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.
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Interview with Janet Gardner by Clicking Here!
Vixen bassist, Share Ross describes her new project with husband Bam, Twin Flames Radio, as a love affair from the heart and a crime of passion. The album, more than a decade in the making, draws from the duo’s eclectic 1970s musical sentiment; with a lush, layered production as well as a multitude of harmonic-laden and hooky songs.
Case in point is the infectious track, “Peace & Love & Rock & Roll,” a song with a relevant, anthemic chorus complete with a John Lennon-esque “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” refrain performed by members of The School of Rock. Twin Flames Radio also has its share of musical guests, which includes Tyketto guitarist, Chris Green and Vixen’s Janet Gardner,
With Twin Flames Radio, Ross – already well-known for her work in Vixen as well as 90’s super-group, Contraband, Bubble and more recently, as bassist in Joe Elliot’s Down ‘n’ Outz, and Bam (Bubble, Jo Dog & The Desperados) have created an album that combines the best elements of 70’s rock and pop with a polished, 21st century charm.
AXS recently spoke with Share Ross about Twin Flames Radio and more in this new interview.
AXS:How did the Twin Flames Radio project come about?
Share Ross: It was something that’s been happening for a really long time. Bam and I have had a band, Bubble, since the nineties. But after we moved to Florida and started playing again, we discovered that our songwriting had changed. The songs we wrote just didn’t fit the “Bubble” wrapping, so many of them sat for a really long time. It took a bold step to make this project, but we were committed to it.
AXS: What was the songwriting process like?
SR: It was all over the place. I’m one of those people who believes that you don’t actually write a song. You have a muse and the song is given to you. A lot of what you hear on the album was actually recorded during the writing process. In fact, 75% of the original vocals on the song, “Got That Thing” were made up on the spot. Other songs, like “Peace & Love & Rock and Roll” began with Bam just sitting down with the guitar.
AXS: You mentioned “Peace & Love & Rock & Roll.” What else can you tell me about it?
SR: Lyrically, it’s written from the stand point of still being here with all of our friends. We’re all older than we ever thought we’d be, and we’re still doing things in music. The musical approach was very interesting. As we were writing we kept thinking, Ok, what Would [David] Bowie do? What would T-Rex do? What would Big Star do? It was a totally conscious decision.
AXS: How did the kids from The School of Rock get involved on the track?
SR: There’s a point in the song where I had the idea of having the vocal part sound like John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Bam and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to sing it like little kids, so I thought of the School Of Rock. We went down there with microphones and five adorable girls sang it. It was really cool.
Thirty years seems like a long time for a band to release sophomore album, but for the all-original line of Madam X: Bret Kaiser (vocals), Maxine Petrucci (guitars), Chris “Godzilla” Doliber (bass) and Roxy Petrucci (drums), the wait was certainly worth it. The band, who’s 1984 debut, We Reserve The Right was fueled by the infectious guitar/drum wizardry of sisters Maxine and Roxy Petrucci have released the long-awaited “follow-up” three decades later. The ferociously aggressive, Monstrocity.
Monstrocity captures the classic vibe of the veteran foursome while tastefully bringing the band into the 21st century with well-crafted songs, ubiquitous grooves and a production that includes the likes of veteran mixer, Michael Wagener (Metallica, Ozzy) and Mark Slaughter as well as a guest appearance by Janet Gardner (Vixen).
AXS recently spoke with Maxine and Roxy Petrucci about Monstrocity and more in this new interview.
AXS: It’s been more than thirty years since we last heard from Madam X. What sparked the reunion?
Roxy Petrucci:Madam X fans are so loyal. I’d been out touring in Europe with Vixen and noticed a lot of Madam X memorabilia coming through our meet and greet line. I thought it would be cool to maybe release one song with all the original Madam X members, just for the fans. I ran the idea past the band and everyone was on board.
Maxine Petrucci: We released a single in 2014 to get us started, “Another 80’s Rock Song.” That sparked interest from Sweden Rock. They contacted us and asked if we’d be interested in playing Sweden Rock 2014. When we played, there were close to 20,000 people there. We were in shock, but once we hit that first chord we realized the chemistry was still there. It felt very comfortable and like thirty years hadn’t even gone by. We picked up right where we left off. That was when we thought about doing an album for the fans. Madam X was back.
