Interview With Britt Lightning
Of Vixen, Jaded, Alejandro Sanz
Rockin’ Interviews- What bands influenced you as a kid?
Britt Lightning- “Definitely Van Halen, Metallica, Motley Crue, Megadeth, and Pantera. Those were a lot of my big ones when I first started playing.”
R.I.- What was your first concert?
B.L.- “My first concert actually was Stone Temple Pilots. They are one of my favorite bands. So I went to that as my first concert and then anytime they came anywhere within a 6 hour radius, I would drive to the shows and I was obsessed with them. They’re a really fun, high-energy band and the guitarist is great.”
R.I.- When did you start playing guitar?
B.L.- “I started playing in ninth grade.”
R.I.- What was the first solo you learned?
B.L.- “Fade To Black by Metallica.”
R.I.- What made you want to be a musician?
B.L.- “Really just my passion for music and seeing live shows and being really affected by the energy and the crowds. Sensory overload, it was really overwhelming for me and it was and addicting energy I wanted to be a part of.”
R.I- When you pick up a guitar for practicing, what do you do first?
B.L.- “Make sure it’s in tune. I just kinda noodle around, I normally just start playing some weird bluesy licks or something like that to warm up my fingers. I don’t do a lot of structured warm-up exercises, which I should. I like to turn on the radio and play along to whatever is on, no matter what station it is or what genre. I just kinda jam and that’s how I warm-up playing before I practice what I really wanted to practice.”
R.I.- How has your sound changed over time?
B.L.- “It has become less metal. When I started I was really into metal and heavy distortion and lots of effects and now it’s become simplified. It’s more raw and true to the guitar without so many effects and bells and whistles, it’s more stripped down I think.”
R.I.- How’d you get the name Britt Lightning?
B.L.- “So I had an all girl metal band when I was in high school and I also liked Kiss and the idea of the guys just having these personas, like Spaceman and stuff. I was really influenced by 80’s rock even though it was way before my time. When people have fun stage names like Nikki Sixx and stuff like that. I was like I don’t wanna have a normal name I wanna have a persona. It actually helped me because I had stage fright as well, so I was like if I could just be somebody else when I go onstage, that would be helpful. One time I actually did get struck by lightning through my TV, it was kinda crazy. So I just thought lightning and it’s flashy and fast and bright and exciting, so I kinda just picked it.”
R.I.- Tell me about the start of your band Jaded.
B.L.- “So I started it with this female drummer, who is amazing. Now she plays in an all female Judas Priest tribute band called Judas Priestess. It’s Hillary, she was my drummer and it was amazing. And we just all got together and wrote songs and worked really hard to put the band together. We recorded two CDs and we played a lot of festivals and radio shows and went to Europe and then we did that for ten years.”
R.I.- What was it like to tour Europe with W.A.S.P.?
B.L.- “It was awesome, it was really great. It was my first time playing overseas and we played some great venues like the Astoria in London and we played in Spain and Ireland and a couple other places. It was a great experience, the guys were super cool and we had great crowds and it was awesome. It was like dreams do come true, because it was my first European tour.”
R.I.- What was it like to play all the talk shows with Jason Derulo and then again with Rachel Platten?
B.L.- “That was fun. It was kind of a sterile environment because everything has to be at a certain volume and it’s not like a rock show. So I feel like those are more scary than playing a rock show because it’s live TV. There’s no room for error. It was fun meeting the talk show hosts like Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa. It was kind of a bucket list thing for sure.”
R.I.- What was it like to tour arenas with Alejandro Sanz?
B.L.- “It was the best experience I’ve ever had. It was incredible, we played to huge crowds and everybody in the band is so talented. All the people were just great to be around. It was great getting so immersed in a different culture where half the band spoke Spanish, so I got to learn a lot about Latin culture cause we were in all those countries for so long. Being on stage with those musicians, I got the chills every single night on stage. It was magical and the songs were beautiful so it really a great experience. It was really a way to see how, even if you don’t know understand all the lyrics, that you can feel it. So it’s a great way to think about how music is a universal language and you don’t have to necessarily know the words to understand it and feel it.”
R.I.- when did your love for classic cars start?
B.L.- “Every summer, my family would vacation to this lake in New Hampshire and one year we stayed at this little log cabin where all the walls were bookshelves and they were filled with all these old, dusty books. So I was going through them one day, cause it was raining, and I found this book called The Yellow Rolls Royce and there was picture of a yellow Rolls Royce on the cover and I became fascinated with Rolls Royce’s after reading that. So that was always my favorite car and still is. But also my dad is really into cars and he used to take me to car shows and I still love going to car shows. I like motorcycles to but I’m not into riding just because I’ve known too many people who’ve had accidents. My dad and I picked out a GTO together and I’ve always been fascinated with engines and just the looks of old cars. They’re just so classic and beautiful.”
R.I.- 6 years ago, you released the song “Be With Me” under the name Britt Lightning Band. Do you plan to release any music under that name again?
