An album will grab me by the throat whenever it is pure heavy metal, or the music is played straight from the heart. It gets even better when it sounds like it was recorded in the eighties, but instead it was recorded in 2005. The album “Titania” of MAXINE is such an album. It sounds like pure magic, from the beginning until the very last note fades away of the killer guitar explosion “Max Attacks”. Responsible for these magic moments are the sisters Roxy and Maxine Petrucci, well-known for their work with bands like VIXEN and MADAM X. We were very lucky to get in touch with Maxine, and ask her all about the past, the present and the future. And of course she also talks about her first born baby “Titania”, which is a real must for every devoted hard rock fan out there.
Congratulations with the release of “Titania”, one of the better hard rock releases I’ve heard in ages. How did the rest of the press react towards this great new album?
Maxine: "Thank you! I’m so happy that you think that this is one of the best rock releases in ages! So far, almost everybody that has heard it, likes it a lot. Even people that don’t go for this type of music think it’s done well.”
The album was released under the name of MAXINE. Must we see this album as a solo release of Maxine Petrucci, and did you have thoughts about releasing the album under the name of MADAM X?
Maxine: "I never had any intentions to release it as MADAM X. It’s my own thing! MADAM X was great but it’s time to move on to other things. Maxine is a name I know I will have the rest of my life. I wrote “Titania” and played most of the instruments. It was great being able to play exactly what I wanted to hear. I’m not going to play what somebody else thinks I should play. My whole career people told me my guitar was too heavy. Nobody is telling me that now!”
I hope, you don’t mind to answer some questions about MADAM X, while we finally have the chance to talk to you. In 1981, your formed MADAM X. Is it true that the first line up of MADAM X was an all-female line up, and who were in this first line up of the band?
Maxine: "No, MADAM X was never an all-female group. It was Bret Kaiser on vocals, Chris Doliber on bass, Roxy on drums and me on guitar. Roxy and me were in an all-girl group shortly before MADAM X, called PANTAGRUEL.”
Who were the biggest influences of MADAM X, musically? And did you have any bands in mind who gave you the example of putting together a great show on stage?
Maxine: "Growing up in Detroit we listened to a lot of rock radio that turned us on to bands like BLACK SABBATH, DIO, JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT, and also a lot of the older super groups of the 70s like HUMBLE PIE and LED ZEPPELIN. Our stage show was put together by trial & error. We had an outragious ‘bigger than life’ appeal! Lots of lights and loud as hell!”
You released an album on Jet Records, the label of Don Arden - the father in law of OZZY OSBOURNE - in 1984. How did you get in contact with Don?
Maxine: "We played Madame Wongs in Hollywood and after our show a local agent insisted on us going to the Rainbow bar & grill and there we were discovered by Bob Street. Bob was an A & R guy for Jet records, which was owned by Don Arden. Bob thought we were the most intense and outrageous looking group and wanted a promo kit to give to Don. Don loved our look and came to our show at the Troubadour and thought we were great and signed us up! We were signed on our third gig in Hollywood. We had never been there before that.”
The album was produced by RICK DERRINGER. Did you chose him yourself and how did you like to work with him?
Maxine: "Jet records hired Rick. We loved working with him and I'm a big fan. The label was rushing us and didn’t want to spend any money, so we all did the best we could with the time we were allowed.”
You even managed to play in Europe with MADAM X. What do you remember about this tour?
Maxine: "We only played in London at the Marquee and the ECT show and a couple of other television and radio shows. Our experience on the ECT show was straight out of Spinal Tap. We were told to get ready that MOTORHEAD was almost done. We got lost in a maze of hallways on the way to the stage. So we tried to follow where the sound was coming from to find the stage. We ended up on MOTORHEAD’s stage, while they were playing peeking through the curtains behind them! The poducers of the show saw us and knew we were lost and came and got us.”
What’s your favorite MADAM X song and why?
Maxine: "I've always liked “Metal In My Veins”. It’s really heavy and it drives!”
