Former Roadrunner Records A&R Mike Gitter on Monte Conner’s Move to Nuclear Blast Records
When Roadrunner Records found itself victim to corporate downsizing and Sr. Vice President of A&R Monte Conner was let go from his post, speculation ran rampant as to his next move.
Having worked side by side with the man for 12 years (1997-2009), I could tell you it wasn’t going to be a rash decision as to where the man who not only merely signed the likes of Slipknot, Sepultura, Fear Factory Type O Negative and Gojira (also a fresh little band called Rush), but also shaped the direction of modern metal, would end up. Monte’s never been one to make a hasty call – a secret to the creative success of many of Roadrunner’s classic albums. He would agonize until he got it right. Ask any of his bands, producers and co-workers. The results were usually pretty awesome.
So here’s what he’s doing. Clearly, he thought this one through.
After three months, many meetings and many suitors, Monte has now surfaced not merely in the fold of one of the world’s most impressive metal juggernaut labels, Nuclear Blast Records, but in partnership with NB and its founder Markus Steiger under the nom-de-plum –Nuclear Blast Entertainment. The beauty of these things is that both Conner and Steiger are lifetime, die-hard metal maniacs.
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Not only is Conner taking the reins here, his former U.K. colleague Mark Palmer – who has helmed the Roadrunner U.K. office for nearly 25 years – is also hopping aboard to develop Nuclear Blast’s business in the U.K. Under Palmer and his team, careers have been launched. Two great examples: Trivium and (my signing), Killswitch Engage, were both bands Roadrunner’s U.K. office were instrumental in turning from scrappy upstarts into shining stars in the worldwide metal scene.
“What Markus Staiger and his incredibly dedicated staff have built over the last 25 years is quite an achievement,” says Monte in the Nuclear Blast press release. “It has all happened almost concurrently with my time at Roadrunner Records. I am very pleased to align myself with a team of loyal, hard-working people and am looking forward to playing my part in the continued evolution and dominance of this worldwide metal powerhouse. I hope to both complement as well as expand on all the great things already happening at Nuclear Blast, especially when it comes to the U.S. market and Nuclear Blast Entertainment. I feel Markus and I can be an unstoppable force in metal and beyond, and with my long-term colleague Mark Palmer also now aboard in the UK, this already feels like home to me.”
Palmer adds: “I am really excited at the prospect of working with the amazing staff at Nuclear Blast and putting together a new team to strongly develop their business and profile in the UK.”
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Why is this so heavy? Well, Nuclear Blast has proven itself time and again with success stories like Meshuggah, and Dimmu Borgir, they’ve reinvigorated the careers of legendary metal bands Exodus Death Angel, Anthrax (Europe only) and most impressively, Testament. They’ve had real chart numbers in the U.S. and abroad. Hell, Finnish operatics, Nightwish (who they have for Europe only) regularly shift gold numbers. Nuclear Blast also have a hugely successful European mail-order business and just generally have their shit more together than most.
The fact is that majors don’t work when it comes to not merely metal, but anything that doesn’t necessitate the corporate machine to move tonnage. It’s no secret that labels like NB – who already have a staff of over 150 – have taken over where the majors have crashed and burned. They may try to “buy-in” but they certainly can’t forge the steel.
States Steiger (who actually named his label after seeing the godhead hardcore band Bl’ast!) : “I am absolutely thrilled to welcome metal veterans Monte Conner and Mark Palmer to the Nuclear Blast team. I am continually striving to strengthen Nuclear Blast on all fronts as a worldwide force, and with the addition of Monte and Mark I feel we just took major steps in two key territories.”
Raise the horns! A big hi-five to Monte Conner. Even Deicide‘s Glen Benton must be smiling about this one.
Watch Monte Conner Talking About His Favorite Roadrunner Records Album Covers