The Southern California all-female Iron Maiden tribute band will be making a special appearance in London.
The Iron Maidens, billed as the â€œWorldâ€™s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden,â€ have gained notoriety in the US. Besides their female distinction, their aggressive tour schedule, dynamic stage performances, and consummate musicianship have earned them fans in their own right.
The band features Linda “Nikki McBURRain” McDonald (drums), Nikki “Davina Murray’ Stringfield (guitar), Courtney “Adriana Smith” Cox (guitar), Kirsten “Bruce Chickinson’ Rosenberg (vocals), and Wanda “Steph Harris’ Ortiz on bass.
It’s been fifteen years in coming, but this year the band will be making their first UK appearance since their formation in 2001. Although Courtney and Linda have played in London before working with other artists, it will be Wanda and Nikki’s first show on British soil. The band will also be celebrating Nikki’s birthday at their debut London show at the O2 Islington Academy on Thursday, April 14.
National Rock Review recently caught up with one the band’s guitarists Nikki ‘Davina Murray’ Stringfield to talk about the band’s forthcoming UK debut date, their explosive live shows and what the band have in store for the rest of 2016.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it.
Nikki: My pleasure.
NRR: You are about to play your first UK show with The Iron Maidens at the O2 Islington Academy on the 14th April, which I believe is also your birthday. You must be really excited about the show?
Nikki: I am extremely excited. I never thought I would be getting to play in London on my birthday, playing all Iron Maiden songs, so I am excited.
NRR: Have you ever played in London before?
Nikki: I have never even been to London, so this will be my first time there.
NRR: What can the UK fans expect from a typical Iron Maidens show?
Nikki: Lots of energy, lots of Maiden, you know lots of surprises, maybe an appearance by Edwina. Yeah, just a high energy rock show. I will let you see if with your own eyes.
NRR: With Iron Maiden having such a vast back catalogue to borrow from, how do you go about choosing the setlist for an Iron Maidens show?
Nikki: Oh well, our drummer Linda usually is the one who chooses the setlist. Of course we try to include the classics, the hits that everybody wants to hear, but there’s always songs that people want to hear, and they are like ‘awww why didn’t you play this one or this one.’ You know we wish that we could play them all, but there’s just too many hit songs to play from.
We change up our setlist quite a bit, especially if we are going to play a place twice. So if we go back to the UK we will definitely play different songs, keep them in rotation, throw some of the epics in there you know. We like to go from all eras, try and keep it interesting.
NRR: Have you been playing any tracks from Iron Maiden’s latest album?
Nikki: No, we usually don’t play anything new because of course they will be playing their new stuff whilst they are on tour. I think the newest song we play, of course, we play “The Wicker Man” but “Ghost Of The Navigator”, that’s probably one of the newest songs that we play, at least since I’ve been playing with them.
NRR: What would you say is your favourite track to perform with the band?
Nikki: See that’s so hard, it changes. Usually, it’s anything new that I’ve learned is my favourite song. I love “The Duellists” of course there’s a lot of guitar work. I love playing “Alexander The Great” live, you know the crowd’s really into it, and there’s lots of guitar. One for crowd participation is usually like “Revelations” or something, I love playing that one.
NRR: Have you always been a fan of Iron Maiden and if so when did you discover their music?
Nikki: Really as long as I can remember. My parents both listened to Maiden, and my dad would play a few songs with his band. I remember the first song that I heard was probably “Flight Of Icarus” or “Wasted Years.” My dad would be passing music on his computer, and so I would put that on a CD, and I’ve been listening to it ever since.
NRR: Besides Dave Murray obviously which guitarists have influenced your playing over the years?
Nikki: Well it’s funny, somebody that’s not even really known as a guitarist. Kurt Cobain got me into playing guitar because I was into Nirvana when I was young, but after that, really getting into guitar obviously I think everybody knows that Avenged Sevenfold is one of my favourite bands. When the “City of Evil” album came out it showed me something new, you know you could still be doing all these duelling guitars, and you know just shredding it on the CD. I’m from Dallas, I love Pantera, you know I love Dimebag Darrell, I loved his playing and Marty Friedman he is one of my favourites as well.
NRR: Outside of performing with the Iron Maidens, you’ve been working on your own material with Brad Jurjens. I was just wondering do you have any plans to release a solo record?
