Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond


Published December 1, 2005

Heads Up! This article is 17 years old.

Less than a year ago, the band that would become

Elemental was still a work in progress. Not the

music, the band itself. The crew had just picked

up bassist Adam Ridge and was on the verge of

joining up with a new (and current) lead singer

Derrick Jackson. The rest of the guys in the band

– Zach Ruetz guitar,vocals; Jason Anderson,

guitar, vocals; and Treaver Schmit, drums – were

in place.

Says Jackon, “We were practicing in the middle

of nowhere, with three fields surrounding

the house and just wanting to make a name for

ourselves in Fort Wayne.” And they did just that

with their performance at this years’ whatzup

Battle of the Bands. Although Elemental

didn’t win it all, they did garner plenty of

positive response, backing up Reutz’s observation

of, “All five of us together, starting from

scratch, we’re a pretty fresh band … so far

it’s all been positive feedback.”

So what kind of music is Elemental? Anderson

replies, “We’re hard blues, hard R&B, hard

rock, alternative metal, rock … it’s definitely

modern rock.” I know that if I were in any band

that wasn’t country or metal, I would

really hate that question. Sorry for

asking it, Jason, but somebody has to do the

dirty work. I do know what he means: it just

rocks and that question of categorizing may be

one that has hurt more music than it’s helped.

Like the five different musicians who make up

Elemental, the music of Elemental is born from

five different wombs. Who does the songwriting?

“Everyone pitches in” says Anderson. Jackson also

chimes in, “A couple of songs may be written by

one or two of us, but most of the time it’s a

five-man writing process.”

So to get a better look at the results of that

process we delve into the chorus of Elementals’

song ‘Truth.’ The lyrics are as follows:

‘Memories stain my head … I am not alone. I

can’t reach and I can’t stand … where will I

roam?’ Reutz’s take: “It means looking life right

in the eyes, a reality check. Knowing that life

can’t be all fun and games, knowing that there

are consequences for everything you do, good,

bad, right, or wrong.”

Jackson gives his outlook on the chorus: “I was

going through some tough times, enlightening but

tough. I realized, though, that I wasn’t alone.

Memories often do leave a stain in your head, and

we know that stains don’t go away easily. I know

other people can relate to this but do so while

thinking of something completely different; it’s

almost shocking at times.” And I noticed

immediately that Jackson was right. Even though

there was some similarity in Jackson and Reutz’s

interpretation, they were thinking of completely

different experiences. Lots of people are going

to like this band, or-more importantly-relate to


With a writing landscape that has potential to

cross all genders, boundaries and – sheepishly –

categories, Elemental’s future is bright. I

posed the question of the bands long-term goals,

and Anderson replied, “Getting signed.”

When they do reach a plateau that’s suitable to

the bands’ expectations, if you would like carry

an official groupie badge and live up to the

name, here’s a hint for your success. I asked the

guys what meal they would like to have a groupie

cook for them (either before or after a show) and

Reutz responds with “Chicken Wings-all kinds of

sauce from BBQ to Cajun, Cole Slaw, Ranch

dressing and beer.” Of course, that is Reutz’s

final answer after consulting with the other

three guys at the table, but all were smiling and

seemed very pleased with that being the ideal

meal for Elemental on game-day.

But groupies and mega-deals are still a goal for

the band-not a reality (it’s been less than a

year remember.) In the meantime they are living

a local bands’ life. The guys are still working

day jobs, practicing, writing new material,

booking shows and, all the while, taking the time to

support other local musicians. “We respect any

band that can put themselves up on a stage and

give it all they’ve got. Elemental will stick

around, watch the show, and tell them they did a

good job” states Reutz, Reutz’s comment prods

Jackson to make a statement, to which I agree

with wholeheartedly: “Lots of good bands play and

bail after their show instead of sticking around.

Once we as a community of musicians start

supporting each other and have our fans going to

other people’s shows, and vice-versa, is when

people will start talking about the Fort Wayne

music scene. But I do think it’s moving in that


The bands respect and value for other local

musicians shines through once again when we

discuss their playing with their “dream line-up”

for a show. The answers range from Tool, Taproot

and Sevendust with Jackson backing up his loyalty

to locals and Elemental influences’ Second Sun.

Reutz seconds Jackson, “They’ve (Second Sun)

really helped us get started and got us some

shows at the beginning of the summer. They really

took a chance on giving us a shot before they

really knew us.” And that is exactly where it


For the terrible sake of sounding clich

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