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The Entire Band (The Iron Maidens)

Interview with The Entire Band from The Iron Maidens
by Michael Dalakos at 28 September 2005, 7:35 AM

You are probably wondering why we did an interview with a cover band. Those of you who've seen them live or even heard their debut CD know the answer. For the rest of you, let's just say that The Iron Maidens RULE!!!

Welcome to our magazine! Please let’s start with a biography of the band…

Wanda: Here’s the band biography from our website:

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 L.A. Music Awards, and The All Access Magazine Award Show to name a few. The lineup is Aja Bruce Lee Chickinson Kim on vocals, Linda Nikki McBURRain McDonald on drums, Elizabeth Adrienne Smith Schall and Sara Mini Murray Marsh on guitars, and Wanda Steph Harris Ortiz on bass.

The Iron Maidens cover Iron Maiden material from all eras of the band’s career, encompassing the band’s biggest hits as well as fan favorites. The stage show includes appearances by Maiden mascot Eddie, the grim reaper, the devil, and more.

The Iron Maidens have packed houses everywhere they have played.

MiniMurray: Control+V from biography page eh?

How did you actually come together?

MiniMurray: 2001 - in the short span of two weeks we found each other, decided on a couple songs to rehearse, and had a dot com. Only in L.A.!

Linda: There was a mix gender tribute band to Iron Maiden where the 2 female members wanted to make it an all female lineup. My guitar player and I were looking for a bass player for my original band, Phantom Blue, at the time and came to see who was playing bass that we might be able to take on the road with us. That’s how I met these fine ladies and everything just fell together really fast after that.

Aja: I was recommended to Wanda by my good friend, Dr. James Sitterly, who is a well known L.A. session violinist, when they were looking for a vocalist. He was very familiar with the music of Maiden having just finished recording a string quartet tribute to Iron Maiden. He called me up and told me he had the perfect gig for me and put me in touch with the girls. I guess he was right because here I am!

You have recently released your debut album. Where did you base your decision in doing such a thing?

Wanda: So many people expressed an interest in getting a CD of us at our shows that we finally decided to make one.

Linda: We would always tell them to just go listen to the real Maiden CDs, but they said they wanted our versions to hear also. After enough requests in our suggestion box we finally gave in and went for it.

MiniMurray: People at our shows kept asking about wanting to buy our CD, which was weird cuz we’re a tribute band - go buy the real Piece Of Mind! There’s been a lot of compilation tribute CDs lately though, so we thought it’d be cool to do one by ourselves.

How difficult was for you to choose the songs included in this album? Was there any other song you really wanted to include but you didn’t?

Linda: We had to choose the ones we thought (stress the word thought!!!) we could record the quickest while still capturing the Maiden spirit because we were on a shoestring budget. I really wish we could have done Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, but time just would not permit.

MiniMurray: Yeah, choosing songs is tough cuz there are a lot of favorites. Caught Somewhere In Time was one I’d voted for.

Wanda: Not really difficult at all. Since we all have our own personal favorites, we decided to have our audience choose the songs for us: we had people take surveys requesting their favorite songs at our shows. The songs with the most requests were put on the CD.

Can you give us some info about the recording process (how long it took; where was it recorded etc.)?


Wanda: The recording process took about a week to a week and a half and was done at Silver Cloud Recording Studios. Bruce Dickinson has also recorded there.

Linda: Each of us had about 2 days to get our parts recorded. I was pretty stressed cuz it took half my first day to get my sound dialed in. The tracks were all done in maybe 10 days, and then about a week to mix. We seemed to have regular visits from the resident ghost while we were there too! Eeeeek!

MiniMurray: The longest 3 weeks ever - we got a deal on crunch hours and dug in with some Monster Energy Drinks and sunflower seeds. Joe Floyd from Warrior owns Silver Cloud - awesome experience - lots of cool bands came through there like Bruce’s solo stuff and Fight. They had a special room for guitar and lots of vintage heads and pedals that we got to use. Joe said the Park head we used on some tracks was once Randy Rhoads’!

