“We had no idea what to expect when we hit the stage. It had been almost 30 years since we played together. We new this could be either the end, or the new beginning.” The Petrucci sisters,
Bret Kaiser (Vocals)
Maxine Petrucci (Guitar)
Chris "GODZILLA" Doliber (Bass)
Roxy Petrucci (Drums)
FROM JACKIE WALLACE:
Like many people, I love to hear a good comeback story. I had the opportunity to meet with the band members of Madam X. Their journey was and continues to be a fascinating one. This is a story within many stories they have to tell…
Going Against the Norm…
Madam X was formed in the late 1970’s /early 1980’s by two sisters from Detroit, Maxine and Roxy Petrucci. The two girls were into heavy metal music. Maxine played guitar, and Roxy played drums. They were not your typical high school girls. They didn’t hang out in dress shops, or go to school dances. Instead, their free time was spent playing music and hanging out in music stores. Their obvious obsession with music made them somewhat of misfits among the high school student body, even though they had both earned music scholarships to Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Maxine and Roxy had auditioned many musicians for their band before they finalized their lineup, which included Chris Doliber on bass and Bret Kaiser on vocals. After a year of gigging every night in Detroit, the foursome packed up and left for New York. They had no plans on how they were going to survive; they just knew their ultimate goal was to be in California and have a record deal, so the how didn’t matter.
The Gritty Road…
There is no better way to describe their early years of work other then to call it gritty. The word “gritty” means “having strong qualities of uncompromising realism,” and that just about summarizes their journey early on. With little income, the foursome lived the life of “starving artists.” When they weren’t sleeping in their vehicles on tour, they slept on the floors of roach infested motels. They would take turns going to eat at cheap buffet restaurants, paying for one meal and then sneaking food back for the other members to eat. The band had a grueling schedule of performing every night which gradually led to a loyal following of metal heads. They had no manager, no marketing team, and no money. They did all the bookings, promoting, and negotiating, themselves.
After building a following in New York, and elsewhere, they scheduled a tour that included their ultimate destination, California. They booked a show at the Troubadour Nightclub in Las Angeles. After their performance, which ended at about midnight, they were approached by a woman who introduced herself as an agent in the music business. The woman suggested that the band go to the venue next door, called the Rainbow Room, to mingle.
The Rainbow Room was the hangout for major national bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, Alice Cooper, and many others. With some hesitation, the band decided to go check it out. As they walked into the venue, their “larger then life” hairstyles caught the attention of everyone in the room, including one of the A&R representatives from Jet Records. The A&R representative asked them who they were and the band introduced themselves. He then asked for a promo pack. Luckily, the band was always prepared and gave him one. Within a week after, the band received a call from Jet Records asking where they were playing next.
The audience at their next gig included, the president of Jet Records, Don Arden. The band performed with their usual level of passion, energy and integrity to their music. Immediately after their performance, Don Arden told them their lives were about to change. He offered to sign Madam X to Jet Records that night.
After the initial explosion of excitement from getting signed, the band quickly began settling into the realization that they were no longer in control of their destiny. They had to adjust and conform to having little creative control. They were under the impression that being signed to a record label meant things were going to happen quickly and on a big scale. The problem was Madam X had already made things happen quickly and big, without any help. Their level of speed was much greater than what a label could offer them.
Hence, began the negativity with the label and then within the band. Eventually, both the band and the label were dealing with separate as well as some mutual issues that caused the band to break up and the label to dissolve. At this point, the members were emotionally drained, and their energy was depleted. They walked away from the Madam X experience and all went their separate ways. Each member continued to pursue music, Maxine started her own band called Maxine; Roxy became the drummer for the popular all female metal band, Vixen; Bret began his own band called Band ’56; and Chris continued to play bass and write music.
As the Years Go By…
Aside from getting back together in 1991 for one show, the band had little or no contact after the break up. Some 28 years later, while on tour in England with the Vixen band, Roxy was at a “meet and greet,” signing autographs after her gig. She found herself repeatedly answering questions about Madam X and also signing Madam X paraphernalia. Roxy realized that although the members of Madam X had moved on, their loyal fans did not.
Roxy contacted Maxine, Brett, and Chris to share her experience and suggested they get together to write and record one song. With the help of producer Kevin Sharpe of Metro 37 Studio, the band reunited and began working on one song to release. As word got out, via social media, the band found that their fans were waiting with excitement. They were contacted by one of the founders of The Sweden Rock Festival, the biggest festival in Sweden, and invited them to perform at the 2014 festival.
With some reservation, the band agreed to do the show. When they arrived in Sweden, they were interviewed by on one of the local magazines, who asked them if they had any idea how big they were in Sweden. The band had no idea. The moments before the show, as the band walked toward the stage, they described the halls leading up to the stage as a “maze” with tall walls so that you couldn’t see out. They described being somewhat nervous, hoping that maybe at least a couple hundred people would show up.
“We had no idea what to expect when we hit the stage. It had been almost 30 years since we played together. We knew this could be either the end of Madam X, or the new beginning.”
Once they hit the stage and saw the “sea of heads,” a crowd of about 20,000 fans, chanting for them, they were overwhelmed. The band portrayed the experience as being “surreal” and “invigorating.” As they began playing, “the nerves settled and it felt like home,” as Roxy put it. At one point, during their performance of their song, High in High School, Bret pointed the microphone at the audience and the band listened to the crowd sing all the words to the song they wrote some 30 years ago. This moment proved that this was, in fact, the new beginning for Madam X!
The Next Chapter…
The band is now recording a new CD with Kevin Sharpe at Metro37 Studio. They have plans to release the CD with a big comeback party right here in Detroit, where it all started. They hired an agent and are planning on a tour in the summer of 2015.
It is amazing how the universe works. When the time is right, and the dream is big enough, the universe will bring it back around.
Welcome back Madam X!