Hi Share! So how's it going?
Hi Julie, it's going great!
A lot of people have been sending me questions to ask you about Vixen so I hope that you won’t mind if we delve back into your past for this part of our chat.
Okay. Let's go into the time machine....
So how about starting at the very beginning.....How did you actually join Vixen?
It was pure destiny. Jan had seen me playing in Hollywood in another band and we exchanged numbers. But I didn’t phone her for 3 months and then, one day, I found the number and called her up. I was really just thinking that I would go see her band, Vixen play and maybe meet some new people on the scene. But as fate would have it, the very day that I phoned her was the day they parted ways with their bass player. So after making sure that I hadn’t heard any rumors or possessed any ESP skills, Jan asked me to audition.
So it really was as they say, “an act of God”......what had you been doing up until that time?
An act of God! ha ha! I like that. Well, before Vixen I’d been playing in a lot of bands in LA. Just anything to get myself out there in public. Nothing major.
If it wasn’t an act of God maybe you really do have ESP....can you please pick my numbers for the Lottery draw this week! I’ll split the Jackpot with ya!!! Were Vixen already signed when you joined them?
Vixen were not signed when I joined them. However, about six months after I was in the band, we did the fateful showcase for EMI Records that garnered us our deal. Vixen did have management in place when I joined the band and that definitely moved things forward at a fast pace.
As for the lottery, I’ve been trying for years. Still no luck there! arrrggghhh!
Vixen was pretty much a regular sight on MTV back at the end of the 1980’s. The other females also on their play list at that time, if my memory serves me well were people like Lita, Femme Fatale, Saraya, Heart and Doro....all backed by male musicians. Do you think that part of Vixen’s appeal to the MTV executive was the fact that they were all female? Not that I’m implying that it was purely just a novelty factor, but it must have helped to get the band noticed.
I think MTV still bases their decisions on being “trend setters” or “taste makers”. We had a lot of power behind us in the industry and that had a lot to do with it initially. Being an “all-female” band was not considered a very marketable thing in 1989. If anything, that tended to work AGAINST us!!! But when MTV decides you’re “the bomb”, you da bomb. And alternately, when MTV decides you’re “out”, you are so yesterday, baby. I hear from a lot of bands, (the Yo-Yo's, the BLACK HALOS, PURE RUBBISH) that they can’t get their videos on MTV. Even with a single on the radio and a big tour, the choices MTV makes remain a mystery!
I think it’s true to say that most of the decisions made by the music industry, music television included, on the whole are still a mystery!!
Anyway, how long was it between your joining the band and the recording of the first album?
If memory serves, it was probably about a year after I joined that we started to record the album. Of course, there were quite a few demo sessions before the actual record.
The debut album was certainly an extremely strong one and I remember that it boasted song writing heavyweights as Richard Marx, Fee Waybill, Jeff Paris etc.....however the band only had a couple of self penned tracks. Was this perhaps something to do with the fact that you were all still getting to know one another and so song writing as a unit wasn’t really happening at that time?
Nope! It had to do with the fact that our management and record label didn’t believe in the songs that we had. The band had a long list of songs already in the live set but when it came time to record the album, most of these songs were determined by the manager and label to be unfit for our album. This, of course, caused a rift that never really healed with time. There was always some tension over song writing between us and the manager/label people. They kind of threatened us with “either do it our way or you’re off the label”. So in the end, the band gave in. It wasn’t a fun time to say the least. As for Richard Marx, we shared the same manager AND label, so you could see that one comin’ a mile away. Vixen was a fun band but we didn’t have much creative control and when things got tough (ie...an argument with the manager or whoever) Jan was too nice of a person to be a strong leader with a vision so we always gave in to other people’s ideas and visions for us. That’s why I like Bubble so darn much! We make all of our own decisions from the artwork to song writing to the production and marketing ideas etc. Bam and I share a vision that we talk about and actively think of ways to make it happen.
Typical of the “Music Industry Suits” though isn’t it?! I’m sure that you are going to be surprising a lot of Vixen fans with what you say about the lack of control you 4 had as band members....most people would think that as you were supplying the talent that your views and opinions would have been taken more into consideration....but then after all Share, we are talking about the music business aren’t we, a breed apart from the rest of mankind!!!
