Work Ethic: What would you do to make it?

As the title asks… What would you do to make it? When I say “make it”, I mean to be successful in the music business and essentially be a musician for a living. Now, the things that entails might be much different than you are thinking. Let’s just start with the work ethic. How hard you might be willing to work. Back in the day, my band had the mantra of “whatever it takes”. It meant that the band was priority one. That the band needed to come first under all circumstances for us to get ahead of the other bands working hard. That ran us through quite a few musicians to find the ones that would stop at nothing to accomplish our goal. Anyway, what would YOU do? Let’s say the band gets an incredible short notice touring opportunity.

It’ll cost a couple thousand dollars between travel expenses, merch stock up, and promotion. What do you do? Are you enterprising enough to come up with the money? Or do you turn it down? Would you sell some personal stuff? Ask for a loan? Would you quit your day job if you had to for a good opportunity? I’m not recommending that you quit your job to go play a couple of shows, but I AM saying that you should ask yourself and your band members some of these questions when the time comes. Ask yourself and your band what they would do. See where everyone’s priorities are. One of my bands was ready to tour. We had worked through the ranks. Were doing weekend warrior loops around our home base. We were getting paid for shows, selling a lot of merch at shows, had a multi-state following, national representation and a well-known booking agent lined up. Then all of the sudden our guitar player says he can’t tour. He had obligations that when it came right down to it… he had to choose them over the band. We had never had that crucial honest talk about where everyone’s head was at and what they were willing to do to get to the next level and be a touring band.

Does the thought of working on your band get you out of bed excited to start the day? Do you do something for your band every single day? Are you willing to work as many hours on your band as you do your day job? From my experience, having a band and being a musician for a living is very much like being an entrepreneur. A business owner. And every business owner I know had a day job that paid the bills while they worked more and more hours on their own business. Growing it until the day that their own company could replace the daily grind paycheck. See the connection? As a band you are building something that will eventually require more and more of your time.

Hopefully it will also compensate you monetarily. That is the part you may not be thinking of. A good hard-working touring band tends to make just enough to keep them on the road. They usually aren’t making enough to pay bills back home. In comes the side hustle. So, what do you do to make it as a musician? We know several professional musicians that give lessons while on tour. Others sell online courses for recording engineering. Most have endorsement deals to help with equipment costs and some get paid to appear in ads. But as you move into that next level of touring, rather than just a couple of tour-cations a year, how do you get paid while you are on the road? Do you have your side hustle in line? What would you do to make it?

Get your album artwork on a shirt

It’s about time that your band steps up their game and has some pro quality merch. Sure, the one-color logo shirt has its place and we are a firm supporter of that Tuxedo of Shirts with white ink on a black shirt (buy em from us for $6 each at 50pcs)… But you should really think about getting a band photo or your album art on a shirt. When it is printed well, it will help to elevate the image of your band. Making you look next level as people wear your merch that looks as good as the shirt they bought at the arena show last week. Finding a printer that can do it isn’t too hard these days but finding a printer that does good work at a good price is the key. A lot of shops will want to do your art in 10 or 12 colors. This usually creates an accurate image but can leave the print feeling thick with many layers of ink.

There are print shops that specialize in printing full color using far less printed colors to achieve full color and saves you TONS of money by using less screens. Of course, I’m talking about our print shop here at MerchLive that commonly prints just 6 colors to achieve a full color print, and yes, it is a very soft print. We could bore you with details about halftone size and screen mesh that allows a thinner ink deposit or that David Ellefson of Megadeth and Fieldy of Korn use our services, but what really matters is that you get a good representation of your artwork at a price that you can still make some gas money one shirt at a time. (Btw, we can print your full color print on a standard Fruit of the Loom T for $10 each at 50pcs or $9 each at 100pcs).

First, choosing your artwork is a major factor of how your shirt turns out. A well-designed piece of art for a square album cover may not look as appealing when printed as a big square on a shirt. We recommend having a different version of the same artwork created for a shirt. Meaning it would be longer than it is wide and ideally without square straight edges. At the very least adding an edging of some sort to a straight edge can do wonders for your artwork. Think of a ripped edge, a splattered edge, we’ve even used rough stitches to knock out the straight edge of some album artwork. We can always add some edging free of charge when you order your full color shirts from us. Here’s some examples of our full color work and some edging applied by our outstanding in-house artists.