B.L.- “You know that was kind of just an experimental thing and we actually have a lot more tracks from that session. That was with the singer from Jaded, Katy and she’s awesome. She still lives in Massachusetts and I would love to do my own band and I would love to sing, although I’m not a great singer, definitely not a lead vocalist. I have been writing a lot lately and I would love to do a solo band sometime soon, when I get all the ideas together. I’m kinda not sure what I would do stylistically cause I write so many styles. I gotta find the right people, and then I would love to do that.”
R.I.- Tell me about your first Monsters of Rock Cruise.
B.L.- “My first Monsters Of Rock Cruise was awesome, playing with Paradise Kitty. I had never done a rock cruise before and it was everything I thought it would be. Tons of fun bands and good partying, lots of meeting great people, and so much fun. At first I was like Is it gonna be fun to be stuck on a boat with everybody, but it sure is. I had a blast and I had a great time last year as well and I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.”
R.I.- If you could play live with any band, who would it be?
B.L.- “Good question. The Eagles when it was the original lineup. I love the Eagles, that would be amazing.”
R.I.- How’d you get the Vixen gig?
B.L- “They were looking for a guitar player and I met their manager playing a pre-party with Paradise Kitty for the Monsters of Rock Cruise and then I was recommended by a couple people as well. Then he saw me play that night and we arranged to do an audition after the Monsters Of Rock Cruise. So I played with Paradise Kitty on that cruise and then right after that, I went to audition and jam with the girls and that was my first time meeting them. It went well.”
R.I.- What do you plan to do this Halloween?
B.L.- “We don’t have a Halloween show so I don’t know. I need a costume idea. I’ll probably get dressed up and go to a Halloween party.”
R.I.- You play a lot of different guitar brands, which is your favorite?
B.L.- “I’ve always loved the Jackson’s. I really love the Jackson Flying V’s, the Randy Rhoads ones. I think I have 4 of them. But a lot of them are still back in Boston, because I couldn’t fly out with them all. But I just love them, the necklaces are just fast and the ebony fretboard and it’s got the Seymour Duncan pickups in it. I love the way they look and I love the way their shaped. I really like angular guitars like that. But I’m also a big Les Paul fan. Those would be the two, but I love Jackson. And the Charvel plays really nice too. But I would say the Jackson Flying V’s.”
R.I.- When did you start playing GHS strings?
B.L.- “I’ve always loved GHS strings. But it was just recently that I got endorsed by them. I don’t really remember how I got into playing them, I just think I knew that some of my favorite players used them from magazine ads back in the day. I was like ‘Oh cool GHS, got it, I’ll have to try these’. They last a long time and they sound good.”
R.I.- What made you transition to the Jazz 3 picks?
B.L.- “You’ve got the best questions, I think this is my favorite interview I’ve ever done! I loved Zakk Wylde, he was a big influence. At first I played his really thick Tortex picks. I had one friend in my neighborhood that I used to jam with all the time. One day he came over and he was playing the little medium Jazz 3 picks and I was like, ‘Why are you using that’ and he was really good at sweep picking and he said, ‘Well it helps me sweep pick, it’s not too much pick and I find it easy’ and he gave me one. I couldn’t sweep pick at the time and it was like my main goal in life because it was amazing. I couldn’t do it. I thought if I want to learn to sweep pick, I better use this pick. And I just started practicing and practicing and I think it does help you play better. It’s funny cause now I feel weird using normal picks because it’s too much pick and too much to hold on to. Also for pinch harmonics, I use my index fingernail a lot when I play, so I kinda play with half pick and half of my nail and that’s how I get the pinch harmonics and things. I play all the notes like that and I can’t get that with a full size pick.”
R.I.- If you could meet any musician that you haven’t yet, who would it be?
B.L.- “I’ve never met Eddie Van Halen, so I would love to meet him.”
R.I.- What’s your favorite horror movie?
B.L.- “I have a confession. I appreciate horror movies and I like to watch them, but I have an overactive imagination and I spend a lot of nights alone in my hotel room on the road and I get so scared. If I didn’t spend so much time alone at night I would watch more of them, but I get too scared. So really I don’t know if I can give you a good answer on that because I really don’t like horror movies.”
R.I.- What do you have planned for the near future?
B.L.- “For the near future, let’s see. Vixen goes back to Europe in October for a few shows. Then after that we have an East Coast run in November. Then after that we are staying together and having a writing session to work on tunes for the new studio album. That’s coming soon hopefully. We’re really excited to start the writing process. I’m really excited. I’ve been writing a lot of riffs in preparation for that and we’ll be recording that in Nashville with Michael Wagener who mixed the live album. He’s awesome and yeah I’m looking forward to that. We’re taking it easy for the rest of the year. Things wind down during the holidays. Then we’ll be back up and running in the new year, hopefully with some new tunes and working on the new record.”