The Ultimate Jam Night Interviews with Nikki Stringfield and Brad Jurjens
One of the highlights at Ultimate Jam Night 64 was the arrival of Skid Row guitarist Scotti Hill, who unleashed a few classics upon an absolutely enraptured audience. Joining in on the Skid Row jam were guitar shredders Brad Jurjens and Nikki Stringfield, bringing on the Monkey Business in an epic way. Ms. Stringfield is best known for her work with The Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale. Brad Jurjens has definitely worked with the best in the music business, including a recent collaboration with the legendary Dave Ellefson of the mighty Megadeth!
Highwire Daze caught up with Nikki Stringfield and Brad Jurjens backstage at the Whisky A Go Go, just right before their performance at Ultimate Jam Night 64 to find out about their professional work and guitar endorsements, dating a person who also happens to be guitarist (yup, they are engaged), their participation in Ultimate Jam Night, and other rip roaring topics! Read on…
How did you guys become involved with Ultimate Jam Night, and how many times have you both participated?
Nikki: I got involved through The Iron Maidens. I’m pretty sure, we probably played The Trooper. I honestly can’t remember how many times, this is my first night here to play at The Whisky. I know I’ve played Phantom of the Opera, Brad and I (together) have played “Monkey Business” with Kirstin and Rodney, and Lindsay.
Brad: Which we’re going to do tonight, also with Scotto Hill from Skid Row. So it’s kind of nerve wrecking a little bit. This is my first time playing at The Whisky as well. I got involved by becoming friends with a couple of guys who were organizing the whole thing, Adam Mandel and Chuck Wright. That’s why I’m here.
What is the best and worst part about dating a fellow musician?
Nikki: Brad would probably say taking me to the airport all the time. [laughs] Everything!
Brad: I don’t really see a downside about it.
Nikki: The only thing is we have so many guitars between the two of us. Our whole apartment and then we have to fight over who is going to play guitar that day and who has to play through headphones.
Brad: We’ve learned how not to be competitive, we just kind of coexist as far as being a musician. We try and be as normal as possible outside of being musicians.
Nikki: The best thing is – we go and have mutual friends, we can both get up onstage and jam together and work on projects together. It’s amazing to be able to do that. Before that, none of my boyfriends, (and I’ve never had a fiance before), were musicians. They just didn’t get it.
Brad: It’s also real fun to look through Nikki’s comments on her Facebook page, you find a lot of gems. Every other guy wants to marry her, [laughs].
Brad, tell me about that nine string guitar you have. How easy or difficult is it to play?
Brad: If I had to figure out the nine string all the way on my own, it would have been really difficult. But, I got it for an audition which I can’t say what band it is yet, but playing the songs and figuring them out – it kind of opened up the whole nine string world for me. It wasn’t as hard as I thought. I was mortified when I first got it.
Can you play it, Nikki?
Nikki: Oh no, I have a seven string and that’s hard enough. My hands are tiny! 6 strings are enough for me, but I have a seven string and I tried played playing on it, haha, no. You gotta have giant hands.
Brad, tell me what it was like working with David Ellefson and how did that come about?
Brad: The song was already there. We met David at a concert, a showcase that he had in LA for a girl band that he’s managing called Dollskin out of Arizona. I met him briefly once, but I had no idea he knew who we were, or who I was. He just came over, shook our hands and said he’s a fan of our YouTube videos. Then we ended up going to dinner together at Canters. So I mustered up a little bit of courage and asked him if he would play on one of my songs, the song was already recorded. I did the bass on it, but I figured – asked Dave, would you mind? He’s like, fuckin’ totally! He actually offered, would you like me to play on something? I sent him the song, he sent me the bass stems back and that was it. Then he sent me a little video of him playing it, so if you put it all together – otherwise no one would have believed me.
Nikki, what do you think of the new Iron Maiden album and would The Iron Maidens want to play any songs off of that album?
Nikki: The new album is amazing, we saw them in Vegas because we were in Europe when they played LA. We played the Iron Maiden fan club pre-party the night before they played Vegas. I just couldn’t stop playing the album. They played a good chunk of it. Song after song is amazing. I think we would all love to play some of the new stuff but Maiden is out playing all the new stuff right now.
Brad: Speed of light!
That’s a good song!
Nikki: Yeah, the riff is catchy. So we’ll leave that to them for now but I would love to play in the future when they’re done with it and they move onto the next one. We might bust one out – I don’t think anybody would oppose.
Have you played in front of any of the Iron Maiden members?
Nikki: I haven’t because I’m the new one. Some of the other girls have, I believe Linda, Wanda – I think they were the only ones in the band at the time. They played in front of Steve (Harris) and Bruce (Dickinson) because they were opening for Steve’s daughters band. I think it was Mexico. I heard the story so much I should know it by heart. But yeah, they got a thumbs up so hopefully one day they’ll get the chance again.
Brad: Funny story, I actually played in front of Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden drummer), he was my stage manager at Guitar Gods randomly enough. But it’s a true story, there are pictures to prove it.
Would you both ever want to do a band or project, or has this already happened?
Brad: Yeah we do stuff together all the time.
Nikki: We’re working on a new song, new video.
Brad: There’s a new video coming out. I actually think we’re going to finish editing tomorrow, then maybe within a week it’ll be out.
Nikki: We’ve done some live clinics in Mexico.
Brad: They were more concerts, but yeah we’ve done clinics together for Schecter.
Nikki: We’re writing as much as we can, doing as much original stuff as possible.
What advice would you give someone looking for an endorsement. You’ve got Schecter.
Nikki: I just started by putting out YouTube videos when I was like, 17 and 18. It’s so weird, at that point it was all so new. YouTube isn’t what it is today. I just started building a following, on Facebook and everything. It just grew – it took hold. Then I moved here, they saw what I was doing and they took me in. Just put yourself out there as much as possible. Social Media is a great way to get your stuff out, then just get out there and network. I went to NAMM, that’s how I got my endorsement, eventually, I went every single day. My music industry professor told me to go every single day and especially on Sunday (the last day).
Brad: Also, you know how JFK said “it’s not about what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” It’s the same with guitar companies. It’s not about what they can do for you because that’ll come, at first it’s about what you can do for them.
Nikki: You have to show what you can offer them and if they see you’re just jumping around –
Brad: Put yourself out there enough, they’ll finally knock on your door.
Nikki: If you’re jumping from company to company just being like, what will this company give me? I’ve played Schecter since I was 14 and they can see how loyal I was and how much I love them, and I think that went a long way. They know I’m Schecter all the way. They know I promote the hell out of them every chance I get.
Be sure to check out Ultimate Jam Night every Tuesday at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip!
(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)