Category: Women Who Rock

Interview: Janet Gardner discusses departure from Vixen, solo career and new music

When vocalist/guitarist Janet Gardner announced that her departure from Vixen this past January, it came as a bit of a surprise. After all the band, known for hits like “Edge of A Broken Heart,” “Cryin’” and “Rev It Up,” had just completed another successful year of touring as well as releasing a new live album – the aptly titled, ‘Live Fire.’

For Gardner, the decision to leave didn’t come easy. Following her marriage to guitarist Justin James and the release of her acclaimed self-titled solo album, the blonde songstress spent the beginning of 2018 being rushed into emergency surgery to relieve a subdural hematoma. Her recovery was quickly followed by a string of solo U.K. shows before rejoining Vixen for even more live dates. This coupled with the process of juggling a regular job at home and raising her son had made scheduling too difficult. Something had to give.

There were no hard feelings with the split and Vixen, which consists of Share Ross (bass), Roxy Petrucci (drums) and Britt Lightning (guitars), will continue to carry on with Lorraine Lewis (Femme Fatale) joining the ranks on lead vocals.

n the meantime, Gardner is concentrating on her solo career and has nearly completed a follow-up album with James she hopes to release in the spring. Expect to see her out on the road in support of the new music as well as continuing to perform the hits she helped make famous.

AXS recently spoke with Janet Gardner about her decision to leave Vixen, new music and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What prompted your decision to leave Vixen and concentrate on your solo career?

Janet Gardner: Last year was insane for me. It started off in January when we were on a solo run out West and I had to have emergency brain surgery. I made up all of the missed shows and then did a U.K. run. Then Vixen started and we did even more great stuff. When I finally came up for air I was back home to my regular job, taking care of my son and all the other things that I do, and realized I was missing out on a lot because of scheduling. I had to make a decision.

AXS: Was this something that had been weighing on you for some time?

JG: Absolutely. I definitely wanted to make it work. They [Vixen] had made concessions for me when I needed to do things and I would feel bad about holding them back. I remember one time being stuck in a Detroit airport for eight hours and missing my son’s middle-school graduation. It’s hard to leave my family but I don’t want to keep Vixen from doing what they want to do. It was a tough call.

AXS: What are some of your best memories with the band?

JG: There’s been quite a few. Opening for Scorpions was our first arena tour and the first night of that tour was surreal. When I heard “Edge of A Broken Heart” on the radio for the very first time and our record went gold was another dream come true. They’re all good memories.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Janet Gardner by Clicking Here!

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Interview: Madame Mayhem Discusses New Single, ‘Broken’, Memorable Moments

Co-written with Breaking Benjamin’s Keith Wallen, Manhattan-born singer/songwriter Madame Mayhem is back with her infectious new single, “Broken.”

The new track, which features the powerful rhythm section of Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Winery Dogs) and Ray Luzier (Korn, KXM) continues the dynamically gifted artist’s trend of delivering infectious melodies, hard-hitting rhythms and soaring vocals.

AXS recently spoke with Madame Mayhem about “Broken” and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did your new single, “Broken,” come about?

Madame Mayhem: It’s always cool when you can collaborate with people who hold you accountable and can bring something of their own to the table as well. I’ve written a bunch of songs with Keith Wallen and “Broken” is one that came out of those sessions. I always like it when listeners can relate to a song in their own way. For me, “Broken” is a song about the feeling you get when you’re in a relationship with someone and both of you know it’s over, but both of you are afraid to admit it.

AXS: What was the writing process like?

MM: I always say this but it’s true: there’s really no one set way to write. I could go in with a bunch of lyrics and Keith may have a bunch of riffs. Sometimes we may use them and other times we may just scratch it all together and talk about what we’re feeling right now. We’ll both come prepared but sometimes it can all go out the window and we’ll start with something new. It’s very organic.

AXS: Where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics?

MM: The lyrics usually come from the struggles and frustrations I’ve been through. It’s therapeutic to get the song out, and when I hear people say that they feel the same way it makes me feel that I’m not alone. It’s writing from truth.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Madame Mayhem by Clicking here!

‘Death House’: Actress Cortney Palm Discusses All-Star Horror Fueled Adventure

During an exclusive tour of a nine-level, secret prison known as “Death House,” agents Toria Boon (Cortney Palm) and Jae Novak (Cody Longo) become trapped inside its walls after a power outage frees a ruthless army of the world’s most dangerously maniacal prisoners. Trapped in the labyrinth of horror, the agents must push to the facility’s lowest depths, where they’ll come face to face with a supernatural group and discover a dark secret about themselves.