AXS: What were those early writing sessions like?
RP: Bret had a song with a cool riff that needed a little work. So, Maxine and I took it and started tweaking it. That song turned out to be, “Hello Cleveland,” and that’s what really inspired us to write some more. But we didn’t want to just throw something out there. We were passionate about releasing great stuff and worked really hard and took our time.
After being discovered performing in an all-female Guns ‘N Roses tribute band, guitarist Brittany Denaro—or Britt Lightning—was invited to join the ranks of hard rockers Vixen.
Denaro’s impressive musical resume also includes performing alongside such artists as Alejandro Sanz, Rachel Platten and Jason Derulo as well as on television shows like Good Morning America and the finale of America’s Got Talent.
Vixen—which also consists of Janet Gardner (vocals/guitar), Share Ross (bass) and Roxy Petrucci (drums)—and whose hits include “Edge of A Broken Heart,” “Cryin’” and “Wrecking Ball,” is the only all-female hard rock band from the 80’s to sell more than a million albums. The band is currently in the studio working on a live project along with their first new music together in years.
Guitar World recently spoke to Denaro about her role in Vixen, gear, songwriting and more.
Above video by Rokken Randy
How did the gig with Vixen come about?
I was playing with an all-female Guns ‘N Roses tribute band at a pre-party for The Monsters of Rock Cruise. Coincidentally, the person who put it on also happened to be Vixen’s manager. He had known that there was some tension in the band and that they were looking for another guitar player.
After the show, he spoke to the girls and told them he thought I’d be a perfect fit. Ironically, around the same time Janet, Share and Roxy had been asking around and my name kept popping up, so they followed up. It was that simple.
What was it like for you getting together with them for the first time?
I was a bit nervous. Growing up, I had been in all-girl bands but there weren’t many of them to really look up to. I remember the first time I got together with them was without Janet. It was just the music and that took a little bit of the pressure off. Because everyone lived all over the country, the first time I actually met Janet was the night before we did a show together!
I was so sad to hear the news today that Vixen founder and guitarist Jan Kuehnemund had passed away after a battle with cancer.
As a metal head myself, whose never discriminated on the basis of sex, I’m proud to say that Vixen’s music was an integral part of my coming of age in the late 80’s.
Over the past few months, I have been extremely fortunate to have spoken with Vixen members Janet Gardner, Share Ross, Roxy Petrucci and Gina Stile. These ladies (along with Jan) produced some of the best hard rock music ever. For me to not only have the opportunity to interview them, but also actually meet them in person at this year’s M3 Festival (where they performed as JSRG) was nothing short of amazing.
Of course, (being a guitarist myself) I was incredibly interested in speaking with Jan. Jan’s guitar work inspired me right from that very first album. I didn’t even care that she was a girl who could run circles around me on the fret board. I wanted to pick her brain about guitars and songwriting. She’s a musical hero to me.
If you’ve read all of my articles with the girls of Vixen, then you’ve probably noticed that Jan Kuehnemund was the only member of the band that I didn’t interview. But what you may not know is that Jan was actually the very first member of Vixen I approached for an interview way back in July of 2012.
Sadly, Jan and I weren’t able to coordinate a date/time for an interview. But even though I was never able to confirm what I actually already knew about Jan the guitarist and Jan the songwriter; I still learned a lot about Jan the person just through our brief email correspondence.
Correspondence which I’ll now share here.
On July 2nd, 2012: I learned Jan was a humble person.
Hey Jim! Thank you very much for the invite to do an interview with you! I would be extremely honored!! Please let me know what your timeline or deadline might be, and let’s set it up! Looking forward to talking to you! Thanks again! Best regards, Jan K
On July 14th: I learned that Jan was an exciting and busy person.
Hi Jim – I’m really looking forward to this, too!! Will let you know when it’s not soo craaazee around here, so we can schedule something! (This past week has been really busy!)
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay in touch! : ) – Jan
On October 12th, I learned that Jan was a caring person.