It’s 1985, when Bret Kaiser leaves the band to form KAISER with his brother Bruce. John Ward becomes the new singer of the band. How did you get in touch with him, because originally he comes from England and not the USA?
Maxine: "Jet records was going under at the time and was trying to re-group. They owned us all indiviually and tried to change us. They introduced Roxy to VIXEN. Bret later went on to KAISER. Jet pushed John Ward on us and we just didn't have any chemistry after that. It was over!”
Was the fact, that your sister Roxy left the band and became a member of VIXEN the main reason to call it quits for MADAM X?
Maxine: "Jet got Roxy the job with VIXEN. Then Jet tried to rebuild MADAM X, as they thought it should be. MADAM X's chemistry only worked when it was me, Roxy, Bret, and Chris. That was MADAM X.”
Is it true that a second album was already recorded, but it was actually never released? And if yes, who was in the band when you recorded this second unreleased album?
Maxine: "We never recorded a second album. We did a six song demo in 1991, but never finished it.”
Were there ever any shows filmed of MADAM X? I think, it would be utterly cool to see a MADAM X live show on video or DVD?
Maxine: "Not much was recorded live and what was, the quality was really bad. We had two videos "High In Highschool" and "We Reserve The Right". "High In Highschool" is on my website at: http://www.maxattacks.com. There are the two songs we did live on the ECT show and that’s about it. I regret not recording more. It would be great to see a whole show.”
Do you know what happened to Bret Kaiser after the years that he spend in KAISER, and what happened to Chris ‘Godzilla’ Doliber after his band GODZILLA?
Maxine: "Bret is doing an ELVIS show check him out at http://www.bretkaiser.com. I've heard him and he's incredible! He has a wonderful voice! Chris never had a band called GODZILLA. It was called DR. BONE. He's some kind of DJ / agent. I don't know what else he does.”
MADAM X continued with Sebastian Bach (SKID ROW) on vocals. What was that experience like?
Maxine: “He was young and we thought he had lots of potential, but wow he's hard to work with. He never recorded any material with MADAM X. He was out for himself and used us as a stepping stone.”
There was another attempt to reform MADAM X in 1991 with LENITA ERICKSON on vocals and Shelley Andruschko on bass. How come that cooperation didn’t last very long, and did you actually write new songs or record anything with this line up?
Maxine: "Who was Shelly Andruschko? That must have been HELL’S BELL'S in 1992. I don't know who Shelly is!”
The three of you worked together again (Roxy, Maxine and Lenita) later on, but this time under the name of HELL’S BELL’S. Who else was in this line up, and how come this actually didn’t work out?
Maxine: “HELL'S BELL'S had me, Roxy, Lenita and Irene Wohlman on bass. This band was great! We tried too hard for a deal, instead of writing our own songs!”
Did you record anything as HELL’S BELL’S?
Maxine: “No, we played several live shows that we recorded ourselves, but that’s about it. Too bad, because it was one of the best line ups ever!”
Have you ever thought about a MADAM X reunion after all these years?
Maxine: “Not really! MADAM X was a long time ago and I want to grow as much as I can as a musician. My music now has nothing to do with the music I played back then. MADAM X was great, but that was a long time ago.”
We lost track of you after the HELL’S BELL’S days. What did you do between that period of time and the release of “Titania”?
Maxine: “I owned a couple of nightclubs in Northern Michigan; The Tumble Inn and The Hollywood Cafe. We had all the big acts play there. I would perform with the house band DR. BONE and we would be the opening act.”
What’s your favorite MAXINE song from this new album?
Maxine: “I like “Passion” and “Squeeked”. Those two songs came together easy for me and are a lot of fun to play.”
Are there any songs you wrote, that didn’t make it on the album?
Maxine: “Roxy suggested I cover the VIXEN song "Love Is A Killer". I rewrote it and made it really heavy, but we never used it.”
You recorded the album with the help of your brother Paul and your sister Roxy, while the record sleeve was designed by your other sister Jenny Petrucci (who did a great job, by the way!!). Are there any more Petrucci family members, who play music and how important is family to you?
