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.
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.
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. www.sonicdominion.com
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.