Category Archives: Mic Talk – Interviews

The Iron Maidens Interview – Part 2 of 2

And now, concluding Jukebox Heroines’ exclusive interview with The Iron Maidens, Part 2. You can read part 1 here.

JBH: Ever get the “you’re really good for a girl” line? If so how do you react?

Kirsten: Fortunately, I can’t recall when the last time I heard that was. Which is a good thing, because I’m all out of any clever, witty retorts.

Linda: Of course…ha-ha. Usually I just say thanks if it is meant with good intentions. I’m happy if that’s what they think. 😉 Sometimes, if I’m in a mood, I will say, “Aw thanks, and you’re pretty cool for a guy!” ha-ha

Wanda: Yes, I’ve heard that line before and it doesn’t bother me. Most of the people who say it have good intentions: they are only pointing out that they don’t get to hear women who play well very often. That’s how I interpret it at’s meant as a compliment. However, with so many women starting to get into rock, there will be a day when there are lots of really great women players out there and that line will be a thing of the past.

Courtney: Not too much actually… once or twice in my entire career so far… I react as I would react to any other comment… with a ” Why thank you!” .. at the end of the day I am a girl ! It doesn’t bother me at all because on a personal level I would be the first to say that I prefer male musicians to female musicians. Every single one of my musical influences when I started playing was male. And this is still true today.

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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.

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Coming Soon- Tribute Band Interviews

Coming soon! Gender and the ‘voice’ of a Song – Part 2 – Tribute bands!

This blog series began a few weeks ago when I had a realization about myself and my all female band in high school. This was a realization that the gendered pronouns used in songs not only denote the gender of the character in a song, but often reveal the gender and sexual orientation of those characters and often then by assumption, the singers of those song themselves. These issues were discussed in Part 1.

In Part 2, I want to take a look at another layer of this dynamic of gender, and sexuality in the song’s narrative. This time, with all-female tribute bands.

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The Women of ArA’Kus – Part 2

And now part 2 of my interview set with the women of ArA’Kus featuring keyboardist Rachel Brunson. If you didn’t read part 1, you can do so here. You can also check out the ArA’Kus’ website, and your favorite social media,  facebook, bandcamp, and youtube.

A little background (from previous post):

Seattle-based heavy metal band, ArA’Kus, weaves a musical tapestry of opera, fantasy, and theatrics into their live performances and musical craft. This web of darkness, epic storytelling, and fervent metal love was founded in 2001 with a little hope, and a big idea. Since then ArA’Kus has been plagued with a variety of line-up changes, yet, has still remained steadfast to producing a live show that combines the best aspects of music with a visually appealing experience. The band consists of 6 members and auxiliary performers including a twelve member chorus, marital artists, fire dancers, and an aerial acrobatic troupe.

Additionally, costumes are an important part of the show. Mixing early medieval influenced outfits, with fantasy art and leather from local vendors, ArA’Kus is a living, breathing LOTR with a metal soundtrack. That soundtrack includes throaty growls from the depths of the beast, ethereal chants via the chorus, hell-rasing guitar solos, and spoken interludes that transition the songs and give a back story to the lyrics. Their debut  work, “Aeterno Elementum” is a three-part concept album, which will be released in stages this year, along with a novelization of their music’s storylines.

If anyone knows how to spin the magic and madness, it’s Rachel Brunson, keyboardist, and lover of doing things differently from the crowd.


Jukebox Heroines (JH): Thanks for doing this interview! So, give Jukebox Heroines the scoop on who you are. 

Rachel Brunson (RB): I’m an artist, musician, and a full time student. I have a degree in photography/multimedia design from Notre Dame and am working on my second Bachelors at Evergreen in psychology. I (hopefully!) start grad school in a year for a Masters in Art Therapy. I grew up in Indiana and moved to Olympia 8 years ago. My main reason for moving was wanting to find a place to live that was more artistic and had a bigger music scene then where I’m from (which is pretty much non-existant!) Other then music, I love to read. I’m a total bibliophile and want to die with enough books to open a library. No kids, just 2 cats and a plethora of fish.

JH: How did you become part of Arakus?

RB: Looong story! Suffice to say, I dated a guy that used to be in the band and used to do their photography. Many years and convoluted stories later, I came on as a guest musician to fill in while they searched for a permanent keyboard player. I ended up loving it, and they were happy with my musical capabilities and asked me to stay on permanently.

JH: What draws you to metal music? It’s known as a rather masculine genre?

I’ve always loved music of all types. My first love was and always will be classical. I started listing to metal in the 80’s (I was a kid so I don’t really remember who introduced me to it.) I love that it is such an expansive genre. It seems as if you can meld anything with metal and it will work. It can be either obnoxiously loud and fast, or soft and melodic. It never fails to surprise me so it keeps me interested. I feel like a lot of other genres seem to strive to emulate each other, whilst metal seems to strive to be different regardless of corporate approval and radio playability.

JH: What are your female artist/musician influences?

RB: Not many to be honest, I’m mostly drawn to male fronted bands. I do have a thing for Tori Amos though.

JH: I totally do too!

JH: When did you begin playing the keys and what made you pick that instrument?

RB: I began playing piano 24 years ago (at 6). My parents bought me a piano at 7 as I was obsessed. I just love the sound and the versatility of it. I didn’t start playing keyboards until fall of 2008 for ArA’KuS. It was a hard battle for while the layout and conception is the same, the feel of the two are completely different.

JH: What kind of keyboard do you use? Any preferences or sounds you use?

RB: Why? I’m using a Casio CDP-100. It’s actually a digital piano. I’m finding that they are easier for me to play as opposed to non-weighted keys. I have the advantage of a computer interface and the feel of an acoustic piano. I’m using Mainstage with an m-audio midi adapter to run them. I actually like the sound of harpsichords but have yet to find an applicable use for them for ArA’KuS. Someday maybe…

JH: What do you want people to experience with your music/live show?

RB: I want them to stand in awe of our greatness! Kidding (sort of). I want them to enjoy it. I want people to come and be completely surprised by a metal band and leave wanting more. I want it to inspire them to be more creative and to not be afraid to do what seems crazy at first.

JH: How are you feeling about the big July 31st album premiere?

RB: Nervous, excited, nervous again. I haven’t performed on a stage in about 15 years (theater stage that is). It’s so different from bar shows! I’m excited to perform in a setting that I love though.

JH: If Arakus was a type of animal, it would be: ________________. Why?

RB: Duck billed platypus. A little strange and is nothing like it appears at first glance. Can be soft and fuzzy but with sharp teeth.

JH: Any advice for other lady-metalheads out there?

RB: Loads, but I can’t type all of it out here. I’ve been in this business as either a fan, photographer, promoter, booking agent, designer, and/or musician since I was 16. I’m not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but women have it hard in this business sometimes. There are a lot of people out there that have some pretty awful misconceived notions of female metal heads. So if you run into someone that thinks you are something that you’re not, do what you can to change their minds. There are so many talented women out there that are afraid to push the boundaries of a traditionally male ran subset of musical society. We all need to show them that we can be a force to be reckoned with.

JB: Come to the dark feminist side Rachel! 🙂 We need more female metal heads here.

Thank you so much to Rachel and Whitney for taking the time to speak their minds here at Jukebox Heroines. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates on ArA’Kus and special features from their show.

Speaking of, you can catch ArA’Kus at their premiere show July 31, 2010 7:00 pm at The Everett Historical Theater in Everett, Wa. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or by calling 425-258-6766.

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