Janet Gardner is best known as the lead singer and guitarist with 80s platinum selling all female rockers Vixen. Janet has just released her self titled debut album and it is a catchy, heavy and heartfelt storm of an album that deserves to reach the heady heights that Vixen did. We caught up with Janet to hear all about the album and the making of it, her opinion of fellow female rock artists, the current activity of Vixen and more.
Your new self titled album is out soon, can you tell us about the album and its creation?
Justin and I moved into a new house and set up a studio. We were both working independently but we knew eventually, we would start exchanging ideas. And that’s just sort of how it happened. Justin was playing something on the guitar, and I liked it. So I picked up a guitar and off we went! Once we got on a roll, it went very quickly!
Did you always want to make a solo album or did it just turn out that way?
I suppose it was always on my bucket list. It wasn’t a top priority for me ever. It was nice to have the freedom to do whatever Justin and I wanted to with no expectations from anyone.
Songs from the album like Rathole, Let It Be Over and a the Good Or The Bye have a certain heaviness, a definite rock n roll energy and also are extremely catchy. Was that your intention for the majority of the albums sound?
When we first started working on this, we didn’t really have anything in mind. Once we had a few songs going, it started to have a common thread through all the songs. We’ve always liked songs that make you want to turn it up loud and sing along. We also like songs that are moving in someway. That’s where songs like Let It Be Over and Candle came into play.
Best Friend on the other hand is a beautiful and heartfelt song. Can you tell us a bit about that song?
Justin and I were almost finished with the album, and we decided that we needed to sit down and tell our story. We wanted to keep it very simple and very honest. We sat down with a couple of acoustic guitar’s, a pen, and paper.
Did you always want to include a ballad on the album?
Yes. Absolutely. We are both suckers for a good ballad! There are certain topics that need to be addressed in a different way and stripping it down and slowing it down is a great way to capture someone’s attention.
What are some of the other songs on the album about?
We wrote the song Candle about my parents passing away. I was alone with my dad when he took his last breath and I was completely overcome with emotion that I have never felt before. The song Let It Be Over is frustration with the human condition and our inability to come together to make things better.
Do you have a favourite song from the album yet?
That’s kind of like asking you to pick your favorite child, Very difficult! I do love the song Candle because of the meaning behind it. I also like Best Friend for the same reason. But, when it’s time to rock, I think The Good Or The Bye and Hippycrite are a lot of fun!
You work on the album with Justin James, how was it working with your husband on the album?
We were very nervous about working together. It could’ve driven a wedge into our personal relationship. Luckily, The end result was quite the opposite. It brought us closer together and we really enjoyed the experience working together. We both felt like we could really be ourselves and express ourselves freely.
What do you think of the current crop of all female bands or female fronted bands like In this Moment, Pretty Reckless and Butcher Babies?
I think it’s absolutely amazing! There are some incredibly talented women out there carrying the banner for hard rock. All of them could’ve had an easier path in a different genre of music but they chose to follow their their heart….beautiful!!!
What music are you listening to at the moment?
I like a wide variety of music depending on my mood. This morning I put on some Foo Fighters to get moving!
Who are some your influences as a singer, both when you were starting out and today?
I could go on and on and on this subject but i’ve always been attracted to bluesy soulful rock singers like Janis Joplin, Etta James, Paul Rogers, Robert Plant and Ann Wilson. Later on, I started to appreciate more melodic singers like Brad Delp, Lou Graham and Steve Perry. In the 90s I really liked Scott Weiland and Chris Cornell. Today I really love Lzzy Hale, Pink, and Brent Smith.
Will you be hitting the road in support of the album?
Yes! We have some dates booked here in the States well into next year and we hope to get overseas in 2018.
Will you make it back to the U.K to play live?
Yes. We are working on that now. We’re trying to come up with a good package with a couple of other bands.
Do you still have fond memories of your time with Vixen and will the band ever get back together?
Oh yeaaahhh! I have so many great memories with Vixen and we are still making them now! Yes, we have been performing together again for the last few years and having just as much fun as ever! We are saddened that Jan is no longer with us but we happy to be able to carry on the legacy of Vixen in her honor.
Do you think that the band paved the way for female musicians in the future?
I would never want to take credit for paving the way. There were so many great female rock musicians and singers before us. The best complements that we ever get our from other female musicians saying that we inspired them.
What were some of your highlights from your time with Vixen?
Our first arena tour was with the Scorpions in Europe. It was very surreal. Total goosebumps every night and it was incredibly exciting!
Would you play Vixen songs when you play live now?
Yes, we are playing a few Vixen songs in our set. I don’t think I will ever be able to go on stage without singing Edge Of A Broken Heart!