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Still Drawn Towards Those Chanting Hordes: An Exclusive Interview With THE IRON MAIDENS

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 @ 8:08 AM


"It was just something to do, y’know, at the time when the original music scene was sucking pretty hard, and we all were just looking for something fun to do."

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Back in 2001, the world wasn’t sure what to think about the concept of five talented ladies performing the catalogue of one of the biggest heavy metal bands of the past several decades, but yet some 17 years later, the LA-based quintet THE IRON MAIDENS have surpassed seminal cult status mode and several lineup changes to go all aces high and beyond - and even original frontman Paul Di’Anno’s a fan too! Check out this interview I had with the band on the eve of their second Ottawa show at the Brass Monkey on May 6 in which we talk music, pancakes, Canada’s mapleness, a chaotic appearance on a game show and apologizing for missing the first appearance at the Brass Monkey last summer!

KNAC.COM: Ladies, if you could, introduce yourselves. With your stage names, preferably.

BRUCE: Hello...this is Bruce Chickinson!

STEPH: Hi, this is Steph Harris.

NIKKI: What’s my name, what’s my name…Nikki McBurrain!

DAVINA: Davina Murray.

ADRIANA: Adriana Smith. Courtney Cox!

KNAC.COM: So, just wanted to say first of all, welcome back to Ottawa, ladies, and my apologies for having missed your previous debut here at the Brass Monkey in Ottawa.

BRUCE: (in mocking tone) No….no forgiving for that.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I still feel kinda bad about that, putting family priorities first.

BRUCE: As you should feel terrible.

KNAC.COM: That said though, how’s the current tour going so far at least?

BRUCE: Goin’.

ADRIANA: What are we at now….day four? Show four?

NIKKI: It’s going great!

BRUCE: We love our Canada. (begins singing to background laughter) “Oh Canada, oh Canada…”

STEPH: Oh my God, that maple fudge!

BRUCE: We love your mapleness!

KNAC.COM: And we love you, too. So the tour that’s been going so far, how many Canadian dates have you been doing so far?

BRUCE: Actually, it’s just four this time. Two in Toronto, two in Ottawa, and then we’re back in the States, goin’ down to the East Coast. (in East Coast accent)

KNAC.COM: So how long is that tour going to be lasting in general?

BRUCE: We’re looking at maybe 12 days total. It’s not a super long run, but then we’re home for about 5 days and then we go Down Under, to Australia and New Zealand. (in pretend Australian accent)

KNAC.COM: Okay, so for those of us who are not that familiar with how THE IRON MAIDENS came about, just give everyone a brief rundown on how the original lineup or how this current lineup actually came to be.

BRUCE: The current lineup?

ADRIANA: You don’t want the story about the origin story?

KNAC.COM: Actually, yes, how about that then.

BRUCE: The Big Bang Theory. Let’s give it to the ladies who were there.

STEPH: It was just something to do, y’know, at the time when the original music scene was sucking pretty hard, and we all were just looking for something fun to do. It was originally meant to be a fun side project, we all had other projects and original bands, and we just wanted something fun to do on the side and the original plan was we’d dress up, study all of the music, maybe play out once or twice a month at local clubs, just for fun and for a kick for our friends.

NIKKI: Yeah…we didn’t think that it would last for more than a few months.

STEPH: Yeah, we would never in a million years had thought that it would progress to this level, touring…

ADRIANA: Sixteen years later, what the fuck?

STEPH: People called us after the first few shows and we’re like, “y’know, it’s not the real band, this is an all-female tribute, right? You want to hire us?” We were surprised!

BRUCE: Yeah, it keeps us busy.

KNAC.COM: So, you’ve definitely had an impact in the music scene in the course of almost 20 years as you’ve previously alluded to...

BRUCE: (correcting me) Sixteen.

