INTERVIEW: THE IRON MAIDENS - June 2017

June 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

According to the bands bio: "Formed in 2001, The Iron Maidens have quickly established themselves as one of southern California’s most popular tribute acts and are rapidly gaining international recognition. The band boasts beauty as well as excellent musicianship, lively stage presence, and a remarkable stage show with theatrical scenes interspersed throughout. First and foremost on the agenda of The Iron Maidens is talent. These women are highly trained professionals with diversified musical backgrounds ranging from orchestral and musical theater to blues and rock. The band and its members have been the recipients of many awards including best tribute band, and best in category (guitar, bass, drums, voice) at events such as The Rock City News Awards, The LA Music Awards, and The All Access Magazine Award Show to name a few. The line-up is Kirsten “Bruce Chickinson” Rosenberg on vocals, Linda “Nikki McBURRain” McDonald on drums, Courtney “Adriana Smith” Cox and Nikki “Davina Murray” Stringfield on guitars, and Wanda "Steph Harris" Ortiz on bass. " We get the entire band to join in on our 10 Quick Ones about influences, song titles that mirror life, more...

1. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Nikki: I don't know that there was a sudden moment when I had the realization that I wanted to be a musician.. I just know that I've always had a passion for music. There are tons of home videos of me when I was really young dancing around and singing. My dad played guitar, so he bought me one and I started playing when I was 14. Ever since I started playing I knew that I absolutely had to be in a band and be on stage.

Kirsten: Music got me into music, ha!  I remember as a young wild child running amok in Louisville, Kentucky, first hearing "Barracuda" and being enthralled with the galloping rhythm.  Plus, most of my friends were older and they turned me on to such "heavy" (haha) bands like KISS.  I never thought I'd be a musician--I actually wanted to be a veterinarian.  I don't know, am I a musician (haha)?  I always wanted to play guitar, bass, and drums but failed miserably (pretty good on the French horn, though).  I thought my singing sucked, too, until I was in my 30s and just decided to take vocal lessons (from Steve Whiteman of KIX) because by then I figured, who gives a fuck if I'm terrible, it'll just be for fun.

Wanda : I’ve loved music since I was very small and, at school, I would always try to sit as close as possible to the stereo whenever the teacher would play something. When I was nine years old, the school I went to offered music classes for those who wished to learn to play an orchestral instrument and I thought that would be fun so I went for it. However, by the time I had to decide what to play, all the school instruments were checked out except for a little upright bass so that’s what I ended up with. I’ve been playing ever since. 😊

Linda: My sister started playing piano when we were just little wee ones, and I wanted to do the same to be like her! Then she took up violin, so I did that too just for a semester in elementary school. I got to play with the 5th grade orchestra (SO CUTE!) and experience for the first time what it felt like being one voice in the overall huge voice of a group of other instruments being played at once. I LOVED that beyond words and even went home and tried figuring out the parts the other instruments played on the piano, discovering all the different voices involved. I didn't know I wanted to be a musician yet, though, I just loved discovering music and melodies.....then I entered my teens and discovered the drums! I was sent home from school for a few days for being a naughty girl and discovered the live album, Maiden Japan, in my brother's record collection. I was completely in AWE and blown away by this energy coming from the stereo speaker, waking all my neighbors, and making my blood percolate! It was at that point I realized I really wanted to get some drums, learn to play just like Clive Burr was playing, and just go for it!!!

Courtney: I've  been drawn to music every since I was a very small child sitting next to my grandmother  at the piano as she always played  for me, allowing me to obnoxiously hit keys as she did. Through school I would teach my self numerous instruments, and I was also first chair clarinet in the school orchestral band. GEEK right?  One day I decided out of the blue that I wanted to play guitar and convinced my father to take me to the local music shop for my first guitar before Christmas when I was around thirteen. I was really into sports around this time so it kind of took my family back a bit haha.Within a week I was in my room playing  to my favorite albums ranging from Metallica, Pantera to even Winger, by ear. It came so naturally that I knew it was what I was meant to do. And I never looked back.....