Maxine: “When we were young, my father made us all choose an instument to play. My older brother Remo is a musical genius. He plays saxophone & clarinet. My older sister Ida plays the accordion. Roxy plays the clarinet and drums and I chose the flute and the guitar and my brother Paul plays bass. We are 100% Italian, so family is very inportant to us!”
Are you about to tour with MAXINE or is that not possible?
Maxine: “My first goal with MAXINE was to put out a CD. I wanted to put the music first. I did most of the album myself, so I don’t have a band. I have a lot of great musicians offering to play, when the time comes. I’m looking forward to playing live again. This album will be a real challenge to play live. Right now I'm concentrating on getting a deal and writing and recording the second album from MAXINE. I would like to have my second album done sometime in 2006.”
How did you get Billy Sheehan to play some of the bass parts on your album? He is such a busy and talented person!
Maxine: “Roxy suggested we ask him, if he would like to do a track or two. The worst he could do is say no. We sent him a couple of tracks and he said he would do “Titania”. Billy is awesome and I can't thank him enough for doing that for us!”
What does Roxy think about the fact that Jan Kuehnemund is touring under the name of VIXEN nowadays? And don’t you agree it would be wiser to change the name of the band, while she is in fact the only original member left (or does she have the rights to use the name of the band??)
Roxy: “Jan has the right to use the VIXEN name. Just as Janet and I had the right to use the name back in 1998, but it wasn't VIXEN without Jan. We've since signed over our rights to Jan and have moved on to other things. I had a total blast filming the VH1 Band's Reunited with the original members and will always have great memories of our rock'n'roll times together.”
Maybe Roxy can tell us a bit more about her new band MONS VENUS, in which she cooperates again with LENITA ERICKSON. Can we expect an album of this band in the (near) future?
Roxy: “MONS VENUS is currently writing and recording demos. Once we get our shit together, I'll post an audio sample and news on my site; http://www.roxypetrucci.com/.”
Are there any other female rock or metal musicians, that you like to listen to?
Maxine: “I don't think there are very many female musicians, who aren't using their bodies as their main talent today. I heard a newer song from Doro Pesch the other day that I liked. I listened to the band ZERO 7 a lot, when their last album came out. They are not metal, but they sounded great! BIF NAKED has a new cd that sounds great but just like Gwen Stefani and a lot of other girl singers today they just sound and act like MISSING PERSONS to me! THE DONNAS are good, but they just play cute like the industry tells them to.”
What do you think about the concept of Metal Maidens? We are an online ‘zine (after doing a printed version of the magazine for ten years!), which is dedicated to all the female musicians in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Do you think women still need this kind of attention that we give them, or do you feel that after all these years the male and female musicians are treated equally?
Maxine: “Metal Maidens rules! This is great for all the serious female rockers to shine and be noticed. Male and female rockers are not treated equally, but so what! As for me, I'm just glad I can rock and do as I want in the music arena. I would like to thank you Metal Maidens for noticing and allowing me to be heard!”
So, what are your future plans?
Maxine: “I would like to continue to write and record new music.”
Is there anything, you’d like to add to this interview? Something we forgot to mention here which is essential enough?
Maxine: “Again thank you for your support. I'm totally independent. I'm doing and paying for everything myself. I do this, because I love what I do. It’s all about the music for me. Rock with me and check out my website at: http://www.maxattacks.com and Roxy's website: http:// www.roxypetrucci.com for updates.”
Do you have a personal message for the readers of Metal Maidens?
Maxine: “Make sure you support your independant artists! That’s where the real music is coming from! I think from an early age, children are forced to accept corporate forced fakes such as ASHLEY SIMPSON. I think parents should expose them to all types of music, so they know there are alternatives to rap and pop.”
Interview by: Toine van Poorten/courtesy of Metal Maidens, October 2005.
*We Reserve The Night (Jet Records; 1984 - LP)
*High In High School (Jet Records; 1985 – 7” single)
*Titania (indie; 2005 - CD)