Family of Crazies or a Psykotribe

by Ben Boggs

Ben Boggs: Thank you for taking time to speak with me! What are you most looking forward to in 2020 and are you venturing into places which you have not played before?

Dana Harrison: I think that’s always the goal, to try to reach places you’ve never been before.  We love meeting new people and expanding our dysfunctional family.

BB: Congrats on the tour with six feet under! It sounds like it was pretty cramped quarters! What was your favorite memory from this tour?

DH: Oh boy, so many great memories!  It’s probably a split between two memories.  The Czech Republic was just a whole night of craziness, those people are the sweetest but also the most insane people I’ve ever met. And then our last show when Chris Barnes invited all the supporting bands onto the stage to scream out their cover of AC/DC’s “TNT” with them.  All of the bands became family on this tour, so it was awesome being able to share in the fun with everyone at the end.

BB: I grew up on Megadeth, so hearing that David Ellefson tracked bass on your single “End It” must have been a dream come true. How did it feel working so closely with him?

DH: David is such a sweet genuine guy so when I found out he wanted to do this I was just blown away, I mean he’s a total legend.  It was a lot of fun!!

BB: I read that your favorite show Psykotribe ever played was with Cradle of Filth a few years back in Tampa. I adore that band. What made it your favorite?

DH: Oh am I ever a fan of Cradle of Filth, Dani is such a huge influence to me.  Although there had been some ongoing negotiations it wasn’t

actually announced that we were performing on it until about 4 days ahead of the show date.  The day of the show, we were all still in shock that we were even on it.  haha  I think what made that one of my favorite shows was meeting them and realizing how down to Earth the whole band is, no egos at all.

BB: So, James and Dana are husband and wife, Jakob is James’s son.  John and Chris, the other 2 guitarists are cousins, and Adam, your drummer and Chad, your bassist are brothers. I love that you keep it so close to the family. Are there any challenges with having family be so closely associated to your business?

DH: No, I mean except for your typical family squabbles.  hahaha.  Really though, I think it makes everything go easier.  There is a certain strength that comes from having your family behind you that you really can’t get anywhere else.  It is the “tribe” portion of Psykotribe, I’m pretty sure you all know where the Psyko part comes from.  hahaha

BB: Tell me about how you became the vocalist of your band. I heard it was unexpected.



DH: Funny story, I threw a surprise party for my husband, James.  He was in another band at the time, so I invited all of his friends over from different bands in the area.  They had an open jam in our garage so during one of their sessions I jumped on the mic and started screaming to the music.  I’ll never forget the look on James’ face when he realized it was me.  I had never done it before so he had never heard me do anything like that. We think that was pretty much the beginning moment of Psykotribe.

BB: How much influence do you have over matters like artwork? Is there anything outside of Psykotribe that contributes to your band overall?

DH: I do, along with being one of the vocalists of Psykotribe I am also a painter, a sculptor and an artist.  I showcase my artwork on Darkly’s Creations which you can find on Facebook, but I love participating in local art shows and exhibits.  I love the darker side of things, so my artwork and my vocals are not too far off from one another.  A creative mind never rests, I am constantly restless.  haha

BB: I will leave you with one more question: if you could pick your dream line-up for a tour package, who would it be? You have already played with so many greats!

DH: Haha, oh boy let’s see.  I would say, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God, Paula Abdul and Psykotribe!  Don’t judge me,  hahaha!  Thank you Ben!!


Nikki Law: Director of Publicity at Metal Blade Records

Nikki Law: Director of Publicity at Metal Blade Records

MerchLive: You are the Director of Publicity at Metal Blade Records. How would you describe your job?

Nikki Law: I promote new albums, tours, events – really anything that needs to be publicized by Metal Blade! I’d say most of my time is spent writing press releases and exchanging emails with press contacts.

ML: What is your day to day like? Could you run us through your typical workday?

NL: I start my day by checking my inbox for “emergencies” – which I deal with first. After that, I usually start writing press releases for the days ahead. Once those are finished, I move on to the rest of the emails in my inbox (I try to reply to everyone within 24hrs).

