IN MEMORY OF

JON TORRES (ULYSSES SIREN)  

A talk with

NATHAN McLEOD (CEO MALEVOLENCE RECORDS)

(Questionnaire by Stefan)

About a week ago, I heard the sad news about the sudden death of Jon Torres, guitar player of Bay Area Thrash Metal band Ulysses Siren. It was CEO of Malevolence Records Nathan McLeod who let me know about this tragic news. A few weeks ago I had a questionnaire created regarding the history of Ulysses Siren, it was Jon Torres himself who was able and willing to give the answers.

One of the last persons Jon spoke with at the phone before he died was long time and very good friend Nathan McLeod. Both Jon a Nathan had a lot to arrange due to Ulysses Siren’s new album was planned to be released in November 2013 through Malevolence Records. I’d like to speak with Nathan McLeod about the painful loss of a true brother in arms, named Jon Torres.

 

Q: Hello Nathan, in these dark days of grief and inner pain I’d like to send you my condolences in name of the entire MTI crew. I was totally surprised with your message regarding the death of Jon Torres. How and when did you heard the news?

A: Thank you Stefan & Metal To Infinity. Appreciate it. I don't think I'd be doing this interview, any interview if it weren't for the relationship & trust I have with yourself & Metal To Infinity. And as well your interest in Ulysses Siren & the entire San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal scene during the 1980's.  

Painful it is. You hit the nail on the head with a ten ton hammer!

I'd received a phone call from the Chaplain of the Concord, California Police Department on September 3rd, 2013 at 11:52AM informing me that Jon Torres had passed away. This is all according to some notes I had written down on some paper when I'd received the phone call.

 

Q: What was your first reaction, a sense of disbelief I guess?

A: I actually do not remember the first 24-36 hours after being informed of the sad news. Not like I blacked out, fell over, hit my head, was unconscious& hospitalized. Haven't been drowning myself drunk inside a bottle of Jameson. Nothing like that. I do remember speaking to numerous people over the telephone, received numerous e-mail's that day, & remember who everyone was. Although, I have no recollection of what I or we had spoke about during these conversation's. My mind is still drawing blanks.

A sense of disbelief is a mild & delicate way of putting it. There really isn't one word that can sum it up or describe how I feel. It's a rather large mixed up bag of feeling's & emotion's presently. 

 

Q: Youwere one of the last persons who had spoken to Jon. That was on the phone a few hours before he passed away, is that correct?

A: Can't say if I were the very last person to speak to Jon, but yes, I had been on the phone with him several hours before he passed away. 

 

Q: Your friendship, actually brotherhood with Jon has lasted for a couple of decades so it must be a very hard and bitter pill to swallow hearing that he suddenly died. Can you remember how you met him back in the days?

A: This is another mild & delicate way of putting it, hard & bitter pill to swallow that is.

Sure. I remember how Jon & I met. San Francisco in the early 80's. Jon was in Warning at the time. I'd seen Warning perform I think twice back then? Where exactly, I have no idea. It was more in passing then that I met Jon / knew of him. Early 80's in the San Francisco Bay Area, the night club scene for metal band's was huge! And were many of them, quite the opposite of what the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer today.

It wasn't an uncommon place during this time, to go to a show, see an underground Bay Area metal band perform, & in attendance being a lot of other underground Bay Area metal band's supporting one another, supporting the metal scene. In fact is was quite the norm back then & in what seemed to me everybody knew everybody. Supported one another. And of course I did see Jon at a lot of the same shows I had been in attendance of. My apologies if I'm not being very specific of which shows, band's, where, what nightclubs, because there were just too many of them, & as many as there were, Jon was at a lot of them.

During my sophomore year in high school, I was dating a younger cousin of Jon's, April, had been dating her for quite some time, & at the time I had no idea there was any relation between the two. She'd been ranting & raving for a bit that, lets go out, we need to go out, see her cousin Jon in this new band he was in, she couldn't remember the name of the band, saying lets go to The City & check them out, was all excited about it. If this had been some argument or debate between us, don't think I would have won this one. She was a bit relentless in other words. I still hadn't put two & two together of who she was talking about nor what band? (Jon Torres & Ulysses Siren). Her & I did eventually go to a party in San Francisco one night, when we arrived, it was at Ulysses Siren's rehearsal studio! Upon our arrival I was surprised to say the least. 

Surprised in many ways. I'd already heard of & known Ulysses Siren for awhile. Still had no idea til that night the two of them were cousins. Hadn't a clue it was Jon who replaced Joe Jimenez on bass. There was a lot of "I know you", "I remember you", "where have you been", "ain't seen you in awhile", "how've you been", "what are you drinking", "what have you been doing" type question's. I look back at that night, think about it quite often actually. It was a fucking blast! Had a great fucking time! Something I'll never forget.

