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.

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










By: Russell Ray

   I remember when I first got into music. I remember how it felt, and how I knew that playing an instrument and being in a band is what I wanted to do with my life. After getting my first drum set at the age of 10 I began to spend all of my time listening to my favorite bands and dissecting their parts so that I could learn to play their songs. I also began to take lessons learning rudiments, reading, and technique. Now this was before the internet where so much more information is available quicker today other than my once a week lessons at the time. As a kid I got bored with my teachers and focused more time playing along to cd’s as it was fun and I felt like I was in the band. It wasn’t until years later where I learned how to make friends with other musicians and eventually start to collaborate, write, eventually perform live (growing in the process), and how to make learning on every level fun. I didn’t have a school to go to and learn all of this and what comes with playing an instrument in a band… The emotions, dedication, fear, triumph, teamwork, vision, and so, so much more.

Recently I was introduced to The Rock Box Music School and Stage. This is the dream school for anyone at any age that wants to learn an instrument(s), how to learn their favorite songs, how to work with other students/musicians in creating music together, how to prepare for the stage, perform in a true connected live experience, as well as record their own music, get radio air play, and work with their communities. Most importantly all while having fun and being mentored by seasoned music professionals who’ve experienced everything from starting out in the beginning, learning an instrument(s), writing music, growing through time to the stage, the studio, and to the world. With all of this being said, we had a conversation with Rock Box’s creator and visionary Angel Bartolotta, and his wife Sally Bartolotta. Both professional music veterans who share a passion for teaching these experiences.

RR:  Angel give us your background as a musician and professional experience: Angel:  I started playing drums when I was 11 or 12 years old and joined my first band at 13. At 19, I did my first world tour as the drummer for Genitorturers, one of my favorite bands. I’m most known for my time with the band Dope, having toured with them for 7 consecutive years and recording the drum tracks on their album No Regrets (which debuted at #88 on the Billboard 200). I’ve also played drums for PIG, Crossbreed, Switched, The Undead, and a bunch of other bands. Sally and I are also in a band together called Team Cybergeist. This is a

collaborative music project I started back in 2006 and features members of Shinedown, Stone Sour, Static-X, Coal Chamber, Morbid Angel, Kittie, KMFDM and a ton of others. Over 100 musicians are involved with this project.


RR:  Sally, you are also a professional musician. Can you give us your background as well?

Sally:  I took up guitar at age 13, and later evolved to bass at 17 when good friend and mentor at the time, Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down gifted me my first bass. I was in an all-girl band in Washington, DC called Cherry Debauchery, and in 2008 joined PsyKill (Tampa, FL). When Team Cybergeist decided to transition to the stage in 2009, I was the live bassist until 2014 when I switched to vocalist and front-woman.


RR:  What inspired you both to start The Rock Box?

Angel:  I’ve been teaching drums to students of all ages for almost 20 years now. It’s something I did between tours and studio sessions. I always worked for other people at local area music stores. My students were getting really good at the drums, but they never played with other people. They never had the opportunity to experience being on stage. They never had the chance to create. That’s why I opened The Rock Box Music School & Stage. We give our students the tools to not only learn how to play an instrument, but to take those skills and apply them in the real world of music. We build bands, have them perform live on stage and track original music in our recording studio.

Sally:  This was definitely Angel’s brainchild. And he’s been talking about wanting to do this for as long as I’ve known him. Reflecting upon my own struggles and obstacles as a young musician, I felt it was imperative that we give our students the full experience. Most music schools or lesson shops offer traditional music lessons, and then leave you to figure out the rest. This is something that hindered my own experience in my early days and cost me a lot of valuable time (not to mention all the stress). I had no idea how to perform on stage or write and record my own music. I was scared, self-conscious, and it wasn’t until I met the right people who took the time to help me learn and get through it, that the rest fell into place. So that’s what I love about The Rock Box. Not only do we provide students with a top-notch quality music education, but we offer the full multi-dimensional experience to help all students achieve exactly what they want to, in a comfortable, encouraging environment. It’s the place I wish I’d had growing up.


RR:  It’s a very cool concept. Give us a walkthrough of what services you offer? Angel:  We offer private lessons for voice, piano, guitar, bass, drums, ukulele, mandolin, violin, viola, cello, banjo, percussion, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, flute, clarinet, saxophone, and other instruments in 10 lesson studios. We have a full venue and stage for our students to perform. We also have a recording studio where they can write and record their own music. We also broadcast Rock Box Radio from here.

RR:  Nice! You have a radio show there as well that students can air their songs on?