ML: You had worked at Century Media before Metal Blade. Did you have previous PR experience and or education in the field before working at Century Media?

NL: Not really. I have a BA in Literary Journalism (which is somewhat related to PR, but not really); after graduating college in 2010, I couldn’t find a full-time job, like most people at the time. So, I worked part-time at Starbucks, plus did some administrative assistant work. I eventually interned at Century Media (while also being a barista and assistant – and a student again). After a year or so, the internship led to a job – and here I am!

ML: Did you have previous Metal experience and or education in Metal before working at a label? Lol. Sorry couldn’t help it. Have you always been a Metal fan?

NL: Yes. My dad listened to some metal (eg Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, etc), so he’d play it around me and my brother when we were younger. When we were in high school, my parents let us go to metal shows, so I’d say that’s when my passion for metal really took off. I soon met people in the scene – and even did band interviews for a few years! The relationships that I made back then really helped me to get to where I am today.

ML: When should an artist seek out public relations services?

NL: That’s a hard question to answer – it really depends on the band. Some bands are very capable of handling PR/social media on their own; if that’s the case, I think you can hold off on getting a publicist for a while. If you need help promoting your music though, you should get someone to help you (with either PR or social media) pretty quickly.


ML: Is an email list a useful tool for bands in the early stages and how often would you recommend an artist reach out through their email list?

NL: Are you referring to a fan newsletter? If so, yes – I think it’s a useful tool. I wouldn’t “spam” people with news though; if there’s a big announcement (eg new album, new music, pre-order start, tour dates, etc), then I would send a blast to your fans.

ML: How big is the email list for the label? How many people do you reach?

NL: We have different lists, depending on what the news is, but it’s in the low thousands. Our reach depends on what the news is about.

ML: We’ve seen on social media that you go to some huge festivals with the team from the label. Are those working events for you? What does a PR person do at those events?

NL: Yes, they’re working events. A PR person sets up interviews at these festivals, as well as signings (sometimes). They also help with getting everyone the right credentials. They may even help by selling merch! For me personally – I’m willing to do whatever is needed to help out the team and artists.

ML: You work in California and with the high cost of living there, is this your only job? Do you also have a side hustle like many people in the music business? Or do you have to live this job, as in it takes most of your time?

NL: Yes, this is my only job. I don’t think I’d have time for anything else! Haha

ML: On behalf of MerchLive Backstage Pass Magazine we would like to thank you for shedding some light on one of the most important behind the scenes positions in the industry. We would also like to thank you personally, Nikki for helping our magazine ever since the very beginning. You have been an outstanding example of the wonderful people we have met in the upper levels of the music industry and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with you.

NL: You’re welcome! And you’re too kind.  It’s been great working with you as well! Many thanks for the support!


Maria Ferrero: Queen Bee at Adrenaline PR

Maria Ferrero: Queen Bee at Adrenaline PR

by Russell Ray

Behind every successful band is a team of people that most of us don’t know that are working behind the scenes promoting, funding, pushing, believing, and on and on to ensure momentum in a bands career. People who believe in music, people who believe in the fans, people who believe in the entire experience for what music is. A way of life. So much credit is deserved for these warriors who do not need the lime light but they wake up every day and hustle and push…

So, this leads us to this issue. Slayer is an Icon. Metallica is an Icon. Anthrax is an Icon. Testament is an Icon. And so is Maria Ferrero. Maria has spent her life dedicating every breath to bands that have graced all of our lives, fans or not. Behind the scenes she has promoted and exposed all of these bands mentioned above and more so that people like us (Fans) have something to experience. We are honored to have this interview with her:

RR: Maria tell us where you got your very first start in the music business?


MF: I was a suburban kid who hung with a group of kids older than me who were into music from Black Sabbath to AC/DC. One of my friends had a neighbor who sold metal records in a flea market in East Brunswick, NJ called Rock and Roll Heaven. I knocked on his door asking if I could buy some metal. I was 15. He sold me a Motorhead album on clear vinyl. I then began visiting their record store and made friends with the couple. They were 27 and had a one year old so I would help baby sit or make meals for the kid. I worked in a bakery at the time, they started promoting shows and I would give extra loaves of bread to help them feed the bands. Eventually they started Megaforce Records and I would just show up daily helping them answer phones or type letters or babysit. We signed Metallica and then things got serious… seemed like a job I felt I was making a difference and we really grew from there.

