As far as tribute bands go, they don’t come much bigger than the Iron Maidens. A unique, all female homage to one of the most popular heavy metal bands of all time, the Californian five piece have racked up an impressive 1.2 million followers on Facebook. Having played gigs all over the world, the band are about to make their U.K. debut with a show at the Islington Academy on 14th April. We caught up with singer Kirsten ‘Bruce Chickinson’ Rosenberg to talk about the show, and unwittingly influenced the direction it might take in the process.
How are you today?
I’m doing great. It’s the crack of dawn here in L.A. It’s actually nine am and I haven’t had my coffee, so this is going to be interesting. I’m actually kidding, this is great.
You’ve got your debut U.K. show at the Islington Academy in London coming up. Are you looking forward to that?
Yeah. We’re so excited and we can’t believe we’re going to be playing there. I mean, it’s so close to the birthplace of Iron Maiden.
Will there be extra pressure on you playing for the London audience?
Yeah, I would say so, definitely. Hopefully the fans there will be very warm and welcoming, and not be standing there with their arms crossed looking down the lengths of their nose. We find wherever we go, the people, they’re Iron Maiden fans, and we all are, so they’re just so warm and welcoming, and happy to be rocking out to some Iron Maiden and having a bunch of girls doing it.
The Iron Maiden fans so seem to have gotten right behind you.
We’re thrilled and yeah, we are so lucky. I mean, we’ve had so much support, and of course, thank you Iron Maiden – there just can’t be enough Iron Maiden music. We’ve over one million followers on Facebook, which is crazy! But we feel so fortunate. I picked a good band to be in to pay tribute to.
I wanted to ask about the set list for the London show. Will you be playing much material from the new Iron Maiden album ‘The Book Of Souls’?
We’ve always felt that it’s best to leave the current material, the stuff that Iron Maiden is touring on, to Iron Maiden. That’s what they’re going to be playing, so we can bring the fans some of the older, and more classic stuff and their earlier catalogue. So, no, we won’t be doing ‘Book Of Souls’ material. Nut I would love to do ‘Death Of Glory’. There are so many good songs on that album. I think it would be a real riot to surprise everybody and do one, but so far that’s not the plan.
The band seems to cover a lot of material that Iron Maiden don’t. Do you enjoy doing those deeper cuts?
Yeah, we love doing those. ‘Back In The Village’ is one of my favourite ones to do, I love that song. That was my suggestion for the band. We also do ‘Alexander The Great’ which is one that Iron Maiden haven’t even performed live yet. Of course we also get people at the show who aren’t these long time, hard core fans, and the only songs they might know are ‘The Trooper’ and ‘Run To The Hills’ and ‘Flight Of Icarus’. So we of course are always going to play, not necessarily each of those songs every time, but there are certain songs in our set list we always do that people would expect. It’s funny though, we typically play ninety minutes to two hours, and with Iron Maiden, that might only be like six or seven songs!
Is it hard work performing a full set of Iron Maiden songs?
I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily physically hard. There’s always occasions like I’m on the verge of forgetting lyrics, which has happened a few times, but we’re all in pretty good shape, so it isn’t really physically hard unless someone has an injury or something.
The band are no strangers to having guests join them on stage. Have you had any favourites?
Oh gosh, now you’ll get me into trouble if I pick favourites! Well, the band formed in 2001 and I didn’t join until 2009, so there are a whole slew of people that have played with the band that I’ve never played with. But [former Judas Priest vocalist] Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens has got to among my top favourites, because he is another vocal god. I mean, he is just fantastic, and the most down to earth, nicest man you’ll ever meet. That was certainly a real highlight. Another one, and I was not in the band, but they played with Michael Kenny, who is Iron Maiden’s bass tech and keyboard player. He played on show with the Iron Maidens and I thought it was really, really cool.
Have you any plans for guest appearances at the London show? How about former Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton?
That would be so cool! People scatter far and wide and I didn’t know Dennis Stratton was still in London. I love that boy. Wow, that is a really cool idea! You’ve just sparked something. We’re going to have to follow up on that one. I like that idea; I’m actually writing that down right now.
Have you met any of Iron Maiden themselves?
I’ve met Nicko. He’s actually the only one of Iron Maiden that I’ve met. The rest of the band have met everybody else. I keep calling Bruce but he’s not returning my calls; what’s up with that?! *Laughing*. I think he’s busy flying a jumbo jet or on tour.
If you could jam with only one member of Iron Maiden, who would you choose?
Well, I guess it would be my part – I would love to be present with Bruce Dickinson sitting in with the band. But then, that’s such a tough question. I would be happy with any of the members. I don’t have one particular favourite. Any of them; “please, you’re welcome! Come to the show!” We did hear recently about Adrian Smith getting up and jamming with some friends of ours. It wasn’t a Maiden tribute, it was just a show not too far from us. I just thought; “man, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time!”
Have you seen the quote from Bruce Dickinson where he said he’d seen you live and turned to Steve Harris and asked if he fancied his doppelganger?
Isn’t that hysterical! They’re so funny! We played in South America in Mexico city, and Bruce and Steve actually came to the show. That is a really, really fun quote. Any time the words ‘Iron Maidens’ comes out of any one of their mouths, we’re cheering and we’re so excited. We so appreciate it.
Will you get a chance to catch Iron Maiden when The Book Of Souls Tour begins in the USA?
Absolutely. We’re going to see them when they play in Las Vegas. In fact, the night before, we are playing the Iron Maiden fan club’s pre-show party. So it’s going to be a super fun weekend of Iron Maiden for us.
Finally, If Bruce left the band, would you fancy having a go at the job?
Absolutely I’d fancy the job! *Laughing* Why not?! I don’t think that everyone would just accept it. It might take a while for people to come around. I don’t think anyone can fill Bruce Dickinson’s shoes. You really can’t.
By Eamon O'Neill.
First published on gigsandfestivals.com, 19 February 2016.