The premise for the B. Harrison Smith directed feature was originally based on a concept by the late Gunnar Hansen (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) intended to bring as many horror legends together in one film. That’s why, in addition to appealing performances of Palm and Longo, “Death House” features a plethora of iconic horror stars from the mid-70’s to present day, including Kane Hodder (“Friday The 13th”series), Dee Wallace (“Cujo” “The Hills Have Eyes”), Barbara Crampton (“Re-Animator”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Bill Moseley (“House of 1,000 Corpses”), Michael Berryman (“The Hills Have Eyes”) and Felissa Rose (“Sleepaway Camp”).

As an actress, Cortney Palm has a knack for playing strong, female characters (just check out the beautiful artist’s work in 2012’s “Sushi Girl”) and Agent Boon is another convincing role that’s right in her wheelhouse.

“Death House” is more than just an “Expendables of Horror” film. It’s a gripping tale of good versus evil, the dangers of experimentation, the macabre, and how things are not always what they appear to be.

I recently spoke with Cortney Palm about her role in “Death House” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this project come about for you?

In this age of social media people have different ways of reaching out and giving you information about opportunities. In this case, the original lead for the film had to unexpectedly drop out. They were going to start filming and I received a Twitter message from [director] Harrison Smith telling me they were looking for someone. I read the script and was immediately excited. It was a fun, in-depth story about good and evil. About finding what it takes to face your inner demon and coming out on top. I called my agent, flew out a few days later and we made it happen.

What was it about the script that intrigued you the most? Was it the idea of having so many horror icons attached to the project?

Originally, I didn’t know it was being pitched with a lot of horror icons attached to the screenplay. What drew me to the story the most was the strong female lead. I’m always attracted to characters who don’t take anything from anyone else and who can stand on their own two feet. 

How would you describe your character, Agent Toria Boon?

She’s a very by the books kind of person. She’s a daddy’s girl, but daddy really wanted a boy. As a result, she’s had to step up her game and trained hard for what she’s doing. As the story unfolds she realizes there’s something she hasn’t been told. Everything is snowballing all at once and she’s not really sure who to believe or trust. She has to follow he intuition and think things through as they happen. She’s figuring out how to survive while at the same time, visions of “Who Am I” keep racing through her mind. There’s also a dynamic, female power trip going on within the film. It’s about who’s on top and who’s going to be the manipulator. The women all have to fight for a place. They all have to be there for each other but it’s still about who’s bite is bigger.

How would you describe the story of “Death House?”

It’s a crazy roller coaster ride, so stay in the cart and keep your legs and hands inside at all times. The story goes into the idea of what happened back in the Fifties and Sixties when the government was performing tests on people. It also dives deep into what it means to have good and evil in the world. The yin and the yang.

What was it like working with Harrison Smith?

Harrison was once a history teacher and was such a good mediator at getting us all to the table and keeping us on the same page. For any issues we had to overcome he was the hub and teacher who kept everyone grounded. He also gave us the freedom to innovate and try new things. Some of that inspiration took the story deeper than what we originally expected.

What did you enjoy most about making “Death House?”

I loved the prison location. There was a lot of energy there that was indescribable, but not necessarily good or bad. People have actually been burned and murdered there and there were also riots. It was dark and there were some really cold, long shoots. It was a lot of work but the prison made it magical.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

A film I shot a few years ago, “Sunflower,” is getting distributed in the middle of 2019. I also recently wrapped a father-daughter drama called “Two Cents from a Pariah” as well as a voice over for a psychological thriller called “Purple.”  Another film, “Herringbone,” just won the online Sydney Lift Off film festival and is in the festival circuit. It’s a touching tale about two women struggling to survive captivity and torture, as it represents the dairy industry. I’ll also start filming a movie called “Bleed Millions,” that’s directed by Sam Koze, in January. It’s an interesting story about a psychopathic individual who uses the blood of his victims to paint works of art.

Have you ever thought about getting on the other side of the camera someday – either as a writer or director?

I’d definitely consider it. It’s really a matter of finding the right projects. I have a few ideas for a film about unity and casting children as leads. We’ve gotten away from our innocence and the nature of just accepting and being present. That’s something I’d like to explore.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2019?

I’m excited about expanding my horizons and meeting people who are more about the human condition and how it’s represented in film and in our daily lives. Instead of being caught up with unsubstantiated hate towards one another or victimizing ourselves or others, I want to focus on waking up to a collective consciousness. Having people realize their true selves and the beauty the world has to offer. I’m looking forward to helping to influence people in positive ways to make changes so our world can become better place. 