On the second album, “Rev It Up”, the band’s contribution to the song writing quota was a marked improvement....was this due to the band consciously taking more of a controlling hand in it’s destiny or was it a joint decision with your management and record company? From what you say, it sounds as though you had to fight them every inch of the way!
Yeah, it was part of our battle. They let us win to a certain degree. I remember there was one song on there that was penned by Diane Warren. Now, usually I think Ms. Warren writes some pretty amazing "hit" material, but in this case, it just wasn't that great. Janet and I had written a ballad that we thought was really really good. When we played it for our manager he just said, "Well, that's a great song. Maybe even a number one song. But we have this song that's written by Diane Warren and that pretty much guarantees that it will get airplay." We all got pretty huffy about it and said we would refuse to play on it. But when the time came to stand our ground, I was the only obstinate one. (no surprise there, right?)
You!?! Would never have thought it possible my dear Shazza!! Ha ha ha ha!!
Of course, I did end up playing on the song, too. Needless to say, the Warren song was NEVER on the radio at all!!! Who's to say the song Janet and I wrote would have ended up getting airplay but I always thought if you believed in a band you'd want to help build a long-term career. At least on that album we had more songs on it. But yes, it was a fight. Every song was a bit of a struggle. We were surrounded by people who believed in us for the wrong reasons. Sad, but true.
Yeah, it is sad but totally expected huh?!! There are those that can and those that THINK they can....music industry executives are in the latter category!
Still on the theme of song writing, some musicians can write songs whilst they are out on the road, others find that they just don't have time, what with the travelling, the giving of interviews, photo promotions, personal appearances etc.......which was it for Vixen and you personally? Which category would you put yourself in to?
While I was in Vixen, I didn't write much on the road. But now I play guitar all the time and write EVERYWHERE! Bam and I have made it part of our existence. But, Vixen generally didn't write too much when we were touring. Partly due to the schedule, but, also, due to the lack of support from our supposed "circle". It was hard to consider writing when you just did 10 interviews and got blasted for NOT writing enough songs and hearing implications that you were just a "fake" band. I used to just get pissed off and then get "pissed" up! I'm no longer angry about it and, of course, feel avenged from winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest! ha ha!
Revenge is pretty sweet huh??!! Ha ha ha ha!!
So any stories you want to....and can (!) share about life on the road at that time?
Hmmm...ya want the stories eh?
One of the funniest ones was an innocent tale about our bus driver. See, we were all pretty hardworking on the road. Sure we had our dabbles into drinking a bit but no wild orgies on the bus or anything like that. So we had this driver who was really sweet and quite funny and used to say we were like “The Waltons”! (boring or what, huh?) One night he’s in the catering tent with all the other drivers and they are badgering him with questions, “what’s it like to drive all them girls? Do they have sex with guys on the bus n stuff? Any crazy parties?” Well, this driver decides it’s time for a good joke and he looks at them all and sighs, “You guys just wouldn’t believe what I have to put up with! These chicks in Vixen, they come up to the front of the bus in the middle of the night, wearing these skimpy little lingerie outfits and talk to me about their problems. Meanwhile, they’re sittin’ there stretchin’ their legs out onto the dashboard and wearin’ all this fine lacy stuff! It’s driving me crazy having to deal with the bus and trying not to stare at them! Talk about being teased!”
He told us what he’d said and we thought it was so hilarious we didn’t let on otherwise but we’d sort of giggle around the other drivers.
Other stories.....I’d have to get permission from Jan, Janet and Roxy!
We definitely had our good times.
I remember the first time I saw Vixen...it was at the open-air gig at Milton Keynes Bowl, England and you guys were supporting Bon Jovi! Then I saw you again supporting the Scorpions and then Deep Purple.....I wasn’t a fan of Vixen you understand, just the Scorpions and Deep Purple etc!!! Ha ha ha ha!! Yeah! I would go to see my favorite bands and you four kept cropping up as the opening act...so you could say that I was slowly beaten into submission!!! Ha ha ha ha ha!! Then when I moved out to L.A. I came to see you at the Marquee Club in Garden Grove..anyway, I digress; I always really liked the part where you did your bass solo....a definite highlight in my book! Roxy also did a solo, but, unlike other bands Vixen never featured a lead guitar solo spot....or am I wrong? Maybe Jan just waited for the nights I wasn’t there! Ha ha ha ha? Do you remember if there was a reason for the lack of lead guitar hero spot in the live shows?
