Since their inception in 2001, The Iron Maidens have become not only the World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden, but one of the most popular tribute bands ever to perform on stage. Co-founded by drummer Linda McDonald (formerly of Phantom Blue), and currently consisting of bassist Wanda Ortiz, guitarists Courtney Cox and Nikki Stringfield, and vocalist Kirsten Rosenberg, The Iron Maidens recently surpassed one million fans on their Facebook page. Decemeber 2014 would find The Iron Maidens launching a three guitar assault at Paladino’s in the San Fernando Valley for their annual Christmas show, featuring special guest Nita Strauss of The Alice Cooper Band. Prior to the full capacity hard rocking extravaganza, we caught up with the Maidens at sound check for an exclusive interview! Read on…
Introduce yourselves, tell me what you do in The Iron Maidens and how long you’ve been in the band.
Kirsten: I’m Kirsten Rosenberg I’m Bruce Chickinson and that means I’m the singer and i’ve been in the band since 2009.
Wanda: I’m Wanda Ortiz, I play bass as Steph Harris and wow, I’ve been in the band a little over 13 years.
Linda: The beginning, minus 13 shows.
Courtney: My name is Courtney Cox and I play guitar as Adriana Smith and I’ve been in the band since 2009.
Linda: I’m Linda McDonald and I play Nikki McBurrain [laughs] on drums and I’m the fossil of the band. I’ve been here since day one.
Nikki: I’m Nikki Stringfield and I play guitar as Davina Murray and I’ve been in the band since April 2012.
What is your favorite Iron Maiden song to play live and why?
Nikki: I like “Revelations” because there’s changes and I like “Fear of the Dark” too because it’s got a good solo. Those are my two right now.
Linda: Of the one’s we’re playing tonight, my favorite is “Phantom of the Opera” and “Sea of Madness.”
Courtney: “Sea of Madness” for me.
Wanda: As a bass player, what is there in Maiden that is not to like if you’re a bass player? I have a lot of favorites. Some of them are “Phantom of the Opera,” “Powerslave” and “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.”
Kirsten: I’m gonna say “Ghost of the Navigator.”
When did each of you hear of Iron Maiden and how many shows have you gone to?
Kirsten: I remember discovering Iron Maiden when Powerslave came out. So I was obviously an infant before I can speak. I’m kidding. (Much laughter) I can’t even count how many Maiden shows I’ve been to.
Wanda: I got into Maiden probably when I was 13 or so. I haven’t been counting. Ive been to a lot though.
Courtney: I always liked Maiden but I didn’t really latch onto them and O’m gonna date myself here until I was in High School and Dance of Death came out [laughs]. I’ve been to 5 shows now.
Linda: And on the other end of that scale, I got into Maiden in 1982. I don’t know between 10-14 shows maybe.
Nikki: Back to the other end of that history spectrum, I don’t know how far back – my dad always played them so I was listening to Maiden from a very young age so, I’ve always liked them. I had all the posters. I don’t even want to say how many shows I’ve been to because it’s zero. I haven’t gotten to see them at all. Every time they come around I miss them.
What do you think of the Los Angeles music scene and how do the Iron Maidens fit into the scheme of things here in LA?
Kirsten: Is there a Los Angeles music scene?
Courtney: The LA Music scene with House of Blues going under, Whiskey is probably going under with all the main clubs gone. Key Club gone, exactly. Where is the music scene? Everything is disappearing.
Linda: Let’s put it this way. We are going to be going to Europe in March of 2015 so I don’t know what that says about the LA music scene, but we’re heading to Europe next year [laughs]. But we do love Los Angeles. It’s our stomping grounds, home sweet home.
How excited or nervous are you to do three guitars tonight with special guess Nita Strauss?
Linda: I’m super excited because every time we play these songs with two guitar player it sounds so amazing in my monitor, but I always hear that third part and I want to make sure I don’t sing it in the microphone. So, it’s really exciting. It’s going to be a refreshing change for us as well as the people that see us regularly here.
Courtney: Bring your earplugs! It’s gonna be flippin’ loud.
What other bands are you all involved with besides The Iron Maidens?
