Friday, January 13, 2017


The world has changed in many ways...some good ways, some not so good.  Being in the music business isn't all champagne and backstage parties!  There are responsibilities that come with being a manager, and often times, it's not by choice.  In the early years of my management, there were borders everywhere...serious borders.  Different currencies and laws bound travel and business.  This applied to bands trying to get a foothold in the business, as well as the huge bands that were established.  One sticky situation was transporting merch.

All the bands I ever worked with sold merch.  Some sold insane amounts, in fact.  In the late '80's and '90's, the black Metal shirt was a hot commodity.  Yes, it still is, but in these past times, it was the norm...until the flannel shirt covered the tees up!  From Sacred Reich to Soulfly, it was all designs craved by fans.  In the midst was Sepultura.


You probably don't know, but the biggest selling shirt design for Sepultura, in the time I managed them, was the Third World Posse shirt, designed by Christina.  It had the photo of the guys sitting in a favela.  That shirt flew like popcorn kernels in a movie theater!!  Christina, Max and myself worked with Angelique (RIP) DeFeyter, to make the Sepultura line of merch, from the Arise album to the end of the Roots' cycle.  I still consider the Blue Grape merch company to have been the best merch company for band gear, in my music career.  You could go in a small village in Greece and find at least one shirt in some general store!


To improve the company, Angelique spent huge amounts of time trademarking and researching laws in other countries.  For a few years, when Christina and I were cracking down on the bootleggers, she even hired Annie Lennox's security team to accompany us on tour.  The owners of the bootleg companies were not thrilled with our behavior, and also knew we had large amounts of cash on us.




Traveling wth merch had it's drawbacks in the early days as some territories did not allow merch to come in without paying tax at the borders.  Normally we would have paperwork that addressed this, but one time, unknown to myself, I was left without it.....

We entered Sweden after a show in Germany.  I was on a bus with the band, and Christina, who sold the merch, was on the crew bus, which had entered the country before we arrived.  At the border, our driver was asked if we had merch and replied "no."  When the custom's agent looked in the bay, it was ONLY merch!!!  I was chilling with Andreas in the upstairs' room and never even knew we were at the border.  I was pretty shocked when the agent are upstairs and asked for me too follow him.

They put me in a little locked room, and informed me that I was being detained for smuggling.  After questioning me, he brought in a typed confession to sign.  When I looked at it, it was written in Swedish!  Of course I couldn't sign something that I couldn't read!  I posted  a 3,000 GBP bail and they took all the merch....all 250,000 SK!  The next day, I made the newspaper's front page......not happy...  The delivery person, earlier in the day, had put the merch in the wrong bus, and now it was my headache.

We continued on with the tour, and many tours after.  One day, about a year later, my office phone rang.  I answered, hearing a thick Swedish accent on the other line.  "You were just found guilty, in the Swedish court.  They will keep the bond and the merch will be returned to Blue Grape."  "Uh, ok..."


Since then, I have been more cautious about what the heck is going on with the merch.  Do I have the correct papers for transporting?  Is everything current and logged?  Where the hell is it?  It all matters.....

Class dismissed.......