RR: I read that you had a passion for cooking and that you dreamed of becoming a chef. You also had an accident that changed your course. Can you elaborate on that and the direction it pushed you towards?


MF: 1997 – I was married, my husband died in December. He was 30 it was awful. It made me realize life is short and follow your dreams. I wanted to be a chef, so I signed up for a cooking school and went away to Australia for Xmas vacation. When I arrived back to America I went to my job as a product manager at TVT Records. I was told my job was over, so I said you know what I signed up for a cooking school and I’ll stick with that. So, I did it fast and then trained at a 4 Star French Restaurant called Chanterelle in NYC. I then went to Berkeley California to intern at Chez Panisse and eventually went back to NY. I took a job at FRENCH JAPANESE Cuisine.  My second night at work I was hit by a truck while crossing the street. I re-cooperated from a broken hip and herniated discs in my back, but I just could not do it. So, after 9 months in the kitchen, I came back to music. It’s truly where I am.

RR: You also worked with a number of Iconic artists (Metallica, Anthrax, and more). Tell us about some of those times as you are a part of that history.

MF: We were kids. It was a special time and none of us knew anything certainly not where we would end up “MAGIC” it’s called!

RR: You worked at Megaforce Records. Who are some of the bands that you signed and helped launch their careers?


MF: I signed Testament when I was 19 my bosses did not like them. Jonny had Metallica then after that. ANTHRAX were his babies and I wanted a band all my own so I drove him crazy until they said “okay we will sign them”, 25 years later I manage the band helping them to resurrect their career and it was well, again “MAGIC”…  I also signed Vio-Lence when I was 21 and signed the Skatenigs, Nudeswirl and Ministry to management. I did all of their PR and they graced the covers of every magazine from 1990-1996 “their heyday.” Someone mentioned MAGIC…


RR: What inspired you to start Adrenaline PR?


MF: I lost my job at Metropolis Records due to funds and distributors going out of business. I called my friend Debbie Abono who called Gloria Cavalera to tell her I lost my job. Gloria hired me for Soulfly, and I started the company 17 years ago.


RR: Who are some of the bands that you launched by starting this company?


MF: From Autumn to Ashes, August Burns Red, Lamb of God, Dimmu Borgir, Every Time I Die. There are a bunch…  Still there are Wilderun, Anamorph… etc…

RR: Starting something from the ground up can be very difficult. You managed to craft a very successful business and are LEGENDARY in the industry. What has been your drive that keeps you pushing forward through the ups and downs over time?

MF: Stay true to yourself, ride the waves, never give up, be cool, and believe in MAGIC!

RR: Tell our readers about your management company “Breaking Bands LLC.” How did this venture come to fruition and who are you currently managing?

MF: I wanted to work with my friends Jonny Z who I felt needed a pick me up inspiration, motivation, magic, etc, and we called Chuck to see if he wanted to do it with us, he said yes and we worked together very well when I was managing Testament. But all things come to an end. We’re friends forever no matter what, and that is yes you know it… MAGIC!


RR: What advice would you give to people who are getting their start in the music business? Also, what is the mentality that they should exercise to help them persevere throughout their careers and business relationships?

MF: Stay the course, be savvy, network, build relationships, and have a back up plan.

Megan Orvold of Casket Robbery

Megan Orvold of Casket Robbery


MerchLive: Casket Robbery has been getting a lot of press about the single “From Hell”. We’ve heard you on

Decibel and seen you in Kerrang. Since we have Maria Ferrero (top PR in the world) in this issue, I gotta ask, did you use a public relations firm or is this single just catching fire organically?


Megan Orvold: We did use a PR firm (thanks Clawhammer!) for the single release that really went to bat for us and a lot seemed to be pretty organic as well, which has been really cool to watch.  We also work very hard on our own, in addition to the PR which gives us that extra boost.  You’ll find us busy everywhere online, posting and promoting.