Aja: Since we financed this ourselves, we didn’t have endless reams of time for recording. For vocals, we only had 3 days to record all 10 songs. It’s almost like a live recording because I was only able to do a couple of passes through each song and then - BOOM! - onto the next one! I surprised myself by finishing all the leads and backing vocals in about 2,5 days. Though it would’ve been nice for us all to have more time, I’m very pleased with the results. I like to think that Bruce Dickinson left behind a little magic in the studio to help inspire me through the process.

There are countless cover bands out there but only few are so popular like you. Can you pinpoint the elements of your success?

MiniMurray: Female musicians that play Iron Maiden is a lot of fun to see and twice as fun to hear.

Aja: I think this isn’t something you can plan - it just happens. It’s the magical combination of Iron Maiden’s music and the fact that we’re women playing it damn well. We put a lot into our stage show and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the band has a very strong work ethic and team spirit when it comes to promoting the shows, plus a great manager to boot!

Linda: I think it’s a pretty bold statement to try to cover Maiden songs to begin with because if you don’t do it right, it will sound really, really bad! I think the obvious fact is that we’re girls playing Maiden songs, but we also deliver a full stage show to resemble a scaled down version of what you might see at a real Iron Maiden show. We try to recreate the whole event of a Maiden show. We all devote a lot of our time to making this project run smoothly aside from the time we spend on playing the songs. There is a LOT of outside work that has to be done to spread the word about this project and keep it running smoothly. But I think the key is that we do spend a lot of time learning every aspect of the songs we decide to play and try our best to recreate them as closely as possible to the original and I think fellow Maiden fans appreciate that.

Wanda: Well, in addition to working very hard at what we do, we’re a novelty. There isn’t any other all female tribute to Iron Maiden so people get a show they won’t see anywhere else.

Many known bands started as cover bands. Is there a chance we’ll see The Iron Maidens releasing songs written by them? Have you ever worked on original material?


Aja: Funny you should ask! The band just started writing together for fun - we have such great chemistry together. So we’ll see where that leads us next.

Wanda: I think the answer would be yes to both questions.

MiniMurray: Yes, looking forward to exploring that more too with my band mates! We fuck around sometimes in rehearsal.

Linda: We get asked this question a lot and actually have started messing around with some original ideas. It’s fun!

Have you ever met Iron Maiden? What is their opinion about you?

MiniMurray: Yes, I met Iron Maiden a couple times backstage. Amazing experience!   

Linda: We’ve met them a couple times. I think they are tickled by the idea and thankful to all the numerous Iron Maiden tribute bands out there keeping the Maiden spirit alive. They were very kind to us. I think they think we look nothing like them though (Laughs). I also met Clive Burr \[ex-Iron Maiden drummer] way back in 1989, long before this band ever existed.

Wanda: We’ve met Iron Maiden a couple times. They seem to like the idea of having an all female tribute to them but I can’t say for sure because I never asked them what they thought about us.

Aja: I’ve only met Nicko \[McBrain - drums] so far. It was at a jam session for a benefit he was here to do in LA. Wanda and I played The Trooper with him. I guess he liked what he heard because after the song was finished he jumped up from behind the drums and gave me a big hug in front of the whole room! Later on, he told me I sounded great. That’s a compliment I’ll treasure forever!

What is your favorite Iron Maiden song?

MiniMurray: Die With Your Boots On .

Wanda: It’s impossible to pick only one! Powerslave and Phantom Of The Opera are a couple of my favorites.

Linda: This is the most difficult question to answer, cuz it’s always changing like my mood. That’s like asking me what my favorite food is. I just can’t tell ya!

Aja: There are so many great songs it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite, but a few I especially enjoy singing are Rime Of the Ancient Mariner, Hallowed Be Thy Name and The Clairvoyant. I love to see everyone headbanging in unison when we kick into Rime!

Liz: Hallowed Be Thy Name.

The album’s artwork was created by Derek Riggs. How did that collaboration occur?

