Interview with Phantom Blue / The Iron Maidens for BARD MegaZine (Poland)
Interviewers: Patrycja Kowalska and Wojtek Gabriel, March 2004

We were very happy, when Linda confirmed, that we can do an interview with her, because we absolutely love the Phantom Blue’s stuff. And as we knew, together with some other PB girls, she plays in one and only all-female Iron Maiden tribute band, and soon they will release a whole-length album with Maiden’s tracks. So, after confirmation together with Pati we went to our local pub, ordered some beers and prepared the questions for Linda. So, here you’ve got an interview with two bands at the same time….

Phantom Blue

1. I know you started to listen to hard music thanks to your siblings. With which bands did you start your adventure with heavy metal?
The first metal bands I can remember hearing that got my attention were early Van Halen, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin and the heavy foot of John Bonham, and of course, Iron Maiden! My brother also played me stuff by Loudness. I was taken to a whole different aggression of metal when I heard “Fast As A Shark” by Accept! That was the heaviest song I had ever heard in my whole life back then! I fell in LOVE with that kind of power! It hit those inner feelings and moods that you think nobody else in the world could understand but you!
2. Where came the idea to create a female only band? Have you ever played with male musicians, in male bands?
Yes, I’ve played in male bands before. It’s a whole different vibe being the only female. I don’t make the conscious decision as to whether I am the only female or not. If the people involved can click and vibe together then it doesn’t matter what gender they are. I have found, however, by having at least one other female in the mix keeps a nice balance between estrogen and testosterone. It’s kind of a neat thing. I recorded with Carina Alfie, female shredder guitarista from Argentina, where we had a male bass player and male keyboardist. I also played in a band called Bomber for a while with a female singer and male guitar and bass players.
3. You are a multi-instrumentalist. You played piano, violin, guitar. So, why did you decide to concentrate on playing drums at last?
Drumming gave me the most satisfaction, plus, I sucked at the rest! I really really like to play the piano because I love to create melodies, but I was never good enough to take it to a professional level of any kind. I think learning theory had a lot to do with it, even though theory applies to drumming too, it didn’t feel the same because you didn’t have to know scales or modes or that kind of thing. I know it is important to learn these things, but for whatever reason my brain just didn’t want to grasp it in those days. It was very frustrating to me because I didn’t understand the way my books explained things. When my piano teacher would break out the theory books I would cry when I got home and have to ask my Dad to help me. (Thanks, Dad!!!) Many years later, when drums were my instrument of choice, I did go back to school and take some ear training classes to enable myself to communicate better with the other musicians and eventually did learn the things I was so confused about back in my youth with piano theory and scales and etc.
I guess rudiments and independence are the scales and modes for drumming in a sense, but it was far more interesting and rewarding to me presented this way. Plus it felt sooooooooo good to bash out and sweat to your favorite songs!!!!! Ah…….such a complete feeling when I get done playing my drums! So satisfying! Another instrument I always wanted to play was the banjo, but I have never gotten around to that yet.

The Iron Maidens
World’s Only Female Tribute To Iron Maiden
4. Three of Phantom Blue members play in The Iron Maidens. Does Phantom Blue play live still, do you write some new songs maybe?
Sadly, Phantom Blue has not played live in several years. We had a tour scheduled for New York arena at one point but then 9/11 happened and that got shut down in a pinch. We don’t currently have any live shows scheduled for Phantom Blue, but Josephine and Sara and myself are still bashing it out live with The Iron Maidens and Damnzel. There are some Phantom Blue songs we have not recorded or released to this day and they kinda just sit in the darkness waiting to be heard. Maybe someday they will come alive again.
5. The Iron Maidens is recording a full-length tribute album, can we expect any new records from Phantom Blue?
Well, like I said, we have songs that we have never recorded yet with Phantom Blue, but I don’t foresee that happening in the immediate future. Most of the new songs that are coming about are a completely different feel than what Phantom Blue would do. It wouldn’t be right to record them and put them out as Phantom Blue songs. We do have (Josephine, Sara and myself) another project called Damnzel (www.damnzel.com) that might claim some of those new song cuz it is more fitting and of a darker and moodier nature. Until the new stuff is hashed out, Damnzel is playing covers.
The Iron Maidens full-length tribute album is almost done! We only have the vocals to lay down and then it will be complete! This was a fun project to do! Please keep checking our website for more info! www.theironmaidens.com.
6. Last few years the 80s music comes back a little. Don’t you think, that it would be better to create some good new stuff as Phantom Blue, to records a new album, not to concentrate on the tribute band?
A lot of the 80’s music coming back is in the form of reunions. I am totally happy that metal music is gaining far more acceptance and is making a pretty strong comeback! I understand your point, and I do get the bug to get more original stuff recorded for Phantom Blue from time to time, however, at the moment it is a more lucrative avenue to concentrate on the tribute band, because it is what is paying the bills right now. Playing in The Iron Maidens is really great because you get to play all Clive Burr’s and Nicko McBrain’s amazing drum parts in front of all these people and it makes you look like you’re a great drummer, but in reality, I never came up with those parts so I can’t take credit for their great drum parts. Sometimes this gives me a yearning to play more original stuff again so I can express myself in my own way and take the credit when people tell me they like the way I play. I guess you never really know when a new recording may happen. Most of us tend to act on a whim, and if opportunity presents itself at the right time and place, I guess anything can happen.
7. With The Iron Maidens you got a prize for the best female tribute band. Have you ever won any prizes with Phantom Blue?
Yes, Phantom Blue won an award for our “Time to Run” video many years ago at a local music awards show, and I won several “Best Female Drummer” and “Best Performance of Drums” awards at local Awards shows too. It’s so flattering to be recognized by your home music community.
8. Your nickname in The Iron Maidens - Nikki McBurrrain - is a word-game from Maiden drummers’ names, Clive Burr and Nicko McBrain. Which of them you do like more, I mean as a musician?
Clive Burr is the main reason I started playing drums. I was sent home from school for a few days for being a naughty girl and had nothing to do for 3 whole days but listen to records! “Maiden Japan” stole my heart and made me want to play drums the way Clive Burr did on that record. With that said………Clive Burr is always going to be one of my favorites.
I respect both Iron Maiden drummers immensely as musicians and appreciate them both uniquely. You can’t really compare the two to say which is “better” because I feel they are both coming from completely different places in their playing. Even though they both play/played with the same band, the time periods each were involved in were totally different in what the music called for drumming-wise. They are both perfect at what they do/did with Iron Maiden and brought excellent drumming to the table. Having to learn both drummers’ parts has opened my ears up to their individual ways they approach the drum set. Clive is definitely more of an aggressive vibe, feel, attitude and faster player; Nicko is definitely harder to get a grip on cuz his fills and style are not so conventional, and he is more technically inclined. His phrasings are unique and he never plays the same live as he does on the recordings! Oh I could go on and on but I think maybe I’m getting my opinion across okay here?