KNAC.COM: Sixteen is almost 20! (laughs) That sounds so wrong. Anyway, but you also managed to attract the attention of the most legendary of musicians; if I recall, I think you had Phil Campbell of MOTORHEAD guest on one of your albums.

BRUCE: Yeah…

STEPH: At our live shows we had Alex Skolka.

DAVINA: Didn’t he play with us in Japan?

STEPH: (correcting Davina) Skolka’s a photographer. Alex Skolnick! (background laughter)

NIKKI: Jeff Loomis was another person who played with us…um, who else?

BRUCE: (to Adriana) You jammed with Nicko.

ADRIANA: I got to sit in with Nicko McBrain.

STEPH: We actually had IRON MAIDEN’s very own Michael McKenny do some live performances with us that allowed us to play some songs that are very heavy keyboard-oriented, like “Seventh Son”.

KNAC.COM: That also led into my next question: How many members of IRON MAIDEN have gone up and jammed with you guys? You did mention Nicko...

STEPH: Only Nicko.

BRUCE: And Paul Di’Anno.

STEPH: That’s right, that’s right. That was just last year.

BRUCE: That was epic. That was truly epic and he sounded amazing! And of course, the crowd went crazy, and that’s like, yeah, a total life highlight. I mean, seriously, to get to stand on the same stage as him, you get to play music, sing with him and, wow, he was amazing.

STEPH: It was crazy, playing the songs, and then, all of a sudden the vocals come in.

BRUCE: It’s THAT VOICE!

ADRIANA: That doesn’t sound like Kirsten! (everyone laughs)

KNAC.COM: (laughing) That voice!

BRUCE: Well, he was trying his best to sound like me but he can only sound like Paul. (everyone laughs)

KNAC.COM: I remember there was a period in time when Paul had actually gone through some legal trouble, I think, in the States, and at one point he was actually barred from entering, and I guess that all got resolved, from what I could understand, at least a good decade ago.

BRUCE: You know, that was before my time with the band, so I’ll turn it over to somebody else.

ADRIANA: The last tour he did in the States, he got trapped in Los Angeles in traffic and we ended up filling in for him at his own show in Redondo Beach. (background laughter)

KNAC.COM: (laughing in disbelief) Oh my God!

ADRIANA: And we were all decked out in our heels and stuff and we just took our heels off and we went onstage! (laughs)

NIKKI: We were like The Flintstones, y’know?

BRUCE: We were there to see him and he couldn’t make it.

ADRIANA: Funnily enough, y’know, in London, he jammed with us, he actually thanked us for doing that. (laughs)

STEPH: Yeah, he remembered! That was absolutely amazing!

KNAC.COM: Yeah…I remember one show I was at I was supposed to see him play at, he was touring with CAULDRON and another band called ICARUS WITCH, and I think there was some sort of dispute with the promoters and Paul wasn’t getting his fair cut so I think he actually ended up having to leave if I recall, and then CAULDRON and ICARUS WITCH just did the whole North American tour without him.

BRUCE: We’re like Maidens For Hire! (everybody laughs)

KNAC.COM: (laughing) That also sounds wrong in so many aspects! (composes himself) So I’m gonna move on to another question now, what have been the most complex IRON MAIDEN songs for all of you to master as a band?

ADRIANA: (thinking): Hmmmmm…..maybe “Clansman”?

STEPH: Just getting everything together, not in terms of, like, individual complexity, but in terms of lots of pieces, parts, having it all fit together, come together, clearly…I mean, the song I felt really hard the most rehearsal time, maybe, is maybe “Clansman”.

ADRIANA: We don’t have rehearsals, so we do new material at soundcheck.

KNAC.COM: So you kinda wing it then? (laughs)

BRUCE: Yeah, our band should be called WINGER. (everyone laughs)

KNAC.COM: I think the name’s already been taken there. (laughs) You could always be WINGETTE. (everybody laughs)

ADRIANA: I think it’s different for everybody, like for what’s a more challenging song. Hell, “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”, that’s 13 minutes long with a lot of lyrics. That was challenging for me to remember. (laughs)

KNAC.COM: I know that on the last studio album they had a track that was like 18 minutes long.