Death House” is available now on Digital, Streaming, DVD and Blu-Ray.

Katie Daryl Previews New Season of AXS TV’s ‘The Top Ten Revealed’

Photo: Stewart-Volland AXS TV

AXS TV’s popular music countdown series, The Top Ten Revealedreturns for a second season with its premiere on Sunday, January 13 at 8:30pE/5:30pP with “Top Ten Roller Rink Tunes.” Hosted and executive produced by Katie Daryl, the eleven-episode winter season promises more laughs, surprises, and insightful anecdotes from a plethora of musical heavyweights.

Other episodes this season include a salute to some of music’s finest showmen in “Top Ten Crooners”; Double Studio albums and Drug Songs countdowns, as well as a tribute to the final year of the 1970s with “Epic Songs of 1979”.

Returning to join Daryl and lend their voice and rock expertise are icons Lita Ford, Dee Snider, Eddie Money and Steven Adler as well as legends like Mickey Thomas (Starship) Sebastian Bach, Steve Porcaro (Toto) and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon).

In addition to the new season, Daryl is also hosting a FREE Reunion Party for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands at the legendary Whisky A Go Go on Sunday, January 6th! Although this is not a televised event the evening promises to be a fun celebration of Daryl’s acclaimed show that aired for eight seasons on AXS TV.

I recently spoke with Katie Daryl about the new season of Top Ten Revealed and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from the new season of “The Top Ten Revealed” in January?

I think fans are going to be pleasantly surprised at all of the new faces they’re going to see. Not only do we have returning favorites like Lita Ford, Dee Snider, Eddie Money, Steven Adler and Rikki Rockett, but we also have a lot of new faces as well, including artists like Sebastian Bach, Leif Garrett, John Five from Rob Zombie, Mickey Thomas from Starship and Steve Porcaro from Toto. It’s exciting to have this new insight and keep everyone interested not only in what the topic is about, but also in who’s going to talk about it.

Let’s discuss a few of the topics that will be covered this season. Where did the idea to compile a list of the Top Ten Crooners come from?

This is definitely one of my favorite episodes of the new season. I had overheard someone talking about Tom Jones at the office and I was like, “Tom Jones? Wait a minute. How fun would it be to do something that involves Tom Jones?” Then we started going down the list of crooners—Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frankie Sinatra. I knew right away it was going to be fun, so we put the question out on social media. The funny thing is, as much as people love Frank Sinatra, he isn’t always someone’s go to favorite. There are a lot of lesser known, obscure, or one-step away from the Rat Pack guys as well. We focused on having a lot of singers talk about this episode because a lot of these guys have admitted to being influenced by these crooners. They have great stories about why they love them and how they influenced their careers.

Another interesting topic of conversation has to be Double Studio Albums.

That one became another big office debate. Originally, it going to be all double albums, but then someone mentioned Frampton Comes Alive and other live albums and it became too hard to narrow them all down. So, we decided to do studio double albums this time and maybe in an upcoming season we’ll do the live double albums.

What was the criteria for choosing a list of Top Ten Drug Songs?

We wanted to be very respectful of our viewers and make sure people didn’t think we were making an episode that celebrated drugs. It’s interesting conversation, not a celebration. The criteria was that the song had to either be about drugs and drug use, or interpreted by others as being a drug song. For instance, “Mr. Brownstone” is clearly a drug song, and we even have Steven Adler talking about how it was written and how terrible heroin was. But then there are other songs that are more debatable, like “Purple Haze.” Even though Jimi Hendrix himself had said it’s not about drugs but about a dream he had a lot of people still interpret it as Hendrix having the dream after being on drugs. It was looser criteria than some of the other lists, but it made sense in the long run.

What’s your favorite part of the process of creating an episode? 

My favorite part is booking the guests because at the end of the day I’m a rock star fan. When these people walk in the room, they’re musicians who’ve played on some of the best songs ever written and toured with some of my favorite bands. They always have interesting backstories and amazing personalities. I will say that my least favorite part is tallying the ranking. Because sometimes you just sit there and scratch your head and go “How is this possible? How is this #1?” [Laughs].

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about the musical tastes of AXS-TV viewers from doing these shows?

Our salt and pepper demographic really loves classic rock, but what’s also surprising is that they also tend to lean toward metal. The same person who says they love The Who and Rolling Stones is also voicing their opinion on a Megadeth song. It just goes to show that just because you like classic rock it doesn’t mean you’re old or not progressive with your musical tastes. It just means you have a core that you love but can still learn to appreciate other music as well.

