» Bret/Chris - Madam X
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Interview conducted June 8 2018
Interview published June 14 2018

"The rug got pulled out from under us."

Pretty much right after Madam X's performance at Sweden Rock, Metal Covenant met up with two guys who were still on fire from an intensive hour on stage, vocalist Bret Kaiser and bass player Chris "Godzilla" Doliber.

Tobbe: A 33 year long span between album number one and album number two is quite a long time.

Bret: I think we set a world record, didn't we? We should be in the Guinness Book Of Records for God's sake. To be honest with you, I didn't even think I'd hear from any of these guys. It wasn't like hatred or anything; it went like this [Separates his hands in opposite directions]. We got screwed totally by the record company. You know, that kind of took the wind out of… sales. So, I went back to New York, did my thing. Roxy [Petrucci, drums] went to Vixen, did her thing. Chris and Max [Petrucci, guitar] kept the band going for a couple of years.

And then Roxy was in England doing Firefest and noticed a lot of Madam X memorabilia coming across the table. And that's how it started; she called Maxine, Maxine called me, I said "Yeah, sounds good, but we're not doing it without Godzilla.". You see, too many bands come back with not all original members. You know: okay, you got a big song, you're doing your thing, but there's only one guy in the band that is from the band. This: we're all 4 original members. And Godzilla came back; he had a song called Another '80s Rock Song he introduced and "Boom!". You know, the chemistry was there still. After so long we played here in 2014. Like Chris said, it was either gonna be our swansong…

(Chris:) It's either our "Hello" or our "Goodbye" and we played and after the show: "Felt pretty good.", we said. (Bret:) It was like "Oh, my God!". It was so cool. You know, we picked up like we didn't miss a beat, you know, and we decided "Hey, let's do something.", so we started writing; we started writing the new record and stuff. You know, the last record: Chris wrote most of the stuff and me and him wrote a lot of stuff. This time: the girls stepped up and they wrote some really good songs, you know, and then we tweaked them and stuff and out came Monstrocity. It's just been trying, after 30 years, to turn that engine on, as far as getting us gigs and getting going. Thank God for Sweden Rock. And more, you know, The Monsters Of Rock Cruise, and hopefully this momentum keeps going and keeps building and people wanna see Madam X. We did shoot a video for Monstrocity and now it's being edited and stuff like that and…

(Chris:) Yeah, we got a video coming out. It's for Monstrocity. It's pretty over the top crazy. You know, these days a lot of bands, like: you know, they've stripped it down and it's just GoPros and it's quick editing. But this was a big production. You know, sound stage with many feet of… (Bret:) Oh, my God! This guy is a fucking genius. I flew in from Phoenix to Detroit and he had a set. I thought it was, like, a big movie set. It was this unbelievable backdrop; we made this alien house… (Chris:) It's like we're playing on alien surface, in the city of Monstrocity, in the outskirts, and there's lots of fire, lots of smoke, lots of special effects… (Bret:) Oh, there was lots of fire.

(Chris:) Yeah. [Laughs] It's really amazing. At one point, if you know how videos are shot or if you don't know how videos are shot: You shoot, you run through the song, I wanna say a hundred times, maybe that's exaggeration, maybe that's not an exaggeration a lot of times, and there are, like, different camera angles and different handhelds. So, one of the takes, the pyro that we had on stage, there was 9 flame thrower hands, and the program stuck and these things are just going [Makes noise] and they're shooting up, like, 15 feet of fire, and it's hot! (Bret:) And we don't know. We don't know what's going on, right? We're still doing these moves and everything, right? And all of a sudden we see people running in front of the cameras. And then this alien thing and house we kind of put together started melting.

(Chris:) Yeah, the set's melting. In the video, in like the bloopers, you can see Roxy, like: she's playing and she throws her sticks up the air and dives off the drum riser, because these heads were staged with not so many feet apart, maybe 10 feet apart, but when it went off you could feel the heat like you were standing close to a fire, and then all of them are on simultaneously for probably 30 seconds or a minute and "Fuck! It's hot up here.". It's like "Holy shit! We're on fire!".

Tobbe: When you guys wrote and recorded the material for Monstrocity, to what extent did you deliberately tried to step one step away from your first record in order to not make a carbon copy of it?

Bret: Well, you know, we grew up. When we did the first record Don Arden was our manager. He told us "I need cute songs." and we wrote High In High School and "That's it! I want more cute songs." and we've always been heavy. Even though when those songs were written we played them heavy and when we played live we were heavy. He wanted cuteness; well, we've grown up, 30 years later, and just naturally the next record was ours; we did it, you know. We weren't rushed in 30 days to do We Reserve The Right with Rick Derringer producing it and Don Arden saying "No, I want it cute, cute, cute.". You know, we don't know how many songs we wrote that didn't make We Reserve The Right.

