Ladies and gentlemen, we give you...the world's premier all-female Iron Maiden tribute band! Okay, so there's not much competition for the mantle, but the headbanging quintet known as the Iron Maidens are no mere soft, lovely creatures to trifle with.
Together since 2001, these SoCal ladies make keen study of the songs, the stage moves and even the set designs of the kings of NWOBHM (that's New Wave of British Heavy Metal, duh). Their recently released self-titled debut CD puts an estrogen-laden cloak on Maiden classics like "Run to the Hills," "Two Minutes to Midnight," "Killers" and everyone's favorite kids' birthday party anthem, "The Number of the Beast."
Wack recently spoke with vocalist Aja Kim ("Bruce Lee Chickinson") and drummer Linda McDonald ("Nikki McBURRain") about their music, their Maiden connections and their thongs.
The Iron Maidens
Wack: What made you decide to form your band around Iron Maiden, when what the world really needs is an all-female Winger tribute band?
McDonald: We don't have enough Aquanet. No, Maiden's music is just so projectable, and it's held its own for all these years. It's our favorite music. And if you're going to learn the minutiae of songs, it might as well be a band you really like. Sometimes we'll spend a whole week on one song. This isn't the Go-Go's.
Wack: When you decide to learn a new song, are you reading charts or just putting a CD in the player and hitting "repeat"?
McDonald: I have a really cool computer program that slows down a song without changing the pitch.
Kim: And I watch a lot of concert videos for what [lead singer Bruce Dickinson] does.
Wack: You got Derek Riggs to draw your record cover. Derek Riggs! The cover artist for the real Maiden and creator of Eddie! How did that happen, and whose idea was it to put tits on Eddie...or Edwina, as it turns out?
Kim: We got in touch with him through the Internet. We wanted a female monster, but she had to have reasonably sized breasts. I think he was amused by the whole thing. Actually, in the first version we wanted them bigger.
McDonald: Bigger never hurts.
Kim: He actually modeled her on Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton as a rotting corpse, that is.
Wack: That's how many people would like to picture her now. And the thong was a nice touch.
McDonald: That was his idea!
Wack: Some of you have actually met members of Iron Maiden. What is their whole take on your band?
Kim: It was an honor, but kind of embarrassing.
McDonald: They look into their audience and see 99.9 percent guys and probably wondered if they had any female fans. They're glad to find out girls like them, too.
Wack: I'm sure through the years they probably found that out quite well after the shows.
McDonald: We actually did a benefit show with Nicko [McBrain, Maiden drummer], and I got to play with him. Talk about nerve-racking.
Kim: I'd love to meet Bruce if they tour the States next year. It would be amazingÉand terrifying.
Wack: Well, we know they're not touring with Ozzfest next year. [The 2005 tour ended ingloriously with a Sharon Osbourne-orchestrated massive egg-pelting of Maiden during their set. It was in response to Dickinson's anti-Ozzy comments from the stage.]
Kim: We do a lot of all-ages shows, and it's cool to see the sons with their dads, like it's a rite of passage or something. Hey, they have Tom Jones for the moms and their daughters!
Wack: Um, yeah. But really, you're a metal fan's dream. You're hot chicks who play hard, dress in tight outfits and know the words to "The Trooper." If you had to replace a member, and you had the choice between a good-looking woman who was a so-so player, or someone who could shred but was not as easy on the eyes, who would you pick?
Kim: Well, playing comes first...but it does help if you're cute.
McDonald: We do enjoy displaying our, uh, femininity...
Wack: Do you get your share of male groupies after the show to pick from?
Kim: I wouldn't call them groupies. They're Maiden fans!
McDonald: They're very respectful...we're not talking a knuckle-dragging group of metal fans here.
Kim: We did have one guy who jumped up on the merchandise table, pulled down his pants and wanted us to sign his butt. But he was probably plastered. We did get the pointiest Sharpie pen we could find, though.
Wack: Your Web site [www.theironmaidens.com] has a lot of stuff for sale. But what's the bigger seller: your T-shirts, or the Iron Maidens specially designed thong underwear?
