A talk with
NATHAN McLEOD (CEO Malevolence Records)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
I’ve been already working for a few years with Nathan McLeod, CEO of American label named Malevolence Records. Along with Metal To Infinity webzine Belgium, we’ve worked out multiple reviews from albums that were released through this label. Thrash Metal reigns supreme at Malevolence Records and I like to know where the passion came from. Basically it’s my intention to question him about what he has been through over the last few decades. This is the story, actually a lifetime reflection of a passionate Rock and Metal maniac…
Q: Welcome at Metal To Infinity webzine my friend, glad to have you here talking about your life experiences. To start I want to go back to your youthful years, when did you first came in touch with Rock and Metal music? What bands are responsible to this?
A: Stefan, to begin with I'd first like to say thank you for your appreciation, efforts, interests, & time you've taken expressed in this interview. I came in touch with Rock 'n' Roll music at a very young age. Two, three, four years old. It was the memories of waking up in the mornings to the radio always being on. Playing music from The Who, The Beatles, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, Chicago Transit Authority, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, Full Tilt Boogie, Cream, Sam & Dave, Chuck Berry, Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy, KISS, Elvis Presley, Deep Purple. This list could go on forever, but I think the people reading this get the idea where the beginning started & came from.
As far as Metal, it was definitely the combination of Black Sabbath & Motorhead. If you'd like to fill in some gaps between the first Black Sabbath & Motorhead albums, listen to some early: U.F.O., Scorpions, Judas Priest, KISS; in my opinion, all had their Metal moments. Hell, you could even spin the first Montrose album & get a taste of some early Metal. There were others of course, but these were the bands that I've remembered, that stood out, made an impression, that I first came in touch with.
Q: I know you have a comprehensive taste of music ranging from Classic Rock to Hard Rock over Heavy/Power/Death/Black and of course Thrash Metal. An explanation please.
A: I'd have to give credit to growing up, living in San Francisco, California most of my life. It's not only where my comprehensive, vast taste of music came from, but my appreciation, influence, & passion for music as well. The San Francisco Bay Area has always been a mecca, a magnet for just about every genre of music. Going out thru different areas of The City growing up, weekday, weekend, workday, it didn't matter. Music-wise, you name it, San Francisco had it. And were a lot of times you literally would just stumble upon some place, a club, a bar, a venue, a pub, & there'd be some band playing some music you'd never even heard before, much less even existed.
Q: Back in the 80s, you were active in a Thrash Metal band. As an 80s US Thrash Metal maniac myself, I’d like to ask for some more information on the band. Give me a small background briefing Nate.
A: There were actually two. Necromancer & MalevolencE. In brief, both were short-lived. There were numerous members in a short period of time whilst in Necromancer. Played a handful of shows during the mid-80's in the Bay Area. Recorded a five song rehearsal demo. The demo as far as I know never saw the lite of day? Not sure if I even have a copy of it in my vault? Once it was recorded, shortly thereafter, I left the band forming MalevolencE with two high school friends of mine, later joined by two members of Necromancer whom had left the band shortly after I had.
Honestly, neither band was that great. MalevolencE the better of the two, due to in my opinion Necromancer's instability with numerous line-up changes, where as MalevolencE had the stability & a bit more maturity musician-wise. Some practices & rehearsals were recorded for a demo that we planned on recording. MalevolencE never did any shows. We practiced & rehearsed a lot with the intentions of recording a demo first before doing any shows. Before we got a chance or during the time we were suppose to officially record a demo, I enlisted in the U.S. ARMY. After I enlisted in the ARMY, MalevolencE basically dissolved. The demo never got recorded.
Q: Can I assume that this was the only band in which you played?
Q: Experienced the US 80s Thrash Metal scene yourself, which moments you’ll never forget?
A: Oh shite! Ha-ha. There was a lot of mayhem, chaos, insanity, off the hook, out of control, mental, completely out of your mind, crazy, total madness going on to during the 80's! Non-stop 24/7, year after year! There's not one word that can describe the U.S. 80's Thrash Metal Scene. Some of the moments I won't forget which I believe to be both the cause & affect of what I just described would be a few of the shows I was in attendance:
Motorhead, Mercyful Fate & Exciter at The Warfield Theatre in 1984. The Warfield Theatre use to have chairs, seats, stage front bolted to the floor. Not after that show! Every seat, chair was ripped out from the floor before Motorhead took the stage. This was all during Mercyful Fate's set. And it just got completely insane during Motorhead's set. The PA systems were stacked as high as the first tier of the balcony. People non-stop climbing up upon the PA's & stage diving a good twenty five to thirty feet into the pit! This was the first show I'd say that I'd seen of this caliber with the crowd as crazy as they were that night. The Warfield Theatre looked like an actual warfield afterwards. It was destroyed!
