I'm Nathan Leone and I sing for Chicago rock band Madina Lake... Admittedly writing an autobiography can be a bit of a vain and presumptuous endeavor, especially if you're someone like myself. I haven't exactly invented the wheel, re-invented it, made any paradigm shifting discoveries, nor would I comfortably qualify as a celebrity. I have however, been lucky enough to spend the last 8 years touring the world with my best friends and band-mates. Our career, in and of itself, has spanned the gamut of triumph and tragedy, but that's just a fraction of the sheer and utter ridiculousness that is my entire life.
Born an identical twin, I have 3 older sisters. We lost our mom in a car accident when I was 12. My brother Matthew and I have been best friends and partners in crime throughout our entire lives. We went to Butler University on NCAA Division 1 soccer scholarships. From there we moved to Florence, Italy for almost a year where we turned down an offer to play for a 3rd Division Pro Team (in the Italian Seria "C") in favor of a new obsession.
Renting acoustic guitars from the library in Florence, we began to teach ourselves to play music. Upon moving back to Chicago, we went on to sign 3 major record deals, I got pistol-whipped & car-jacked, won $50,000 on NBC's twin Fear Factor (getting an almost fatal blood poisoning in the process), toured the world for 8 years with our second band Madina Lake and I almost lost my brother when he was beaten after intervening in a domestic dispute on a dark Chicago street.
All of those things are just the bulletpoints in an otherwise meandering tale of surreality, stupidity and hilarity. Between the International "fame" our band achieved and the media sensation that Matthew's heroics garnered, we've spent most of our lives in some sort of spotlight. My brother and I survive on laughter, stupidity, passion, immaturity, self-deprication and unconditional love. This has sustained us through tragedy, triumph, addiction, heart-break, adversity and everything else life decides to bowl at you while you're running across the lanes of a crowded bowling alley wearing only socks and a cowboy hat.
Anywhoo, I started writing this book in 2009 and I'm about 70% done. We've got a little time off so I'm writing every day now and expect to finish completely by April 15th, 2013. What I need from y'all is just a little support while I finish and then help with manufacturing and distribution! I've set up a handful of "rewards" i'd love for you to take a look at and keep in mind, I'm quite negotiable, gullible and naive so if there's something else you'd like to offer in exchange for a donation, i'm all ears!
Ok, here's a lil taste-
Friday, June 15th, 2008 Castle Donnington, England
I'm standing on the "artists platform" which is essentially an 8 by 10 foot railed plank on hydrollics, raised slightly above the 15 foot makeshift wall separating "backstage" from G-pop (the crowd) and right next to the ginourmous main stage. Matthew and I are watching 80,000 kids go ape shit to a hardcore metal band called 36 Crazyfists. He's got his whole fist jammed up his ass as he battles an enslaught of IBS while I'm breathing into a paper lunchbag trying not to barf. We exchange the looks that we've exchanged our entire lives in moments like these. Looks designed to reassure one another, while simultaneously crying out for help. He's always been the master of over-coming nerves and unfortunately for him, he's also always been tasked with overcoming mine as well.
We stare into the endless abyss of people, knowing that, in a matter of minutes, we're going to have to step out onto that goliath stage and play to all of them. It takes every ounce of energy we have to feign excitement to each other over the sheer horror we're both dealing with inside. At any moment I could have a panic attack and/or an episode of depersonilation so we use each other to remind us everything is and will be. ok.
At this point, our "Meteoric Rise to Fame" as a recent Kerrang! feature put it, was just beginning to show signs of resistence. See, we were never a metal band. We never considered ourselves an Emo band but once the major marketing and PR machines start rolling, you can not stop them, slow them and most certainly can't control them. Our rock band was branded for us by the press. To be fair, our perceived "flare for hair" and "passion for fashion" weren't doing us any favors. We'd been on the cover of the UKs jaugernaut metal mags Kerrang! and Rocksound. Kerrang! is the IT mag for England's counter culture and aside from it being the best rock mag out there, it's influence is also capable or making and/or breaking bands. Their support was essential to our success and also to the chagrin of a dying breed of metal-only dinosaurs.
The whole Emo scene began trending a few years earlier and hair/make-up boy bands with battered heart, whoa-is-me sing alongs were everywhere. We were very aware and tried desperately to dodge the bullet but our lite-metal musical brand and natural look put us directly in the crosshairs of a potential back-lash. Download felt like the culmination of all of it
In the weeks leading up to Download we'd scoured the internet for YouTube videos from previous years festivals. Having been warned by everybody from industry folk to random kids to other bands that had played this festival's main stage in the past that it could be brutal. It's a tough crowd. No, it's a fucking ruthless crowd and if they don't like you.. you don't get boo'd. You get bottles of piss heaved at you along with anything and everything in the vacinity.
