By Gary Susalis

Born in Queens NY – 19*%?
•    Managed a Mom & Pop record shop in High School/ College
•    Graduated Fordham University – Marketing/Finance Degree
•    RCA Records – Promotion Coordinator 1997-1999
•    Roadrunner Records – 1999 – present.
•    Promotion Coordinator/Video Promotion/College Promotion 1999-2001
•    Northeast Regional Promotion Director – 2001-2014,
•    Sr. Director National Rock & Alternative Promotion 2015-present

1. What is your earliest music memory and what impression did it leave on you? Additionally, what was the first record you remember buying?
My earliest music memory is my parents giving me the KISS Destroyer album for my 4th birthday. Little did they know at that time, that by giving me that album, they’d help shape the course of my life, career, etc. I was hooked from day one. I listened to that album over & over & over on my little victrola!
I remember at some point in my late teens or early 20’s my family would walk by my room and see all the posters, the walls were plastered, and they’d say, “When are you gonna grow out of this phase?” I still haven’t and don’t think I ever will.
The first record that I bought? With my own money?  I remember getting Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” for my 11th birthday from my sister. She also bought me Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning” and “Master of Puppets” for my 13th birthday. I think I’d have to say the first record I bought with my own money might have been Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health”.

2. Most people in this industry have a tendency of working for multiple companies as the years pass, it’s just the nature of the business… How have you been able to have such a long and successful run at Roadrunner and now as a part of the Atlantic family?
I’ve been very fortunate to have great bosses, and I’ve been lucky to survive mergers. I’m still at Roadrunner 18 years later. I’ve been able to grow from a regional at a rock/metal label to a well-rounded regional that worked all formats of music as part of the Atlantic family. Now doing National Rock & Alternative Promotion.  I think you have to be able to reinvent yourself constantly, you have to change with the times, and learn to adapt to the changing landscape in the business.

3. What is a career goal you have yet to achieve?
Hmm, how’s this one… to finish my career in this business. Who knows maybe with the same company, but there’s still a long way to go for that one!

4. You’ve worked with some badass rock and metal bands over the years. Of all the bands, which one was nothing as you initially perceived?
That’s a tough one,  but I’ll go with Slipknot. My earliest memory of working Slipknot was right at the start, OZZFEST 1999.  I had just started at Roadrunner in April. Their album had just come out the week before the show. They were on at some ridiculously early time at PNC Bank Arts Center in NJ,  say 11:30am or noon, on the stage in the parking lot. They came on and completely destroyed it! Someone working with the band said “If Roadrunner doesn’t make this band platinum, then you guys f***ked this up”.  I remember thinking to myself, “9 guys in jumpsuits and masks, playing brutally heavy metal,  suuuuuure  that’ll be easy…NOT!”   Well it’s been a crazy ride with Slipknot and sure enough, that record and others went platinum.  But looking back I couldn’t even imagine what I had perceived at that point being anything like these past 18 years…one of the greatest bands out there.

5. What are your 3 best Rock n Roll moments?
Let’s see – how’s this :
#3) – Going to the Yankees-Phillies 2009 World Series game 2 with Ed Roland from Collective Soul and watching it from a MLB Suite. To keep the story short & to the point; the Yankees won, we had a great time, but came to work the next morning and my boss got a call from Ed’s manager saying “there’s no more Jack Daniels in NYC thanks to Kaso!”.  All this (happened) while he was looking at the website and seeing a picture of Ed & Me from the game. Ed is wearing my Yankees jersey and hat and let’s just say we had a few in us at that point! Ha.
#2) – Taking Corey Taylor from Slipknot/Stone Sour to the Guns N’ Roses show in Boston in 2002 with Mistress Carrie from WAAF.  We sat about 10 rows from the stage on the floor. I can’t remember how late GNR went on that night, but they definitely didn’t hit the stage promptly. Well, Corey kept warning Carrie & me that he’d seen them at a festival in Europe  and we weren’t going to like “seeing our youth ripped from us” as he said. We watched a few songs and Corey says “See I told ya”.  We proceeded to hang at one of Boston’s fine watering holes for quite some time that night. I remember driving Corey back to his hotel in a snowstorm.
#1) – This one I won’t go into too much detail about, but some people know this story and some may not have heard all the details. Let’s just say it involves Jerry Cantrell. Meeting him at the bar in his hotel, a Yankees- Mariners playoff game and a near death experience. I’ll leave it at that.  If you haven’t heard the story, it’s something you’ll have to ask me about in person. Not for print!

6. Your social media pages are a fine display of your culinary skills. Who taught you how to cook and besides a full stomach, what do you get out of cooking?
I’m mostly self taught. Of course when I was growing up, I’d watch my mom and my grandmothers cook, but for the most part I just picked it up over time. I think it’s because I love to eat. I think the main thing I get out of cooking is the ability to create something, it’s fun. I try to have that time to just focus on what I’m making. (It) doesn’t always work that way, because of a crazy schedule, but I like to forget about everything else and just think about what I’m making… It’s MY time. I used to have that time when I was running. I’d just put on an album and be in my own zone. I don’t run because I’ve got some issues going on with my hips… ahh getting old… ain’t it fun!  So cooking is MY time now.

7. You’ve been open about your battle and victory over cancer. How has that raw and hyper real life experience change your perspective on life and career?
Honestly, it didn’t really change my perspective on life and career that much. It more so reinforced what I’ve always kind of believed. That is a live for today kind of attitude. With all that goes on in this world, we don’t really know that there will be a tomorrow, for any of us and that could be health related, world related, etc.. I think we have to go about our business as usual no matter what is going on. And don’t get too high or too low. Don’t stress the small stuff. Life goes on.