Though she counts her influences as everyone from Van Halen and The Beatles to Stevie Nicks, 17-year-old singer/songwriter dynamo Madison Rose (www.madisonroserocks.com) channels her inner Joan Jett when—in dishing on her explosive debut full-length recording Aftershock—she boldly declares to the world “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll!”
“I truly feel that it picked me,” she says. “I didn’t just decide one day ‘Hey, I’m gonna sing rock music.’ The music just spoke to me loud and clear, and I listened. My writing and my personal style just evolved from there, now I eat, drink, breath, live Rock and Roll!”
Madison’s not rocking and rumbling alone. On tracks like the blistering lead single “Kissin’ In Your Cadillac” and the heavy duty emotional “Teenage Runaway,” she’s vibing with renowned surf-rock guitarist Gary Hoey and her multi-talented brother and musical partner in crime Justyn, dubbed “Justyn the Stuntman” for the many hats he dons (songwriter, bassist, guitarist, mentor) as he helps his younger sister hone in on her powerful sound.
With 16 solo albums and five Top 20 Billboard hits since the early ‘90s, Hoey has made numerous lists as one of the 100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time. Over the years, Hoey has toured and traded licks with the likes of Brian May (Queen), Peter Frampton, Foreigner, Joe Satriani, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Bret Michaels, Rick Derringer and Deep Purple.
Comparing her favorably to Jett, Pat Benatar and Lita Ford, Hoey says, “Producing Madison was a joy. Her work ethic and drive were amazing. To see such a young artist come up with such great songs is rare. She’s gorgeous and talented—and she can rock! Her new record is going to blow people’s minds.”
Those who remember a softer type rock of a different era might compare the creative dynamic of Madison and Justyn to that of the legendary Carpenters. In addition to playing bass on the album and lead guitar for her live shows, Justyn’s strengths as a songwriter complement Madison’s perfectly. “Joanna,” a track Madison calls an “epic ballad” for its 130 production layers (including a massive choir sound), represents the spirit of their collaboration. Unbeknownst to one another, he had written a beautiful melody and she had written lyrics—and they matched up perfectly. His strength is in the music and chording, while hers is in basic melodies and words.
“Any biography ever written on me would not be complete unless it included a few hundred chapters on Justyn,” she says. “It’s hard to put into words what a huge influence he has had on who I am as a person. My brother and I are two halves of a whole, inseparable on our journey through life. He is my best friend…someone to laugh with, cry with, dream with, create music with and so much more.”
Delving into their shared history, Justyn adds, “We have been collaborating unofficially, playing and singing since I was 11 and she was seven. Madison would organize summer and Christmas living room concerts for family and friends. I would play guitar and she would sing. We would mesh our musical ideas and explore from there. I was pursuing a career as a screenwriter and filmmaker after high school and didn’t consider pursuing a career in music until she kept getting more serious about her career. When she started getting opportunities to perform and record, she nudged me to get back into music and start working with her.”
Despite the obvious connection of being musical siblings, it’s hard to imagine Richard Carpenter taking his sister Karen to hear a band like Def Leppard the way Justyn did when Madison was 13. “That was the first concert I ever attended, and it changed my life,” she says. “The first time I heard the song ‘Animal,’ I knew I wanted to sing rock ‘n’ roll. It was one of those epiphanies you hear about. After that concert, I went home and wrote my first song and I haven’t stopped writing since.”
The lone cover tune on Aftershock is an exhilarating re-imagining of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” from the debut album of Van Halen—the second concert Madison ever went to. In the last year, she had the opportunity to perform at the Key Club in L.A. with members of the band. “When I saw them for the first time,” she says, “it made me feel alive and I knew from that moment on that I wanted to sing, and perform music for the rest of my life. I don’t know, something in that moment just clicked, and I knew that’s where I needed to be, singing up on stage, rockin’ out in front of an entire arena. The way David Lee Roth commanded the stage, got the audience on their feet, rockin’ out, I thought, ‘I want to do that.’”
On the softer side of rock, Madison calls Stevie Nicks “one of the greatest songwriters of all time. “When I saw Fleetwood Mac, she really inspired me. After that show I went home and wrote at least a dozen songs. She sparked my creativity. One of them is ‘Teenage Runaway,’ a poignant song about the pain I felt trying to help a self-destructive friend who was running away not only in a physical sense, but from also from the emotional support in her life. All of the lyrics on the album were written in 2009, when I was 15.”
For Madison’s 16th birthday in early 2010, her family sent she and Justyn to L.A. to attend Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp—a dream come true that would allow Madison to mingle with her idols Bret Michaels, Lita Ford and Michael Anthony. Hoey was her camp counselor. Over the course of the week that Madison and Justyn were there, they got to know him and “simply just clicked.” They all talked about getting together someday to write music and kept in touch.
A few months later, Madison and Justyn attended a guitar clinic that Hoey was hosting a few hours from where the family lived in Florida. After the clinic, their parents talked to the guitarist about Madison’s dreams of putting together an album based on the lyrics she had written, and her need for a great musical collaborator. Hoey invited the whole brood to come up to his home studio in New England to see if they could make this album concept come to life.
In September 2010, the family loaded up their SUV with four small dogs, volumes of Madison’s lyrics, guitars, and clothes. They drove to New Hampshire to live for two months while the singer, Justyn and Hoey wrote all the songs for the project which became Aftershock.
“The three of us spent every long 14-hour plus day writing, laughing, collaborating and recording every track on my album in Gary’s home studio in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere,” Madison says. “This was one of those moments in time that can never be duplicated—pure inspiration and creation and simply one of the best times of my life. Picture a cool fall day; leaves red and golden with the sound of wind blowing gently through them. Gary, Justyn and I are sitting in a circle on the carpeted floor, Gary with his guitar, Justyn with his bass, me with my lyrics. We jammed, the music just flowed and we had an amazing time. The first day in the studio, Gary looked at me and said, ‘We are going to write a hit song today.’ I thought, ‘Yeah, right, in one day.’ But by the end of the day, we wrote the music to the title track to the album, ‘Aftershock.’
“Gary was an amazing mentor to both me and Justyn,” she adds. “He was also a teacher, inspiration and a friend. I hope one day I can give back to a hopeful dreamer, the way Gary mentored and inspired me. My true goal is to inspire people with my music. Music is art, and just as when two people look at the same painting and see completely different things, when each individual listens to music they hear their own meaning to the songs, and feel their own unique experience. If my music makes people happy, exhilarated, excited, reflective, melancholy, empowered, or makes them feel an emotional connection to the song then as a songwriter I have reached the pinnacle of success. Yet for all that, it’s onstage where I feel most at home and really come alive.”