(Chris:) On this record we had about 30 or so songs that were ready. Some really good songs that didn't make the cut, because… you know, I would write a song, Bret would write a song, the girls would write songs and we demo them up and give them to the band and the band would say "Yeah, yeah. Let's do this." and then everybody collectively go down with a song. So we put, you know, those songs in, like, little files. You know "This got possibility. This one: nooo." or whatever.

Some of them we actually thought were gonna be on the record, originally, really good songs, but that record took on a different direction, arguably because of the girls. They wanted to, like… you know, they had it in their mind. It is okay, you know; it's a team, right? So, you know: those songs may be out sometime; they may not be out sometime. But the title Monstrocity came up and that was gonna be a concept, you know, so then we started choosing songs that kind of fit that theme. Does that make sense?

Tobbe: Why didn't you put the 2014 song Another '80s Rock Song on that album?

Chris: Well, why don't you tell the girls? We should have played it today. I love that song. (Bret:) It's a great fucking song. (Chris:) It's a fun song. I was here two days ago and just walking around the festival and I don't know how many people, a lot, came up to me and said like "'80s Rock Song… We're in your video.", you know. I knew we weren't gonna play it though, you know, but I needed to tell them. (Bret:) What it is: is some people wanted to do it; some people didn't wanna do it. It was 50/50, so. You know …women.

Tobbe: In this day and age it's hard to make the big money for a lot of bands and to what degree do you guys look at the financial situation when it comes to the band nowadays?

Chris: I think we're never too concerned about the money. (Bret:) We didn't get no backing; we did it all ourselves. (Chris:) You know, we had Michael Wagner producing and mixing it and he's not cheap. You know, a studio is $125 an hour, Michael Wagner is another, you know, 10000, 20000, 30000… Thousands anyhow. (Bret:) Something like that. And Mark Slaughter mix two songs on the record. I guess he knew Roxy and did that aftershow thing [VIP AFTERSHOW]. So he mix two of our Madam X songs: The ballad Wish You Away and Freak Parade.

Tobbe: Are there any long-term plans for the band right now?

Bret: I originally said "World domination.". When we came out we should have done a lot more. We got screwed royally, you know what I mean? Royally, you know. The rug got pulled out from under us. We didn't get a chance to go to Japan and play, or the world… (Chris:) There was a time in the United States where… You know, we went from nowhere to MTV to, like, media rotation fairly quickly, and that means a lot to a band. Anybody that's in a band that remembers those times will attest to this. And then the PMRC… (Bret:) Tipper Gore and the wives, you know.

(Chris:) Well, it affected everything in rock 'n' roll in the United States. The bands that continued to succeed were the bands that already had a strong foothold in the rock fan community. Bands like us, which were just being, you know, shot out of the cannon… You know, we suffered. (Bret:) We were one of the first ones to get cut because we had two guys and two girls in the band and our first video they said was, like, perverted. Well, compared to some of the shit today… (Chris:) Yeah, there was a lot of dos and don'ts. Like, you can't do this and you can't do that.

(Bret:) What are plans are… I wanna go on tour. I don't care if it's with Alice Cooper, or Kiss, or somebody, or our own tour, but I wanna tour the world. There are people in Australia that wanna see us, Japan, all over the place. We wanna get there. We wanna bring the Monstrocity and Madam X machine to them, you know what I mean? They deserve it. They deserve the right. (Chris:) I have personally probably 8 songs that I think are suitable for this band; ready to go. You know, as far as the demo process… and because we're not managed by somebody, we're self-managed, it's all of us making decisions. Sometimes we can all agree that, you know, the time is almost exactly 4:58…

(Bret:) We like to agree to disagree. Some of us… (Chris:) So, that being said: it's not so easy, because we don't have a figure saying "Do this! Do that! Don't do this!". (Bret:) There's no ringmaster to go "You know what? Good enough, move on!". We're going here, we're doing this, we're doing that. It's like you get 4 talented people, right, going like this [Moving hands a couple of times in different directions]. (Chris:) We spent a lot of time moving around in circles. Pre-recording, recording, re-recording, re-recording, recording, re-recording.

(Bret:) Yeah, what he is saying. We do a track, right? Sounds great. We think it sounds great. Maxine: "Ah, I can do my guitar better.", so she does it. "Yeah, you did a great job.". Then Roxy goes "Well, you know what? She changed to the better, so now I gotta do the drums better.". And then Chris is gotta do a new bass track because of that and meanwhile I'm waiting 'til they're done, or I fly to Detroit with the vocal tracks, or I do the tracks in Phoenix and send them the vocal tracks. So, it's all crazy.

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