9. Are you in touch with the girls from the old PB line-ups? Are they still into heavy metal?
I communicate with Michelle Meldrum every now and then and Kim Nielsen too. Michelle lives in Sweden and has her original band called Meldrum, which is doing quite well from what I understand. Powerful stuff! Kim Nielsen is living in California playing music still. I have not heard about Gigi for many years and I often wonder what happened to her. She has such an amazing voice I wish she would use it again with another project. Nicole is somewhere in New York last I knew. She was not involved in music any longer when I saw her last. We ran into each other in downtown Manhattan about 7 years ago but I have not heard from her since.
10. Whose idea was the video clip made in the prison? The lyrics of “Why Call It Love” have not too much to do with situations showed in the clip…
That was the production company’s idea! When we were first told where we were going to shoot the video, we were all like “What? We’re going WHERE???? WHY!??!?!” Then we all hopped into the van and were taken to Carson City, Nevada, to the maximum-security men’s prison. All the inmates in that video were real and in for a term of at least one life sentence. It’s funny how producers/directors of videos can have an entirely different idea of how a song should be visually represented. We did another video for our song “Time to Run” and found out after we had spent the entire day shooting that the Producer thought the song was called “Time to Rock” and that is why there is this rock that appears throughout the video smashing a clock and stuff. We found out after the shoot when they had us all sign the rock for an MTV giveaway for the “Time to Rock” video……….we just about died laughing and the Producer couldn’t believe he just spent the entire day shooting a video that showcased this rock that had nothing to do with the song at all!
11. In all your bands you have always played with talented musicians, some of them graduated music schools or studied with known people. But don’t you think, that some of guys were coming to your concerts just to watch the beautiful girls on the stage, and the music was for them in the background only?
Thank you. I have always enjoyed the talented people I have been fortunate enough to work with and am thankful for the opportunities I have had with them all.
If guys were coming to shows “just to watch the beautiful girls on stage”, I think they’d get more bang for their buck at the Pink Pussy Gentleman’s club down the street! Of course many guys were going to the shows to watch women playing metal on stage, but I wouldn’t say the music was only in the background because we never let you forget about the music! It was NEVER just about being sexy on stage; it was ALWAYS about being in your face with heavy music that just happened to be played by some chicks, whether we were dressed in the small little clingy tops and tight bottoms or dressed down in concert t-shirts and jeans. If they did come just to see chicks on the stage and the music was background…….. God bless ‘em for coming down! I hope they enjoyed the show!

12. You’re a very busy musician. Except Phantom Blue you participate in many projects, and play in the band Damnzel. What kind of music is this? Have you recorded anything with this band already?
Ya, I have to keep myself busy because I don’t know what to do with myself if I am not playing out with a band! Damnzel is a band influenced by bands like Disturbed, Incubus, Tool, SOAD,..etc. We are working on original material but are currently performing covers until we get enough songs done to throw into the set. Check it out at www.damnzel.com
13. The last question. Do you like cats?
Yes, I do! I am allergic to most of them, but I have one! I have a Maine Coon Cat named Puddy! He’s a real punk, but he is my charming, big 15 lb. fur ball. He decided he wanted to move into my house when my dog passed away a few years ago. (*sniffle) The timing couldn’t have been any better. He is adorable but very spoiled and has some funny, quirky habits (as I think all cats do!). When I start playing my drums, he will just mosey to the other room and go to sleep. Gotta love that! His favorite things are his scratch box, his catnip, and sleeping on the bed. Cats are great! I used to despise their extreme independence and “better than thou” arrogance many seem to possess, but this is something I have come to really appreciate over the years. Honestly though, dogs are really my true love in life. I am insanely crazy about dogs, but that’s a whole other story!
14. OK. Thank you very much. We wish you lot of success with all your bands! Last words for our readers…
Thanks for keeping metal alive in Poland! BARD Megazine, thank you for your time and MegaZine! Please check www.theironmaidens.com and www.damnzel.com and www.phantomblue.com for upcoming stuff! And………Up the Irons, Baby!!!!!