And some years back, Jon & I were having some drinks at a pub in the Mission District of San Francisco, not too far from the Crocker Park area where Jon grew up, & where I'd lived off& on over the years. Jon & I had been talking about that night at the Ulysses Siren studio. Reminiscing. Catching up with one another. He'd asked me when his cousin April & I were married?! I gave Jon quite an odd look of confusion, told him her & I had been together for over three years, never married one another, & had broken up with one another during my first tour in the ARMY. Apparently he thought we were or had been?

There is much more to how Jon & I met. Memories. Relationship. Really isn't an easy question to answer. Honestly I've been trying to cut to the chase the best I can in answering this question. The rest is a lot of ancient history; in a very good way though.

 

Q: Kinda personalquestion: what type of a person was he actually?

A: I don't portray this as a personal question in my opinion, both on a personal& professional level per se. For those of us who knew Jon, I mean really knew him, knew what kind of person Jon really was in life, let me put it this way: "If there's anything at all to be said regarding Jon, that isn't about the utmost respect, his nature & character, then you really did not know the man!"

I don't honestly think you'd hear in much of the way of any negative remarks pertaining to Jon, but if you were too, my own response would be short, simple, blunt, & to the point: "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

If you don't have anything to good to say about the man or his legacy, then don't say it all.

 

Q: When you heard or met Jon, did he ever talks about particular health problems?

A: No. But if you want to speak about working a 12 hour day, 5-6 days a week & the aches, pains, bruises that are brought on just by working itself, that's one thing. Or the simple fact that we're both middle aged men & the abuse a our body's take just being middle aged, then that's another. I could relate, he could relate, as well as a billion other people on this planet probably do.

As far as any life threatening health problem's? No.

 

Q: Shortly after he died, you drove to his home to meet his Family in the first place. Wanna speak about the moment you reached the funeral address?

A: I didn't drive to the funeral home where Jon had been taken to if that's what you are referring too? I had actually driven straight to his house. This is also another thing I flat out do not remember: the drive. Nor do I remember what time it was. Late, early morning I believe? It was though a very brief visit with his wife Tambre when I arrived.

Tambre had some family & friends already there. She's got a lot on her plate, a lot to deal with & take care of. I left. Couple days later I sent Tambre & their daughter Cassandra a bouquet of flowers & a card expressing my condolences.

 

Q: Meanwhile, is therefull clarity about Jon’s cause of death?

A: Evidentally the cause of death was heart failure.

 

Q: How did his friends and fellow band members responded to this tragic news?

A: I haven't heard a word, yet anyways, from any of Jon's band members past or present, aside from Manny which has been a bit of phone tag since he passed away. Most of them, not all though don't really know how to get a hold of me or don't have my contact info. On the other hand though, I'm not that hard to get a hold of. There are certain people, mutual friends & acquaintances that do know how to get a hold of me 24/7. Then again people do just lose contact with one another, drift apart from one another for whatever reason(s) they may be?

Admittingly though, over the past year or so, I've significantly decreased the ways or means in which people are able to contact me or my whereabouts. I just don't give out my phone #, certain e-mail addresses, I stay away from places like Facebook / MySpace / Twitter, nor do I give out my physical address to just anyone. This though has absolutely nothing to do with Jon, his family, friends, or Ulysses Siren. Has everything to do with my ex-wife & in not wanting to see nor hear from this woman ever again.

None the less though, if people want to reach out, were to reach out, it doesn't take much. I can be & or am as equally to blame, as of late I've been avoiding the phone myself, turning it off at night, avoiding & ignoring e-mail's & the internet. For a lot of people, they may very well doing the same as I am?

As for Jon's, family, friends, acquaintances, people who'd met him, etc. I've heard from quite a few. His wife Tambre of course, Jon's brother Mike, Stacey Murray from KAOS & his wife Michelle, Benny Vandemaele from the Metal Over Oostrozebeke Festival, Belgium, Rob van der Bent from T.C.F., Mike Moreno from StratuS, a mutual friend of ours Neil Grey in England, another mutual friend of ours Andrae in Germany, a friend of mine Kay in Germany, another friend Sandra in the Netherlands, Kris from Leave Scars & pretty much across the board everybody's response since hearing of Jon's passing has been the same.

All of which whom seem to be in shock, disbelief, sad, stunned, sorry, crying, numb, distraught, devastated, in a loss for words; you name it. All of them expressing their sympathy & condolences. My "thank you's" go out to each & every one of them. 

