Roxy PetrucciInterview by Jonas Mannon // June 05 2012
I’m passionate about laying down a groove so heavy and tight you can’t help but pound your feet and bang your head.
Roxy Petrucci slams. When she’s behind the drum kit, her fiery heart and conviction are so clearly evident, and she can lay a downbeat into a snare drum with the best of them. She is uniquely rhythmic, consistently exciting and rock-goddess sexy. In her incredible career with such bands as Madame X and Vixen, Roxy toured the world with many of rock’s biggest names and garnered the respect of essentially everyone she worked with and performed for. The rock goddess was recently generous enough to take some time to answer a few q's about all things Roxy. And so, away we go!
Thanks so much, Roxy. There are so many fans who will appreciate this, me included. Let’s begin with the early years, if we may. Do you remember the first time you saw or heard a drum set being played, and was it immediately compelling?
Not until I made the decision to be a drummer could I appreciate the intense passion that developed after seeing Bill Ward of Black Sabbath.
Can you convey what you felt the first time you actually sat behind a drum set, put your feet on the pedals and picked up the sticks?
It felt natural and exciting, especially as I progressed as a player and was able to start slamming down beats. I’d go through my assigned lessons for the day then play along to my favorite songs. I practiced everyday after school…I was hooked!
Are you from a musical family?
Yes, I have two sisters and two brothers. We all play a couple of different instruments. At one point we had a family band and performed some weddings together. I see it as a necessary step in my learning experience and lots of fun as well.
Most artists have a few gateway songs or albums that opened up the musical universe for them. What were some of yours?
Black Sabbath’s first album, Black Sabbath. My brother also turned me on to fusion bands like Jean Luc Ponty, Jeff Lorber, Return to Forever, Brand X and others that were ridiculously talented. Those bands opened my mind to jazz and fusion and helped shape my style as a drummer.
Did you take drum lessons early on?
Yes, I took jazz lessons from a talented drum instructor named Jimmy Allen. His unique way of teaching freed me up as a player. I also took lessons from Gary Ashton who concentrated more on the basics, reading, funk and rock. I’m so glad I was able to take lessons from both of these inspiring teachers.
And did you ever dress up as Peter Criss for Halloween? (I did, still do in fact)
No, not really. Okay, let’s move ahead a bit and create a scenario. The house lights have just gone down in a packed arena of 17,000 rock-slaves. Dark-jacketed Event Staff crew talk quickly into walkie-talkies as they lead the techs and the band hurriedly to the stage by flashlight. The cheers, claps, whistles and stomps of anticipation from the rabid fans are already shaking the walls. You hop up on your drum throne, a heavy slammin’ groove queen about to address her court, and count off “1 2 3 4!” How do you feel just before that opening power-chord/cymbal crash?
Ah, you must have been at one of our shows with the Scorpions! I’m hoping my riser doesn’t collapse after I beat the pulp out of my drums! Fanf***ingtastic!
Onstage, your goal is to connect with people, to reach out through your playing and move them in a special way. Can you offer some sage advice on how to achieve that?
I’m passionate about laying down a groove so heavy and tight you can’t help but pound your feet and bang your head. I believe this emotion comes across in my playing and facial expressions. Fans have a keen awareness if you’re phoning it in. Music can be magical and it will move you to a metalized state of mind.
I was fortunate enough to be at S.I.R. in L.A. for the “VH-1 Bands Re-United” Vixen show in 2004. Your playing was as sharp and solid as it had ever been that night. Can you maybe talk about the emotions you experienced being back onstage with the girls and playing those great songs again?
Thanks! I’m glad you were diggin’ it. I was excited and very comfortable on and off stage with the girls. It felt like we had picked up where we left off. The four of us have a chemistry that will live on.
You also received the very distinct honor of being invited as a featured artist to Cape Breton Drumfest in 2010. Was that gratifying as a player, being supported by your piers in such a way?
Hell yes! You forgot to mention that I was also the recipient of the 2010 Legend’s Award… that freaked me out! It is quite an honor and I still pinch myself. The heavy-weight talent I was privileged to share the stage with was mind blowing. They were a classy group of guys as well.
I read an interview where you spoke about the great drum educator Dom Famularo turning you on to some drum books at Cape Breton. Do you feel it’s important to keep evolving as a musician, to delve into new and uncharted areas?
Dom is a wonderful guy and his enthusiasm is infectious. Any serious musician needs to grow as a player or they’ll get left behind. It’s easy to get complacent. I’ve been guilty of it, but I realize what I need to do and I get it done. It’s the general rule in life if you want to be successful.
Hand-drumming and drum circles continue to emerge as very popular social gatherings. Do you feel there’s a deeper connection and value to communal drumming than, say, singing a song around a fire?
Drummers are a unique group of people who are always eager to share licks and tricks. Anytime you can get people together to create music it can be a beautiful thing…unless they happen to suck.
So tell us about what else is happening now. What musical projects are you working on, and can we expect some new Roxy Petrucci drum tracks soon?
I have plans to record some up close drum cam videos so you’ll be able to see me in action. I watched Ian Paice from behind his riser when we toured with Deep Purple. The learning experience was priceless and I hope to inspire others as well.
I personally can’t stop listening to Adele. Who are some newer artists that blow your skirt up?
I really like Pink; she has such a ballsy voice. She kills it!
Well, Roxy, I can’t thank you enough for your gracious time. Can you leave us with a quote, something you live by that you know is worth imparting?
To be is to do. Better yet, get off your ass and jam!
Visit Roxy online at http://www.roxypetrucci.com/
About the Author
Jonas Mannon has been fortunate enough to work with people like Duff McKagen, Peter Criss and Bill Ward, among others. He still contends, however that he's still "just a knock-around drummer kid from New York." As a freelance journalist he has interviewed 13-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs and drumming legends, Artimus Pyle, Sandy Gennaro and Kenny Aronoff, among others.
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