Interview with Guitarist Marc Ferrari (Keel, Cold Sweat)

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Marc! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it’s greatly appreciated.

CV: Your career has had you wearing many different hats; a guitar player, songwriter, author, actor, entrepreneur, investor, composer and producer, just to name a handful.  Which do you see as your most adoring role thus far…or is it still too soon to say as there is more to come?
Marc Ferrari: Being a father to my 16-year old daughter is by far the most important role I have ever taken on, and the one I am most proud of.

CV: In 1985, Keel was named as "Best New Band" by the likes of Circus and Hit Parader magazines. How was the band’s reaction…was it completely unexpected and did it have any influence on how the next record would be developed?
MF: I remember we were all extremely excited and proud as we all read Circus Magazine growing up and reading about our own idols. It did not have an effect on us writing the next record however...we just stuck to our guns.

CV: Keel's second album, the anthem-laden, "The Right to Rock," represents to many Metal fans as a turning point at which the genre began to take hold of the mainstream consciousness of the time, including radio and MTV. When the band was making the album, was there any thought to the impact both it and the title track would have with fans or on Heavy Metal history?
MF: As far as song “The Right to Rock” goes, we knew we had a special song from the very first time we played it as a 'warm-up' when we were recording "Lay Down the Law." It became an anthem/calling cry after the release of the album in 1985 and we were vindicated by the response it got from the masses.

CV: "Right to Rock" was produced by Gene Simmons.  A lot has been said of Gene in the many years that followed. What was it like working with the 'God of Thunder'? Though he has songwriting credits on three of the album’s tracks, overall, how much input did he have or provide with the making of the record or with how the songs were crafted and developed?
MF: Gene was critically important to us on “The Right to Rock”...he was very helpful in a number of ways: Helping us with song arrangements, getting the best performances out of us and contributing to the overall vibe of the album. Naturally his name association was also helpful to us.

CV: Marc, the 90's brought big changes for the Metal scene. But you rolled with the punches like a seasoned pro.  Unfortunately, many of your peers were unable to do the same. You began writing a column in Metal Edge Magazine, started the company MasterSource, appeared on TV and in the movies, as well as being recognized and honored for your soundtrack contributions to numerous films and television productions during the decade.  What prompted you to continue moving forward, finding new avenues of relevancy to showcase your talents?
MF: It's like the old saying goes with sharks: If they stop moving, they die. Same thing with me...I felt I just needed to keep doing something and I tried to stay relevant during those years where commercial hard rock was not the flavor-of -the-month. Music is my greatest love and I couldn't stand the thought of not being involved with music…so luckily I found other things that allowed me to stay close to my passion.

CV: In your opinion, how can young artists make it a point, right from the beginning, to become more themselves opportunity to foster their careers and continue to create on a variety of platforms?
MF: I think young artists/musicians need to educate themselves on a variety of things such as the business and marketing side of music. Frank Zappa said it best: There's more business than music in the music business. As such, it's imperative to have a grasp as to how to navigate the business end of things.

CV: Is diversity an artist’s greatest challenge in your opinion?
MF: I think the greater challenge is how to stay relevant and elegant at the same time...

CV: Today's music industry has transformed the once creative artist into a more brand conscious business.  Many critics note that style and appearance have taken precedence over music quality and content. Do you agree with such criticisms? Have artists unknowingly lowered standards in exchange for brand visibility?
MF: Unfortunately, there seems to be a prevalence for 'disposable heroes... Almost like assembly-line pop stars. In some cases the image carries more weight than the music. It's sad but we live in an era where people hear with their eyes, instead of their ears.

CV: Some critics felt that video killed the radio star all so many years ago, and now there are those who believe that the digital medium has killed the rock star of today, so to speak. What are your thoughts? How do you view the digital revolution from an artist’s perspective?
MF: The digital revolution has been a two-edged sword, as on one side it allowed the masses to be self-contained and be able to produce content in the comfort of one's one home and 'broadcast' to the world. On the other hand, it opened the floodgates to millions of people to do just that and it had the effect of diluting the pool of truly-talented artists. So now you have millions of people vying for the same eyeballs and ears of what was previously available to just major label recording artists.

CV: Your book, "Rock Star 101: A Rock Star's Guide to Survival and Success in the Music Business," provides an essential road
map for working musicians.  The book originally published in 2002. Do you feel, given the radical climate changes within the music industry since then, that the information in the book is still substantially relevant to today's musician?
MF: The book could certainly be updated with some appendages that addressed changes due to the 'digital revolution' but the underlying advice and knowledge is still valid and worthy of a read.

CV: Marc, any consideration on publishing a follow up to Rock Star 101...or maybe even conducting a series of workshops for musicians, teaching them business models and strategies as a framework for personal growth and successful career development?
MF: As mentioned, the book could certainly use a 're-fresh' or a follow-up 'second edition' As far as workshops/videos go, there's a glut of videos that deal with music business up on Youtube so I don't know how I would be able to offer anything that is unique at this point.

CV: You have spent a number of years producing source and production music for various media outlets; from starting up MasterSource in the early 90’s, to being a senior exec at Universal Music. How did you find yourself going from the stage playing Heavy Metal to behind the scenes developing music scores?
MF: It was a natural transition for me. I have always loved film/TV and obviously music was my lifelong passion so it was the perfect mix. I happened to get into film/TV music at a fortuitous time and just rolled with it!

CV: Do you see production music as a viable working avenue for artists to pursue regardless of style, or even for those who may be considered less mainstream in their songwriting?
MF: Yes, Film/TV can be extremely rewarding financially and the exposure on a TV show can reach millions of people literally overnight…so I view it as an extremely powerful medium that should be considered by new and established artists alike.

CV: How much creative freedom does this form (source/production music) of composing provide artists?
MF: It all depends: Sometimes artists are given specific guidelines as to what to create, other times they are told to just 'do their thing' and turn in music without much input. It's pretty much a case by case thing.

CV: Marc, in 2017 you published your second book, but this time it was a children’s book titled "Don’t Dilly Dally, Silly Sally." The book has been critically acclaimed. What drew you to write children’s literature? What it something personal?
MF: The story was inspired by my young daughter who has always been very time-challenged. I wrote the initial manuscript for her but it morphed into something that had a broader appeal as I fleshed out the storyline.

CV: Keelfest just happened this May, which included Steeler, The Ron Keel Band, and of course, Keel, featuring Bryan Jay and you on guitar. How does it feel, that 35 years later, Keel is still drawing the crowds? What do you think has given the music such sustainability all these years…is it more than nostalgia?
MF: It's certainly a great feeling to know that we still have some relevance after all this time and that there are still a lot of fans out there for this type of music. I would never have thought that we'd be doing shows 35 years's a 'big' number. These days we are doing it for the fun of it and luckily we still enjoy each other's company and have a blast playing!

CV: Any chance fans expect to see a new Keel record sometime in the near future?
MF: We have been offered to do another album but the sad fact is that the return on the investment…in terms of time and money, simply do not warrant our involvement on doing another full-length release at the moment. That being said, we have discussed the possibility of doing a single or two. We'll see...

CV: What’s next for you?
MF: 2020 will be a big year for me as both keel and 
Cold Sweat have been announced for the Monsters of Rock cruise. Cold Sweat may even do some other gigs...stay tuned!

CV: Thank you again Marc for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.

Check out Marc at:

Like The Cosmic View on Facebook at:   

My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

Want to see your logo here? Contact The Cosmic View for details and rates.