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Wednesday, June 11 2014 23:29

Rock Father's Day 2014: Artist Spotlight - Tom Stevens of NOKTURNEL #RockFathersDay

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"I was extremely into the whole idea of being a father," states Tom Stevens, recalling the moments in which he realized he would soon become a Father. "I felt that having a promising future as a family man was just meant to be after I met my wife. I never had any interest in it before then but I changed a lot in a short period of time. I was more excited than afraid - it is a lot to take in even when you know it is coming. I am sure I was not as cool as I remember myself being, but my reaction was that good kind of shock that leaves you speechless and smiling." An occasional contributor to THE ROCK FATHER website (specializing in Disney travel), Stevens multi-tasks as the driving force behind NOKTURNEL, while running a leather business with his wife, and raising snakes! Above all, he's a great Dad, and finds himself featured here ahead of Rock Father's Day 2014.

LISTEN: Nokturnel - "Shadows Alive"
Tom Stevens and LilyQuick Profile:

Name: Tom Stevens AKA Nokturnel Tom

Offspring: One daughter Lillianna "Lily" Stevens will be 12 on the 20th of June

Musical History (in his own words): In the mid-80s I was in SAVAGE DEATH. 1989-95 was the original NOKTURNEL line up. Around '94 I also played for RIPPING CORPSE, helping them out live on Bass and fronted MORPHEUS DESCENDS, singing and playing guitar. Around '97 I was recruited to help INCANTATION on their tour with MORBID ANGEL, singing and playing guitar. I did that, a Fest in Chile with DEATH and CANNIBAL CORPSE, as well as another tour or two and NJ Death Fest. I resurrected NOKTURNEL shortly after relocating to Texas and continue fighting to keep NOKTURNEL alive!

Projects and Releases: Since the FURY UNLEASHED full-lengthI have done a few singles. "Demonic Supremacy" was my comeback in 2009, and then I did "Ancestral Calling" and released it right before Maryland Deathfest 2011. I did not play in 2012, but released "Shadows Alive," and hope to release my new masterpiece - "Wormhole" on Father’s Day.

Favorite Artists to Enjoy with His Daughter: DIO, PAT BENATAR, MANOWAR, RIPPING CORPSE, NOKTURNEL - and the best thing she's ever said: “Dad, do we have to listen to Malmsteen again?” My reply, YES!!!!

Tom and LilyJAMES (THE ROCK FATHER): Was there any concern that you wouldn't be able to balance your family life with your musical life?

TOM: None. I was fired from a band I thought I had a future with and knew it was time for me to do things my own way in my own time. I would put my family before any band, that is a no brainer for me but some people would not agree. I love music, I love to perform in front of any crowd, but if there were serious issues popping up during times I was supposed to be busy with music I would cancel without hesitation. I am very serious about music, but so are a billion other people and not everyone gets the luxury of making a living off of it. My wife is supportive, though it has it’s limits which are completely realistic, and when we were newlyweds it seemed like music would have been a bigger part of my life. It did not work out that way but there is no contest. Balance is difficult - some years I play or record and others I do not. I do what I can and am satisfied with everything

JAMES: What does Lily think of your creative works? 

TOM: It is kind of funny. As an infant she would hear the Nokturnel FURY UNLEASHED record as a work-in-progress. She has my high scream, which as you know has NO melody. She would not do that intentionally, but it was comical to hear her scream at the same time I was screaming on the stereo. She used to carry around a photo of me on stage, in black, boots, spikes, and wave it around showing it to whoever and saying “My Dad’s Black Metal”. More fun there. She made me very proud by singing the high note in MANOWAR’s chorus from "Wheels of Fire" when she could not even speak yet. As she got older, I am a bit embarrassing for her, but she has a hard time understanding that it is not a good idea to turn all her 6th grade friends onto my music. She likes my single "Ancestral Calling," and without much of my influence took a liking to PAT BENATAR, and had kind of bad timing discovering DIO and loving "Rainbow in the Dark" shortly before he passed away. Now... to my horror, she loves the BLACK VEIL BRIDES. She cringes if she sees live video of me which cracks me up. I will not force her to like what I like, but I think she will “go metal” one of these days.

JAMES: Has being a parent changed your creative output or the way you view your musical life?

TOM: Only for the fact I used to agree to travel all over the place while living like a filthy animal, starving myself and drowning in beer. I will make sacrifices, I will accept offers that I feel will offer NOKTURNEL fans a chance to see me play in the right professional environment, and hell yeah - I want to party, but I have a lot of good things in my life now that I did not have back in the day. I will not mess all of that up so I can carry on about how "metal" I am. If people cannot see it now, after all the years I kept it underground, it is pointless to try and explain it to them. Metal Parents understand me better than the younger fans. I have turned down what some people would have thought were very reasonable offers. This is due to being a parent and business owner and lets face it - a lot of shows tank, bomb, suck, whatever you want to call it. I have to choose wisely. Now I am spoiled. I run the show so I need AC, HBO and my own bathroom at the end of the night.

tomlily2JAMES: What do you find hardest about balancing music and parenting?