Nikki: I would love to. I’m actually working on a few songs right now. I’ve pretty much got a lot of it recorded, I’ve just got to finish up a lot of the leads and, of course, get it mixed and all that but yeah, that’s eventually my ultimate goal is to do a solo album, just got to get the time to do it.
NRR: You were also at NAMM recently as well, how did that go?
Nikki: It was great, you know Courtney and I played, we did a little demo of some Maiden songs. Brad and I played our original stuff. You know I was there to promote my new guitar, and that was great. I ran into everybody, it was a lot of business, but it was a lot of fun.
NRR: You’ve also been performing some shows with Femme Fatale recently as well, how has that been going?
Nikki: Oh great, I’m actually going over the songs right now as we have a rehearsal tonight. We’ve got a show in Canada on the 20th, so it’s a lot of fun to play with them. Courtney is in that as well.
NRR: So you are obviously keeping very busy at the moment balancing three bands. You just mentioned there about your signature guitar which is a Schecter. I was just wondering if you could tell us a bit about that and your history with the brand because I know you’ve been using Schecter for quite a long time.
Nikki: Yeah, I’ve been playing Schecter since I was about 14. I’ve always loved their guitars. I met them when I moved out here to California, and they just took me in like family, and I got offered a signature model.
I designed it last year, officially it’s in stock and available now. It’s the Avenger body shape; it’s got the Seymour Duncan invader and Sustainiac neck. It’s got the Floyd Rose 1500 Series, and I tried to bleed out the inlays you know it’s got the skull on the twelfth fret and then these Abalone vines going up, so it’s very … you know I wanted to design something that I loved that showed my personality but also something that I thought other people would like. I hope they do.
NRR: I’ve also noticed on your website that you are a keen artist. Is this something that you’ve always been interested in?
Nikki: Drawing was my first love, I’ve been drawing since I was really little. I was voted most artistic in my senior class because everybody thought I was going to be an artist, not a guitar player (laughing). So I was always known for my drawings, I’ve always drawn but guitar took over, it’s very time-consuming. So I’m still trying to make some time for it, trying to share it with people as I love it.
NRR: It looks great by the way, I was just looking at your website last night.
Nikki: Thank you.
NRR: Obviously this show in London, it’s the first Iron Maidens show in the UK. Following on from this do you have any plans to do a full UK tour at any point?
Nikki: Oh I would love that. Hopefully, you know this show turns out great, a lot of people come out and see us and they like us, and you know hopefully from there that will put things in motion, and we will be back and playing a lot more places. I know a lot of people are disappointed that there’s only one show but you know you’ve got to start somewhere, so hopefully this will be the catalyst that starts it and we will be back soon.
NRR: Besides the London shows, what else does the Iron Maidens have in store for the rest of 2016?
Nikki: Well we are in the process of hopefully booking you know a lot more tours but right now you know this tour is the major thing, we’ve got a few local gigs we’re playing February 27th the night before Maiden plays in Vegas we’re playing a kind of pre-warmup party for the Iron Maiden fan club. It’s open to everybody, but we’re playing the night before Maiden, so that will be fun and then we are going to see Maiden of course in Vegas because they will be here in Los Angeles while we are in Europe. So it will be my first time seeing them yay! Then just we’re in Arizona, and we’re just trying to book a lot of gigs, a lot of stuff in the works, and we are actually going to be recording a CD, finally.
NRR: When is the CD expected to be released, or do you not know that yet?
Nikki: I’m not sure yet, I think we are … I can’t remember the dates that we are actually going into the studio. Hopefully, maybe I would say late summer/early fall. Maybe I could be totally wrong (laughing), but I’m not sure how long it will take to finish up and everything, but we are expecting to do it pretty quick and get it out there.
NRR: It sounds great, we look forward to that. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, it’s a real pleasure to talk to you tonight and all the best with everything you’ve got going on with the Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale and your solo work and we look forward to catching you live when you finally get over here in April.
Nikki: I can’t wait. I’m so excited.
Tickets for The Iron Maidens debut UK show at the O2 Islington Academy on the 14th April are available now via Ticketweb. General admission is Â£20 plus booking fees. Support comes from Forever Never.