ML: We’ve seen some pretty big show announcements lately. Are you working with a booking agent? What shows are you really looking forward to?

MO: We are! We connected really well with Keith from The Convalescence on our last tour, so we signed to his booking agency, The Legend Agency. The Legend Agency has been working really hard for us lately, so we are excited to see everything this year brings! Right now I’m really looking forward to Toledo Death Fest ( I LOVE Jungle Rot) and all of the shows on the tour in May with The Convalescence, Filth, and Blood of Angels. There is also a fun festival on the tour run in Mississippi, the Gulf Coast Beer and Metal Fest that I’m really looking forward to playing!

ML: This is usually the time of writing and recording in the cycle of things… While you are filling the schedule for Spring and Summer, what is going on currently in the Casket Robbery camp?

MO: Right now, we are super hard at work, finishing up the recording for our next full-length album (and my first full-length with the band)! I know it’s taken longer than everyone would have liked but we are really excited about all the new material. The writing process for this one has been the hardest, most-fun I’ve had writing music a

nd I’ve gotten to dive in pretty deep lyrically. We can’t wait to share it with everyone!


ML: The band has been steadily gaining ground partly due to the phenomenal stage show. What are the touring plans to bring Casket Robbery’s outstanding performance to more people?

MO: Right now, we have 2 spring tours announced, both in May. We’ll be heading out with The Convalescence, Filth, and Blood of Angels for the first leg, and then the second leg we will be headlining with Abaddonia as support…we are very much looking forward to hitting the road again! So far, those are our current announced tours and hopefully we’ll have some more to announce soon!

ML: What are you touring in? Van/trailer?

MO: We hit the road in our 15-passenger van, all squished in together, haha. It’s a Ford Econoline van with no trailer. We’ve gotten to a point where we can downsize our gear enough to fit it in the back, taking out the back seats. It’s less wear and tear on the van and better gas mileage. Every few dates we get a hotel and rough it out in the van the other nights. We’ve made it pretty comfy…though our radio died on the last tour so we will definitely have to fix that before may or we’ll all drive each other insane, haha.


ML: Like most bands, you must be able to juggle a way to make money and still be able to tour. Does the band have some means of working remotely to help “pay the bills” while on the road?

MO: With us really picking up on how much we tour now, it takes a LOT of planning. We work very hard when we are home to attempt to prepare ourselves for tours, and yes, a few of us have a few things we can do remotely to help along the way when we are out on the road. Cory works really hard on managing quite a few bands and businesses’ social media accounts and consulting on those, so that is very helpful. I try to stay on top of my side hustle ‘Grave Witch Goods’ and I create and sell spooky/witchy things you can see online and at our merch table, tarot readings…all that fun stuff…it all helps! But mostly, it’s a lot of planning, a lot of hard work when we are at home, and a lot of sacrifice…but it has been absolutely worth it every step of the way.

You can find my store at and Facebook @gravewitchgoods.  For Cory’s social media services email or search Dark Melody Artist Services on Facebook.


ML: Speaking of paying the bills, your merch looks incredible. Who prints it and where can fans get your merch online? (Couldn’t resist ; )

MO: Haha, thank you so much!!!!!! We were so lucky to come across MerchLive for our printing, so fantastic to work with and we are so taken care of. It’s super refreshing!  You can scoop up our merch online through our FB (click the SHOP) button, and you can find it on


ML: Thank you, Megan, for taking some time to chat with us and we look forward to seeing Casket Robbery on the road this Spring.


MO: Thank you so much for including me and Casket Robbery!



Nadja Peulen: From Coal Chamber to her Current Chamber

Nadja Peulen: From Coal Chamber to her Current Chamber

By: Russell Ray

  Years ago, I went to see Coal Chamber in Orlando Florida. From the moment they hit the stage they took over the audience with their amazingly well written hard-hitting music, dark imagery, and unique high energy performance. All of these qualities gave the band an edge that you do not necessarily see from other bands. By the audience’s reaction, I knew this band would rise in the scene fast. They did exactly that. Establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with and a name to remember.