Angel:  Rock Box Radio! It’s a weekly show on WKDW 97.5 FM where we interview students, play original music, and have live on-air acoustic performances. It’s also streamed on our website as a podcast.

RR:  I think it’s real cool that you get your students to work together as well as learning individually. That is so important for musicians to learn how to collaborate and inspire each other. Give us some examples of how this works?

Angel:  One question I get asked all the time is “How did you get so good at playing the drums?” Hahaha! The answer is simple; Playing with other people. Sure, you can learn all the rudiments and exercises and practice perfect technique, but none of that is going to get you anywhere until you apply those skills by using them with other people, usually in a band setting. When students are at the level where they feel comfortable coming to our Jam Night or performing in our student concerts, their playability skyrockets! They relax, they feel the music, they live in the moment, and they just go for it! Every time! It’s amazing to witness. Also, watching (and helping) them write their own original songs is like seeing magic happen before our eyes. Some of the songs these students come up with are really good! A few I wish I wrote myself! Haha! Every holiday season, we release a compilation CD of all original music written and performed by our students. It’s available at The Rock Box and on our website at


RR: How do you help your students prepare to perform live?

Angel: The best way for them to prepare to perform live is to just get up there and do it! This is why we have a stage right here at The Rock Box. It gives them a chance to get on-stage experience in the same place they take their lessons at every week. It’s not at some random venue they’ve never been to. It’s at The Rock Box, a place they’re familiar with. It’s home. On the last Friday of every month, we host a Jam Night. It’s the perfect time for students to get on stage, show off what they’ve been learning, and for most of them, this is their first experience playing with other musicians.

RR: You also hold concerts and recitals?

Angel: Every few months or so, we host concerts right here at The Rock Box.

We’ve done a 90’s tribute show, a “Legends Never Die” show where students payed tribute to our fallen icons, and most recently we did a tribute to The Beatles. In 2020, we will be doing student concerts honoring David Bowie, Queen, and Nirvana to name a few.

Sally:  We also encourage our students during private lessons as well, if they are learning a particular song for an upcoming recital or show, by either bringing them onto the stage during their lesson, or helping to mentor or coach them with tips and tricks for over-coming stage fright, or just bringing their live performance to the next level.


RR:  Explain to us what you do in your workshops?

Sally:  We are very fortunate to be able to bring in some wonderful guest musicians from around the world who have led workshops or clinics at The Rock Box. Whether it’s David Ellefson from Megadeth, or one of our many resident teachers, each person brings so much knowledge, experience, and wisdom to our students, it’s insane! Workshops could be about a particular subject, like writing and recording your own music, or honing and improving your skills on a particular instrument. Or they might be a little more relaxed, as is the case with most of our guest teachers. It’s a great way to help our students reach the next level, get answers to any questions they might have, and to meet new people.


RR:  I saw that you also do field trips. Where do you take your students?

Angel:  We do a few field trips every year. We’ve taken our students to the Armadillo Enterprises (home of Dean Guitars, Luna Guitars, and DDrum) factory in Tampa where they can see firsthand how the instruments are made. We’ve also taken students to the Cavanaugh Company in Sarasota where they see how Black Diamond, Super Sensitive, and Red Label strings are made. When they see how things are actually made, they gain a little more respect for the instrument(s).


RR:  How has the community accepted your concept?

Angel:  At first, I wasn’t really sure how our little town of North Port would react to my idea of The Rock Box. Heavily tattooed/pierced guy. Played in a bunch of not-so-family-friendly bands. Blah blah blah. But really, the community has been SUPER supportive! We’ve enrolled over 600 students, we’ve been voted among the Best of North Port every year since we opened, and we won the Business of the Year Award twice! Our students have been invited to perform at multiple city events, and we work closely with the Parks & Recreation Department, the Chamber of Commerce, and the North Port Police Department (we do a Rock With A Cop event every November). North Port loves The Rock Box, and The Rock Box loves North Port!


RR:  What are some of the goals that you have to expand and grow over the next few years?

Sally:  When we started out, we had 3 lesson studios, and only a handful of students. Then a little over a year later, we expanded into the unit next door and now have 10 fully functioning lesson studios, and hundreds of students. As we begin to fill up slots, we hope to continue to grow organically, and have the means to offer more, even cooler experiences.

Angel:  Exactly what Sally said. With over 600 students, we hope to continue to grow and give our students the experiences that everyone dreams about. From learning an instrument, to playing in a band, rocking on stage, recording in a studio, and one day touring and doing it all on their own. We’ll continue to be North Port’s original music destination and mentor anyone and everyone looking to take that next step. Experience the music at The Rock Box!