Interviews

Published on September 8th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Megaforce Records Co-Founder Jonny Zazula On His Forthcoming Memoir “Heavy Tales” & More

Jonathan Zazula — known the world over as Jonny Z — has lived an intense life. Born in 1952, he began his extraordinary journey as a renegade youth who went from living on the streets of the Bronx in New York City, to later working on Wall Street, and eventually (and unexpectedly) transitioning into the music business and discovering Metallica and others. Even in present day, Jonny Z remains one of the most respected names in both heavy metal and the music industry as a whole.

Jonny Z tells all about his incredible life in a brand new book — that he describes as “not a typical rock n’ roll book, but rather, a blue collar success story” — entitled Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived by Jon Zazula, scheduled for release on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Heavy Tales is the detailed, never-before-told story of how Jonny Z founded legendary New Jersey-based label Megaforce Records with his wife Marsha and built a dynasty which forever changed the scope of heavy metal; the ebook version of Heavy Tales is available for pre-order and will be released on Black Friday 2019.

As a quick synopsis, Heavy Tales details the stories of how Jonny Z worked miracles by managing and/or releasing albums by Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, Mercyful Fate, Overkill, Exciter, Stormtroopers Of Death, Method of Destruction, Ace Frehley, King’s X, Ministry, Mindfunk, Nudeswirl, Warren Haynes and the Disco Biscuits. Also in the book is how one night in 1984 he jokingly created rap-metal before anyone else conceived the idea. Testamont frontman Chuck Billy wrote its foreword beyond the book featuring over 100 rare photographs unearthed from “the MegaVault.”

Jonny Z kindly answered some Q&A for me, on behalf of The Hype Magazine, and highlights are such are below. More on Zazula’s excellent book can be found via its official Amazon listing.

How long did it take from deciding to write a book to actually having a finished book?

Jonny Z: I retired officially in June of 2018. It was shortly after that when I decided to write my memoirs. It took me better than a year to write the book. It is in chronological order except it opens at the Roseland where Raven, Metallica and Anthrax played on the same bill changing the face of heavy metal history. It then in chapter two takes you to the beginning and moves from there.

Were any parts of the book hard to write? Or even hard to recall?

Jonny Z: The book was very hard for me to write. It was painful remembering everything. Fortunately I had a timeline researched by my co-writer Harold Claros. I followed it throughout the book.

Most people who write memoirs had to cut a lot of pages for the sake of being concise. Are there leftovers from your book-writing experience?

Jonny Z: I must admit I wrote the book with the reader in mind. I wanted it to be a book you can’t put down. I’m sure I left some tales out of importance. There were so many stories and I chose the ones I felt were pertinent to the story

What about with the photographs? Are there a lot of photographs you still hope to publicly show in the future?

Jonny Z: There are over 104 photos in the book. The pictures are loads of fun and really depict the times.

Ultimately is there an ideal takeaway for you with this book? Something you want readers to come away with knowing?

Jonny Z: I want people to take the fact that Marsha and I started with less than nothing and were able to perform many amazing tasks. I want to show people that Megaforce was a team effort. That people like Metal Maria and Ed Trunk were responsible for the signing of some of our greatest acts. I tell about our mistakes and victories. There’s a lot to go away with from this book.

Book promotion aside, what is coming up for you work-wise?

Jonny Z: I am fully retired. I remain a sounding board for many people. I guess I still give good advice. I’m just going to enjoy the time around the release of this book.

Is there anything you are still hoping to accomplish within the music industry?

Jonny Z: There is nothing more I hope to accomplish. I feel I’ve truly done enough for three lives in my time on this planet.

What was the last concert you attended for fun?

Jonny Z: My last big concert was me going to see Slayer. Anthrax and Testament were on the bill and truthfully I was there to see my dear friend Chuck Billy [of Testament].

Finally, Jonny, any last words for the kids?

Jonny Z: I’d like to tell those who are starting young, fledgling labels to hold on and don’t give up. Pay attention to marketing the band and never let up. As long as you believe with all your heart that your artist is the next big thing, hang in there. It ain’t easy but it can be done.


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About the Author

is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He has been a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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