ADRIANA: Oh, yeah….(thinking of the name)…”Empire Of The Clouds”.

KNAC.COM: “Empire Of The Clouds”, that’s a long song. It’s a good song but jeez, I don’t know if I would have the energy to wait 18 minutes long. It’s longer than most YES songs or URIAH HEEP, for fuck’s sake. (laughs)

BRUCE: Yeah, there’s gotta be a record there or something. Well, maybe THE GRATEFUL DEAD has ‘em beat, I don’t know.

ADRIANA: And there’s also that 15-minute version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” which just keeps going and going…

KNAC.COM: Oh Jesus.

ADRIANA: Never be in a bar when that’s playing.

KNAC.COM: Or “Stairway To Heaven” for that matter! (laughs)

BRUCE: No “Stairway” – ever.

NIKKI: Play “Free Bird” first.

KNAC.COM: Ah, ”Free Bird”.

ADRIANA: Followed by SLAYER.

KNAC.COM: But that’d be quicker. It’d only be three minutes long at least. (laughter)

ADRIANA: That’s alright.

KNAC.COM: What’s their longest song like, anyway? “Seasons In The Abyss”, it’s like, six minutes? (laughter) They’re not exactly known for their long songs. (laughter) So what would be the most fun IRON MAIDEN song for you to perform?

ADRIANA: (thinking) That’s different for everybody.

STEPH: There are songs that some people like and there are other ones that are like “that song again? Haven’t you played it like a million times?”. I don’t know…it’s different for everybody, I think.

KNAC.COM: Yeah.

ADRIANA: I think ”Still Life”.

NIKKI: “Still Life” always gets me goin’.

BRUCE: I like “Moonchild”. “Moonchild” always fires me up!

KNAC.COM: That also led into my next question since you had mentioned that you were going to be changing the setlist up a bit so I guess that some of those songs will be in tonight’s set?

BRUCE: (carefully thinking) Oh, weeeeelllll…..We’re not gonna name names, but put it this way: There will be plenty of songs that are each of our personal favorites to play.

KNAC.COM: Okay, that’s probably the best answer that I can actually hope for. (laughs) So, one of the things that I’d actually noticed was that you were on a game show called Beat Shazam. How’d that go?

STEPH: That was Kirsten and Nikki.

NIKKI: That was good. We won a bit of money.

BRUCE: There was no rock on the show.

NIKKI: It was an interesting experience.

KNAC.COM: Like, what kind of questions did they usually ask? The same kind of banal ones that I usually ask? (laughs)

NIKKI: No, you had to listen to, like, tiny clips of songs and you had to guess what song it was before the other team. And it was not really good music. Taylor Swift

KNAC.COM: Oh dear God.

NIKKI: There was no rock on it. None. I think there was an REO SPEEDWAGON song and we did not get that song.

BRUCE: God, that was horrible. It was basically Name That Tune on steroids.

NIKKI: You had to, like, get it faster before everybody else. We had a few.

BRUCE: I had a few lucky guesses. I ain’t gonna lie!

ADRIANA: (to Bruce) Didn’t you, like, break the button too? (everybody laughs)

BRUCE: Oh, yeah, we broke the machine and they had to stop the show. (laughter)

NIKKI: I was sorta like, “Hit it! Don’t just hit it. Just don’t even look!”. We hit it hard and they were like “Don’t hit it that hard!” Everything we did, we did wrong. It was like, “Don’t do that! Do this! Don’t do it like that!”

KNAC.COM: (laughing): So there’s no YouTube footage of it?

NIKKI: There are a lot of clips.

BRUCE: But there are no outtakes. You only see what (host Jamie) Foxx wants you to see.

