10 Questions with ... Mark Nawara
July 19, 2016
1. What made you want to get into the music business? Were there any early mentors?
I was brought up in a house full of music. My two older brothers who were five and six years my senior, played guitar and bass. My brother Matt talked me into learning how to play the drums and I was hooked. My early record label mentors were Denny Nowak who worked for Elektra Records and Lou Maglia from Island Records and later Zoo Entertainment.
2. You originally started Pavement Music back in the mid-'90s and actually secured a unique funding and distribution deal with the now defunct L.A.-based Zoo Entertainment. How did that arrangement come about?
In 1987 I met Lou Maglia, who signed a band I was managing at the time to Island Records. We struck up a friendship that continued on for many years. When he left Island and started Zoo, I went out to L.A. and told him about my vision starting Pavement Music. Lou liked what I had to say and gave me the deal that initially launched the label. Lou was a great visionary and gave people room to create and succeed.
3. Your first release through Zoo was the now legendary New Orleans band Crowbar. How did that first project work for you?
That was a great time. That was our first signing to the label. I just knew that they were a special band and they were doing something unique. I brought the demo into Lou Maglia and he understood what they were about, so we signed them. I spent a few weeks down in New Orleans and we recorded the album with Phil Anselmo producing. We released the record; MTV jumped on board as well as being featured on Beavis and Butt-head, and the band toured non-stop, most notably with Pantera. After that we were off to the races.
4. Give us a rundown of some of the other legendary heavy acts and mainstay acts you launched back then?
We brought in a lot of extreme metal from Europe and introduced these bands to the U.S. market. Bands like The Gathering, Gorefest, At The Gates, Pitchshifter and Therion. We also worked with U.S. acts Malevolent Creation and Solitude Aeturnus. Later on we had the pleasure of working with Gilby Clarke, Accept and Autograph.
5. In 1997 when Zoo was dissolved, Pavement was put on hiatus before you brought back the label in 2012 as Pavement Entertainment. How did this new deal come together?
I had moved from Chicago to Phoenix and worked out of the desert in many areas of the music business. I co-managed the solo recording career of Brian "Head Welch" from Korn and helped him launch his first solo album "Save Me From Myself." After all that, I decided to move back to Chicago. One day I had lunch with my good friend Tim King, and we discussed how it would be a great time to get Pavement back in business. I called up my old friend, Alan Becker, at RED Distribution with my idea and he hooked me up with Missi Callazzo at Megaforce Records and Pavement was born again.
6. With your longtime friend/cohort Tim King handling A&R, you've put together quite a cool roster of artists including Candlebox, Tantric, Soil, Hed Pe, Smile Empty Soul and more. Give us the lowdown on all of this activity.
I knew Tim and I would be a great team. He has solid relationships with many artists, as he has toured with most of these bands with his band Soil. The artists like the fact that he speaks their language as he's lived that end of the business. So with my experience in running record labels and Tim's relationships with the artists, it's just the perfect combination.
7. Let's talk about the new release from Flaw. There's a new single out now and new album coming out next month. Give us the scoop on the new Flaw project.
FLAW is just a great band. These guys were very popular in the early 2000s. They had a deal with Republic Records and sold hundreds of thousands of albums. So when Tim brought them to me and said they were back together, very serious and wanted to be road dogs again, we signed them. I'm very excited about the new album "Divided We Fall" out on August 19th and we are very excited to be getting the new single out to radio.
8. What other Rock projects does the label have coming down the pipeline in the future?
We are always developing young bands. New bands to look out for are Emperors and Elephants and SOURCE. We also have our eye on some established bands that we hope to bring into the family soon.
9. As a label owner, what are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
You have to be ready to change with the times.We are always having meetings discussing how we can be doing better. It's a social media world these days, so we can get a lot of info, as well as do a ton of marketing on that platform. We also monitor the Active Rock radio charts and see who's touring, etc.
10. Finally, since you've made Rock your label's primary focus, let's talk about the Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the state of Rock radio today?
It's great that there are still many stations that are open to playing new music. I just wish more stations would take chances. It's still a viable outlet and really helps the bands when they are touring through the markets. There is just a lot of competition now as we are in an "on demand world." People still listen to radio, but alot of people are streaming nowand discovering music that way. Overall, Rock radio is still a very important part of our promotion model.