Before Vixen what were you doing?
Well my whole life I had been singing and playing guitar and stuff, but before I met Vixen I was in a couple different bands in the LA area. Their manager came to see me play and then he said oh, you know, I wanna bring the band to see you. And he didn’t say anything to me about who they were or anything, so I ran into him the next night I was playing and I said ‘well did you bring the band? I thought you were gonna bring the band’- I was expecting musiciany looking guys. And he goes ‘oh they’re here, they’re over at the bar’.
And it’s all chicks.
It was a bunch of girls! And I was like woah, okay! We jammed together and they had actually learned a couple of my songs as kind of a surprise and that was pretty cool, they had learned a couple songs off the demo tape I had sent them. I was in bands and kickin’ around the southern California scene.
How old were you?
Nine. Haha, no. Twenty.
The rest of Vixen wasn’t from your area right? They were from like, an ‘M’ state.
Right, we’re all from ‘M’ states. Well Vixen started in Minnesota, and the guitar player with the other girls moved to the LA area. Roxy was originally from Michigan, Share was from Minnesota and I’m originally from Montana. So we all ended up in Southern California looking to do the same thing.
Tell me about writing and recording the first record. How was that for you guys?
It was great. It was different. You know, it was our first record and we didn’t know what we were in for.
And you worked with Richard Marx right?
Yeah! Oh my god I was so nervous. I was so nervous! But he did a great job; he made us all feel really comfortable. And he did an amazing job at sort of finding what everybody was really good at and bringing that out in the performances in the song.
Which is important.
Yeah! And most people are not very good at that, they just go ‘here’s the song, do your thing’ but he wasn’t like that. He was very involved and gave great direction, but not too much direction so everybody could do their own thing but it would all make sense together. So yeah, that was great. I had no idea how many times I would have to sing the same song, and how many takes I would need to give the producer enough to like, piece it together the way that it’s gonna be the best. It was eye opening but really exciting.
Looking at the second record compared to the first one, how did it differ? You went in with more experience.
We went in with more experience and we used one producer. The first record is a little bit disjointed because we used three different producing teams. Randy Nicklaus did the whole album so it definitely had more of a seamless sound to it. Mike Shipley mixed it and he was, R.I.P, one of the greatest mixers ever. So yeah, it was different. We had a lot more input, we wrote a lot more of the songs and I think we were much tighter as a band because we had just toured and toured and toured. We went in there, we’d been playing and it was much more relaxed.
Looking at both of them now, is one of them your favorite?
There are bits of both of them that I really like but overall I like the second one better. I like ‘Rev It Up’ better. But you know, ‘Edge of a Broken Heart’ is still one of my favorite songs off the first one.
What’s your favorite song to perform?
‘Love is a Killer’. For sure.
You don’t play that one that often, do you?
Well when we play a short set like this we don’t because it’s hard to pace the set. And ‘Cryin’’ was a more popular song and that’s kinda ballady too so we can’t play two of those in the same set, so it gets kicked out for short sets.
You guys toured a bunch, both on your own and opening up for other bands.
Who were your favorite acts to open for?
Oh my god, Deep Purple. They were amazing every night and they were so willing to share their experiences and talk shop- yeah, that was probably my favorite tour. But we did so many good ones. Ozzy was amazing, the Scorpions was our first arena tour- THAT was major.
Goosebumps. Every night. The lights would go down and you would hear the crowd scream and just, goosebumps- every night. Those were exciting.
And you guys were originally together for not a super long time before you ultimately broke up. What lead to that happening?
Well a lot of things were happening at that time. We did the ‘Rev It Up’ record, we were trying to figure out a direction and what we should do on the next record. We had some disagreements on that and we also had some business problems with our record company and we just kind of couldn’t make the compromises we needed to stay together. So we split up.
In the 80’s especially how was it being in an all-female band? Did you ever feel like you were less than any other people or discouraged because of that?
Oh yeah. There were people who were anti-women in rock, but we just ignored it. And I think the it just fueled it more, it made us work hard and be better and play better because we knew that people were gonna scrutinize us more than if it was a bunch of guys.
Why did you guys eventually decide to reunite?
We had tried off and on several times over the years, we would kind of put out feelers and talk to Jan and see if she was open to it. Finally, I think Share went to an agent and said ‘if we get Vixen back together can you put us out there?’ and he said absolutely. So we approached Jan and she still was not interested at the time so we formed a different band called JSRG- Janet, Share, Roxy, Gina. We did that for a while and eventually Jan came around and said ‘I’m ready to do this now’ and we were all set to go. Unfortunately, you know, Jan got cancer and passed away before we could do it. We were talking about set lists and getting it all together when this happened and it was just devastating.
I can only imagine. And why did you guys continue following her death? I know some bands will and some bands wont, so what made you want to?
Well we spoke to some of her very good friends and people that were close to her and they were like yeah, keep it alive. Keep the music alive because that will help to keep her alive, you know? It’ll keep her memory alive. And we had more of that than, you know there were a few people who were like ‘no you should put it to rest’, but an overwhelming amount of people were like no?! Don’t let it just die with her; you know that’s not good for anyone. That won’t do anyone any good. Keep playing the songs and keep carrying on.
And you guys are doing well!
Thank you! Yeah, we’re enjoying it.
What are you up to now? Are you gonna maybe try and do a new record- what’s going on?
You know, this is Britt’s first gig.
She’s so pretty!
I was photographing you guys and I was like ‘oh my god, who is that?!’ because the last time I saw you there obviously was a different person.
Yes! So that was her first show, so we’re gonna keep tightening things up and we’ll probably try and start to write. We all have different projects that we do on the side- I just finished a solo record with my husband.
I was gonna ask you about that.
That’s really exciting. And that’ll be coming out soon, and we’re gonna do some shows. And yeah, that’s it! We’ll of course try to write a new record and stuff. We had some stuff written with the former guitar player.
I was going to say that I saw that in like 2014 something was going on.
Yeah, so things are kind of up in the air right now. But we’ll definitely write some more and get in the studio and get something out there.