By Lynn Carberry
Following the release of her self-titled debut album, and the release of her new video ‘Rat Hole’, DTF caught up with Janet Gardner to chat about the new album and much more.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN ROCK HAS CHANGED OR EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS? OR DO YOU THINK IT HAS?
I do think it's changed a lot. I think women are much more accepted in the hard rock/metal arena.
JANET, WHAT WAS IT LIKE GOING FROM SMALL TOWN AMERICAN MORMON FAMILY TO THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF LA TO BECOME A GLAM ROCK STAR?
It was quite a ride! I was very naïve, quiet and shy but pretty determined to make a go of it! My parents were very nervous with me being out in Southern California all by myself but they were surprisingly supportive of my efforts. Luckily, I'm a pretty quick learner so I learn quickly how to spot scammers and sleazeballs in the music biz! LOL!
WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP IN MONTANA AND WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST MAIN INFLUENCES? HOW DIFFERENT WAS THIS PART OF YOUR LIFE TO THE WORLD YOU EXPERIENCED IN LA?
I was very blessed to have a very nice upbringing in Montana. I had four older brothers who played sports and I always had to try to keep up. My parents were both musicians. My mom played piano and my dad played the violin. There was always music in our house and between my parents and my brothers; I was exposed to pretty much every type of music imaginable! I experienced major culture shock when I first moved to the Los Angeles area. I had never seen that kind of traffic and crazy night life before. I remember getting lost one day and getting off the freeway, pulling over and just crying my eyes out! It was still all very fun and exciting!
WHAT KIND OF RECEPTION DID YOU RECEIVE WHEN YOU ARRIVED IN LA IN THE CENTER OF WHAT WAS ESSENTIALLY A ‘COCK-ROCK’ MOVEMENT? OBVIOUSLY THERE WERE THE RUNAWAYS AND LITA FORD – BUT ARE THERE ANY
OTHER FEMALE ACTS FROM BACK THEN THAT TIME HAS FORGOTTEN?
There were several other female bands in the Southern California area at that time. There was a band called "Precious Metal", one called "Leather Angel" who later became "Jaded Lady" and a band called "Phantom Blue". they were all really good! I'm pretty sure all three of those bands made records too. "Phantom Blue" was really great and I'm pretty sure they're still playing. They also lost their lead guitarist, Michelle Meldrum, as we lost Jan Kuehnemund. RIP rockin angels.
IT'S KNOWN THAT VARIOUS DIFFERENCES CAUSED VIXEN TO BEGIN TO FRAY BY THE END OF REVVED UP ALBUM. WITH THE WRITING GOING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS, AND A CLEAR DIVIDE FORMING IN THE BAND, DO YOU THINK IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE SOME OF THE STRAIN WITHIN THE BAND YOU WOULD?
I try not to have regrets because you can't go back and change anything. It was very painful on a personal level and that was the worst part of it. If I could've eased some of that for all of us, I certainly would have wanted to do that!
THERE HAVE BEEN VARIOUS INCARNATIONS, REUNIONS AND LINE-UP CHANGES OF VIXEN, WHAT DO YOU FEEL WAS YOUR FAVOURITE VERSION/LINE-UP OF THE BAND AND WHY?
The original lineup of Jan Kuehnemund, Roxy Petrucci, Share Ross and myself would be my favorite. There was a chemistry there that was very special. I loved working with Gina Stile in Vixen also. She is extremely talented and an absolute blast to work with! Love her. I'm really enjoying the current lineup with Britt lightning too! She's an amazing guitarist and an absolute sweetheart. I'm excited to see what the future brings for this lineup.
WITH THE TRAGIC DEATH OF JAN HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE OUT THERE STILL AS VIXEN? YOU’VE DEDICATED A SONG TO HER, DOES IT FEEL LIKE AS LONG AS YOU GUYS ARE STILL OUT THERE FLYING THE VIXEN FLAG THAT YOU’RE KEEPING HER MEMORY ALIVE?
Yes. Absolutely. After Jan passed, we started trying to figure out what we should do. We spoke to some of her close friends and everyone seemed to agree that she would want us to carry-on in her memory so that's what we did and we're still doing today.
OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS THERE’S BEEN A GLAM ROCK REVIVAL – WITH FESTIVALS LIKE M3, ROCKLAHOMA AND THE KISS CRUISE – WHY DO YOU THINK THIS GENRE OF MUSIC IS STILL SO POPULAR WITH A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GENERATION?
Because it's fun and makes you feel good! Simple as that!
FROM THE FOUR SONG TEASER YOU’VE RELEASED, IT SEEMS YOUR NEW ALBUM HAS QUITE THE METAL TINGE TO IT. CAN YOU TELL US HOW THIS SOUND CAME ABOUT?
Justin and I just sat down and started working together with nothing in mind. The sound just kind of evolved naturally.
WOULD YOU SAY THE MUSIC YOU’RE CREATING AS A SOLO ARTIST IS MORE REFLECTIVE OF YOUR OWN PERSONALITY? AND IS THIS SOUND WE CAN HEAR IN YOUR TEASER INDICATIVE OF THE REST OF THE ALBUM?
Yes, I think the teaser is a pretty good representation of what's on the album. It's somewhat diverse and touches on lots of different subject matter. There are a few love songs on there but there are other topics addressed on this album.
WHICH BANDS ARE YOU NOW MOST LIKELY TO LISTEN TO YOURSELF IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I like a lot of different music depending on my mood. I listen to a lot of American hard rock bands like Shinedown, Halestorm, and 6 AM. I also like a lot of European bands that are not that popular here in the states like Gotthard, reckless love, and hard-core superstar.
HAVING PLAYED IN VARIOUS LINE-UPS AND INCARNATIONS OF BANDS, ONE CAN ONLY IMAGE HOW HARD IT MUST BE TO FIND THE RIGHT MUSICIANS FOR YOUR SOLO ALBUM. CAN YOU GIVE US A BIT OF INSIGHT INTO HOW THIS PROCESS EVOLVED?
Justin and I wrote and recorded this whole album by ourselves with no outside musicians. When it came time to find a live band, we wanted to work with friends and just have fun out there playing. Justin brought in his friend Richie Rivera, who is an amazing drummer and has really helped bring these songs to life live. He also brought in a childhood friend Jeremy Baessler on bass for the first few shows who has done a great job. We're all having a lot of fun out there playing these new songs!
YOUR HUSBAND IS ALSO IN THE BAND AND ALSO CO-WRITE’S WITH YOU, WHICH MUST HAVE BEEN PRETTY FUN TO CREATE TOGETHER. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CHEMISTRY AND/OR WORKING RELATIONSHIP BOTH IN AND OUT WITH THE BAND?
Justin and I were actually very nervous about working together. You know that can be kind of a touchy situation. If feelings get hurt and if the chemistry wasn't quite right for a good musical relationship it could've driven a wedge between us on a personal level. It ended up being a great experience for both of us! I think we both help to bring out The best in each other. We had so much fun and it was very exciting for both of us!
SO WHAT’S NEXT AFTER THE RELEASE ON AUGUST 18TH? ARE WE LIKELY TO SEE A UK TOUR FROM YOU?
We are currently on tour in the United States and we are hoping to get over to Europe and UK next year! Hope to see you then.
Debut album 'Janet Gardner' is available to buy now: