The Iron Maidens Interview – Part 1 of 2

Jukebox Heroines is proud to present Part 1 of a 2 part interview with the  one and only Iron Maidens.

The Iron Maidens are an all-female tribute band to the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Formed in 2001, in Los Angeles, they have been rocking for over 10 years to the likes of “Fear of the Dark,” “The Number of the Beast” and “Run To The Hills.”

As the only all-female Iron Maiden tribute band, these women have set standards and precedents as to how a tribute band pay’s homage to the music, the fans, and the artists themselves. They have released three tribute albums and even have their own “mascot” in similarity to Iron Maiden’s “Eddie.” Overall, the women of The Iron Maidens are savvy to the industry and to the challenges and rewards of a musical life.

The Iron Maidens are: Kirsten Rosenberg on vocals, Linda McDonald on drums, Courtney Cox on guitars, Heather Baker on guitars, and Wanda Ortiz on bass.

So, what is it like being in an all-female tribute band to an all-male band? What challenges have they faced? What rewards and triumphs? How do they deal with life on the road, gender, and maintaining their own voice? Well, Jukebox Heroines has those answers, plus more in this exclusive interview!

Thank you so much to Kirsten, Linda, Wanda, and Courtney for their time and consideration. I really appreciate your input and insight, and your rocking spirit! I know I am inspired, and I hope the readers will be as well.

From Left to Right: Heather Baker, Linda McDonald, Kirsten Rosenberg, Wanda Ortiz, Courtney Cox.

Jukebox Heroines (Emily): How did you come to be in an all-female tribute band to an all-male band?

Kirsten: Funny thing is, originally I tried to form an all-girl metal cover band a few years ago back in Baltimore but I couldn’t find other female musicians who were into the same music as me. So it’s a bit ironic that I’m in an all-girl band now paying tribute to an all-male band. Although I’m not a founding member of The Iron Maidens, I think it’s really a matter of being drawn to a great band like Iron Maiden and wanting to perform their music—yes, the gender difference is a novelty, of course, but it’s also incidental.

Linda: I was actually out scouting for a female bass player at the time and went to see a Maiden tribute with a female bass player and vocalist. By the end of the night the tables were turned and I was asked if I had any interest in joining the then-forming all female tribute to Iron Maiden. It was a no brainer! 😉

Wanda: Before we formed this tribute band, we had already known each other through working in bands together or from mutual friends or acquaintances. Coincidentally, Iron Maiden happened to be a favorite band for all of us. There were already other all-girl tributes out there at the time but none of them were doing anything as complex as Maiden we all thought it would be fun as well as different to put together this project and now…here we are!

Courtney: I first found myself in an all-female tribute band to an all-male band back in Philadelphia, which is where I’m originally from. A few music gals and I formed an all King Diamond/Mercyful Fate tribute called ” Queen Diamond”….. it was better than hanging out at the mall ha-ha. From there I moved out to California a few years later and heard that the Maidens were in need of a guitar player, so I auditioned and the rest is history.

JBH: Have you faced any adversity to being accepted as a musician(s)? Many do not think musicians in cover/tribute bands are “real” musicians, so is there an extra challenge to your abilities because you are a woman/female?

Kirsten: Well, I never claimed to be a “real” musician anyway (ha ha)! As a singer, I probably get less of that criticism than someone playing an instrument. But Maiden is not exactly easy material to perform, plus all of our members are or have been part of other notable projects, as well, and have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their chops outside of this band.

Linda: That statement in itself is a joke. If we are not “real” musicians covering the music, then does that mean the people who also play the songs as original are not “real” musicians because we are all playing the same songs. I guess that means a “real ” musician writes music, though not all musicians who play original music write…….go figure. I have never had an issue with this because I’ve done the whole original band thing and record with people on their original projects and quite frankly don’t give a rat’s ass what people want to call you. Have you seen Steel Panther? They do original material now, but have you heard them do covers?? Hardly what I would call not “real” musicians.