2 years earlier My Chemical Romance got a blizzard of shit raining on them throughout their entire set. Last year the dude from Panic at the Disco got knocked out by a glass bottle at Reading Festival. This year, we were the new "happenin" band with sloppy haircuts, skinny jeans and a single called "One Last Kiss". This combination is kryponite to a metal head's peace of mind and today, they were everywhere.
I couldn't believe how many people were there. I'd never seen anything like it in real life.. It was a never-ending ocean of heads, flags, banners and other Euro-festival tradition as far as the eye could see. I don't think I can do this. I vaguely remember walking up the ramp which leads to the back of the mainstage. Once you get up there, only a giant tarp banner and the arsenal of equipment from every other heavyweight band playing that day, separate you from the 80,000 kids in front of the stage. There were cameras and flashes going off from some media crew filming footage that was to be broadcast on the jumbo screens flanking the stage. There were sound dudes and guitar techs scampering everywhere like little worker bees tweaking and moving their respective bands gear around. Then there was my band.
Matthew stayed by my side, constantly reassuring me that I'll not only live through this but I'm going to whip ass. This of course while he himself nervously runs in place, playing his OCD sanctioned bass scales to warm up. Jeezy seems relatively calm, stretching and tapping patterns with his drumsticks on a random roadcase while his in-ear monitor headphones dangled around his shoulders. Mateo is loud. He yells a lot and sings when he's nervous. To his credit, it beats barfing.
Stevo is running around absolutely frantic. Our fault really. He'd been a guardian angel to us from day 1 but everything happened so fast here that he was suddenly tasked to tour manager, stage manage, production manage, guitar tech and bass tech. Any other band playing this festival on this stage at this time slot would have a small army for each role. We had one dude, for all of them.
I knew something was wrong. I could hear the bass cutting in and out over the massive PA speakers as he line checked it. When he suddenly put it down and picked up Mateo's guitar, I should have done something. But alas, I was too nervous to think about anything like that much less have to courage to ask somebody what was going on. He strummed the guitar for several minutes and we heard nothing. Suddenly the stage manager screams "2 minutes! you're starting in 2 minutes, ready or not!". This was probably the straw that broke Stevos back because he simply put the guitar down, walked around the giant tarp curtain and said .. "I think we're good to go.. I mean, we're good to go".
The front of house music stops abruptly and the 80,000 kids roar from the crowd. Sheer terror grips each of our faces as Jeezy says "fuck it, let's kill it" and runs out and hops behind his drum kit. "Fucking kill it bucky" Matthew says as he squeezes my shoulder and runs out. "oh well, here we fucking go!" Mateo says and disappears.. Fuck, my turn.
I can feel the dark shadow of anxiety hover over me like an F9 Twister. In my mind I'm completely frozen aside from that taunting little cunt of a voice that reminds me on repeat how far from reality I've gone and as usual threatens that this time I'll never come back. Doctors call it depersonalization and most who suffer from it describe it as the an out of body experience. Best I can describe it is as the most horrific, collosal, mortifying and unimaginable panic attack ever... on steroids. I feel my legs start running underneath me and my auto-pilot kicks in.
As I turn the corner and run out on stage, passed the drum riser toward a majestic sea of 80,000 screaming faces, flags, banners, smoke bombs as far as they eye can see, a quick thought darts through my head.. This is insane, I should write a fucking book. "perhaps we could talk about it later?" the other voice replies .. I grab my microphone .. "What's up Download, we're MADINA LAKE!" ....
In addition to sharing absurd stories, I'm sharing my personal life journey complete with celebrity gossip, self deprication and much wisdom i've gleaned along the way .. thank you again and again for your time and consideration!
Risks and challenges
Considering the fact that I've already changed the delivery date a few times before even launching I should say that although I'm seriously committed to the timeline I've mapped out, I'm well aware of the possible delays and/or challenges I may face as I complete the project. Having said that, I've already secured my manufacturer and I'm ahead of schedule as far as the writing is concerned. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm my harshest critic and refusing to accept even the slightest compliment, I'm super excited about how this is shaping up. I guarantee that any potential delays in delivery will be dealt with immediately and resolved asap to the best of my ability. I also promise to be available constantly to navigate challenges and/or answer any questions.. thank you again :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)