Two months ago, longtime VIXEN bassist Share Ross announced that she was “taking a hiatus” from the band. Her replacement is Julia Lage, formerly of the Latin Grammy-nominated Brazilian rock group BARRA DE SAIA and wife of Richie Kotzen. Lage made her live debut with VIXEN on February 8 at the pre-Monsters Of Rock cruise concert at Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida.
VIXEN singer Lorraine Lewis discussed Share‘s departure from the band in a new interview with Metal-Net. She said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “We already knew the news from Share. And we were planning to go out to the Monsters Of Rock pre-cruise party. The plan was for VIXEN to also go on the ship. But we had already pre-planned all of this; we knew what was going on.
“Bands have their own secret society, if you will, and sometimes you just have to discuss as a band what’s happening, what’s next, et cetera, and that’s what had happened with us.
“First of all, let me just say: we adore Share,” Lorraine continued. “Share‘s a M.F.-er rock star, we love her, she’s talented, she’s a great singer, she’s beautiful, she writes great songs and we love her, and forever she is the bass player of VIXEN; that doesn’t ever change. Her legacy lives on forever. But she’s also a very busy businesswoman, as the rest of us are. She has put her foot into the real estate market in Florida, which is really booming. She loves what she does; she’s really good at it. And I think for her — and I’m sure that she would tell you the same thing — is that it just got to a point where she decided that she needed to take a step back. She was kind of spreading herself thin with all of the work that she was doing. And this is a new avenue for her, and she’s really kicking ass at it. So she came to us… She actually went to Roxy [Petrucci, VIXEN drummer] first, and I think that they had a discussion about it, and then they let us know that she was thinking about stepping back and calling it a hiatus.
“We support her. We love her. We’re all about girls, girls and lifting each other up. So this was a decision that she made on her own, and she decided to just kind of take a break and a breather, and we support her in that decision. We talk all the time — I talk to her once or twice a week; we’re all still friends; I mean, we’re family. We’re thick as thieves — that doesn’t go away ever. She’s just taking a break. And it’s as simple as that.”
Regarding how Lage ended up joining VIXEN as Ross‘s replacement, Lewis said: “Knowing that we would have gigs booked for 2022, we knew we needed a bass player. And Britt [Lightning, a.k.a. Brittany Denaro, VIXEN guitarist] knows everyone — like, she seriously knows everybody in rock and roll. So Britt has worked with Julia before, and she right away said, ‘I think we should get Julia Lage.’ She’s beautiful, she’s an amazing bass player, she’s super talented, she has a killer voice, and she sings really high, which that’s kind of the role that Share does. With the VIXEN harmony, Share‘s always the highest harmony. So we really needed somebody to fill those shoes, and Julia can do that.”
According to Lorraine, VIXEN had “no rehearsals” with Julia prior to the Miami concert. “It was ‘plug and play,'” she explained. “We went to the cruise, pre-cruise party. No one knew that this was happening except for our manager, our booking agent and inside the band. And we had it all planned out that Julia would learn four songs towards the end of the set, so she had been working on four songs, and then we gave the stage… After Share did ‘[I Don’t Need No] Doctor’, which she just kicks ass on, she took over the microphone and she revealed to the crowd what her plans were, which was to take a hiatus, and then she invited Julia up on stage. They hugged, we all kind of high-fived, we let Share say what she wanted to say, and then Share exited the stage, Julia came up, we rocked the house for the last four songs, didn’t miss a beat. I’m sure people were surprised and at the same time, it just all came together… Julia just jumped up and plugged in. We did a very brief in-hotel-room rehearsal with just basically running down a couple of things, making sure our harmonies were okay and then we just rocked the house.”
When Ross made the news of her departure public at the aforementioned pre-Monsters Of Rock cruise concert, she told the crowd that “life got a little complicated” and that “something has to give,” resulting to her decision to “step away from VIXEN for a while.” She then introduced her “amazing” replacement and urged the VIXEN fans to “graciously” open their arms and welcome Lage to the group. At that point, Julia and her new bandmates launched into the track “Streets In Paradise” and played the last couple of songs of the set with Ross watching the proceedings from the side of the stage.
During a February 11 appearance on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”, Julia spoke about how she ended up hooking up with VIXEN, saying: “Share is taking a hiatus. She wants to do her thing [and focus on her real estate career]. She’s kicking ass. She’s gonna be writing and playing forever — I mean, she’s a badass artist and bass player, singer, everything, songwriter. So I got the invitation, and I’m, like, ‘Yeah, of course I’m gonna join. Of course.'”
Asked how the other members of VIXEN reached out to her about joining the band, Julia said: “Well, actually, funnily enough, before Britt joined VIXEN, me and her tried to put together a band, right when she moved to L.A. But that didn’t work out, and then she joined VIXEN, and I was super happy for her. So, fast forward, she actually called me a few months ago and she told me about the scenario, and I was, like, ‘Yeah. I would love [to do it]. I mean, it’s an honor for me to join VIXEN.’ So that happened. And that was it. It was that quick. And I was just, ‘Okay. Sign me in. Where can I go?’ [Laughs]”
Lage also reflected on her first performance with VIXEN at the pre-Monsters Of Rock cruise concert, saying: “[Share played] a little more than half of the set, and then [before] the last three songs, she stopped [the show] and talked about [her plans] a little bit and told everybody what’s gonna happen and introduced me. And then I stepped in and played the last three songs with them. And then actually she came back for the last song and sang along with us. It was just very nice. I thought it was very emotional too. It was a good way to transition.”
Pressed about whether her position with VIXEN is just a temporary one or she will join the band permanently, Julia said: “We didn’t really discuss that, but [Share is] taking her time. She might come back; she might [not]. I don’t know. Whenever they need me, I’m there for them. And I’m gonna do my best to honor her bass lines and everything. And I’m gonna be having with it, that’s for sure.”
The only remaining member of VIXEN‘s “classic” lineup is Petrucci.
In January 2019, VIXEN recruited Lewis as its new lead singer following the departure of Janet Gardner.
Lewis had already performed with VIXEN in March 2018 in Durant, Oklahoma while Gardner was recovering from surgery.
Prior to Lewis‘s addition to VIXEN, Petrucci, Ross and Denaro vowed to “expand upon the VIXEN legacy while remaining true to our musical roots.”
Gardner, Petrucci and Ross are considered to be part of VIXEN‘s classic lineup, along with founding guitarist Jan Kuehnemund, who died of cancer in October 2013.
Gardner contributed lead vocals to VIXEN‘s most commercially successful studio albums — “Vixen” (1988), “Rev It Up” (1990) and “Tangerine” (1998) — as well as the group’s latest release, 2018’s live album “Live Fire”.
Photo credit: Mark Weiss