Wanda: Sometimes we hear people complain about tribute bands not being real musicians because they play other people’s music. It doesn’t really make any sense. Orchestral musicians work most of their lives playing other people’s music. If there is a Beethoven piece being played, I guess you could go as far as to call them a Beethoven tribute orchestra-ha-ha! But they don’t get the same type of criticism. In addition to playing in this band, I play in orchestras and no one ever treats me as a non-musician there..but really, I’m doing the same thing-just a different composer! I don’t let it bother me at any rate. As far as being female goes, except for having smaller hands than a guy, I don’t think there are any extra challenges to my ability as a musician.

Courtney: There is always adversity in whatever you choose to do in life-period. The whole ” real musicians” argument with tributes I think is completely ignorant and baseless. Now like everything else- you can have those who can play and those who cant…blah blah BUT for those who can play their instrument(s) and do it well…. who cares if they are playing someone else’s ideas or their own as long as they are entertaining you? Would those individuals who throw the first stone at tributes, tell an orchestra that they aren’t true musicians because they cover composers such as Bach and Beethoven? When is the last time you heard the new hit single from Mozart huh? And trust me if the music business was on its feet again I’m sure we’d all have our 10 albums out there and about but there is no financial stability to do that right now … I love to play and I don’t care what music I’m playing. At the end of the day , this is an argument that no one can really win… it is based only on opinion.

JBH: Faced any sexism, directly, or indirectly?

Kirsten: I’m not aware of experiencing it directly (other than looks of amusement or doubt when people find out I’m in a Maiden tribute), but then I’ve never tried to achieve success with an original project, which surely brings along a whole other set of sexist baggage from the industry.

Linda: None that bothers me enough to remember. Less and less as the years go by. 😉

Wanda: We’ve always faced a bit of discrimination because we’re female: a lot of people still have this preconception that women cannot play this style of music competently. However, as soon as people hear us nail the music, that goes out the window, and everyone starts having a good time. We’ve seen a lot of surprised looks! Ha-ha!

Courtney: All the time… When someone sees a girl with blonde hair in high 5 inch pumps.. the first thing they think is usually not “musician”. ha-ha Every time I pick up a guitar I get the stares and all that stereotypical crap but I don’t care. It is funny from my point of view because I’m the one smiling after the set is over 🙂

JBH: Do you change the pronouns in the songs? Any reason why or why not?

Kirsten: I never change pronouns; in fact, it annoys me when people do. First of all, as a tribute band we need to be true to Maiden’s music as it’s written. Secondly, I feel androgynous when I perform and, besides, does anyone really care in this day and age if I’m singing about a man or a woman? Let ’em wonder (ha)!

Linda: Nah, why change the real lyrics? Although in rehearsals we have been known to butcher lyrics into warped and crude humor for ourselves!! LOL!!!

Wanda: We don’t change any of the pronouns in the songs. The idea is to emulate Maiden as closely as possible. 🙂

Courtney: No. The music isn’t ours to change and so we don’t. I would never want that to happen anyway. I think it’s lame.

JBH: What is the audience reaction to you?

Kirsten: Positive, as far as I can tell! Curiously enough, I also often get asked if my hair is a wig—no joke. In fact, let me take this opportunity to quell all the rumors: it IS my real hair, folks! (heh-heh heh-heh-heh)

Linda: The majority of the people seem to really love to take in what we are doing and celebrate this amazing music of Iron Maiden together. On a personal level, I often get the comment of how people expect me to be really tall, but have to chuckle at how little I am (5′ 1″) when they meet me. LOL!! I love it!

Wanda: We’ve had very positive audience reactions world-wide. People seem to really enjoy the show and the novelty of seeing only women perform Maiden tunes.

Courtney: I’ve never experienced a show of ours that the audience didn’t enjoy.


Stay tuned for part 2 right here on Jukebox Heroines!


Posted on February 3, 2011, in Mic Talk - Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Iron Maidens Interview – Part 1 of 2.

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