Kim: It's the CD!
McDonald: The thongs go great at the live shows. Guys will buy them for their girlfriends. And if they don't have one, they can hang it on their rearview mirror.
Wack: Now that's classy.
McDonald: Or they can give it to a potential girlfriend. What a turn-on! -- Bob Ruggiero
The Iron Maidens will rock the house Tuesday, April 11, at the Meridian, 1503 Chartres, 713-225-1717.
Ten reasons the Velvet Underground is the most overrated band ever and is deserving of the rotating knives and soundproofed, Mediterranean-scene-covered walls of our critical abattoir:
1. Jim Morrison was a better raunchy Rimbaud than Lou Reed ever was. Of course, Jim doesn't get any credit for that because he died fat and ugly and he was from (gasp) Florida, and Lou was an NYC glamour kid who hung out with Andy Warhol. But still, Morrison was better at being a "poetic" heroin-addled rock star than Reed ever dreamed of being.
2. The VU single-handedly enshrined the idea that boring equals cool. Because of them, it's all about having the right pissy attitude and the correct artistic sensibility rather than creating music that's fun, exciting, primal or even merely enjoyable. It's because of the Velvets that hipsters stand and stare at shows. Indeed, it's because of the Velvets that hipsters exist.
3. The Velvets dragged rock off the streets and into art galleries and now even museums. By consorting with Warhol, classically trained Brit John Cale, German supermodel Nico and other such Eurotrash and hoity-toity types, and by branding themselves as less a band than a "movement" (one with the moronic name "the Plastic Exploding Inevitable," at that), they demanded that rock receive "high culture" treatment. This is bad.
4. The Velvet Underground and Nico is often cited as the best album of all time. How can that be possible when nobody has listened to the second half of it (what used to be called "side two") since 1974?
5. Indeed, when was the last time somebody played any of this record for the sheer joy of listening to it? When was the last time somebody played the Velvet Underground when they weren't trying to make some hipster point? They haven't, because this is not a great record. It's an important record, I'll grant that, but don't make me listen to it.
6. The main reason this album never goes out of style is not that it didn't sell many copies when it was released. No, it never goes out of style because, outside of R.E.M., no band that cops to having the Velvets as a major, obvious influence has had much success either. And that's because most of the bands the Velvets influenced -- Sonic Youth, for example -- make dreary, miserable music for philosophy majors who aren't as smart or weird as they think they are. And if all you influenced was a great smoking dungheap of shite, can you be said to be influential at all, at least in any positive sense?
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7. There's the whole business of this album kicking off the punk movement somehow, 'cause, like, you know, punk had to be from New York, 'cause everything cool is from New York. Bullshit. The Stooges and the MC5 can stake a much stronger claim to that throne, as can John Fogerty and CCR. (To me, "Fortunate Son" was America's first punk hit.)
8. Oh, wait a minute...I suddenly get how the Velvets were the first punk band. Andy Warhol foisted them off on a gullible public the same way that Malcolm McLaren later did with the Sex Pistols. The Velvets may not have had much to do with punk musically, but they were certainly the first great Rock and Roll Swindle.
9. Nico: She could not sing, and letting her do so opened up a can of worms that's still wriggling. Today, every mousy little indie-rock girl listens to The Velvet Underground and Nico and thinks, "Hey, Nico couldn't sing, and this is the coolest album of all time! I should totally sing!" No, Skylar, or Leilani, or whatever your name is, you shouldn't. Watch some VU video, honey. See that six-foot, smokin'-hot ice princess on the stage? That's Nico. Gaze upon her. That was why she was in the band.
10. Their "risque" lyrics. I get how junkies, whores and trannies might be thrilling to college freshmen and other poseurs from Memorial and Sugar Land, but for those of us who grew up around them, or see them every day on the way to and from work, they are boring. Also, while this shit might have broken some new ground in 1967, it's old hat now, so stop telling us we have to care. -- John Nova Lomax