Steel records president Andreas Lorenz who suggested asking me if I would be interested… I had recently released records with Sunless Sky, Ritual and Wretch plus had a new album coming out from Dark Arena on the label. Once I heard the songs I was immediately impressed by Rocco’s use of melody and the overall classic metal sound of the recording and instantly said YES.
How did you come up with your band name?
The name Blind Cross was created by Rocco. He thought that in every person’s life there is a cross that we must bear… an event that shaped our lives… but this is a cross that no one can actually know or see… so it is a Blind Cross.
What country are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Well this is a two part question because I am from America and the band is from Germany. In America the metal scene is good, especially in the major cities like Cleveland where I am from… but overall it is about new style mainstream metal bands in America in general. Whereas in Germany, and most of Europe, the metal scene is considered better because they are still into traditional metal styles and have not changed as much with the current trends. So in Germany they are still into what people consider “True” metal whereas America is not…
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single or Video)
Blind Cross has completed our debut album called “Merciless Time” that is due to be released on July 5th. To go with this release we have finished two videos to promote the album. A lyric video for the lead-off track on the album called ‘The Hammer And The Nail’ and an official video to the first single off the album called ‘Bioluminosity’.
Who have been your greatest influences?
I started singing in bands when I was 10 and eventually studied classical music and opera in college, so my first influence would be Luciano Pavarotti but as I became a metal singer my influences are: Ronnie James Dio, Robert Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Tate, James Rivera, Geddy Lee, Freddy Mercury and Midnight of Crimson Glory.
What first got you into music?
I had always had a love and interest in music but my musical career actually began, like I said, when I was 10. My mom had friends who were in a Spanish band that was looking for a drummer and singer, and she mentioned that I could play… so in desperation they tried me out and I got the gig. I began my metal career in another odd way… I was in college and at a party singing when a group of guys approached me and complimented me and asked if I ever considered singing metal? I asked if they meant bands like Judas Priest? and surprised them by singing ‘Victim of Changes’ and was asked to join the band which eventually was called Stryker.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Wow! Anyone? I guess I would sing with Iron Maiden… Doesn’t everyone? If I had to have a second choice it would be to do a project with the members of Rush… They have been my favourite band since I first heard them in high school when they released the album 2112 in the mid 70’s.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
This is an easy one…Wacken in Germany! As a metal band this is almost everyone’s dream… but if I had a second choice it would actually be Prog-Power in Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S. Festivals are the big trend now world-wide, it’s hard to get fans to go to small shows but they will attend a festival. I’m actually an organizer of a festival in Cleveland for the label called Pure Steel Metalfest each fall on November 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
The weirdest gift for me is that people try to buy me drinks at every show… I don’t drink alcohol but as the singer in the metal band I don’t think people believe me. Every show someone will buy me a drink and after I tell them “thanks but no thanks” they will insist, so I will graciously accept them but I give the drink to a band mate or another fan.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
If I had one message it would be thank you. Thank you for supporting me and countless other metal musicians with their passion for the music. We are doing this because of them, they are the reason metal is alive and strong after all these years.
If you could bring one Metal/Rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
This would be the man that was the greatest influence on me when it comes to my singing style in metal; the one and only Ronnie James Dio. It is my single, greatest regret that of all the amazing vocalist I have seen that I never got to see him perform live…
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
I love being a musician… Being creative, the fellowship you have with the members of your band, I love travelling and seeing new places, I love meeting the fans and talking about music with them, their energy excites me and makes me want to be the best I can be for them… I do hate being away from my family for extended periods of time.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
If there was one thing I do not like it would be the dog-eat-dog nature of the business part of making music. Everyone realizes how difficult it is to actually make it in music, especially in metal… that leads some people to have the mentality of success at any price, which is unfortunate… making music should be about the joy and the love of music. I always try to help young and up-coming bands and that is why I am also an A+R rep for the record label.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Two albums changed my life…First was Rush – “2112”…It opened my eyes to what heights songwriting could reach, musicianship at its highest level…and Second was Rainbow – “Rising”… When I first heard ‘Stargazer’ I was in awe…Dio had so much power and passion in his voice, I knew I wanted to sound like that.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
I have hundreds of each, but vinyl has a real place in my heart cause that’s what I grew up on and of course you would love the big cover art work…but honestly, I almost never listen to my vinyl anymore. Nowadays if I’m home I will listen to my CD’s cause I enjoy the sound quality…but if I’m working on music it’s on a digital format because all the recording studios I work at have gone almost completely digital… I see a time in the near future where all music will be sold entirely digitally.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Well I’ve done thousands of shows over the past 40 years so I think I will say three recent ones… Sunless Sky at The Priest’s Cave in Brno, Czech Republic in 2017…Ritual at The Full Metal festival in Niederjossa, Germany this past March…and Wretch at The Spirit of Metal festival in Hamburg, Germany this year. Hopefully I will be able to add a Blind Cross show to this list soon..!
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
An athlete! I was a professional boxer at one time and have been running marathons since I was in college… of course that is if I could regain my youth. Even though I’m in my late fifties now, I’m still in very good shape but I would be retired… With music I can continue to perform for as long as people want to see me, my voice feels great.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Anyone? President Barack Obama, Urban Meyer… ex-football coach of Ohio State University, Film producer Steven Spielberg, Horror writer Steven King and Boxing champion Felix Trinidad.
What’s next for the band?
For Blind Cross everything is wide open… Touring is of course a possibility, it may be too early to start thinking about the next record but in music you always have to be looking to the future.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Look for Blind Cross on Facebook or look up any of my projects on Facebook or Pure Steel Records website
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
I honestly don’t know what a Jaffa cake is… but judging from the name I’m going to guess a Cake.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
You’re very welcome and I want to thank you for this chance to share my music with everyone. Stay heavy, stay metal…!
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