2. Other than Iron Maiden, who would be your main five musical influences?

Kirsten: Growing up it would be Cheap Trick, Def Leppard (1st three records), Metallica (up to Master of Puppets), Queensryche, and nowadays I'm obsessed with Barbra Streisand  (while her music isn't metal her vocal chops certainly are!).

Wanda: I love bands and composers who write challenging and fun bass lines. Rush and Yes are a couple of my favorite bands.  In high school, I was playing a lot of jazz and Jaco Pastorius was the guy everyone was listening to. I’m also influenced by baroque/ classical composers since I got my start playing that type of music. Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, are some of my favorite composers and I’m really into checking out double bassists who can pull off all the tricky orchestral licks! I went to a master class that Joel Quarrington (double bassist) gave not that long ago.

Linda: My early main influences include Van Halen, Judas Priest, Pantera, Vai/Eric Johnson/Shrapnel guitarist virtuoso music, Barry Manilow.

Courtney: King Diamond, Pantera, Metallica, Judas Priest... I really can't pick five hahaha everything influences me. Thrash to Glam to Pop... good music is good music.

Nikki: It's hard to narrow it down, but I'd have to say Pantera, Avenged Sevenfold, Megadeth, Nirvana, and Marty Friedman.

3. If you could call in any one collaborator to do an original song with, who would it be?

Wanda: If I could call in any one person I wanted, I would honestly need a while to think about it because there are just SO many talented people out there. I can’t just pick someone really fast, sorry.

Linda: Marty Friedman or Barry Manilow !( I chose two!!!!)

Courtney: King Diamond  hands down!

Nikki: That's a tough one! I think it would be awesome to do a song and have Phil Anselmo from Pantera throw some vocals down on it.

Kirsten: Hmmm....(drum roll).....Bruce Dickinson!  Um, are you surprised?

4. What is the one Iron Maiden song you wish you guys could or would add to your setlist?  Conversely, what song would you like to drop but can’t due to fan demand?

Linda: I'd love to add "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" - we actually performed that one time only many centuries ago just with a previous lineup and Michael Kenney of Iron Maiden on guest keyboards!! I just think it would sound super amazing with the current lineup and it is so impressive, especially in a larger venue!! I'd be ok with not playing "Run to the Hills" HAHA! This song is a GREAT song, but when touring, it becomes quite exhausting at the end of a 90-120 minute set when you're on night 3 or 4 of consecutive shows. But it is a fan favorite.

Courtney: I would like to add "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and never play "Run To The Hills" ever again.. Sorry guys! haha

Nikki: Luckily we play a lot of my favorite Maiden tunes! They might have played these songs before I joined, but it would be cool to play "Seventh Son" or "Stranger in a Strange Land." Or some songs from Book of Souls to do something fresh, but we don't want to play anything Maiden is already playing. If I could drop a song, it would definitely be any of the hits since we play them every time, such as "The Trooper," "Number of the Beast," or "Hallowed Be Thy Name." But, like you said, those are the songs people want to hear so we're happy to play them!

Kirsten: There are so many Maiden songs I want to add to our set but if you really want to hold my feet to the fire, I'll go with "The Prophecy" off one of my all-time fave albums, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.  This is dangerous territory because of course some Maiden fan will be offended, but if I could wave my magic wand I'd put "Remember Tomorrow" to bed.  Nighty 'night.  Although, we haven't actually played it in a long time because, well hey whaddya know, there's not such strong fan demand for that one--d'oh!

Wanda: The songs we aren’t playing that we want to do, we eventually get to. Even now, we’re learning a song we all like that we haven’t played before but I don’t want to say what it is because the band wants to keep it a surprise until the show time. There are no songs I would like to permanently drop but there are some I wouldn’t mind taking a short break from: "The Trooper," "Hallowed Be Thy Name," and "Wasted Years" are a few.

5. What’s the best thing about being a musician?  The best part of being a part of The Iron Maidens?

Courtney: The best part of being a musician is never working a day in your life... it's not a job unless you make it one. I'm an eternal child doing what I love to do!  Best part of being apart of the Maidens is the musicianship and sense of family. We have experienced every emotion, seen most of the world, and have played to every crowd imaginable.  A metal soap opera could be in the works hahaha.

