Heart of Steel: Interviews


nightmare-pic1.jpg (23250 bytes)

Interview With Lance King
of Nightmare Records
Interview By JP

This month we are very pleased to present an industry profile on one of the great unsung American Metal labels: Nightmare Records. Recently we had the privledge to speak with Lance King, founder of Nightmare. We at Metal-Rules.com are delighted to spotlight this great metal label and we encourage you to visit their website at www.nightmare-records.com. Don't forget to enter our contest for your chance to to win one of three excellent Nightmare Records samplers featuring 27 artists!



Mr. King! Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the label? When was it founded? Who were the main people involved, and how was the name chosen?

Well that's a long story that can be summed up fairly easily. The label began in 1990 with the first independent release of my own musical effort; singing, performing and recording with my band at the time GEMINI. The "self-titled" release had a song on it called "NIGHTMARE" and it was the one that I was most proud of, lyricly speaking. We needed a label name for our new release to look official, so I chose Nightmare and the artist that created the Gemini Trademark and Knight logos, created the original Nightmare logo, and that was the labels conception. I was handling all the bands business and this label became it's own entity in the years following.



What was the first band ever signed to Nightmare?

Of course this would be GEMINI. Although not signed in the usual sense like most bands, the band actually created the record company. The band was playing an amazing amount of shows and were very well received in the upper midwest of the US. We played about 270-290 shows annually and were making a very good living on just the shows .We had a very large following, and when we released the first Gemini album, we didn't even need distribution; we were selling 80-100 CD's a night off the stage.



What has been the most succesful band on the label in terms of sales?

That would that band I'm with now BALANCE OF POWER. We also did very well with PAVLOV'S DOG, which soon became CONDITIONED RESPONSE, because of legal issues with their name. KINGS MACHINE, ANTITHESIS and EMPYRIA have done very well for us as well.



Can you tell us a bit about the philosophy behind the label?

Simple. Provide great music to the world, especially the US where the ball has been dropped by major record companies with regard to melodic metal. We decided to bring it on! This is the style I'm in love with and know the best. I've always been a fan of prog-rock and metal and have endeavored to find new and talented artists to bring to the world.



Tell us your typical day (if there is such a thing) as head of a metal label. How do you juggle your time between being a business man and an artist?

Oh boy. We'll usually wake up, get some coffee or tea, do email for about 5 hours straight (it's amazing how much you can get done doing email), take a breath, get a bite to eat, and decide what real world things I need to do for the rest of the day. That may be mastering, filling orders, invoicing, playing bill collector or shipping out a cd project to the plant to be manufactured. Also doing artwork on an album, making phone calls or whatever needs to be done. As a small record company you have to be a serious renaissance man, especially when your the head guy. After that I usually get out and do some martial arts to clear my mind for a few hours, and come back and do it some more. When it's time for me to write or record a new album, that's what I do: I stop doing the rest of it for awhile and just focus on the music at hand.



What are some of the bands you are listening to these days?

I don't just listen anymore to just one or five bands like I did when I was just playing or even back when I was just a music fan. I listen to a lot of different music every day. Sometimes I listen to anything at all for a week. There isn't any rhyme or reason to it - just listen when I need to or when I want to.



Can you tell us what some of the big exciting releases are in the next 12 months?

Of course I can. Coming up on Nightmare we have some excellent releases. Right now we are promoting some indie albums. EXCELLENT progressive power metal - both of them. We have a project from Mike Vescara and Paul Marko called PALACE OF BLACK that we've just released.  Some things that will be coming soon are new albums from VISCIOUS CIRCLE, DEFYANCE, VISIONARY, EVIDENCE, PHIL VINCENT, KINGS MACHINE, BALANCE OF POWER and MANY more that we distribute that are not on our label. We carry about 30 new albums every month!



What is the best thing that has ever happend at your label?

We'll that is a big question, and I'm not quite sure how to answer it. Every week there is something cool happening. We're always expanding our reach through new media and promotional contacts, or hooking up with other wholesale/distribution vendors. It's a never ending building process. We continue to walk up the ladder of success one step at a time.



Conversely, what is the worst thing (without too many gory details!) that has happened to the label?

We'll, we've had very unethical dealings with a few labels and distributors. Occasionally you get screwed over in business, but you try to move past that and continue on with your head held high, trying to remain an ethical person yourself. We all have horror stories that suck. I think it's not worth the time talking about these.



Are you currently accepting demos of bands?

Always. However, at the moment there are about 30 that are at the foot of my desk that I haven't even listened to yet! Sometimes it's hard to get through them with my schedule. So, bands be patient, I will listen, and if it's something I like - I'll contact you.



Do you generally have more success in Europe or in the US?

Well, it's pretty even now actually. It fluctuates now and then, but it always seems to even itself out. Right now I'm selling more directly to the States. I've recently FINALLY, gotten a legitimate Canadian Distributor. Just to let your readers know - they can ask for our stuff in HMV and other Canadian chains now and expect to actually have them find it in their system.



Which is more important to you, signing new bands or licensing already established acts?

Well, I'm all about the music, but I like to make a profit now and again too. So like everything, there has to be a balance. We are always up for the underdog fight. I love a challenge - so don't worry Nightmare will always be bringing new music and new bands to the forefront of metal.



Thank you very much for your time and keep up the good work bringing the music to the masses!

Label Website: www.nightmare-records.com