KNAC.COM: That sounds familiar! (laughing)

BRUCE: And I think I just swore once.

NIKKI: Yeah (laughs). I was afraid we were gonna get kicked off.

BRUCE: He wasn’t happy with me.

NIKKI: He was like “KIRSTY!” (laughs)

KNAC.COM: (laughing) Oh, God, I can only imagine being the fly on the wall on that.

NIKKI: She did get to sing. She sang some of “The Trooper”.

BRUCE: (shyly) Yeah.

KNAC.COM: Nice! Was Jamie Foxx impressed?

BRUCE: (embarrassingly) He said that I may have kinda lifted him up.

KNAC.COM: You lifted him up?

BRUCE: I don’t think I touched him! (laughter)

NIKKI: I think we might’ve gotten kicked off the show.

BRUCE: (nodding in agreement) Yeah, okay, okay.

KNAC.COM: Their loss is our gain, I guess. (laughs) So I noticed that you have three studio albums. Are there any concrete plans to do a fourth?

STEPH: Yes.

BRUCE: Yeah, YEAH! Concrete!

STEPH: Hopefully by the end of this year we’ll know if we’re gonna start the process by the end of this year and hopefully we’ll have something out.

BRUCE: We have some studio time booked, so we’re planning on it!

ADRIANA: YEP! Check on our website! theironmaidens.com and get on our e-mail list and you will hear it first!

KNAC.COM: (mockingly) Okay, but that would make for some dull questions afterwards if you keep on asking “so what are your plans?” “Check the e-mail list!” (laughter)

BRUCE: (in brooding voice) All plans can be learned about on the e-mail list.

STEPH: We got a Facebook page too.

KNAC.COM: Oh, yeah, I’m on that page.

STEPH: So you’ll see more trivial stuff and fun things on there.

KNAC.COM: And you got an Instagram page! I follow you guys.

STEPH: We’re everywhere. Google and then you can find out everything! (laughter)

ADRIANA: It’s pretty much how I found out, like, where we’re going and how long we’ll be gone because I always forget so I’ll look on the Instagram and Facebook and I’m like “oh yeah, I’m supposed to be at the airport right now.” (laughs)

KNAC.COM: (laughing) She’s running free to the airport, bypassing the TSA!

ADRIANA: From my PJ’s right to the meet-and-greet!

KNAC.COM: So what would be the most interesting gigs that THE IRON MAIDENS have ever played?

ADRIANA: We played a few strip clubs.

DAVINA: Oh yeah! Those were interesting.

BRUCE: I’m trying to think if we’ve ever opened for any puppet shows. I don’t think so.

KNAC.COM: I would’ve thought that you’d have that status after first losing your singer and then your bass strap almost coming off at last night’s show.

BRUCE: Ah, yeah.

STEPH: We were the first all-female metal band to play in Venezuela and there was like 40,000 people there. That was fun and interesting. Interesting little tidbit.

BRUCE: Yes, yes.

STEPH: And we did a private party for Pancake Mountain. It was a TV show.

BRUCE: And there were puppets there, so technically it was a puppet show. (laughter) And they paid us in pancakes.

ADRIANA: They left the puppets in our dressing room, and, like, all the pictures tell the story.

STEPH: The audience were all like “Can this band be over so that we can talk?”

KNAC.COM: Pancake Mountain, that’s a TV show?

STEPH/ADRIANA: Yes.

KNAC.COM: That would explain it. So, I know that you’re doing something right now here at the show for something called the Nepean School Of Music Hummingbird Program. I think it’s some sort of keeping music in school kind of program?

ADRIANA: Yeah, it’s a bunch of kid bands. It’s like the saviors of music are gonna be the younger generation.

STEPH: You can probably hear them all in the background right now.

KNAC.COM: (listening) Yep, I do.

BRUCE: We’re here to teach ‘em all about rock ‘n roll debauchery.

KNAC.COM: There’s no better band to do it than you guys.


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