Nikki: The best part of being a musician is getting to play guitar and having that be a huge part of my life.. it's really still a dream come true. I'm so thankful to be able to do it. The best part of being in the Maidens is traveling the world with a bunch of friends and getting to play awesome music!

Kirsten: The best part of being a musician is just the pure joy I get from singing songs that I love to audiences who also share the love.  Just pure joy, what can I say.  It's a very communal experience.  And belting out notes is just fucking fun!  I'll always be grateful to Iron Maiden for creating the music that I--along with millions of fans worldwide--love and appreciate.    All of that is also the best part of being in The Iron Maidens--no wait, actually the best part is getting to autograph people's tushies who come through the meet-and-greet lines.

Wanda : The best thing about being a musician is being able to do something you enjoy. I think the same thing with The Iron Maidens.

Linda: Being a musician gives you an excuse for anything you do that society frowns upon. HAHAHA!!! Actually, it gives you an outlet to express anything that you want, happy or frowns. You are able to reach other people and connect with them through music and emotions. It is a personal job, sometimes unstable, sometimes unstoppable, but just so rewarding on so many levels. The best part of being part of The Iron Maidens is the opportunity to play the songs you grew up with and love so much for others who share the same passion for this group and their masterpieces they create. The traveling, the venues we get to play at, and bringing back memories for people by playing their old favorites that Iron Maiden themselves have retired or just never played from their live shows due to their ever-growing catalogue of songs. One of my favorite moments was when we played for our Troops in Iraq, and they told us they were so grateful for us letting them forget where they were even for just one hour. So powerful!

6. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Nikki: Well, I'm definitely not a cook haha. I can say that Kirsten does cook an amazing vegan meal! But I will be one to drink the wine haha.

Kirsten: We all live just far enough away from each other--and everyone is so busy--that we don't often get the chance to just hang.  (Or maybe because we actually hate each other--kidding, folks!)  But when we have gotten together I think I'm actually the one who cooks and bakes the most.  I love turning people on to fucking tasty vegan comfort food and sweets (#whatafatveganeats). Instead of acoustic singalongs, we prefer pillow fights in our underwear.

Wanda: We don’t all live close to each other so we’re usually eating out when we’re together and Linda and Courtney are usually first to get drinks. As far as I know, neither guitarist owns an acoustic but they’ve both borrowed one before to play  short acoustic sets for radio, promo appearances, and  a “one off” show at the Whisky A Go-Go (a club in LA) about 4 or 5 years ago.

Linda: Kirsten can fix up some AMAZING vegan dishes and desserts!!!! Courtney cooks some pretty fancy meals too PLUS she is also a bartender so she can whip up some good stuff in the libation department! I'll show up with some drinks and food items from the store and hope someone will make good with them. You can find me in the wine department. HA! We actually don't do acoustic singalongs. Is that weird?

Courtney: I'm a loner when it comes to this stuff.. I tend to go off by myself or sit at the bar with Linda. I like to zone out before shows...  When traveling, it is nothing but comedy hour.

7. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Kirsten: If I wasn't tearing it up onstage with the Maidens, I'd like to just groom horses.  I don't even mind shoveling their poop.  I love horses.  Oh wait--I just remembered I did have that job when I was 15 years-old.  Ok, so I'm intrigued with ASL and would like to train to become a sign language interpreter.  But that's probably partially because I saw someone interpreting for a group of deaf people at a Metallica concert.  Pretty cool!

Wanda: I think I would love to be an archaeologist.

Linda: I used to want to be a tiger trainer when I was a kid, but as a "grown up" (hate that word) I have my "other" dream job aside from being a drummer, which is owning a Pet Care company. Aside from drums, DOGS are my biggest passion in life and I can't imagine a world without one or two or more. I provide care for others' pets when I am not drumming. If I were to bump it up to a dream status, I would also own a sanctuary where no animals are left behind, killed or neglected and find good homes for all or provide care for them for the rest of their lives, but I'd need a lotto jackpot for that to get the lot of land needed!!! \m/

Courtney: Being a musician.