Click here to watch the trailer for the new season of The Top Ten Revealed.

Although it won’t be televised you’re also having a reunion party for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands at The Whisky a Go Go in January. What can you tell me about it?

This is going to be fun. The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands had eight fantastic seasons with so many bands to pay tribute to. In talking with the fans of the show I realized how much fun we had getting together every week at The Whiskey and doing the show. It was a fun, bonding experience and we missed each other. So, we decided to get the band back together and have a party. We’ll start by having an alumni/crew private VIP and then open the doors to the public. We’ve invited all past ticket holders to get a free ticket and we have K-Tel performing as our “house band.” They play a lot of the best and one-hit wonder songs of the 70s, so it will be easy to bring tribute guest stars like our Elton John and our Stevie Nicks up on stage with them. It’s a natural fit to have this backing band performing with some of the frontmen we’ve loved over the years with The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands.

The allure of tribute bands has never been stronger. To what do you credit to their success?

When I first started doing research for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands I spoke to a very influential booking agent. He pointed out that the interest in booking these types of bands started shortly after the financial markets crashed in 2008. A lot of it was due in part to venues like casinos and the 2-3,000 seat venues who could no longer afford the expensive “real talent”.  People just weren’t spending their disposable income on a ticket. So, they turned to tribute bands to fill the void. It allowed people to not only save money but also see a high-quality performance. Of course, “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” and AXS TV helped knock it out of the park just as they were gaining their footing. It gave them a national platform to perform on.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

We’ll actually be doing nineteen episode, split-season of The Top Ten Revealed in 2019. We have eleven episodes in January and then another batch of eight in the summer. The show has been so successful that Mark Cuban has specifically requested a spin off. Right now, I’m in the middle of pre-production on a new show launching in the spring that will complement this show very nicely on the network. If you like Top Ten Revealed you’re going to love this.

The new season of The Top Ten Revealed premieres Sunday, January 13 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on AXS TV.

Interview: Brooke Josephson discusses working with DJ Rocky G on infectious Re-mix of ‘Mr. Fix It’

Following the release of her acclaimed pop-rock EP, Sexy N’ Domesticated, singer-songwriter Brooke Josephson teamed up with international house producer Rocky G for an infectious remix of her single, “Mr. Fix It.” The electro-house version, complete with a progressive beat and dreamy synths, taunts female domestication by encouraging women to find someone who can cater to her needs.

The accompanying music video for “Mr. Fix It” showcases psychedelic visuals of the artist intermingled with scenes of a Rocky G live performance as well as Josephson’s adorable nine-year-old daughter, Shira.

AXS recently spoke with Brooke Josephson about the remix of “Mr. Fix It” and much more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did the idea to do a remake of “Mr. Fix It” come about?

Brooke Josephson: Over the summer I was reading stories about other women who were pursuing being independent artists (and other careers) while at the same time juggling being a full-time mom. I came across Rocky G’s video where she shared her story about being an international DJ and a mom of six. I thought that was amazing. So I reached out to thank her for her work and inspiration as well as to let her know what I had going on. She responded and the two of us started talking about collaborating. I sent her my music and we started dialoguing about the song and bouncing ideas for a video. She told me that she would be performing at an event in Amsterdam, so I flew over and that’s where we shot the video. We even incorporated some of the events into the video as well.

AXS: What was the process like for re-mixing your original song?

BJ: I sent Rocky G all the stems from the original recording. She laid down a beat, took the original vocals and then added filters and a few other effects to give it an electronic vibe. Then she added an original melody at the intro.

AXS: What was it like working with Rocky G?

BJ: It was so much fun. I quickly discovered that she’s the same version of me, only she was doing EDM music. Her normal routine includes doing shows from ten at night until five in the morning. Then she gets home and instead of going to bed, she stays up and gets the kids ready for school. Then she comes back home and naps and does her work until she has to pick them up again. The same juggle I do in L.A. is what she’s doing in Amsterdam. Even though our styles of music are different our lives are very similar and the drive for what we do is very much the same.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Brooke Josephson by Clicking Here!

Interview: Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan discusses her beautiful holiday album, ‘Best Gift Ever’

With a specialty in Christmas music, singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan’s passion for the holiday has driven her to a career that’s unique from other recording artists. Case in point, her new album, Best Gift Ever, which is sure to become a soundtrack of the season.

Led by the infectiousness of the album’s title-track and Chan’s original renditions of such classics as “O Holy Night,” “The First Noelle” (aptly re-named in honor of her daughter), and the unearthed classic, “For Unto Us,” Best Gift Ever gives listeners a refreshing mix of tradition and universal acceptance.