Slayer at The Stone during their Reign In Blood Tour in 1986. If I thought Motorhead in 1984 at the Warfield Theatre was insane, Slayer, the crowd tore The Stone apart. By far this was the most violent, bloody, completely out of control show I've ever seen. D.R.I. & Possessed the year before at The Farm comes in at a close 2nd. I don't think there was one person that walked out of that show, including myself, that didn't have cuts, bruises, broken bones, knots on their head, blood everywhere on them. And if they didn't walk out after the show, they were brought out on stretchers & into an ambulance!
Death Angel at The Mabuhay Gardens in 1987? My have been 1986? Paul Baloff was running the Mabuhay Gardens at the time. During Death Angel's set, a riot broke out amongst the crowd. Plastic chairs being thrown, broken over peoples heads, bier bottles flying everywhere, Paul throwing people down the two flights of stairs onto the sidewalk of Broadway Street! The San Francisco Police Department were called in to break things up. Afterwards, this Death Angel show, riot appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper the next day. I still have the article I cut out of the newspaper that morning.
These are just s few of the numerous moments I will never forget.
Q: Afterwards this era, what kept you busy?
A: The ARMY. Woman. Harley-Davidsons. Fighting. Partying. Encounters with Law Enforcement. College. Working as an Automotive / Harley-Davidson Technician. Dealing with the after affects of the Gulf War.
Q: One day in 2005, you started your own record label named by the band you were involved with namely Malevolence. How did it all come a bout, what were the intentions/ambitions?
A: This is actually taken straight from my website which I think sums it up: In 2005 Malevolence Records© started in San Bruno, California, USA that was named after a thrash metal band I was in during the mid 1980's. Began as a distribution label that band's, record label's, promoter's, would send material from all over the world: CD's, Demo's, Promo Packs, Merchandise, etc. Received from the masses worldwide, sent what was ordered, & at no charge for the merchandise or shipping & handling.
In addition to advertising on numerous website's, the promotional material was taken to show's, record shop's, tattoo parlor's on a regular basis. Photographed & documenting my work. This was during 2005-2006, that became a reliable source for whomever needed help with distribution & promotion.
Within this 2 year period, Malevolence Records© officially became an Independent Record Label. As 2006 was coming to an end, I was on the road touring with band's than actually at home, thus moving on a constant basis back & forth between Europe & the U.S. Fast-forward to 2010, Malevolence Records© was resurrected in Dublin, Ireland. Presently located in California.
Q: Late 2006, you were touring with bands around the world and lived in Ireland for a while. Finally in 2010, you headed back to California… being on the road for almost four years must have cost a lot of energy from your body. How can you describe these four years?
A: I had actually been in The Netherlands before returning to California in 2010.
It's hard work & hard on your body. Normally you're jetlagged, not acclimated to the time zone differences, bad weather & climate, & or a climate you're not use too working in, long hours, eat what you can when you can, being able to take a shower when there's actually a place to take a shower & clean up, doing your laundry is sometimes completely out of the question. A lot of different variables that a lot of people really have no idea about when you're on the road & what you have to endure. And not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, & realistically. You've got to have a certain mindset, just as an individual needs to have being in the military. The ability to adapt I suppose is a necessity.
It's not touring or the work involved that ever really got to me personally. It was the constant back & forth between Europe & the U.S. & the down time between it all. Sure, your body needs to rest, take a break, a breather. What was hard on myself was there being too much down time in between. You get use to doing something, have some consistency, build up your endurance. I'd have too much down time some times, I'd lose this consistency, endurance & what I'd become use to doing. Get back on the road, & it's like starting all over again from scratch or back to square one. That was the biggest toll my body would take & the hardest part.
The other was the economy plummeting, affecting every type of industry, eventually what lead the World into a recession. My daughter born in April 2008. Taking whatever type of work I could where I could, & less & less of it being on the road, just to make ends meet. This had lead to a lot of the down time.
Q: By the way, which bands you were touring with those days?
A: Tours as well as doing one off shows here & there, just to name a few: KISS, Ulysses Siren, Heathen, Warning SF, Strangers In The Night (UFO cover band featuring Jon Torres from Ulysses Siren and David White & Terry Lauderdale from Heathen), Mass Extinction, KAOS, Angel Witch SF.
Q: Since a couple of years, you’ve been associated with a Belgian Metal organization named Metal Over Oostrozebeke. I guess you were represented Malevolence Records at the festival’s 2012 edition along with Kaos, Septic Christ, Absentia and T.C.F. First, how did you came in touch with both MOO festival founders Marino and Benny – how was your stay at this feast on Metal?