Nikki: Well, being a musician is my dream job.. so I really don't know what else I would be honestly.

8. What Iron Maiden song title would serve as the best title to your life story?

Wanda: Maybe "The Trooper" since I just keep plugging along..lol!

Linda: "Losfer Words" – this can sometimes describe my mindset, or it can also describe my views of the world, not so much my life story. Tough question to answer. I guess it’s appropriate then?

Courtney: "Sea of Madness"  :)

Nikki: "Twilight Zone" haha

Kirsten: "The Evil That Men Do" would be a good title for my life story.  Animal rights activism and advocacy is something I've been passionate about ever since I was a kid.  Sadly, my eyes have been opened to all the evil that man (humanity) inflicts upon nonhuman animals every single fucking day.  Each year in the United States alone, 8 BILLION land animals are needlessly murdered for food (mostly chickens) and 100 BILLION marine animals (fish and shellfish).  That's 108 billion sentient creatures who want to live as much as you or I do but instead are sent to their deaths terrified, kicking, thrashing, and screaming.

9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?

Linda: You know, you can always look back on the road you've traveled and see things that you didn't see or could have handled differently as you were going through them, and cringe at the thought of reliving it at the moment, but I don't think I would change anything. I firmly believe that everything that happens in the past creates the present moment just as it is now and was meant to be. Well... I wish I gave Clive Burr my band's album when I met him at London Heathrow airport while on tour with Phantom Blue instead of freezing up all star-stuck and asking him to sign it for me instead! HAHAHA!!!

Courtney: No. Everything happens for a reason. Good or bad, it is a stepping stone. I don't follow dreams because my eyes aren't closed long enough to dream, I'm living my life. You make things happen.

Nikki: Nope. I feel like any "do over" situation was an experience that I learned from and I wouldn't be who I am today without those situations. I wouldn't change a thing.

Kirsten: I'd say my "career" has been graced with incredible good luck (joining The Iron Maidens!) more than any missteps, although I do seem to be the queen of "Spinal Tap" moments.  I've ripped open the seat of my pants (more than once) during performances, fallen down mid-song, forgotten lyrics, even had my one-time "cheat sheets" for "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (don't judge, people--it's a 13-minute song for crissakes!) completely covered up by the dry ice fog, just to name a few.  I guess I look at my buffoonery as the substance for good answers to interview questions, haha.  I suppose if I could re-do anything, I would have studied music so I could understand theory and learned to play an instrument well.

Wanda: In hindsight, I think I would have been better off if I would have gotten more serious about playing when I was very young but, back then, I just didn’t think about it because I was too busy having fun with it. My parents were also not pushy about anything: they just kind of let me do my own thing... but maybe that was a good thing because I might not have enjoyed it as much if I had to stick to a rigid practice schedule. I just don’t know.

10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Courtney: Hmmm tough, I would say Judas Priest's Painkiller, Metallica's ...and Justice For All, or Thin Lizzy's Thunder and Lightning album.... all are just killer albums that just hook you and the level of musicianship is just inspiring...

Nikki: I'd have to say it would be amazing to be a part of Nirvana's Nevermind recording session. That was one of the albums that really got me playing guitar as a teenager, and that album changed everything and made such a huge impact on the music world. I know a lot of people hate them for that, but I can't help but love that album.

Kirsten: Tough question because there really isn't just one single record, but I'd say Maiden's Powerslave is a good choice.  It's the first Iron Maiden record I ever heard and it's still one of my absolute favorites.  Because I was so young when I got into it, each song evokes so many fond memories today.  And it's still fucking flawless!  Up the irons!

Wanda: This is another question that I would really want to think about for a while before deciding because, again, there is so much great stuff out there. It’s too hard to  just pick something really fast.

Linda: Maiden Japan EP by none other than Maiden, of course! That is the album that made me decide to become a drummer and if I were the one on that album it would mean I was touring with Maiden! WOOHOO!!!!

 

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