We talked with Roxy Petrucci, Vixen’s drummer, minutes before their show in Barcelona. She talked about the present, past and future of the band, because Vixen is back to stay and to honor Jan kuehnemund.
How has been your Spanish tour so far?
So far unbelievable. You know that we toured here with Scorpions years ago, we did some off dates without the Scorpions and we were shocked by the reaction of the crowd. They were so wild and so excited about Vixen that it just stayed with us, we remember it. So when they said us we were going to Spain, I said “Yes, let’s go to Spain!” I remembered the crowd, I remember they loved Vixen, they were big Vixen fans. And we’ve got again a real warm welcome in Madrid and in Bilbao yesterday and now I’m sure Barcelona will be a great crowd too.
So you still recall these days?
Yes, good memories. It’s good to be back.
It’s kind of strange that you’re just making this three dates in Europe, usually when American bands come here they stay longer, not just three dates
We will come back, we’ll come back after the record. We’re playing and recording. We’re just checking how it goes, you know, to see how the reaction is about Vixen and obviously it’s better than we expected. So we will be back. And hopefully it’ll be longer, not just for three days.
What’s still left in Vixen from these early days?
Obviously Jan is not part of it, because she passed away so, you know, we miss her, she’s missed every time we play but I think Gina is a good fit, we couldn’t think of another guitar player. It’s not that Gina is taking Jan’s place, because nobody can take Jan’s place but she’s doing a really good job playing the classic Vixen songs and keeping the sound like Vixen only with a new fresh take on it, maybe with a little more attitude too, because Gina is a more rough as a player, she’s heavier, but the fans like her, they like what we’re giving right now. We’re excited, we’re happy playing together. You know, it feels right.
Let’s continue with the past. Today it’s easier to release a record, but in the eighties you needed a label to do this
Yes, it’s different nowadays
Was it difficult for you to get record label, to sign with EMI at that time? A lot of showcases…
Yes it was! A lot of showcases, they were like, you now… “Well, they’re good for girls”. We hated that, we hated all that. But we just wanted to play rock’n’roll, we didn’t care. If we get a deal great, if not we gonna keep in playing.
In your first album there were the label pressure, many composers participating such as Richar Marx, maybe because of that the creativity of the band was not totally expressed
Yes, we have to thank him for writing “Edge Of A Broken Heart” because that put Vixen on the map, that was our first hit. We needed it. We were recording the record and we’re lacking another song, and Richard’s was inspired to wrote “Edge of a broken heart”, we practiced it and was perfect for us. Why won’t we do it, it was a great song. The man who wrote he did a great job, so that became our signature song and then “Crying”.
Rev It Up was more personal
When we did Rev It Up we’d been touring for a long time, so when we were doing that record we were much tight as a band, we had all this ideas flowing, so we really didn’t need outside writers .We knew where we were and we were ready to do the record. That record is basically Vixen.
And this is true that producer Randy Nicklaus was disappointed with the result of this record?
I wasn’t disappointed (laughs)
Let’s come back to the reunion. The idea came from Jan. Did you ever thought of giving up when she passed away or it made the opposite effect, to make you stronger to pay her the tribute she deserved?
We were so much devastated when she died. We didn’t know what to do. We thought, “what’s the right thing to do, shall we continue?”. We were discussing and talking to friends, fans and family and we came to the conclusion that Jan devoted her life to Vixen, Jan was the founder of Vixen, many, many years ago. So between Vixen and her guitar Jan lived for music. How could we not continue on? You know, it’s for her legacy, and to honor her, so we thought it was the right thing to do. And obviously the fans wrote us “we’re glad you’ll continue on as Vixen, Jan is with you”. I think it’s right.
And why didn’t it work out in 2004 when you reunited for VH1’s program “Bands reunited”?
The timing wasn’t right. It was right for me, I would have done it. But everybody else was still doing their own thing. Timing is everything. The time was right when Jan called. She was just like “I’m ready now, let’s go on, let’s do this” and we were all excited, we’re talking on the phone, just ready to do it. Then she got sick, a cruel twist of fate.
Two questions about you. You started playing clarinet. Is it something that has helped you on the drums?
