“Get your life together. Barring some exceptions, you’ll be funding your own way, at least in the beginning. Do what you have to do to get things done. Sitting on the couch, feeling sorry for yourself and blaming the world for everything is not an option.”
Check out the interview with Gianni Berretta exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.
SKILLY: Where did this all start? Tell us about your journey in the entertainment business.
GB: As a teen, I was turned onto bands like Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, Life of Agony, Carnivore, The Misfits, The Ramones, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, The Beatles, David Bowie and Motorhead to name a few.
After hearing Type O Negative for the first time, I was hooked. I wanted to perform heavy, loud, raw music, and I wanted to make it my life so I could do it all the time. Hearing great music changed my life, as it inspired me to make my own. I first picked up the bass guitar and learned how to sing by recording myself over songs from the Beatles, Sabbath, Floyd and Type O. From there I learned everything I could about playing other instruments, performing, recording, mixing, arranging and instrumentation by writing lots and lots of songs. I also played with a lot of people in different scenarios.
Along the way I have had the opportunity to work with some very talented individuals such as Jules Pampena (Mangy Pride, Scars on Broadway, Curious Case), Domenic Cifarelli (The Chronicles of Israfel, Scars on Broadway, Curious Case), Mario Telaro (Patrick Lehman, Bobby Bazini, Mercy Mother) and Angelo Zarra(Kids Eating Crayons). These are some of the people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning a ton from. They’ve experienced successes as well as hardships in the business and have taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget.
A notable achievement for me was working at Systems Two Recording Studio to record drums on one of my records. This is where my favorite Brooklyn, NY bands such as Type O Negative, Life of Agony and Carnivore recorded their records. I’ve always loved the sound of that huge room, so I saved up the money and booked it for myself. Jules Pampena (drums on the record) and I drove down to NY and got to meet Mike and Joe Marciano, both who worked on my favorite records. We worked with an awesome engineer by the name of Max Ross, whom also worked on some of my favorite records. Above all, it was great to be in such a welcoming, grounded, professional environment. Many laughs were had and lots of work accomplished.
To date, I’ve recorded 9 records, all self-funded and produced. I also do all the artwork (graphic design, video editing, photography, social media etc.) for the bands I am involved in. I, like everyone else out there, am trying to navigate the many avenues this world has presented in order to make a living out of my passion. It’s not easy, but it’s the most satisfying struggle there is.
What would be your biggest piece of advice for the young kids out there trying to do what you do?
Always be prepared. Be professional. Show up on time, whether it’s rehearsals or most importantly, gigs. In fact, show up early to both. Learn everything there is to learn about your craft. Learn how to record, how to mix. Practice everything. Learn how songs are written and what roles each instrument plays. This will help you know what your role is in any given situation. Ask for feedback from people you trust. You don’t work in a vacuum, people will surprise you with the feedback they’ll give. It may even help you once in a while. If you’re a leader, take the lead. Be wary of opportunists (musicians or otherwise). Be wary of negative people (friends and family included).
Get your life together. Barring some exceptions, you’ll be funding your own way, at least in the beginning. Do what you have to do to get things done. Sitting on the couch, feeling sorry for yourself and blaming the world for everything is not an option.
Be humble. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be a complainer. Don’t be negative. You’re never too “big” or too “famous” to be humble. Offer help when needed and lift up your bandmates. Know how to hang out. Being a good guy/gal to hang with is more important than you realize. It’s hard enough getting the work done and your name out there, you could at least enjoy your time together. Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world.
What are some of the hardest challenges and tasks in your position?
At this point in time, I do everything. I write/produce it all, record and perform everything (except the drums). I also do all the promotion, social-media or otherwise. So splitting myself into many roles can be a challenge. If I don’t post that Instagram pic or answer that email, things don’t move forward. Equally, if I don’t put some time in to write, record or mix the record, progress is not made.
The greatest challenges are financial and time-based. I need to work a day job to be able to live and produce my work. So I juggle the responsibilities of my job, my life and what I consider my real work- music. Recording and Touring take time and cost money. I’m lucky in that I’ve got a job that affords me the time I need to do both but it can still be a challenge to do everything on your own dime while saving, paying bills etc.
Another challenge is finding and keeping people that are great (at what they do and how they behave). It’s also a challenge to find people who share your ambition, as well as passion and, are willing to do what it takes to succeed. There’s a lot of talks, but when it’s time to make some sacrifices with time or finances, that’s when people start dropping off.
We all know the entertainment business is very tough, but what do you find is the best way to promote and advertise your music?: I still think the best way to promote and advertise your music is to go out and play it. Develop the live aspect of your band. Create a show people want to see. Write great songs and perform them well. When you become something that people want to see and hear, they will promote and advertise your music too. Nothing will ever beat that.
With a strong presence in the real world, you can then use social media (Instagram is my personal favorite) to promote your project. Don’t keep posting that same pic or vid from that one show you did last year. People will not be fooled. Go out and play. Blogs and music reviews are also a good way to promote/advertise. There are a whole bunch out there and every little bit counts.
Finally, there is the ubiquitous music video/live video. Having both can help show people what you’re all about vibe-wise as well as performance wise.
Tell us about your city. How are the artists and the fans?
Montreal is a diverse city with a variety of musical talent. You could see a jazz, blues, rock and metal show at different venues all on the same night. There is a huge indie-rock scene in Montreal. With a large artist/musician population here, audiences are hard to impress. They’ve seen it all. If local band tours outside the city for a while, people start to view it as being more “legit”. This is when the hometown crowd starts to become more supportive.
Where do you see yourself a year from today?
I will have released my latest record and will be touring with my band, House of Dusk.
Who and what were your biggest inspirations? Who do you look up to in today’s world?
Peter Steele/Josh Silver/Kenny Hickey/Sal Abruscato/Johnny Kelly of Type O Negative, Roger waters of Pink Floyd, Les Claypool of Primus, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Iommi/Butler/Osbourne/Ward of Black Sabbath, Lennon/Mccartney, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Frank Zappa, Mike Marciano, Jack Bruce/Ginger Baker/Eric Clapton of Cream, Jimmy Hendrix, John Entwistle of The Who, The Misfits, The Ramones, Life of Agony, Michael Graves (formerly of the Misfits). These are artists that inspired and continue to inspire me and my own approach to music.
Some of the people that inspired me to go down this path are still active today. I look up to the artists coming out of New York. Kenny Hickey(Seventh Void/Silvertomb), Johnny Kelly(Seventh Void/Silvertomb, A Pale Horse Named Death,Danzig), Sal Abruscato (Life of Agony/A Pale Horse Named Death), Alan Robert and Mina Caputo (Life of Agony). Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (Doyle, The Misfits), Michael Graves.
How do you feel about the music coming out today? Do you like it?
There is still a lot of good stuff coming out today. The New York artists I look up to are still releasing relevant, hard-edged music. You can also just browse the plethora of artists on all those streaming services and find gems. Sleaford Mods is a band I’ve been following for a while now. Despite there being good music out there today, I’m still biased towards the old favorites from my formative years. I’ll routinely listen to those greats for renewed inspiration, reflection or just to vibe out.
Thanks! Where can we contact you and find you online?
Thanks for the opportunity. You can contact me at email@example.com or via Facebook at:
You can also find teasers of my work on https://soundcloud.com/thehouseofdusk and follow the day to day on https://www.instagram.com/houseofdusk.