Wanda: I’m in a real heavy band called South Coast Symphony, just kidding. I play in an orchestra. I usually play upright in orchestras, that’s what i’ve been doing besides this.
I was reading about that. How does your other project compare?
Wanda: [laughs] it’s a different culture. With an orchestra, you can’t show up five minutes. You have to show up half an hour early. If you’re late, everyone notices. It’s different but it’s still a lot of fun.
Courtney: Me and Nikki we dabble on Femme Fatale from the 80s.
How are you becoming involved with Femme Fatale?
Courtney: She contacted me through Myspace, going back, maybe it was Facebook. I joined the Maidens through Myspace and Femme Fatale through Facebook.
How surprised are you to see that The Iron Maidens has nearly a million followers on Facebook?
Courtney: For music scene, back in the day, it went from flyering to posting up everything on telephone poles, passing out flyers. Facebook reaches the entire world now. It’s why you get a million likes, because it’s not just LA seeing it, it’s everyone from around the world. Facebook is a great way to get yourself out there.
Linda: Social media is – look, I was around the music scene in the 80s and everything was so analog. Everything was by hand, lick the stamp, manually write letters and send cassettes to people across the US. It was all underground stuff. Now, it’s a click of the mouse away. It’s absolutely amazing. So, almost a million hits. We need to hit 5 million.
Kirsten: I joined the band after they were well underway with all their popularity, it just makes me that much more grateful to be involved in a project that has that many followers and supporters. Yay!
So you have a couple of recordings out under the Iron Maidens name. Is there any chance of doing an album with this lineup?
Linda: Go to our website, theironmaidens.com and sign up on our emailling list on the homepage and you’ll be the first to know.
When you look back on your days with Phantom Blue what do you think of your work now and how the music industry was at that time?
Linda: The music industry at that time sucked ass. It still sucks ass but honestly Geffen did not know how to market us and they just put us on the shelf. The European partner, Roadrunner Records did so much for us and it was amazing, the response we got in Europe. Here in the US, they didn’t have a clue what to do with us and they pretty much admitted that to us. It kind of sucked, but we were so proud of what we did and we had a great time doing it. We just consider our Geffen album the world’s most expensive demo, [laughs].
Would you ever want to do a Phantom Blue reunion?
Linda: I’d love that. We actually were going to do that several years ago when Michelle passed away, unfortunately. It kind of put a damper on things. It was a horrific thing to happen, but that kind of stopped talks about that for a time. But we’ve been kicking it around again, we have all the players involved at our disposal here. We’ve been talking it. Monsters of rock Cruise, come on!
What do you think has kept the Iron Maidens going since 2001?
Wanda: The people. The audiences. As long as people want to come, have some fun with us, as long as there’s an audience we’ll stick around.
What’s up next for the Iron Maidens in the new year?
Linda: Hopefully we can get our butts in the studio and get a new recording out with the current lineup with everybody. That’d be fun.
Kirsten: I think we have to make that happen.
Has Iron Maiden ever heard or commented on your band?
Wanda: Actually we played the Hard Rock Cafe with Steve Harris’s daughter, Lauren Harris. We were on the same bill. He stuck around for her show, of course because it’s her dad but he stayed for our whole set and at the end of the show he came up to us backstage and let us know he enjoyed our show and things can’t get better than that.
Did you know he was in the audience?
Wanda: Oh yeah. Front row! With Bruce Dickinson! We saw his hat bouncing around, it was Bruce Dickinson dancing.
Was that intimidating to say the least?
Wanda: We were a little nervous seeing them right there in the audience, but I think we pulled it off.
Courtney: The keyboard player, Michael Kenny is coming to the show tonight, which is cool.
Do you have any messages for your fans who are reading this right now?
Linda: Thank you so much for taking time to read this interview and for the support. We hope to see you out on the road.
Kirsten: We just really appreciate all the support. We’re big Iron Maiden fans ourselves, so we’ll just keep sharing the love of Iron Maiden together and up the irons. Thank you so much!
Courtney: Insert high obnoxious metal scream here.
Nikki: We love you guys, see you on the road next year.
Wanda: More of the same, thank you for the support. See you soon. Up the irons.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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