Wow! I completely remember that Milton Keynes gig. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were making their first appearance in England in years and were walking on to join Bon Jovi for a couple of songs. Just before going out there, Steven turned to me and asked where the heck we were. He was going to say, “Hello London!” And I corrected him, “Nooooo! This is Milton Keynes!” The audience went NUTS when he said, “Hello, Milton Keynes, it’s good to be back!!!!” Did I mention I’m a huge mega mega MEGA fan of Aerosmith!!!!!
Yep....a just a few times HA ha ha ha!!
Regarding the solo thing...I don’t know how exactly it all came about, maybe because there was always this annoying speculation that “we couldn’t really play” so we felt like we had something to prove?? As for Jan, she just wasn’t a show-offy kind of guitar player. She’s more into playing the parts of a song than being a guitar hero which I think is really cool.
I remember attending the Rev It Up” launch in L.A.....if memory serves me better than it normally does...I think it was held at the Joan Crawford Estate in Hollywood....quite a glittering affair I seem to recall! Do you remember any of that night?
It had to be a lot of fun being a part of all that smaltzy razzamatazz or are you of the opinion that if you’d scrapped away the glitter you’d have discovered a layer of tarnish not too far below the surface line?
My biggest memory of the launch party was that every time I got a drink, someone would pull my arm and steer me into an interview and I never had ONE SINGLE DRINK that night! I was so mad! I found out later that my more recent pal, Tyla (Dogs D’Amour) was ceremoniously thrown out of our party! ha ha!
I don’t think there’s tarnish underneath that stuff. It just goes with the territory. If you don’t have a big hoopla surrounding your albums or tours, then nobody knows about you. It’s something we struggle with in Bubble because we don’t have that kind of financial machinery behind us. Just trying to get people to even know you exist is difficult in this business. Let alone, getting folks to hear your cd or come to a show when you have zero radio play! The limos and red carpet were sure nice while they lasted. But I’m still here and I move my own equipment. I just want to play!
Following on from the original question though....do you think that all the glitzy media events are part N parcel of the music business and that it is increasingly difficult for a record to stand up on it’s own without using the media to it’s full capacity? Do you think that any musical product has to be a part of all that to survive on the world musical stage?
Define survival. If you mean, make a huge stinking success, well, it’s pretty hard without some sort of massive media campaign which costs big bucks. If by “survive” you mean, sell some records and get to put out the music that you want, we can all do that with a bit of effort!
True, true. So, “Rev It Up”....do you have a favourite song on it?
Yikes! Julie, I haven’t listened to Rev It Up for like,...eight years!
I know; I know, but Share this is a question that a lot of Vixen fans have asked me to ask ya!
Okay, well I don’t listen to much of anything I’ve recorded. If you pressed me, I guess I’d pick the title track of that album. But I don’t care for the production very much. (ooh, aren’t I a producer snob now!)
No I wouldn't say a snob....I'd just put it down to the voice of experience! Ha ha ha!! How about on the first album?
On the first album, I do think Edge of a Broken Heart was a well-constructed song, but again, I don’t like the production very much.
Well I personally like “Love Made Me” on the first - as for “Rev It Up”....well there are several but "Street of Paradise" seems to stick in my mind....well, you know me...always did like the noisy ones best huh??!! Ha ha ha ha!!
Yes, you do like the noisy stuff, dontcha?! ha ha ha!!!
You bet!! Ha ha ha ha !!! Do you prefer one album over the other and if so why?
I like both albums equally. No faves here. They’re just reflections of a moment in time to me. Just like the first Bubble album and the second one. I don’t like one better than the other. They’re just different because we evolve as humans. Or at least, we hope we do!?!!!
Did you tour outside the U.S. with “Rev It Up”?
Yes, we toured in Europe as the opening band for Deep Purple. This was at the beginning of the Gulf War and everyone was cancelling their tours. It helped our profile in Europe that we stuck to our plan. I’m still like that now. Bubble is planning to come back to England for a tour next March. War or no war.
Well trust me Shazza, England would LOVE Bubble to come back over here! I haven’t meet anyone yet who has said that they were in any way disappointed with the BUBBLE live show and I can't recall hearing anyone say that they will not be attending another of your gigs! We are all over here waiting with baited breath....Anyway, back to the subject of Vixen....Then what happened? A lot of people felt that Vixen just ceased to be!