Yes, because I understand music. I can read music, and as a musician it helps you all the way around. It made me a better well rounded musician, I think. I enjoy it, I like playing clarinet. I don’t know if it’d work for now. Can you imagine a clarinet solo in “Love Is A Killer” ? (laughs)
It would be a surprise
Maybe with a flute…
I’d like to ask you about your other bands, even I understand your main occupation now is Vixen. What about Madam X?
Madam X is back! You know we did Sweden Rock this year? It was a great show. What happened was that I played Firefest, with Vixen, and there was Madam X stuff coming across, Madam X records, Madam X pictures, and I just thought we should do a song, a Madam X song, just for the fans just for fun so let’s get together and do it. Look what happened; now we’ll record a CD. As soon as it worked out that Madam X was doing the single Sweden Rock call. They said “you know you were huge here?”. We didn’t know, because we never played outside of England, we did the Marquee but this is as far as we played in Europe. But apparently Madam X was a big deal. Everybody is really excited about it, so do my sister. When I’ll go back we’ll record more stuff because we want to release a CD in 2015.
And what about Rocktopuss?
Rocktopuss? Yeah, Lorraine Lewis. She called me at 2005 after the VH1’s bands reunited, she was actually there. She wanted to do some writing and see what we could come up with. She came along great. She’s terrific, she’s a real deal. Good voice, fun to be around and we just started working together, checking our ways for a new album, keeping in touch, wrote some emails, recorded a song. It’s a small world
So we can expect new stuff
Maybe, maybe. Never say never.
And new stuff from Vixen?
For sure, guaranteed. We’re working on it now.
Janet explained that you’ve got few songs completed and that one of these songs was dedicated to Jan
Yes, that’s all I can tell. And it all came very easy because it was so heartfelt. We were rehearsing, we wrote it right there, and then we wrote the lyrics.
It’s not easy
(Keyboardist enters the room to suggest us ending the interview as the show was about to start)
He’s Chris. He did play with Jan in the other version of Vixen. We met him because he came to this bands reunited. And when we got together for this Janet said “why not to use Chris” and we answered “of course”.
Ok, so just to finish: being and all-female band has helped or handicapped Vixen?
Who the fuck cares? (laughs). Who cares? You know, being a girl group now is not a novelty. There are so many girls out there. In our time it was tougher, because there were not too many females. You know, we got into rock’n’roll because we love rock’n’roll, just like every guy. We love to play and the fact that we were women and maybe inspired women to play. That’s great but that’s not the reason we got into music. Breaking into music now I don’t know if it’s harder for women or not, I don’t think so. It seems that there are women everywhere, mostly singing. But there’s something you don’t see, I still have to see a girl band like Vixen, a ladies band doing the harmonies and the hard rock. I mean the Bangles were great with the harmonies but they were not hard rock. Lita is great but she’s not a girl band, it’s Lita and she’s got a great band. I think this is another reason why Vixen is still here and people want to see us. I think we kept ourselves in shape, we still look decent, we play like motherfuckers, we’ve evolved as players and writers. We’re still growing, we still want to learn, that’s key for being good musicians. And we love playing with each other. I think I appreciate it more now than twenty years ago.
Yeas, I think that’s because back then I thought it would last forever. And it didn’t. When it was over I was just like “What just happened?”. We had all these great memories and now we’ve got an opportunity to do it again.
Could it be because right now it’s all about the music, the band, the fans and in the eighties it was the MTV, it was ….
Yeah, too much. It became too much of the same, although I think we stood out. You put as and put Poison and it looked like the same band
(laughs) yes, but we got better butts.
That’s for sure
There are not many bands like Vixen today, you know? So there’s a market for this band and if there’s not we’ll do something else but so far people are very excited, they like what they’ve seen, they like what they hear, because we are about the music. You’ll see tonight, I hope you’ll feel the same. Is it your first time?
Yes because the last time you were here in Barcelona it was in 1989, and I started going to metal shows on 1990. So I missed it just for one year.
Oh no, so you’ve missed it (laughs)
Yes, at least I got you in the posters in my room, together with Iron Maiden
Vixen and Iron Maiden? What a mix
Thank you for your time, Roxy
Thank you, enjoy the show!
Albert Perera (Simfonia Metal·lica)