TOM: Let’s imagine the quiet time when you analyze everything and try to make a solid plan. It is a fact, a few small tours and a few one-off great shows that were offered to me fell apart. I was getting stressed out watching it all happen and this is after I had already declined. I am thinking to myself, that could be me flipping out now how I wasted this time on my calendar. Filling in the dates and planning it all out usually with hired hands, session musicians to share the stage with me. Expenses get crazy, things happen, people get fired from their jobs, divorced, car wrecks on tour. Knock on wood, so far I have been very lucky. I have had to announce that after all my plugging away begging people not to miss us play that the show is cancelled, and then what? The hardest part is to not be overcome with the psyche out of playing with some great bands in a city you think has a better metal scene than yours. As I mentioned earlier, the weight of the balance tips the scale way over to family. If it is not the caliber show like Maryland Deathfest chances are I cannot even bank on the event even happening, I see it all the time. One of these situations crushed myself and my guys. Promoters don’t care about these things, finger pointing and excuses. I have to say "no" a lot.

-WHAT FATHERHOOD MEANS-
Everything! My childhood was no fairytale but my Dad was a great Dad. It pains me like you could not believe to know he only saw the over-the-top me, the not-that-pretty me that was just hell on wheels and not the person that I have become, especially in the aspect of Fatherhood. I made sure the early years for my kid were full of awesome fun memories and that she has everything every parent wants for their kids. In 2011 NOKTURNEL returned to the stage for the first time since the mid 90s. When I left to play Maryland Deathfest and A Day of Death she was not happy. Some people say I go on vacation more than anyone they know. Sorry, but I feel obligated, and speaking of balance - that year I used a drummer in Florida. I took my wife and daughter with me for rehearsal and spent the day in the ocean with them and nights breaking in the new drummer. 2011 was my year. I was on a roll and had the attention I needed to make things happen for Nokturnel but when 2012 rolled around it was different. Line up changes and all kinds of things just messed things up but hey. I am someone’s Dad and a husband too. I have things to do, and other people to make happy besides myself. Fatherhood is about putting your kids feelings before anything. I do just that. Now she is a pre teen. Things are changing and she likes her free time. I dont think she will be upset if I get busy with music again. Then again, a whole new chapter of the fatherhood book is opening.Tom Stevens

Tom, Lily and EloisaJAMES: How have you gone about introducing music to Lily?

TOM: Mostly in the car. The last record she flipped over was from the punk band THE OTHER. There’s a pic of me on stage with SAVAGE DEATH when I was about 19 in my living room - I would tell her about metal when she was little but she couldn't quite figure it out. When she got a taste for music, she liked everything. Traditional Mexican music she hears at family events, LADY GAGA and other crap her friends like, and then tons of Death, Thrash and Black Metal in the car which she doesn’t get into much, unless she knows it’s me. God, the boy bands…. JONAS BROTHERS, ONE DIRECTION and whatever… definitely did NOT turn her onto that stuff, but I still like that she likes music. Even if I think its lousy

JAMES: What's the most "rock and roll" thing you and Lily have ever done?

TOM: I kind of view from afar on the music thing. She gets embarrassed if she knows I am watching her goof off dancing or singing. I did buy her a guitar which she uses for "air guitar" so far. We get our Disney adrenaline going on vacations and do a lot of running around which is kind of sort of rock n roll. I mean we definitely rock and make the most of the time we spend together.

JAMES: You know we dig toys here - what are some favorites for you?

TOM: Mine has to be Pinball and classic Arcade Games with less than 3 buttons. I like the old toys that I grew up with, but am not a collector. STAR WARS was my childhood addiction. My daughter was not much for video games though she is a MINECRAFT nut now. She was more into dress up as a little one and enjoyed the "sit in the fake tent" kind of playing with her little friends. Of course she has an iPad now, and a laptop and phone….

The Early Years and the Snakes...

TOM: Being a stay-at-home Dad was awesome. When my daughter was a little one, my FURY UNLEASHED record was out and I did not have to really do anything to be considered an active band. So I enjoyed the time with her and took my fascination with snakes and built a business off of it. There were times I would have 20-30-40 babies in one big container and my little girl would flip over them. I would have her put both her hands out and drop a ton of snakes into her hands and she would crack up! She loves JURASSIC PARK to this day. The first time showed her a snake hatching from an egg she screamed “a dinosaur!’ Between the snakes and our leather business, I was never bored, and always with my little girl.

Thanks so much for including us here on THE ROCK FATHER. This interview was a blast, I love thinking about my girl as a little one, and flashing back to all the memories of my music was a lot of fun for me. I love Metal, but there is no comparison to how much I love my family.

Tom is heading back to Disney World this summer, so look for more on that soon. In the meantime, check out Nokturnel and Nokturnel Eclipse!
James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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