Sometimes the good things in life really are worth waiting for. Fans of the melodic metal band Madam X are thrilled that the band, which reunited for a handful of dates in 2014, will be releasing an album of new, original and hard-rockin’ music for the first time since Ronald Reagan was president of the United States and Justin Trudeau’s dad was Prime Minister of Canada.
The new disc, Monstrocity, is set to come out, fittingly, on Halloween on the EMP Label group, and sees the original line-up back in fine hard-rocking form.
Madam X was one of those bands that truly epitomized the era from which it was born and unleashed. Big hair, big choruses, catchy yet hard driving metal music, the Detroit-based quartet scored a bona fide hit with their 1984 debut album, We Reserve the Right, based on the strength of the massively popular video High in High School. Internal squabbles led to a bunch of lineup changes, one of which saw a tall, talented skinny kid from Canada named Sebastian Bach have a turn at lead vocals, before essentially disbanding in 1988 without a follow-up record.
Co-founder and drummer Roxy Petrucci, who formed the band alongside sister Maxine (guitars), bassist Chris Doliber and vocalist Bret Kaiser, and who went on to join another ‘hair metal’ stalwart, Vixen, said it was a case of fan demand that brought Madam X back together.
“I had been touring with Vixen and we were overseas and we do a meet-and-greet after every show. I noticed a lot of Madam X memorabilia coming through the line and I got to thinking that maybe it is time that we get back together and maybe throw a new song out there for the fans because obviously there are still some Madam X fans that want to hear something from us. So I contacted the rest of the band and they said yes and we released the song ‘Another 80’s Rock Song’ independently and also played the Sweden Rock Festival that year  and it was a lot of fun,” said Petrucci from her home in Rochester, Michigan.
“We realized that the chemistry was still there, the drive is still there, we’re still hungry so let’s go make a record, let’s see if we can do a whole album. It was two years in the making but it’s going to be a great record. Monstrocity turned out really, really good and we are pretty proud of it.”
Obviously, a lot has happened in the lives of each band member in Madam X, a lot has happened in the world and in the music industry. So the approach to the new record was obviously different, yet Petrucci said what has been good about the whole process is that for all the different factors and variables at play, some things never change – and delightfully so.
“It’s a whole lifetime that’s past, seriously. But then as soon as we got in the same room it was like it was yesterday. I mean some things change but some things stay the same – the good the bad and the ugly and that’s why it took two years to write and record this record. The dynamics of this band are still pretty much the same; there’s the butting heads and all that goes along with rock and roll and with being in a band together. It’s still there and that’s what makes it all so great again – and it makes me laugh when I think about it,” she explained.
“We were kids back then and we’re adults now, but it’s still so much the same. But what is also the same is we still make good music together and that’s what holds everything together. What is also different is that we don’t see each other every day. Remember, when we were on the road we were doing it 24/7 every day for years, just cranking it out in the clubs mostly. So you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves; that’s just life. Plus we were so young and that comes into play.
“So 30 years later everything comes into play but we still have that love of music and the personalities are pretty much the same although a little bit older. But as I said, some things never change and I really don’t want them to. I don’t want it to change because that’s what makes this band who we are. And it works for us – it just works. We don’t beat the shit out of each other like we used to, but give it time. Back in the day we were all on each other. So many times I wanted to punch Chris in the head or Bret wanted to punch him in the head and me and Maxine went at it, but we’re sisters, so we’d kiss and make up the next day. With this band, even though we were girls we were still so driven by metal and music and we wanted this band to be great and we were stubborn, we’re stubborn Italians and we wanted things our way. But hey, that was, and is, the beauty of Madam X.”
Even though so many years had passed from the band’s 1980s heyday, the reunion has generated a significant buzz within the metal community, especially in Europe, where fans aren’t as prey to the fickle fates of fashion and pass on their loyalty to bands from generation to generation.
“We played Sweden Rocks in 2014 and a couple of shows in Michigan since them and also the Monsters of Rock Cruise last year. We’ve only done a handful of gigs but they have been quality gigs. And there’s been an unbelievable response; people really turned out, which we didn’t know was going to happen. We were hoping the fans that said they love us actually came to see us and they did,” said Petrucci.
“And, again, we’re doing it for them, not just for us. We’re doing it for them. That was the reason I wanted to release a record. Madam X never really got to take off. We never got to do these big gigs that we wanted to do, and it feels like there was unfinished business. There was a real buzz created from those first few shows and the one new song and then the folks from the Monsters of Rock Cruise called us and asked if we wanted to be on the 2016 Cruise. We did two shows and we got asked back for the 2018 Cruise and we’ll be playing a lot of stuff from the new record at that show.”
Monstrocity is more of a collaborative creative effort than the first Madam X album, with the Petrucci sisters playing a bigger role in the songwriting than on We Reserve the Right.
“Everybody wrote for this record. The first record it was mainly Chris and Bret but this record is close to half and half. Maxine and I wrote a lot of stuff; Brett wrote, Chris wrote and Maxine and I wrote together and there were combinations of everybody working together on some songs. I would say the music is a lot more mature, and it’s heavier. It still has that Madam X sound because it’s all the original members writing and playing the songs. Bret sounds great and everybody’s playing great. As a matter of fact I think we’re better now – better than ever,” said Petrucci.
“But it’s definitely heavier – there’s some pretty nasty stuff on this record. And there’s also a lot of the traditional Madam X sound like High in High School. I think both old and new fans will be pleasantly surprised.”
Petrucci said the band would have released the album independently, but that she and her bandmates are thrilled that EMP has picked up Madam X and will be distributing the album worldwide. Mark Slaughter (Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion, Slaughter) had produced a couple of tracks for the Petrucci sisters’ side project VIP After Show, and he put them on to officials with EMP, a musician-friendly label owned by Dave Ellefson, the long-time bassist for Megadeth.
“He is kept abreast of what’s going on with all the bands on the label. Now I only have to talk him into letting Madam X open for Megadeth. And it’s a wonderful partnership because it’s about the music for them. These guys had the balls to sign Madam X when other labels weren’t really interested, because Madam X has been off the map for 30 years. If they hadn’t signed us we were going to it out ourselves. We were going to do the record regardless.”
Schedules permitting, Petrucci said Madam X should be hitting the road for some dates once Monstrocity is released on Halloween. In the meantime, she is busy behind the drum kit for Vixen.
“We recorded a live CD about a month ago at the Arcadia Theatre in Chicago and we’re going to release it as live project, but we’re also going down to Nashville to record two new bonus tracks with producer Michael Wagener [Motley Crue, WASP, Metallica] And then next year we would like to do a full-on new Vixen CD. I am really excited about Vixen and especially about Madam X,” she said.
For more information on Madam X and Monstrocity, visit www.madam-x.org.
- Jim Barber is a veteran award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee, ON, who has been writing about music and musicians for a quarter of a century. Besides his journalistic endeavours, he now works as a communications and marketing specialist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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