Well as for our disappearance....when we were on tour somewhere in Japan, we received word that we had been unceremoniously dropped by EMI. Seems the president of EMI had had a huge argument with our manager and called Billboard magazine to announce that EMI was dropping every artist and band that our manager handled. End of deal. This was coinciding with a change in the musical climate and Vixen was changing from within, too. Janet and I started writing a lot of music together and I think that probably caused a rift in the band. It seemed nobody really wanted to sign us and eventually we fell apart. We found out later that there had allegedly been some deal offers on the table but our manager, for whatever reason, if this was true, had withheld this information. So between the lack of trust and lack of strong leadership from inside the band, the lack of belief from our manager and lawyers, and the changes in the industry, it was over. Without a clear vision of how to move forward, we just stopped.
God! That's an awful way to hear about the label dropping you!! It must have come as a bit of a shock to say the least!!
So what are your best memories of being in Vixen and why?
My best memories in life are always about meeting people. Ya know, when ya make that connection with certain folks, it lasts a lifetime. Of course, it was great to be treated so well, too! Who doesn’t like limos and signing autographs? No complaints here of saying how my small and brief brush with fame ruined my life! ha ha! We were very fortunate and enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t come away with big houses or fancy cars but we did have a damn good time.
That's nice.....Want to share the worst ones?
As for bad memories, you can probably guess it would just have been the frustrations of dealing with our manager and industry folks.
Do you still have contact with Janet, Jan and Roxy?
Yes, I still talk to them. Once in a while, we get on the phone and catch up with one another. And, Jan came to a Bubble gig this year. That made me really proud.
I remember reading an article with Vixen after they had reformed, this was the first time as a trio (without Jan) and upon the release of the album Tangerine....have you heard that record by the way? I haven’t myself. Anyway....
Inevitably your name came up and Janet remarked that you were an incredibly strong person emotionally and that it was down to you that she had managed to get through some very tough moments in her life! A nice tribute don’t you think?
That is very nice of Janet! We became very good friends during the course of Vixen. We both went through a divorce at around the same time and turned to each other a lot. As for Tangerine, I haven’t heard it.
So do you think that it was this side to your character that has....and still does, help to make you more resilient in the volatile world of music?
My character? I don’t know why the heck I’m still in this business other than the fact that I just love creating and playing music! I think you do have to be grounded in order to stay unaffected by the ups and downs that invariably go with the territory. There are those that are in it for the fame. And there are those that are in it because they want to rock! I’d like to believe I’m in the latter category. If all I wanted was the fame, there were offers I could’ve accepted that would’ve given me that. But I wanted something better. I wanted creative satisfaction, some sort of musical fulfilment. So here we are in our auto-mechanics garage with no heat that we turned into a recording studio. We trip over the drums on the way to the bathroom and ya have to watch out for the ends of mic stands, but it sure is great to have the chance to write songs and record them immediately. I guess it boils down to priorities. If ya want security and stability...forget being a rock n roller. On the other hand, if you have endless determination and are willing to make music a priority, then maybe you do have the resilient personality it takes to handle the rejections we all get in this biz.
It's seems to me that it does seem to be the necessary quality that makes or breaks someone's career in that if they aren't able to overcome the setbacks early on in the game...well they fall at the first hurdle don't they?
What did you do after Vixen and after the deal with Geffen fell through?
After all that stuff, I ended up not playing music for a while. But then, Gary Myrick phoned up looking for a bass player for his band, Havana 3 AM. I ended up auditioning and getting the gig which meant replacing Paul Simonon. (those were tough boots to follow) That band pulled me out of my depression and got me into a new scene in Hollywood, and it all just sort of blossomed from that.
Do you have any regrets from your days in Vixen? If you could turn back the clock; is there anything that you would want to do differently?
No, I don’t have any regrets from those days. I feel lucky to have been a part of it all! I wouldn’t do anything different because then I wouldn’t be who I am now!
And finally, in conclusion on the subject of Vixen......Do you think that trying to revive Vixen is a good idea? It seems that once again there has been a personality clash and Jan has replaced Janet and Roxy on the current tour. Do you feel that they should really give up the idea of getting back together and move on as you have? I mean, surely it has to be obvious now that they can no longer work as a unit anymore so what’s the point in trying again?! Seems crazy to me.
I couldn’t say what’s right for any of them. I just know it’s not right for me. I’ve changed as a person and as a musician. I just wish them all the best.
To be continued ...........