Interview by Myrna Maria Barahona
 
1- You were born into a family that encouraged the learning of music.

You were classically trained as a clarinetist. How did rock & roll entered your heart? 

The female rock band Fanny was the first to grab my attention then I began listening to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. I became hooked on Sabbath after seeing them live in concert. I was awestruck by the response from the audience…it was mind blowing.

2- What made you choose drums when you decided to rock? 

Maxine had already started playing guitar and we were discussing whether I should play bass or drums...I chose drums. I love the whole primal aspect of pounding drums; it's very sexy and aggressive.

3- You seem to have a feisty personality since very young. Did it get you in trouble in the early days as a musician? 

Being a musician kept me out of trouble. I was not a great student in school. I could have done much better but I just couldn't focus on academics, I was addicted to music. I enjoyed being in Orchestra, Varsity band, Marching band and Jazz band. I spent most of my time in the band room. I aced all my music classes and won a music scholarship to University, but into my first year I gave it up to hit the road with Madam X.

4- What can you tell us about your first official rock band, the all girl Pantagruel?

That's so funny you could actually dig up that band! Pantagruel was one of the first girl bands Maxine and I put together featuring two other sisters Denise and Laura LaTourelle. Maxine and I insisted on calling the band Pantagruel because we were so heavy into Gentle Giant at the time. The girls were good sports about the name although they weren't thrilled with it. We eventually changed the name to Black Lace.

5- Were you ever competitive with your sister Maxine?

Of course, we're Italian! We've had our catfights through the years but they didn’t last long because of our mutual love of rock n roll! We would all go at it in dressing rooms, hotels, on stage, you name it. Madam X consisted of four passionate heavy metal musicians who at the end of the day were family that shared extraordinary experiences.

6- What do you think of Don Arden?

We had heard stories about him as a tough guy but Don was good to us and he believed Madam X had the potential to be one of his biggest finds. Unfortunately, his vision regarding the music and direction of Madam X didn't gel with ours. 

7- What were the main sacrifices you had to endure while playing with Madam X? 

No food, no money, no sleep, no home. Nothing fazed us because we were hell bent on hitting the big time and we were doing what we loved. Although we were on the road endlessly I enjoyed it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly!

8- Once Lemmy Kilmister offended Maxine unfairly. Did a rock star give you that kind of crap sometime in your life? 

Not to my face but now that we're all more accessible through Social Media everyone’s a critic and it’s common to be bombarded with both supporters and haters. Hence, the Internet has made the world a much smaller place, so be a lover not a hater.

9- Being in a video on MTV and VH1 in the early 80s must have been a big kick for an early twenty something like you.

What kind of vibe was that? 

I ate it all up! It was fabulous! We worked hard and the video shoots would go on for days...it's not all glamorous but watching the end result was always a kick! MTV back in the day when they aired videos was crucial to breaking new bands unless of course you had a face for radio!

10- I knew you weren’t around when the temperamental Sebastian Bach joined Madam X.

If you had been, would that have been a clash of the titans? 

Well, he may have had a stick nail him in the back of the head on occasion...just sayin. I'm a drummer and drummers usually stay out of ego clashes. Vixen performed with Skid Row at the Monsters of Rock in England and some of us hung out with Sebastian. He was 'Sebastian', cool and totally in love with himself, always friendly with me and he still has a great stage presence.

11- Why exactly did you exited Madam X? 

We had just got back from a short tour and really didn't have a lot going on. Bret decided it was time for him to move on and it just kind of fell apart from there. I went on to join Vixen while Maxine and Chris decided to find new members and keep Madam X going.

12- Was it an honor for you to be among the ten candidates in 1985 to aspire to be the drummer of David Lee Roth’s band?

Hell yeah! I was thrilled to be able to jam with Billy Sheehan and Steve Vai! What a rush!

Was it a downer for you not to be chosen? 

I would have loved that gig but Greg Bissonette was a perfect fit. He rocked it!

13- Did you have female rock icons when you were growing up? 

Girlschool rocked hard and I dig them however Fanny was my inspiration as far as getting my kick-start from female rockers.

14- I imagine Vixen has been the gig of your life and you are involved with some of them again.

What does that band mean to you in a philosophical kind of way? 

Not many people get a second chance and with the lineup consisting of Janet, Share and Gina I'm going to seize this awesome opportunity. I'm really anxious to get the show on the road. Fans are asking for it and we're gonna bring it! We recently hit the stage as surprise guests in New York. We performed, Rev It Up, How Much Love and Edge of A Broken Heart! Check us out on Youtube:

Edge Of A Broken Heart = http://youtu.be/WV3RS0Z46Ig 

How Much Love = http://youtu.be/YIHgn2fcm7s

15- You were organized girls in Vixen, did things by the book. You think that helped you girls get your recording contract? 

We took our time finding the right manager who we thought could represent us and secure a recording contract. Being in a girl band does not guarantee success. We were serious about our music, the writing and rehearsing. 

16- Vixen had the looks, the catchy hooks, the glam image, onstage chemistry and worldwide promotion.

How much can you separate real substance from the ghost of amazing marketing? 

You answered your own question! Our live performances showed everyone that we were the real deal. No tapes, no man behind the curtain, our male keyboardist was clearly on stage. We gained respect with our music, touring the clubs and ultimately opening for bands such as Ozzy, Deep Purple and the Scorpions. 

19- I remember feeling captivated by the video of "Edge of a Broken Heart" and played it on my radio shows at the end of the 80s.

Since then, I’ve heard that the co writer and producer of the song, Richard Marx was asked to assist Vixen by EMI to make you compete with the Bangles.

Is that true?

Never heard that one but since we're females the comparison is inevitable.

20- Which other songs of the Vixen debut album you consider very good material? 

I think the whole record is respectable. Desperate, Waiting, Rock Me and Love Made Me are all good tunes.

21- You’ve toured the world with the Scorpions, Ozzy and Bad Company to promote your debut album Vixen. 

I can imagine all the tales from the road please Roxy, can you tell us two or three of the best ones.

Ritchie Blackmore was quite a prankster. One day in our dressing room we were minutes from going on when we started to smell something very foul. Everyone started to gag and head for the door as it got more and more unbearable. The door would not open! We were gasping for air laughing and crying at the same time, it was horrible. I don't remember how we got out but later found out that Ritchie super glued the door shut and set off super stink bombs. 

For our last show with the Scorpions I dressed up as a Dominatrix and strutted on stage with a whip in hand during Rhythm of Love...the look on Klaus Meine's face was priceless! He forgot the lyrics and his voice cracked as I rubbed up and down against him. Rudolph Schenker lost his place in the song, it was quite a surprise when they found out it was me.

22- Was Sharon Osbourne nice or bossy with you girls? 

Sharon Osbourne is in a league of her own when it comes to what she accomplished in the male dominated world of Metal. She managed Ozzy’s career and helped propel him to icon status. During our brief encounters with Sharon she was always cordial and helped translate the famous Ozzy dialect.

23- You have a picture with the Italian descent drummers Carmine Appice and Frank Banali. I know you are friends and paisanos.

You exchange tips with them, have you learned stuff from each other? 

Carmine and I performed together in the 2010 Cape Breton Drum Festival; I watched his performance in awe. I bought a few of his drum books when I was just starting out on drums. 

Carmine was cool enough to stop by the studio and give me some drum tips when I was recording with Madam X back in the day. Frankie Banali is a solid drummer with his own signature style and I dig it.

24- You had a wonderful drum solo in a Vixen Dusseldorf concert in Germany in 1989? 

Thank you! The crowd’s response gave me a real shot of energy!

25- Were the critics kind with Rev it Up even though it didn’t sell as much as its predecessor? 

The critics seemed to respect us more because we wrote all but one of the songs and having toured as much as we did they commented on how our playing had matured.

26- And the tour for that album, came out ok? 

Yes, from what I remember. It wasn't long after the tour that the band started to fall apart. 