Nadja Peulen (bassist) as well as the other members of CC brought an element to the Rock and Metal Scene that other artists have drawn inspiration from for years. We spoke with Nadja this month to get inside the mind of this rhythm icon and to hear where she came from, a sense of what it was like to be in CC, and what she has  on the table next.

Russell Ray: How did you discover music, and what inspired you to want to play the bass guitar?

Nadja Peulen: I discovered music through my parents, there was always an eclectic musical library at home, and they started taking me to festivals at the age of 5. Then later in school I really took to the drums, it was the coolest instrument we had, and I continued playing even after my move to the USA. At some point I wanted to get into songwriting, and I got a bass which was a natural transition for me being it’s still a rhythm instrument. Bass just stuck with me and I look at it as an extension of myself.

RR: When did you come to America from Europe?

NP: I left The Netherlands in 1994 to move to Los Angeles and I still love it here.

RR: Who are some of your influences?

NP: Bass wise I was influenced/ inspired by Mel (Grand Funk Railroad), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Cliff Burton (Metallica), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Patricia Morrison (Sisters of Mercy) and Sean

Yseult (White Zombie) and a few more. Musically I’m a big fan of David Bowie and Iggy & The Stooges. I grew up on Motown, Soul, Classic Rock, 80’s Pop, New Wave, Rock and Metal which all influenced me greatly.


RR: Your bass playing style and live performance is very unique.  Walk us through your head space of your approach to your playing and live performance.

NP: Thank you! I’m self-taught on bass which is probably why you think my playing style is unique 🙂 I play with my fingers ‘cause growing up I thought that’s what bass players do and I happen to like that raw feeling of touching the strings and the sound it creates. I feel more in control and one with the instrument being a finger player then using a pick although I can do both. I even enjoy the blister phase after not playing for a while because to me that’s Rock ‘N Roll; blood, sweat & tears and maybe some sex but no more drugs lol. I hope my joke translates!

My head space when I go on stage is Kill, Kill, Kill and by that I mean I give it my all, I destroy my body and I’m in the moment, raw, passionate, honest and I think the audience can feel that. It’s about being authentic which should be effortless but it’s not always pain free.

“I had only been playing bass

for 2 years when I joined CC”


RR: How did you end up in Coal Chamber, and what are some of the bands that you played in before your time with them?

NP: Meegs had heard of me through a mutual friend and dropped a cd with me in 1999. They were looking for a sub during Rayna’s pregnancy and I auditioned and got the gig. I had only been playing bass for 2 years when I joined CC and prior to them I was in an all-girl alternative rock band called Tail.

RR: Your time in CC was a great time for that band and in the music scene. Any particular show or shows that really stand out as a surreal experience?

NP: Yes, it was a great time and there are lots of great memories and amazing shows we played. We’ve had some intense shows but, in my opinion, never a bad one. It was a pretty surreal experience to play Monsters of Rock in 2015 and look at a sea of people in Brazil.


RR: How did the reunion go when you guys got back together?

NP: Good, in fact I think our playing as a band was tighter than it ever was, and we were hungry again. For me it was great to finally record bass on the fourth album “Rivals” after having supported the second & third album (Chamber Music & Dark Days) live for so many years on various tours. Once you play with a band for a long time you know each other’s style, personality and playing and to get back together is essentially like riding a bike. It never leaves you and you just pick up where you left off, just a little better each time. I’m ready for the next reunion!

RR: How did you end up playing with Vera Mesmer and are there any plans to do more with this project?

NP: Wow, blast from the past that was a decade ago! Back in 2010, I was looking for a singer for my own project and somehow met Christopher who had a bunch of songs written and we ended up merging our styles. It was a short-lived venture which served its purpose at the time but there are no plans or thoughts to re-ignite.

RR:  Any current projects coming up for you in 2020?

NP: Yes, I’ve been working on my video/audio podcast show called Sonic Dominion. It’s a show about entering the creative mind and talking about turning points and intimate life experiences. I will start production next month and hope to release it in the summer/fall of 2020.

RR: What advice do you have for inspiring musicians coming up in the music scene today?

NP: Don’t listen to advice, be authentic, do you and don’t stop if you love it.

IG: @russellrayofficial