An Interview with Britt Lightning of Vixen

Tone Talk with Britt Lightning - Guitar Girl Magazine

Picture a “guitar hero” or a “guitar god.” Now tell me, what do you see? Most of the time, it’s a leather clad, long haired, jacketed rocker. More importantly, I bet the person in your head was a male. Now, let me start by saying that I am not out to start a sex war. Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. OK…now that I’ve said that- the minimizing and marginalizing of women within the Rock game is bullshit and needs to stop. Today, I am doing my part to enact positive change.

Brittany Denaro, known professionally as Britt Lightning is bar none, one of the best guitarists in Rock music today. She’s been in multiple badass bands, been an axe for hire, and traveled the world while touring with some of the greatest musicians on the planet. Her talent speaks for itself. Allow this to be a lesson to you all- women can and do shred just as hard as men. So, once again, picture a “guitar hero” or “guitar god.” Has the image changed at all? If not, work on that. Seriously. In the meantime, head over to Britt Lightning’s website here, and learn more about her amazing career and slick guitar skills. Britt is also currently the lead guitarist for legendary female Metal group, Vixen. You can head over to their site here for more information. After that, dig into this interview. It was a treat to speak with a real, live guitar hero and a women who truly rocks.

Andrew:
Britt, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Britt:
It sure has! I have been extremely lucky to be working with Rock N’ Roll Fantasy Camp hosting the online Masterclass series which has been keeping me very busy ever since COVID-19 started. We have events almost nightly over Zoom, learning from the best rock stars like Roger Daltrey of The Who, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, guitarists like Eric Johnson and more. In addition to playing guitar, I also enjoy painting, so I am happy to be able to spend time on some art projects. I also love getting out in nature, and have been taking time to make it to the beach for sunrises and sunsets and hikes. I have been cooking more too, so needless to say I haven’t been bored!

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. What are your musical origins so to speak?

Britt:
I played the flute through elementary and middle school, and I picked up the guitar immediately after hearing ‘Eruption’ for the first time the summer before starting high school. I had to learn to play that and thought it would be best to recreate it on guitar as opposed to the flute. From there I bought every VH album, and then got deep into Metallica, Pantera and more 80’s bands because they had the best guitar solos.

Andrew:
What inspired you to pick up the guitar? Who are some of your favorite players? Ones that had the most influence on you?

Britt:
I guess I answered the first part of this in the previous question, Eddie Van Halen inspired me. Before that, I was more into Hip-Hop and R&B – Eddie opened the gateway to Rock n’ Roll for me. After his expressive playing on ‘Eruption,’ I was hooked and never looked back. Some of my other favorite guitarists include Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Dimebag, Joe Walsh, Santana, Joe Perry, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Dick Dale, and I am sure I am forgetting a ton.

Britt Lightning: playing with Grammy Award winning artist Alejandro Sanz

Andrew:
As a guitarist, you’ve got a great tone and an excellent feel for the song. How did you develop your signature style?

Britt:
Thank you for saying so! I think my style is just a blend of all the styles I love. When I was younger, I used to be really into playing fast and shredding and sweep arpeggios etc. But now I’ve realized that one note with the right bend and vibrato means so much more. Lately, I am much more influenced by 70’s music and feeling above speed.

Andrew:
You played in the all-female Hard Rock group, Jaded. How did get end up with them? Why did you end up moving on?

Britt:
I met the drummer at a show and she had just lost her guitarist in an all female rock trio she was in. We bonded right away and we both wanted to stay with the all female lineup. We worked hard and went through some member changes, but it was Hillary and I who always worked hard to keep the band together. We recorded two albums and toured nonstop in the US and overseas and had a big local following. When we had trouble replacing our last singer, I was encouraged by a friend to audition for Lady Gaga to be a gun for hire, rather than worrying about maintaining my own band. That was my very first audition, and from there I started playing with other acts, the first being 22-time Latin Grammy Award winning and 4-time Grammy Award winning artist Alejandro Sanz.

Andrew:
You also performed with Alejandro Sanz on a stadium tour for his album Musica No Se Toca. What was that experience like?

Britt:
That experience was one of the very best times of my life. I worked with the best musicians in the biz, playing sold out stadiums and arenas, saw the most beautiful places in the world, and was able to learn so much about Spanish and Latin culture. I wouldn’t trade a day of that tour for anything.

Britt lightning | Female guitarist, Lightning, Britt

Andrew:
In 2017, you joined legendary all-female Metal band, Vixen. How did you end up with the gig? What’s the experience been like so far?

Britt:
I had recently moved to LA from Boston and was playing around the local scene, and was recommended to the band by a few people. The experience has been so wonderful, the girls are like sisters to me, we have so much fun on and off stage together. Everyone in the band is a monster player and singer, and I am so grateful I get to be surrounded by such enormous talent. I have always loved being in an all female band – I find it very empowering and extremely fun!

Andrew:
It’s been awhile since Vixen put out a new record. I believe the last record was Live & Learn which came out in 2006, right? With all this down time we’re experiencing this year, can we hope for some new music from Vixen?

Britt:
You sure can! We are working on it now, and we hope to have a new studio album in 2021. Obviously COVID-19 has slowed our plans down a bit, and it’s tough to get together in person right now as we all live in various states across the US.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about current events. Once COVID-19 is done with us, what’s on tap for Vixen and for you in 2021?

Britt:
Lots of shows and touring, new studio album, and making up for lost time as best we can!! We are all going a bit stir crazy, and desperately miss playing live shows, the energy and most importantly, our amazing fans around the world!!

Meet Britt Lightning of Vixen | Highwire Daze

Andrew:
Aside from any potential possibilities musically, what are else are you passionate about? How do those passions inform your music, if at all
?

Britt:
I am passionate about art, painting is therapy for me. I paint abstracts and landscapes and do mixed media, and most recently have started painting warbirds in my own style. I love warbirds and visiting aviation museums, as well as classic cars and going to car shows and car museums around the world. I have a classic car (of course hope to acquire more) and would like to get my pilot’s license at some point. I also love cooking (mostly Italian) which I find therapeutic, and I have to admit, I am really good! I love outdoor activities and exploring nature. I live near Malibu and go to the beach as much as I possibly can. I love photography, and enjoy taking photos of nature, the night sky and sunsets. I hike or go for runs every day. I think everything I do comes out in the way I play, just as someone’s style is always evolving and is a reflection of them.

Andrew:
Shifting gears now. In your opinion, COVID-19 aside, what’s the state of the industry? With the never-ending barrage of social media, and constant squeeze from big business, is it harder or easier for artists to succeed these days?

Britt:
I guess it is easier to be seen now with so much “going viral,” but there is also so much noise and over-saturation out there. But all in all, I would say I think it’s definitely easier now than before the internet existed. Everyone is so much more accessible, and with COVID-19 people are trolling the internet all day looking for interesting things to catch their attention.

Andrew:
As I am sure you are aware, despite the efforts of amazing organizations such as Women Who Rock and Women In Vinyl, women are still massively underrepresented within the music industry. What is your opinion on that? What do we need to do in order to close the gap?

Britt:
I think it is slowly getting better, but I am not sure that gap will ever be fully closed in my lifetime. I think its part of a mentality society has engrained in us, but all we female musicians can do is keep working at it, and being excellent at what we do and stay true to our passions.

Lightning' Strikes: Guitarist Brittany Denaro Takes the Lead with Vixen -  Guitar Girl Magazine

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Britt:
The Eagles – One of These Nights and Hotel California
Van Halen – Van Halen and 1984
Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed and Some Girls
The Doors – The Doors and LA Woman
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
Heart – Little Queen
Frank Sinatra – Ultimate Sinatra
Santana – Abraxas
Alice in Chains – Facelift
Notorious BIG – Ready to Die
Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up the Girl
Bush – Sixteen Stone
Sublime – Sublime

These are just a few off the top of my head. Some of these records are just classic and some remind me of certain times growing up.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Britt:
I think nothing compares to vinyl, however I sold all my vinyl before moving to LA and have yet to acquire a new collection. I mostly have CDs and listen on digital platforms for convenience, but plan to start up the record collection in 2021 again, because vinyl is the best!!!

Andrew:
It’s been a weird year, but we’ve still seen a lot of great music released in 2020. What are some of your must have albums of the year 2020?

Britt:
I honestly haven’t listened to much new music at all lately, but I dig the new Foo Fighters song, new AC/DC and new Miley Cyrus.

VIXEN Guitarist BRITT LIGHTNING - “We've Recorded A New Single, As Well As  An Acoustic Version Of One Of The Classic Hits” - BraveWords

Andrew:
What type of guitars and gear are you using these days?

Britt:
Gibson, Hughes & Kettner, GHS Strings, Carlino Guitars and Straps, Moore Pedals.

Andrew:
Last question. You’ve had a great career, with hopefully a long way to go yet. That said, looking back, what are some of your proudest and fondest memories as a musician? What advice would you have for young musicians trying to get their start today?

Britt:
Every time I step on stage, I create another great memory and I am grateful for the experience. Just a few very memorable shows are Locobazooka with Jaded, Foro Sol Stadium and Estadio Olímpico La Cartuja in Sevilla, Spain with Alejandro Sanz, M3, Sweden Rock, Graspop, Cool Stage inn Madrid, Rockingham in Nottingham, Barcelona Rockfest and Mohegan Sun with Vixen.

My advice is to do what you love and never let anyone’s opinion or their ideas on what direction you “should be” headed to in life alter your vision and dream. The biggest piece of advice I have is never compare yourself to others. No one else is you, but you. I believe in trying everything so that you have no regrets, but I also think having skills to fall back on is very important. You can be a rock star and still be great in school and get a college degree. If anything, COVID-19 should be showing young musicians that having multiple ways to make income is important, especially when there is no touring or live shows. Thank you!!

Britt Lightning - Guitarist

Interested in hearing Britt Lightning shred? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

After starting his record collection for the second time in 2015, Andrew’s passion for music and guerilla journalism strengthened. Andrew founded Vinyl Writer in 2019, and hopes to contribute positively to the world of music. Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, USA with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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