In addition to the new album, Chan is also lending her voice to various charities and radio shows across the country. For her, it’s an honor to not only share her music with the world, but also to give back for the greater good.

AXS recently spoke with Elizabeth Chan about Best Gift Ever and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What inspired you to take on a career as a Christmas songwriter and producer?

Elizabeth Chan: I’ve always wanted to write Christmas music from a very young age. When I was growing up, there was a radio station in New York City that went all Christmas every year, and I remember whenever the station would turn me and my sister would leave the radio on twenty-four hours a day. It wasn’t something I knew I could make a career out of until after I already had another career. I always knew I wanted to be a musician, but eventually chose a different path. Then about eight years ago, I had what I guess you’d call a quarter-life crisis. I thought, either I could keep working at the career I was at or do something that makes me happy. I think people are given one shot to do something with their life, and for me, it was music. I thought back to the one time in my life when I was truly happy, and that was when I listening to Christmas music and writing poems. I decided to give myself a shot, and here I am.

AXS: What’s your writing process like?

EC: I’m highly inspired by my family but also approach songwriting like a muscle you flex. I write Christmas music all year long. In the beginning, I’d force myself to write at least one Christmas song every day. Most of them were bad but I quickly amassed a vault of Christmas music. I now have my own sifting method where I’ll wait and see if I can recall a melody and lyrics of a song I wrote several years later. That’s how I know it has a classic, timelessness to it.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few original tracks from Best Gift Ever, starting with the title track. What’s the story behind it?

EC: My husband is the most-simple, happiest guy on the planet who never wants anything for his birthday, anniversary or Christmas. I’m always prodding him by asking, “What do you want? What do you want? What do you want” [laughs]. The bridge is always his answer: “Don’t worry about me. I have everything I want.” It’s also a universal theme with people. Every year, there’s always that sense of hey, what do you want this year? It was a good opportunity to write a song about the way everyone feels.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Elizabeth Chan by Clicking Here!

Interview: Nita Strauss Discusses Her Infectious Debut Solo Album, ‘Controlled Chaos’

Photo Katy Cooper

2018 has certainly been a memorable year for Nita Strauss. The guitarist, widely known for her time touring with Alice Cooper and for being one of the most in-demand clinicians on the planet, started the year out by unveiling her first Signature Model guitar, the Ibanez Jiva. This coincided with another round of live dates with Cooper as well as solo performances that included Wrestlemania and for the Los Angeles Rams as part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service”. Now, the beautiful blonde shredder is doing something else she’s never done before: releasing her monstrously cool, debut solo album, Controlled Chaos.

With help from her longtime visionary, Josh Villalta, the instrumental album is a snapshot of Strauss’ life as an artist and features an eclectic mix of emotion and guitar wizardry. From the dark and aggressive sounds of songs like “Our Most Desperate Hour” and “Mariana Trench,” to more peaceful tracks like “Hope Grows” and “Here With You,” there really is something for every taste. Strauss even gives a nod to Queen with a haunting version of “The Show Must Go On.”

AXS recently spoke with Nita Strauss about Controlled Chaos and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How would you describe Controlled Chaos and how it relates to where you are as a guitarist?

Nita Strauss: This is my first album and first chance to show my personality, so I didn’t want to make a strictly rock or a strictly metal album. I wanted to make an album that encompasses all the different styles and emotions I’ve gone through as a person. On Controlled Chaos you’ll hear the dark and aggressive side (of course),4 but you’ll also hear a bright and fun side and a calm and peaceful side. It’s a snapshot of myself as a guitar player.

AXS: What’s your writing process like?

NS: For me, it starts with a story and with me saying this is what I want to talk about and here is how I want to talk about it. A common misconception people have about instrumental music is that it’s all just notes that work together in sequence. I learned from studying my guitar heroes that’s really not the case. I want to tell a story with the song but leave it to the listener to have their own interpretation of what each one is about. It’s not like a song with words where the lyric is already telling you what it means. These songs can be about whatever they make you feel. That’s the beauty of instrumental music.

AXS: What was the recording process like?

NS: I did a bulk of the recording on a break from the tour over the summer in L.A. The rest was done in the back of tour buses, venues and in hotel rooms. Anywhere I could set up my recording rig. Even if I only had a free hour in-between sound check and the show, I’d set up my equipment and get something done. It was grueling at times but was so worth it because I was able to be really hands on. The album came out exactly the way I wanted it to.

Read the rest of my
Interview with NIta Strauss by Clicking Here.