27- Why did Janet and Share want another guitarist after the release of Rev it up? Did it do any good?

What happened 20 years ago regarding the breakup of Vixen was a misstep by all parties involved, but for JK to allow that to get in the way of future success is insane. Janet, Share and I have reached out to her many, many times but she refuses to reunite with us.... then a new door was kicked opened and here stood the firecracker Gina Stile! 

28- Do you consider the MTV Unplugged album Vixen recorded for MTV in 1990, the following of a trend that was beginning or a wise professional step? 

We like to mix it up. Playing acoustically is a nice change but I prefer to rock out loud!

29- Why wasn’t Maxine asked to join Vixen after the Tangerine tour? 

Maxine wants to focus on her own solo career and she's now getting ready to release her 3rd CD called Back to the Garden.

30- What did the band achieve with the Tangerine album? It seems some people never got the hang of it.

I think the Tangerine CD would have been better received had we not called it Vixen. The sound is heavier and the lyrics more mature. Vixen fans that expected to hear songs like Edge and Cryin were disappointed. We received very good reviews from critics and from many of the fans that weren't necessarily Vixen fans.

31- I read you are not familiarized with the actual feminine rock and metal bands.

How can you tell when somebody really convincing for your personal taste comes along?

I have a wide variety of musical taste and I love music that moves me whether it’s metal, jazz or classical.

32- What do you think of various rock and metal goddesses from the 80s still being active in music?

As long as they put out good music it doesn't matter if they’re female, male or alien.

33- Why didn’t the very promising female rock band Hell Belles you founded with Maxine prevail?

We had some really cool songs and we were great live. Lenita Erickson has such a unique voice. She went on to do a solo CD after Hell's Belles ran its course.

34- Was it exciting to take part in the movie "The Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years"?

Yes, I had just joined Vixen and was really excited about the bands potential. I believed we had something special and knew Vixen was headed for success. We were getting a lot of attention and word spread like fire.

35- Does it mean something special to you to have taken part in the VH1 Bands Reunited in 2004? 

Yes! I had the feeling we would eventually turn up on Band’s Reunited and it was great to reconnect with the girls. We had talked about continuing on after the show but the time wasn’t right.

36- If you reunited with Vixen for that event, why weren’t you in the 2006 album Live and Learn?

JK did ask me to stay on as she considered hiring a new singer and bassist after the failed Voices of Metal tour in 2001 but I declined. Her new Vixen lineup would have to jump the shark without me.

37- It was an exciting experience for us fans of female metal fans from the 80s, was seeing the project Roktopuss with you and Lorraine Lewis (Femme Fatale). Why didn’t it give us a record? There were many people waiting for it.

Lorraine and I recorded a 4 song EP and I’ll gladly send you a copy. Who knows, we may do something together in the future. Lorraine and I have a good personal and working relationship.

38- After the 2006 Vixen album, you contacted the three other original members for a reunion but it couldn’t be done even though there was much demand. Can you tell me something about that?

Nothing has changed and that’s why the JSRG lineup is set and Gina Stile is killin it on the Axe!

39- On the other hand, its so great to know that you and three other Vixens are recording material by the name JSRG and are going to go on the tour "Revved Up Reunion Concerts".

Is it going to be a long-term project or just an experiment?

Hall of Famer!

40- You are even going to play on a grand cruise with other great bands from the 80s next march. Is that exciting for you girls?

While we’re excited about the MOR Cruise in March 2013 this isn’t our first rodeo. The MOR Cruise will be credited for really busting us out and putting together a marquee lineup of bands. With that said, overall it’s a sausage factory but with the addition of Lita, JSRG and Femme Fatale it’s really going to add some curves!

41- Is it true Matthew Sweet wrote the song Vixen thinking about your backside?

Cannot confirm or deny, and while I’m flattered, if it were the case I’m more puzzled why it didn’t make the Billboard top 100!

42- What is Bombshell?

Nothing but a fling or one-night stand…musically speaking.

 
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