My childish relationship with rock-n-roll usually means my rock stars idols are all men, an immature attitude unfortunately shared with much of the music industry. Thanks to Jennifer Herrema, this is all changing. RTX, fronted by the goddess of hard rock deconstruction bursts through the doors with guns ablaze on their latest Western Xterminator, vacillating between mushroom-hazy psychedelic numbers like the opening title track, vocals sounding like they were forced through a hookah into an echo chamber, and Motor City endgame blasts like "Dude Love" and "Restoration Sleep" reeling off into the night like Guns N Roses interpreting the Book of Revelations. It is consciously over the top, but shows a demented dedication to the rock of all our misspent youths and hopefully, our mismanaged futures.
The finest moments on the record mix experimentation and bombast, like on the epic "Rat Will Kill" which sounds like the greatest conceivable hair metal track could ever be produced. RTX is anything but a tired retro act like The Darkness or the thousand versions of Ratt touring this land of ours. Ever since her days in the much heralded Royal Trux, Herrema has been cleaning her gun and practicing her aim. To call it thinking person's hair metal is to detract from the libidinous thrall of this music. It makes me feel like I'm fourteen again, when I dropped the needle on my stepbrother's copy of Paranoid. That detuned bellow forcing my stepdad to peer around the corner, saying "not again..." Yes. Again. And forever.
Herrema was kind enough to be my favorite interview subject yet a second time and discuss the gear-head particulars of the record, modeling vs music, and the rock of the people.
Outsideleft: The vocals
Jennifer Herrema: I used a variety of things on each song but first and foremost is the natural offset of triple tracking...that coupled w/ using different mic's (Sennheiser,Akg,sure,Neuman), pre-amps (Chandler L Germanium, Ampex vintage tube,UA LA610, Neve 1272) and other processing (Empirical labs distressor, Palmer PGA - 04 Amp simulator) created the various vox atmospheres.
OL: What inspired this
record? I hear as much Ziggy Stardust as I do AC/DC in it. Is that part of it,
or am I completely missing the point.
JH: Yeah, I think we did well if we conjured that analogy....as I admire both sounds and they are indelibly etched in my musical subconscious along w/many other genre defying and defining bands and albums.... I've always considered the music I make as inclusive and Western Xterminator is no exception.... so far the response to the record has been incredibly great and for the most part responsibly articulate although I have noticed a tendency for some writers to get a bit hung up on the bigger, heavier guitar rock first impression as a means to an end....that would be a short sighted uninspired take on the album because the album is not an end....just another topical terrain covered by the Rad Times Xpress!
OL: What music do you
listen to besides your own? What's been blowing you away lately?
JH: Mac Dre, Nas(hip hop dead), Cheeseburger, any thing produced by Tom Werman or Andy Johns, Danzig(Danzig), Ozzy Osbourne (Ultimate Sin), Geto Boys (We Can't Be Stopped), Parliament (Motor Booty Affair), Dio (Last in Line)
OL: Who plays the solos
that crop up throughout the record?
JH: Brian McKinley
OL: With every weener
indie rock band rising with the tide, is the time right for RTX to set the
balance right for rock-n-roll?
JH: Yeah. Totally, but I'm not sure that we'll be allowed
OL: Were you asked,
would you go on tour with Guns N Roses, provided they could get their act
OL: Has your modeling
career helped or hurt your music career? Vice versa?
JH: The modeling I've done has been exclusively a result of my music career....It's totally helped me financially but for people who may be predisposed to writing me off....it's usually used as fuel for their rationalization; that type of person is of no use to me anyway and in weeding them out...the modeling has been a win-win situation..dig?
OL: How sick are you of
people asking if you and Neil are on speaking terms?
JH: I don't really care but they never get the truth out of either one of us....Neil and I are still playing off each other from a distance.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com