Could you please introduce yourself to those of us in the dark?
-Hello Battlehelm Nation. My name is Dean Ortega, lead singer of the band R.T.M. and thank you for having me on this fine publication.
I often wonder how people discover that they can do what they do. How did you discover that you can sing and play instruments?
-To start, when I was three years old my mother said that I pulled out all the pots and pans from the cabinet and set them up like drums and started hitting them like drums with spoons. My dad told her, I think he’s going to be a musician. Needless to say they bought me my first drum set when I was four. Fast forward to when I was 13 years old and playing with my first real band, we had a singer that couldn’t keep his mouth shut and would always be saying inappropriate stuff on stage. That didn’t really represent the band properly. Getting fed up with him, I took matters into my own hands and became a lead singer and drummer. From there I started experimenting with the guitar and keyboards and so on, in short 14 was the age.
When did it become a revelation that you can do this and maybe get paid for having fun, instead of just putting out all the money?
-At the age of 15 my mother managed my band and she got us a lot of paying shows all over the Sunset strip in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orange County and numerous private parties. At that point, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
When you spend an amount of your life on a band does it ever feel like you have wasted time, that you have fought one too many windmills?
-No, I don’t ever go in thinking about how long it will take to develop a band. I just try to be especially scrupulous when I decide to start or join a band.
No matter how small or big you were as a band you will leave a legacy behind you. How do you want people to treat this legacy?
-With loving care for the integrity of the music and to understand the blood, sweat and tears it took to create it; before they make decisions for the use of it.
Is digital taking away the mystery of waiting for a new album now that you can upload as soon as you have written a song?
-No, I don’t think so. I think it makes it a lot easier to get your music heard. I feel that it’s how and when you decide to release it to the masses, is what really matters. It’s all in the preparation and knowing the best outlet for your type of music.
How important is image in separating you from all the million different styles of metal there is out there?
-The music is all that matters to me. I don’t keep up with everything that’s going on in the metal scene. I don’t really care about image, I try to stay true to what I am and give the best I can and hopefully people can relate to it.
Do you deal in different topics lyrically or do you keep to one, just using different variations?
-It all depends nothing is contrived consciously. Most of the time I don’t even know what the topic is about until I go back and listen to the melodies and word ideas that I have came up with from writing sessions. At that point, I realize what experience in my life I was singing about, then I construct the idea into a song.
Do you consider yourself a live artist or do you like to spend most of the time secluded in a studio?
-I live to perform and love to create in the studio; totally two different animals but equally appreciated.
How much of a touring band are you guys? What memories do you take with you?
-So far R.T.M. hasn’t played out as much as we’d like, but as for the shows we have played it’s been nothing less than great times. We are hoping that the release of the CD will change that, and we can get on the road and make many more new memories in the near future.
What does the future hold?
-God only has that answer. But for now, all we can do is, as the late great Jimi Hendrix says
“Keep on pushing straight ahead”