Wanda: We contacted him through his website, inquired about the possibility of him doing our artwork, and ended up commissioning him to do it.

Linda: Ah, the beauty of technology!

MiniMurray: Isn’t it cool? He agreed to do it! Quite an honor!

Can you reveal to us the wildest dream you have regarding the band’s future?

Linda: Opening up for the real Maiden, playing all the old classics while they play the more recent stuff! This was the dream before they announced they were touring with the classic Maiden set. So now it would be jamming some Maiden tunes with some of the Maiden men or recording our own original CD and opening up for Maiden on tour! So many dreams!

Aja: We’re actually living it right now! It’s such a gift to travel around playing great music and meeting our fellow fans while we’re doing what we love. The only thing better would be to do the same thing with our own music.

MiniMurray: Releasing our own material would be fun…yeah!

Wanda: I’d love to tour in other countries. It would also be fun playing for Iron Maiden someday.

As a cover band you play many live shows. What are the people’s reactions to your show?

MiniMurray: People keep coming back for more!

Wanda: We always have a great reaction from our audience. Occasionally, there are people at our shows who have this preconception that women cannot play this style of music competently. However, once they see us pull it off, preconceptions go out the window and everyone starts having a good time.

Linda: They’ve been overwhelmingly supportive of it! They are Maiden fans and just want to celebrate the music while seeing women perform it! A lot of female musicians tell us they have been inspired to play because of us. That’s an honor indeed!

Aja: The fans are incredible. Even though we do the studio versions of the songs, I like to throw in little bits here and there from the concert recordings, just to see the expressions on people’s faces. They look so delighted and many know the live versions almost as well as the studio versions. So they’ll jump right in like the concert recording audiences do and become part of the show. It’s quite an experience.

Can you recall the funniest thing that ever happened to you during a live show?


Wanda: At one venue, there was a bar table that was connected to the stage. Well, I thought it would be fun to run out there on top of that table while playing… unfortunately, it was wet so I slipped and fell off right into some guy’s lap. It was pretty embarrassing. I just climbed back up on stage as quickly as I could and only missed a few notes. I was still playing while in that guy’s lap. I hope he’s okay.

Aja: We did a big festival in Montana last year with Great White and a lot of other name bands and there were people there videotaping us. So there I am on stage running around like mad, singing away and getting into the crowd and then I notice this guy up front yelling at me and pointing at his crotch and then pointing at mine. At first, I thought he was just a fan acting crazy but then I recognized him as the video guy. Sure enough, when I looked down, my fly was wide open! So we have some great concert footage of me on stage with my zipper down floating around out there!

MiniMurray: On the road we have a lot of guest monsters who help out on stage. Our manager dressed as Satan dancing like Michael Jackson during The Number Of The Beast topped ’em all.  

What are the immediate plans of The Iron Maidens?

Linda: To promote this new CD and continue spreading the music of Iron Maiden as far and wide as we can. Touring is definitely high on the priority list.

Wanda: We have a few out of state tours coming up in late October. Hopefully we’ll be touring internationally soon.

Aja: Getting ready for the Rust Festival and our upcoming East Coast tour.

MiniMurray: Add Infinite Dreams and Transylvania to our play list.

Liz: Shows, shows, shows!!

Thanks for your time. Close this interview with a message to all our readers…

Aja: I just want to send my love and thanks to all the fans out there for the love they’ve shown us and the music of Iron Maiden by coming to our shows and buying our tribute CD. Without your support, we wouldn’t exist! One day soon, I hope to be able to come to Greece and say, Scream for me!

Linda: Up the Bloody Irons and thanks for reading and supporting Metal Temple! Please visit us at www.theironmaidens.com and share the love of Iron Maiden! m/

Wanda: Thanks for your support and for keeping this great music alive and well. Hopefully we’ll see you at a show someday.

MiniMurray: Thanks for the interview Metal Temple - U RULE m/ HORNS UP m/

Liz: Keep it brutal!!!



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