Hi Jim! I have not forgotten, and I was just thinking about YOU the other day! Let me see how this next week and next weekend looks, and I’ll get back to you… Thanks very much for your patience! Have a great weekend, too! Best, Jan
The last time I heard from Jan was December 9th, when I learned that she was human and compassionate.
So sorry once again, for the delay.. I just lost my dog, so it’s been a real rough and sad time. I really, really DO want to speak with you, so I don’t want you to think I’m making excuses, because I am not!
Still no (recording) news, so would still like to have some specifics on some things when we do talk, so please continue to be patient for a little longer, and we will DO this!!!
I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving as well, and wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and happy holidays, just in case we don’t get to talk before Christmas!?!?
Please continue to keep in touch, and I thank you once again for your extreme patience!!! 🙂
Do I lament that Jan and I only had a brief email exchange and never actually connected for an “official” interview? Of course.
But I’ll take comfort in remembering Jan Kuehnemund as someone who not only inspired me to be a better guitarist, but also as someone who indirectly taught me how to be a better person.
Vocalist and guitarist Janet Gardner is ready to “Rev It Up” again. The blonde beauty whose tenure with the band Vixen brought us the hits “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin’” is back with a vengeance with JSRG; a band comprised of 3/4 of the classic Vixen line-up.
Gardner, along with bassist Share Ross and drummer Roxy Petrucci had been in discussions with guitarist Jan Kuehnemund for several years about the possibility of doing a full-on Vixen reunion. But after several unsuccessful attempts to reunite due to timing issues, the trio recruited guitarist Gina Stile (who, coincidentally had worked with Gardner and Petrucci on the mid-90′s Vixen project, ‘Tangerine’). In order to avoid confusion but still offer fans the “Vixen” experience, the band decided to use their names and become JSRG.
Gardner’s own story is a journey from the high school choir and small town club scene to the biggest stages in the world. She’s shared the stage with some of the biggest rock groups in music history; including Scorpions and Deep Purple. Hers is a tale not only of hard work paying off, but also one of dreams coming true.
Fresh off a successful run on the Monsters of Rock Cruise and M3 Music Festival, Gardner and the rest of JSRG now set their sights on recording new music and performing at this year’s Firefest.
I spoke with Gardner about JSRG, Vixen, songwriting and more!
What was your experience like at M3?
It was a blast! Everything was so well done. It was such a cool vibe and all of the bands were great! There’s still some confusion over who we are, but people are starting to catch up with it.
Are you working on new music?
Gina and I have been tossing a few ideas around and we’re planning on getting together over the next few months. We’re also coordinating times with Roxy and Share to write and record some rhythm tracks. Our hope is to get it done this summer.
What’s your writing process like with Gina?
Gina and I have written a lot together over the years and in many different ways. Back when we were working on the Tangerine album, we had written somewhere in the range of fifty songs. Sometimes she’ll have a guitar idea or a chorus and we’ll hammer it out together. Other times, she’ll play guitar and I’ll play bass. Then we’ll discover some good melody parts and work on lyrics.
Tell me about the origin of the song “Rev It Up”.
Share had been working with Ron Keel. He had a different set of lyrics for the song at the time and Share was the one who came up with the “Rev It Up” idea. She got together with me, and I worked on the melody for the verse.
Video: Randy Gill
How did you get started in music?
My mom was a pianist and the organist at our church and I would go turn pages for her. I eventually started taking piano lessons myself, but by the time I was twelve I remember really wanting to play guitar badly. My parents finally got me one, and that was the end. I was hooked! The piano was OK, but it was nothing compared to when I was playing the guitar and singing.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a singer?
Growing up, I was actually really shy and would never sing alone in front of anyone. When I would sing, it was always alone up in my room. But I remember it was when I was in junior high school; I was in the choir and no one really wanted to audition for any the solos. Then one day, the director said “Ok, everyone’s going to sing along and I’m going to come around and listen.” As he walked by me he stopped and said, “You’re it. You’re doing it!” and I nearly freaked out. But little did I know, he created a monster! [laughs].
How did you get involved with Vixen?