 

Q: Jon also played in other acts like Lääz Rockit, Heathen, Warning SF– I can imagine that they were also shocked while hearing the sad news, right?

A:Again, haven't heard a word from any member past or present from Heathen or Warning SF, nor any other band member or band Jon had been in over the years. As far as Laaz Rockit, during the 2-3 year period Jon was with them, was the same period of time I was in the ARMY.

Never met any of the Laaz Rockit members from this era. Without personally speaking to any of them, based purely on assumption, I'm sure they all are saddened hearing that Jon passed away. I just don't want to speak out of place here nor put words in other people's mouths.

 

Q: Can we expect a memorial concert to honor this great musician?

A: From what I've recently been told, yes, there is something in the works, in it's very early stages. Something that's going to take some months of preparation& planning though. When & where it's to take place, I don't know. Too early say. As soon as have more info & details, I'll let you know.

 

Q: As you know, I worked out the questionnaire for an interview regarding Ulysses Siren and Jon would provide us with the answers. He was started, yet finished the duty … any change that we at MTI may have the opportunity to publish Jon Torres’ last written words?

A: I was at Jon's place in California two weeks ago. I'd read the questionnaire / interview you sent Jon from Metal To Infinity. It was I'd say 2/3rds completed & he was still working on it. As far as any chance or opportunity of what was completed being published? It's really up to his wife Tambre if she'd like too? I've not spoke to her about this amongst numerous other things. Myself, I got quite a laugh out of it with certain things Jon mentioned in the interview. But, out of respect to his wife Tambre, it is her decision whether or not she'd like it published? Either way, "yes" or "no", I'd honour & respect her wishes. No question's asked.

 

Q: Ulysses Siren’s new album was planned to be released soon through your own label Malevolence Records. What's going to happen with this release Nathan?

A:  Complicated!

Since Jon passed away, there are some changes to the new Ulysses Siren CD that are going to need to be done. Already I'm having to take a look at the layout of the CD, having an extra page added, adding in some liner notes, a photo of Jon, & the CD dedicated to & in memory of Jon himself. All of this goes without saying & I wouldn't have it any other way!

To make things perfectly clear, the bulk of Justifiable Homicide in the making had been Jon & myself. I had all the artwork / layout done & taken care of. Jon had been taking care of all the material / content. There had been bits of input thru out the making of Justifiable Homicide from Jon's wife Tambre & Manny their vocalist.

With Jon taking care of the material / content, quite possibly some of the material recorded at the end of Justifiable Homicide may need to be changed? The CD then may need to be re-mastered?

If there are some changes that are going to need to be done with the material / content of Justifiable Homicide, of course there's going to be some changes needed to be done with the layout of Justifiable Homicide as well.

Whatever changes needed to be done to Justifiable Homicide are relatively minor. There's no majour overhaul's needed done here. As minor as they may be though, it comes down to how much time this is going to take?

Add in the fact I don't live in the Bay Area anymore, nor anywhere remotely close to the it. Logistically it's become a nightmare for myself lately having to travel there. A lot, if not all that needs to be done, having whatever changes completed to Justifiable Homicide is going to have to be done via internet & telephone. This itself is also time consuming & can be difficult.

In the end though, whatever changes needed to be done to Justifiable Homicide will get done. I didn't come this, far nor did Jon himself, working as hard as we both did. For what? Just to walk away & Justifiable Homicide never seeing the light of day. And knowing Jon, I whole-heartedly feel he would not want to see this happen! 

Jon did not half-ass this new Ulysses Siren CD, neither have I. Neither of us were leaving any margin of error here, no matter what it took. Jon & I just didn't work that way. And now that he's gone, the bulk of what now needs to be done to release Justifiable Homicide, out of all probability, the responsibility in my hands? Of course I've yet to speak with Tambre & Manny, & get some input from them.

Until then, I've had to take a step back from all this for the time being. Giving it some time, let some dust settle, a bit of closure to Jon's passing away, etc. At best, all I can say is Ulysses Siren's - Justifiable Homicide CD release has been postponed. 

 

Q: I want to keep this interview rather short Nathan because I know that you have a lot of other things to take care of. All the very best brother, wish you much strength during these hard times. Any last remarks?  

A: Thank you Stefan & thank you to Metal To Infinity.

Rest In Peace Jon. You will always be remembered & never forgotten.

My condolences, thoughts & prayers go out to Jon's wife Tambre, their daughter Cassandra, their friends, the Torres Family, & Ulysses Siren.

 

 

  Love & Respect, Nathan McLeod (Malevolence Records©) 

Homepage: http://www.malevolence-records.us/  

Email contact: nate@malevolence-records.us 

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ULYSSES SIREN - TERRORIST ATTACK (VIDEO)