By Andrew Catania
One thing you’ll notice when speaking to Britt Lightning for the first time is her enthusiasm and motivation. She loves to play the guitar and be out on the road touring. Britt was gracious enough to speak with me while she was vacationing in New Hampshire before heading back to the west coast.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
BL: My parents didn’t listen to that much music. Growing up in the nineties, I was into nineties hip-hop. I started getting into rock when I was in middle school. I wasn’t really into the grunge scene so much.
I was really into all the eighties hair bands even though that wasn’t my time that I grew up in. Van Halen was a huge influence on me. Metallica, Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella, Skid Row, all of them were a significant influence on me, and I get to play with them now.
When did you first pick up the guitar?
BL: I picked it up the first year of high school. We moved to another town, and I ended up going to a private high school. There was no art or music program, so it was all academic.
I was always creative, artsy and stuff. So I was bummed about that. I had stayed after school to do something, and I was like, what is that? And it was a group of guys, they had a guitar club, and there were no girls in it, and they weren’t thrilled to see a girl interested in joining it because it was kind of like a boys club. The teacher stayed after school to open up his classroom to host this guitar club was terrific. His name was Mr. Russo, and he stayed after, and he was like, you know, I’ll kind of help show you some chords and some of the ropes, so you to come and sit in here and feel comfortable.
And so I did. I would meet up with him, and he’d help me. Then I got a guitar, and that’s all I did. I just played every single day locked in my room. My parents were like, what are you doing? Are you playing guitar in there? Because I would be in there for hours. Later on, I became the guitar club president.
Did you take lessons or you self-taught?
BL: I had some lessons. I didn’t study a lot. I think I took lessons for maybe like the first year and then I went off and learned from albums and from jamming with friends around town. I took a couple of lessons at Berklee. I didn’t attend Berklee. I feel like I learned most things from jamming with friends and just deciphering my favorite albums,
What was your first guitar?
BL: My first guitar was a purple sparkly Ibanez. My dad was excited at first that I was going to be playing guitar and he said, you know, I’ll take you to buy your first guitar. So we went down to the store, and for some reason, I thought he knew, I listened to Van Halen and Metallica, and he expected that I was going to come out of the store with an acoustic, but I had this purple electric and an amp. And he was like, what’s that thing in your other hand? It’s an amp. He was like, oh no, I didn’t sign up for this. But I got it anyways. Straight from that, I got into Jackson.
What was the first band you joined/formed?
BL: When I was 16 I was at a music store, and I was testing out amps. The manager came over to me and was like, hey, would you want to be in a band? I’m looking for a new guitar player. I like your style. So that’s how I got into my first band.
Have you dealt with the typical stereotypes/male chauvinism that come with the music industry?
BL: I think we’ve all had to deal with it to some degree. I don’t dwell or think about it so much. I’ll get the occasional you’re a girl and know how to set up your own gear? Which, I find funny because I’m like, of course, I do, what do you think? I don’t have someone setting my gear up on every tour. Some people are still shocked that I can set up my own gear.
I don’t let it bother me. I’m like, oh, this person is uninformed. But uh, no, but, um, it was cool too because when I played for Alejandro Sanz, that was the first time that he had female musicians in the band and I feel like that culture can sometimes be a little more male-dominated. I think people were shocked to see females in that band. So that was a cool thing for him to do.
Do you think female musicians are being taken more seriously now?
BL: I do. I think it’s in part too prominent artists hiring females, which is impressive. Like Alhondo, like Alice Cooper. I think that speaks volumes because it raises awareness about women that can play their asses off and it’s super cool.
What’s your rig consist of?
BL: in the studio, I feel like that’s the time to explore and try things that are too complicated to take out on the road. I’m simple with my live rig. I’m using Mooer audio pedals I have a little flyboard because we fly to almost all of the shows and it fits in my backpack. I keep it simple. I have a tuner, a boost, a delay and then a wah. I love using Marshall’s or Hughes & Kettner.
When I was in the studio is Vixen, and we were working with Michael Wagner, and we used a Kemper, He had some crazy awesome sounds that he programmed in there. in the studio, I like to play with all sorts of different pedals and tones and things that I wouldn’t usually do. Live an experiment and see what she can get because I feel like the recording studios are your creative, safe space. It’s your time to experiment and create something new or discover new sounds.
When will we hear new Vixen music?
BL: We’re hoping to start in the fall with the writing process. We do have a live album out now that everyone should check out!