The cover band I was in was playing a club one night when some girl came up to me and said she knew of a band that was looking for a singer and that I’d be perfect for them. So I gave her my card, but really didn’t think much of it. Then a few days later, I got a call from a manager who gave me a little more info and said he wanted to come down and see me play. So he came out and after he saw me perform said that he wanted to introduce me to the band. So I started looking around for the conspicuous looking guys with long hair. You know, “musician” guys. But then he says, “Oh, they’re over there at the bar.” I look over, and it was a bunch of girls. I had only ever been in bands where I was the only girl, but after meeting them and learning a few of each other’s songs, that was it. Everything just felt right.
What did you find different about being in an all-girl band?
The beauty of it was that there was no weird tension. There’s also less chance of getting involved with someone and screwing up the chemistry of the band. Also, when you’re the only girl in a band with a bunch of guys, there almost always comes a time when somebody’s wife hates you, or a girlfriend wants to beat you up! [laughs]. It was refreshing to not have any of that. Share, Roxy, Gina and Jan are the sisters I never had.
Tell me about making the first Vixen album.
It was an amazing time because we had a major label deal, but as soon as we got into the studio the pressure started to mount. All of a sudden, there were people with their own opinions on what songs we should do, what we should be doing and how we should be doing it. People wanted a say in the matter where before, it was just us. We were just girls from Minnesota and Montana who loved playing live, so it was a bit of a rude awakening.
How were songs chosen for the record?
We originally had a whole bunch of material; a full 90 minutes worth of originals that we had played live. Some of it was a little heavier and maybe not as radio friendly, but the record label had the idea of back loading the album with ten possible singles instead. So a few of our really good songs, ones that we should have fought for, wound up not making it. At the time, we did what we had to do. Having said that, I loved “Edge of A Broken Heart” and “Cryin’” from the first time I sang them.
Let’s discuss that first tour.
It was amazing. We started out touring with Eddie Money, which at the time seemed like an odd pairing, but it worked. We played a lot of colleges and were very well received. Then we did the Scorpions tour in Europe and it was “Welcome to the Big Leagues!” [laughs].
Were you ever intimidated being a girl band on the Scorpions tour?
Not really. Everyone was actually cheering for us. We were a little afraid of how we might be received with their audiences, but we worked hard to win them over. Sure, there were some nights when we walked out there and during the first few songs you could tell the crowd was checking us out and probably thinking, “What is THIS? Who are these chicks?” But by the end, pretty much every night we got them.
What would you say are the highlights of your career thus far?
The first show we played with Scorpions in Copenhagen was a great moment. I remember the lights came down and you could hear the roar of the crowd. It was incredible! Then there was the first time I heard “Edge of A Broken Heart” on the radio. It was on KLOS, the premiere rock station in Los Angeles. I was driving down the street and the radio station I had been listening to for the last six years while living in LA had played it. I just about flew out of the car. I was so excited, I couldn’t even drive. I had to pull over and just listen to it. That was a big moment, because I had spent my whole life listening to music on the radio and now, the coolest rock station ever was playing us. Those were both once in a lifetime events.
For more on JSRG, check out their Facebook page by clicking here!
Gina Stile has been involved in several successful projects over the years including the 80’s bands Poison Dollys and Envy. She’s opened for Aerosmith on a string of dates, had an album produced by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and her current all-female project, Thunderbox is generating a lot of buzz in the New York area. In addition to all of her success, she’s also one hell of a guitar player.
In the mid 90’s (and after the break-up of the band Vixen), Stile began working on a new project with drummer Roxy Petrucci and singer Janet Gardner. Although never intended to be labeled ‘Vixen’ because of its heavier edge, the new music nevertheless became known and was toured as the “Tangerine” album.
In 2012, Stile was already busy with Thunderbox when she was again approached by Gardner, Petrucci and now former Vixen bassist Share Ross about forming the new project, JSRG. With the line-up intact, Stile is performing with Petrucci and Gardner for the first time in 14 years. I spoke with her about the new project as well as her playing and her other heavier edged group, Thunderbox.
Read the full Guitar World article, see pics and watch the new Thunderbox video by Clicking Here
For more info on Gina Stile and her current projects: