Mayhem seems to follow her everywhere, hence the name. And if Madame Mayhem has her way, more and more rock fans will discover the eclectic artist in the days, months, and years to come. Fresh off the release of her third album, Ready For Me, the New York native is preparing to head out on a massive trek across the country this spring, opening for metal legends Sevendust, while also sprinkling in a number of headlining gigs of her own.
The classically-trained crooner recently turned heads with her universally-praised collaboration with the Stowaways, a supergroup of revolving musicians, on the ShipRocked 2018 cruise, a four-day excursion on the seas, heavy on metal, martinis, and well, mayhem. Her rendition of the Cranberries’ classic “Zombie,” a tribute to lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, who had tragically passed away just a week before the voyage, proved to be one of the more memorable and talked about moments of the popular event.
Royal Flush recently chatted with Madame Mayhem about her highly-anticipated tour, as well as a number of other topics, including her hard-to-define musical style, her progression as a songwriter, musical theater, and of course, how she got her mischievous name.
Royal Flush: You’ve put out three full-length albums now, White Noise in 2012, Now You Know in 2015, and your latest, Ready For Me. How would you compare the sound and the recording process between all three?
Madame Mayhem: I think that as time has gone on, I’ve progressed as a writer with the different life experiences that have happened to me from the first one to the latest one. Each one’s going to sound different than the last, and you always want your last one to sound the best so I think there’s this natural progression of change. Each album has had different producers and I enjoyed working with all of them. Each one is slightly different while staying true to the Madame Mayhem sound and who I am as a person. I’m really proud of this new one, it has the most modern, hard rock sound yet and all the songs are super personal to me so if anyone wants to know my deepest, darkest secrets and what I’m going through, they just have to listen to it (laughs).
RF: How did the Sevendust tour come about?
MM: I’ve been a huge fan of theirs for a long time and I’ve had the privilege of working with Clint (Lowery, Sevendust guitarist) on Ready For Me and Corey (Lowery), my producer, is Clint’s brother. Some of the guys in that band are already friends with some of my band members, so it’s going to be a really good vibe and a lot of fun. We’re already kind of a mini family. Memphis May Fire and Fire From The Gods are going to be with us as well. It’s going to be such a cool experience.
RF: You recently released a cover of Paul McCartney’s “My Valentine.” What made you pick that song of his, which isn’t particularly well known?
MM: I’ve always loved it. We actually recorded it years ago and it was so much fun and I just never got around to releasing it. It was never the right time. But I always said if I ever did release it, it should obviously be around Valentine’s Day so I finally did it this year. I wanted to give everyone another song while we were booking shows and doing other things.
RF: Your musical style is hard to narrow down. You mix melodic vocals and harmonies with some really powerful, heavy music. How would you define your genre – hard rock, metal, or something else?
MM: It’s really hard! You actually came up with a similar definition to the one I usually use. I was never trying to sound like a specific genre or band. It’s hard rock, it’s metal, it’s powerful, heavy music with melodies and harmonies. I’m a classically trained singer. I don’t scream and even if I wanted to, I don’t think it would turn out so well. My power is in my voice and I love singing over heavy music and having that contrast. So I think you defined it perfectly!
RF: At what age did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry, and how did you get started in the business?
MM: I’ve wanted to write my own music and perform ever since I can remember. So I would say since I was born! Honestly I don’t have any memories of not wanting to do this. I come from New York and I begged my parents to set me up with vocal lessons, acting lessons, things like that and I got into the theater community because that’s what you do in New York. I ended up studying classical and opera but I always loved rock and metal. I was a grunge baby because that’s what my mom was always listening to and then it evolved from there.
MM: I think they’re kind of cool because they do them in ways where audiences who wouldn’t normally listen to our genre would be open to it. Obviously they’re done in a musical theater style so it’s different from going to the concert itself. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to doing it one day, representing the rock world in the musical theater community. Why not?
RF: Do you have one dream artist or band that you’d like to perform or collaborate with?
MM: Wow, there are so many but the first name that comes to mind is Trent Reznor because he’s such a genius. Or David Draiman of Disturbed, that would be cool as well.
RF: Who were your influences?
MM: I have really eclectic taste but rock and metal have always been my thing. My mom would be listening to bands like Alice In Chains, Nirvana, and the Gin Blossoms so there was that back then. As I grew up, my tastes got heavier, starting with the nu metal scene and stuff like Korn and then classic metal so it’s basically a mix of all of that. It’s one, big mishmash of mayhem!
RF: A lot of artists nowadays are opting to release either standalone singles or EPs rather than full albums and physical discs, feeling that full albums don’t sell or aren’t worth the effort anymore. What’s your take on this trend?
MM: I’m still a fan of full albums and I love physical CDs even though I just released that “My Valentine” single by itself. I think I’ll do a single here and there but what I truly love is making full albums with the artwork and attention to detail, just like how that’s what I want from my favorite bands. With Ready For Me, the song order is also really important and was done for a reason. It tells a story. I like having a lot of songs you can listen to instead of the same one over and over. It’s difficult to do in the current musical industry but if I can make it happen, I will.
RF: How did you get the name Madame Mayhem?
MM: Well, my parents came up with it so I can’t take credit! They were calling me that as a joke when I was growing up because whether I caused it or not, mayhem always kind of happened around me. So when it came time to come up with a name, it just made sense. My parents named me twice (laughs).
Click here to purchase Madame Mayhem’s Ready For Me
Click here for Madame Mayhem’s tour dates