A: I met Benny almost ten years ago now. I met him thru the Internet doing some CD, Demo, Live Bootleg trading. Benny & I had been trading back & forth for a few years.
We'd become friends since over the years & had remained in contact with one another thru the Internet. It wasn't until 2010 I actually met Benny & Marino in person.
I was in The Netherlands at the same time Metal Over Oostrozebeke 4 was being held. Drove down to the festival, had an excellent time. The food they serve is outstanding, top it off with pints of Stella Artois; no complaints. Both Benny & Marino are really great people!
I didn't attend Metal Over Oostrozebeke 6 when KAOS, T.C.F., Septic Christ, & AbsentiA played. I had been in a car accident in December 2011, & sustained a really bad concussion that had been giving me problems. There was a lot of therapy, treatment, involved afterwards I needed, extending well into August 2012. I wasn't able to attend last years festival due to my doctor at the time not giving me flight clearance until I was completely outa the dark & into the lite with this head injury. I was or would have been putting myself at risk being in a pressurized cabin of an airplane for any length of time.
I was a bit devastated to say the least when I was given this news & not able to be in attendance at last years Metal Over Oostrozebeke Festival.
Q: Michelle Murray did the merchandise that day as a representative for Absentia and Kaos. A while ago she forwarded promo stuff to me from both bands, the pleasure was all mine to spread the word of. How’s the relationship with Michelle these days?
A: Since both KAOS & AbsentiA have broken up, I haven't seen or spoke to Michelle in quite some time. Believe it may have been at the last KAOS show this past January or around this time that I last spoke to her? I know that she had moved late last year, is working & so on. Hello Michelle. Thank you for spreading the word.
Q: The partnership with Metal Over Oostrozebeke Festival grew as time passed by, what are the plans for the future? Would it be possible to sign any of our Belgian Metal bands in the near future?
A: I really don't have any plans for the future, carved in stone anyways. My Dad had passed away unexpectedly in July 2012. It took a year of a lot of red tape to finally have him buried last month. I had been having marital problems & going thru a divorce at the same time. Right now I very much am living moment to moment, day to day. I'm still getting use to being single again. Finally being able to put some closure to my Dad passing away. And just taking it a bit easy right now, giving things some time to set in.
As far as the possibility of signing any of your Belgian Metal bands in the future? Sure, anything's possible. You've got a lot of quite impressive & fine talent coming out of Belgium.
Q: Recently, and in association with MOO organization, you released a second compilation called Perseverance 2013 featuring bands delivering their stuff in a varied manner from Death to Black Metal and from Speed to Thrash Metal. Obvious, Thrash Metal rules with an iron hands throughout the entire running time of this compilation. Which bands do you prefer and why… any hope for them to offer a contract sooner or later?
A: Thank you for the compliment. To answer what bands I prefer & why, right now it would be a bit pre-mature & difficult to answer. I'm actually holding off in offering any contracts until later this year, possibly into early 2014. Although I do have some thoughts of who in mind. In waiting until later this year or into early 2014, it not only gives me some time to think about whom, it also give certain bands their time to write new material, perform, practice, rehearse, etc. I'd like to see what transpires first over the next six months first before I'd make any definitive decision.
Q: Among the featured acts, I notice two of our own Belgian troops named Leave Scars and Sanity’s Rage. I’d like to ask for your meaning on both bands? What about your own knowledge in Belgian Heavy Metal based on both old and new bands?
A: It was actually Benny, the Promoter of Metal Over Oostrozebeke Festival who introduced me to both Leave Scars & Sanity's Rage earlier this year. Until then I hadn't any knowledge of either band. I'm actually quite happy that Benny sent me info regarding both bands & their appearance made it onto Perseverance 2013.
Aside from Leave Scars & Sanity's Rage now, the only other Belgian-based Heavy Metal band I had knowledge of was Eternal Breath, whom I had the pleasure of seeing live at the Metal Over Oostrozebeke 4 Festival.
Q: Other great bands featuring on Perseverance 2013 to me are X-Tinction and of course two Bay Area Thrash Metal faves of mine named Kaos and Ulysses Siren, the one and only!
A: X-Tinxion's unique. Unique in a sense that they have a female vocalist. Which is not very common in a Thrash Metal band today. Monica has a phenomenal voice in my opinion. Once again, another band that Benny the Promoter of the Metal Over Oostrozebeke Festival introduced me to three or four years ago. And just as happy their appearance made it onto Perseverance 2013.
Just growing up in the Bay Area during the 80's Thrash Metal scene, with both KAOS & Ulysses Siren emerging from this era, it was a must have in my opinion to have their appearances on Perseverance 2013. When all was said & done, I'll say I was quite impressed with the end result of Perseverance 2013 with the other bands T.C.F., Aegror, & Mad At Sam's appearances on the CD.
