TABLET MAGAZINE
Seattle, WA
December 2002 issue


Hallowed Be Thy Name
by Wendy Colton

Waiting for The Iron Maidens to take the stage at Hell’s Kitchen in Tacoma, the crowd is surly. The metalheads have been drinking Jagermeister until two minutes to midnight, and they are ready to either worship the band, or lynch them.
One song into The Iron Maidens set at Hell’s Kitchen in Tacoma, it is apparent the world’s only all-female tribute to the legendary band Iron Maiden does justice to the real thing. Not only are they totally scorching babes in spandex, they are outstanding, talented, tight-as-hell musicians. This female musical force has energy and chemistry reminiscent of Iron Maiden itself. They slaughter the Tacoma rivetheads.
Formed in early 2001, The Iron Maidens quickly established themselves as one of Los Angeles’ most popular tribute acts. Jenny “Bruce Chickinson” Warren, who lead the first incarnation of the band, Wrathchild, assembled Sara “MiniMurray” Marsh, Linda “Nikki McBURRain” Mc Donald, and Josephine “Adrianne Smith” Draven. Bassist Wanda “Steph Harris” Ortiz recently rounded out the line-up. Now recognized as a must-see tribute, packing houses all over southern California, including the prestigious House of Blues, the ladies easily make obvious their classy resumes. For instance, singer Jenny graduated from Long Beach State with a BA in Theatre Arts, and Wanda holds a BA in Music from UC Irvine, and plays upright bass in the South Coast Symphony. Clearly this is not some karaoke charade.
So how does playing in a symphony cross over with this band? “A lot of classical music has very basic bass lines or stuff that isn’t very interesting to play,” says Wanda, “and so you get drawn toward composers that wrote more interesting bass lines, like Beethoven for example. A lot of rock bass lines are pretty similar, the basic meat and potatoes, and so with Iron Maiden its kinda the same thing. Steve Harris wrote something fun. There’s the crossover. A fun bass line is a fun bass line, whether Beethoven wrote it or Steve Harris wrote it, its still fun to play.”
Breaking down barriers between men and women in rock is no small task. What’s the reaction to playing men’s music in a man’s world? “Feminists that have their hearts and arms open to metal love us because they see us breaking down those barriers.” Says Jen, “And we’re not bitchy about it, we don’t run around saying ‘Hey man, we’re girls and we rock.’ That’s the kind of shit you say when you’re 14. You get over it. We just go out and celebrate Iron Maiden, we have a great time, and if anything that unites men and women more than going out there like you’re some bad-ass. Nobody wants to see that, they just wanna a good vibe. We had an open jam recently, where we played our whole set and invited 2-3 people to come up and play with us. I noticed how men and women shared the stage equally, all night long, regardless of gender. It was one big Iron Maiden celebration.”
“Just one step closer to world peace.” Sara chimes.
The Iron Maidens cover material from all eras of Maiden’s career, encompassing the band’s biggest hits as well as fan favorites. (Well, most eras … the Blaze Bailey period is wisely omitted.) The stage show includes brain platters, pyro-techniques, appearances by Maiden mascot Eddie the 'Ed, the grim reaper, the devil, and more. The band is also considering adding a Janick Gerrs to the line-up.
Last month, The Iron Maidens played to a crowd of over 60,000 at the LA Coliseum for the Smoke-Out Fest with Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg, Mudvayne and many others. The band is currently featured in a full page spread in the February issue of Guitar World Magazine, with an exclusive interview by Dan Epstein. Next up, the ladies will be going into the studio to record the first ever Iron Maiden tribute album released by one group. Once that drops, it seems only a matter of time before those blokes from England look them up for a jam. Their delightful and sassy website theironmaidens.com will keep you up to date, and have anyone with a pulse wishing they were a pair of black and white striped trousers.
Two weeks after the Hell’s Kitchen show in Tacoma, The Iron Maidens step up to a churlish crowd in Portland, to again prove they aren’t harlots. And again they kill. Another triumphant celebration of one of the greatest bands in heavy metal history, done with beauty and talent. But even more importantly, these women prove once and for all, you don’t need testosterone to have balls. Up the Irons indeed.

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