When I started Heavy Metal Duchess, I thought I had all the time in the world to update and post regular content. As you can see, that plan didn’t work. So my humble apologies to the few that actually read this page. A bigger apology goes to Ben from Black Metal & Brews. I did an interview with Ben almost 4 months ago about metal, beer and mental health. Thanks Ben, for being honest and willing to open about things that society takes too lightly. Here is what Ben had to say:
According to the Black Metal and Brews mission statement; you want to listen to every album possible and drink all the beer. How is that going so far?
Black Metal and Brews began as a means for you to combat depression. You put out a personal post a few months back explaining how the website helps you conquer depression and moves you out of your comfort zone. Can you elaborate on that?
Depression is a personal thing, yet it’s not something that is unique to a given individual. I think many people who suffer from depression feel more isolated (either by society or as a symptom of the depression itself) than we actually are. Sometimes isolation is healthy for growth, but sometimes it can be the most suffocating feeling imaginable. As someone who is fortunate enough to be able to get by despite this ongoing issue, I realize that sharing my struggle might encourage others to seek help, support, or whatever it is that they might need. I know that by continually making myself visible and by doing something other people care about, I have created a system for addressing certain aspects of my depression. My primary desire is to withdraw from the world when I feel frustrated, inadequate, or overwhelmed. While sometimes the large amount of emails I receive for BM&B can contribute to this stress, the attention and positive reactions of my readers ensure that I won’t stay away from writing for too long.
It’s important for me to elaborate on this here: for me personally, positive attention can sometimes intimidate and overwhelm. Sometimes people send me messages of support that I just completely ignore because they catch me off guard and scare me. If I do something that people like, I often imagine it as an expectation, a pressure to repeat the positive performance. So please don’t view this as an ego thing or seeking approval nearly as much as it is knowing that something I do regularly brings joy to others. I like knowing that I’m making a difference in the creative communities that inspire me. If you’re depressed and the only joy you have comes from the approval of others, please realize that this is only a small component of life and that the best feelings of all come from approval of yourself.
Depression and other mental issues are taken too lightly in society. If the public cannot see a scar, then it’s not worth talking about. What do you think it will take for the media to open up about mental health especially media in the metal/punk/alternative areas?
So, tell us, did you successfully complete The Complete Beer Course: Beer Boot Camp for Beer Geeks by Joshua M. Bernstein? What can you tell us that we may not know about beer?
From all the beer reviewed so far, which one still stands the test of time and why do you say so?
Most beers I’ve given favorable reviews are probably worth visiting again. However, I’ll admit I’m not often one to revisit beers frequently. This is partially because my budget doesn’t allow me to keep a six-pack (or bomber) on hand for fun very frequently unless I want to cut into my list of beers that I plan on reviewing in the future. Some old favorites that have held up nicely are North Coast’s Brother Thelonious, Delirium Nocturnum, and the seasonally appropriate Pumking from Southern Tier. Brother Thelonious was the first beer I ever had served at room temperature, possibly one of the only bar experiences I remember so vividly. It’s been a favorite since that day. Delirium Nocturnum is just simply great. All of the beers coming from Brouwerij Huyghe (makers of Delirium) are top notch, but that’s the only one I’ve reviewed. Finally, Pumking is probably the best pumpkin beer I’ve had aside from Southern Tier’s other autumnal offering, Warlock. There are a few other mighty beers I’d really like to include here as top picks, but I haven’t reviewed them yet and don’t want to reveal any impending plans.
Let’s talk music. I know we are a few months away, but what’s on your top ten lists for 2014 so far? (NB. This interview was conducted four months ago…)
What is your biggest pet peeve in the music industry right now?
My biggest pet peeve in the music industry? Man, I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but since it’s my field of choice it’s the thing I notice the most. I really don’t like lazy music writing that caters itself more towards turning a profit than actually engaging the audience with quality words about exciting new music. I won’t name names, although unexciting websites about underground music are a dime a dozen, and they’re typically the ones that are profiting from advertisements. That’s not to say that money inherently ruins writing, as many of the best metal writers right now are definitely seeing some income, but I feel a lot of sites with ads give in to temptation to put out Buzzfeed-esque articles or crappy gossip pieces instead of really putting something of merit out there. I could rant about this for ages and it would do me no good, but seriously…some days the only thing keeping me writing is the knowledge that a large majority of the metal press lacks integrity and quality control.
You hold down a full-time job, play dad to an inquisitive cat and still manage to churn out quality pieces for Black Metal and Brews. What would you like to say to aspiring music writers? Also, what myths would you like to debunk about being a music writer?
Aspiring writers should write because it satisfies them. If you do it for love and passion, you’ll always do your best. That’s not to say that your best today will be as good as your best next week, but that’s the whole point. Anything you do regularly is a craft and regular practice will make it improve. I’m not embarrassed by any of my mediocre writing, but I use it as a touchpoint for my own planned growth and improvements. I’m always looking forward to new music and new opportunities to expand my voice. I encourage others to do it as well. Also, don’t do what I did and name your site with a genre in mind unless you’re 100% positive that’s all you’re going to want to do. In retrospect, I’d probably have chosen a name with less limitation, but I write about whatever I want on Black Metal & Brews and know that my audience will follow because I’ve developed a reputation for pushing stuff from out of left field. Also, don’t read what others write about an album until you’ve written your own review. If possible, don’t even discuss it. If your opinions are formed on the basis of others’, you’re inherently selling our own judgment short. Readers want to know that you back everything you say in writing. While it may be an easy grab to write high praise of that hot new album, you’ll regret it when all those new readers you gain realize they don’t have much in common with your typical fare. Carve your niche and your audience will eventually find you, even if it takes a few years.
What can we expect in the future from Black Metal and Brews?
The future of Black Metal & Brews is a strange and nebulous beast. Work and life throw me in many directions I don’t always anticipate. Sometimes I have a prolific month or two. Sometimes I go weeks without a blip. This is still just a hobby but I’m slowly laying groundwork to make this more of a self-sustaining project. I’ve purchased art to eventually make some merchandise and do plan on finding a few fun ways to possibly make a small income from this without diluting the purpose of my writing. I’m also hoping to launch a podcast and get back to making beer and tape pairing videos in the near future, hopefully by the year’s end.
Would you like to add anything?