I thank them all for their contributions they made as well as Benny & Marino from Metal Over Oostrozebeke for their contributions made. It was a lot of hard work.
Q: I prefer this type of Thrash Metal above the rest, they bring back the good old feel of the Bay Area scene… awesome! Now all of the Kaos albums are available through Malevolence Records, right? Give up an address where the order these fantastic efforts Nate?
A: Yes they are. You can order online at: http://www.malevolence-records.us/Store.php
If people prefer snail mail ordering, I can be contacted at: email@example.com
Q: What’s the current situation in the camp of Kaos? Their latest EP “Validated In Blood” kills and I look ahead for the follow up, really.
A: As I had mentioned earlier, KAOS broke up earlier this year. They did their last show at Slims in San Francisco in January. KAOS were in the studio prior to their breaking up writing new material, working on a full-length CD. To the best of my knowledge, KAOS had half the material written & recorded. What KAOS actually plans on doing with the material they had written after Validated In Blood, up to the point of them breaking up is actually a really good question. A question I honestly don't have an answer to. Although, it my understanding at their last show, speaking to Jason & Stacey of KAOS, releasing new material they weren't opposed too. The opposition was not doing anymore live shows.
Q: The moment I’ve heard the news you signed 80s US thrashers Ulysses Siren, I went crazy. Absolutely one of my own old school Thrash Metal faves, the release of “Above The Ashes” album keeps me alive and kicking. Relentless Records officially released the CD in 2003 but from now on, also available through Malevolence Records, same question here: pen down the url to order this killer album!!
A: That is correct. You can order online at: http://www.malevolence-records.us/Store.php
If people prefer snail mail ordering, I can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: There is a new Ulysses Siren album well underway to be released in September 2013. I’ve heard only one song, actually the title track ‘Justifiable Homicide’ on the compilation “Perseverance 2013” and I’m overwhelmed, I really am. Such a strong composition, still delivered in a Bay Area thrashing way… awesome piece! My expectations are highly-strung, what to expect from the entire album. Do you mind to give us a foretaste?
A: Thank you. In addition to what you've stated in your question with what to expect & a bit of foretaste, Add their BIO:
Ulysses Siren was formed in South San Francisco in 1983. Throughout the 1980's was an innovative hardcore thrash metal band. Over the years through different member changes and shifts in the worlds metal topography, Ulysses Siren 30 years later hasn't deviated from the original matrix. With: The less is more approach, says it all. Also a possibility of another record label releasing Justifiable Homicide on vinyl?
Q: Tough one, would this be the best album ever released through your label?
A: Hmmm? That is a tough one. I'd like to think so, but I am also saying this before the CD is actually released. Therefore I'd have to actually wait, let the music do the talking, which it will do, & see what the response, demand it creates to accurately answer the question. It's just pre-mature to say either way yes or no.
Q: Can you give us the correct and official CD release date. Any possibilities for fans who want to place a pre-order?
A: The official CD release date is November 2013, with a pre-order availability in October 2013. The pre-orders will be posted on my website: http://www.malevolence-records.us/index.php within the next few weeks. Once officially released, Justifiable Homicide will be made available for digital download at a later date thru iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby & Google.
Q: As promised, I will work out an interview with Ulysses Siren bass and guitar player Jon Torres soon in hope to get all the details on the new album. Be sure, we also dive into the early years of existence. We’re reaching the end of this interview Nate, I know you’re a very busy guy but still I’d like to ask if you have some time left spending time for other pursuits?
A: Appreciate it. I'm sure Jon will pick up where I've left off regarding the new Ulysses Siren - Justifiable Homicide CD, giving everyone a little bit more details, specifics, etc.
No, haven't had much time in the past couple years actually to pursuit much of anything outside of my record label. Been very busy tending to other matters, both on a personal & business level. I am though in pursuit of a vacation!
Q: Thanks for always believing in Metal To Infinity, also big thanks for the good mutually collaboration. We keep on spreading the word of Metal with dignity and passion and I’m sure you will do the same. All the very best with Malevolence Records and other activities you’re involved with. Any last remarks before leaving? On your health, cheers !
A: Stefan, you're quite welcome. My pleasure. And I thank you & Metal To Infinity all the same.
My health is fine. Nothing questionable anymore that I am aware of. I'm doing quite well actually. Thanks for asking. Just like to say thank you to "everyone" Worldwide that I've come in contact with over the years, past & present for your support, assistance, time, effort, help, guidance, advice given. You know who you are.
My condolences go out to the Hanneman Family & Slayer. Jeff Hanneman (1964-2013)
And to my Dad, Dean R. Wilhelm (1948-2012) USAF Viet Nam Veteran (1968-1972)
May You Both Rest In Peace... Nathan McLeod
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