Hey folksies...I haven't done any interviews in a long time...here's one for some bed-time reading pleasure posted at www.neonblonde.com. It's long, so get those jammies and slippers on first. -------------------------------------------- Neon's Metal Madness Interview with Jen Bruce Chickinson Warren of The Iron Maidens By Neon Blonde Neon: First of all I would like to say how awesome it is to know that there is a band out there like The Iron Maidens. The only other ALL female band I was into was VIXEN and then of course there was Lita Ford. I think you have proved beyond any doubt that girls can really rock! JEN: Thanks Neon. Throughout the years and especially recently, the number of female musicians that play rock or metal has been few. I dont really think of it as women having to prove themselves as competent musicians since women have been playing classical piano, guitar, violin and other very intricate instruments for years. Metal is relatively easier to tackle than those but people still think because so much testosterone is mixed in with hard rock or metal, that its a world that should only be encroached upon by men. That just fuels our fire. All of us in the Maidens balance a masculine side, which comes out when we play whether that side takes form as rage, rebellion, or competitive glee. Its that aspect mixed with our femininity and sensuality merging with the music that makes us unique. Neon: I read in an interview that you did for Star Interview (Don Lemmon) that you either get stalker-types or the hate mail-types and you have heavy security at your shows. Is this ever a major concern for you guys when you take the stage? JEN--Well, yes and no. We get physical incidents every so often and we need our security staff to be prepared. The hate mail falls into two categories: 1) The women haters who think that all women should be barefoot, cooking and bringing the man a beer as soon as he walks in the door (oh yeah dont forget sewing up our boyfriends holey underwear.) We just laugh at these because its a deep difference of opinion and its best just not to go there. or 2) Die hard Maiden fans who have never seen us but just assume that since we are women, we must suck. I guess they think we couldnt have gotten in enough instrument practice time growing up between: shopping, baking cookies, talking about boys, painting our toe nails, and knitting. They mean well, they are just afraid we might be something Gimmicky tainting the Maiden name. They are the most critical of our MP3s, picking out any imperfection and writing us about it. These comments, I dont really mind though because they come from the heart of the most anal Maiden fans out there, and who better to learn from to help perfect our show? I like to start a healthy dialogue with these people and its usually a win-win situation where we start a long distance friendship and it ends in mutual respect. Neon: I understand your son has Autism. I work in the Special Ed. Field and I to have a son with Autism. Have you ever noticed music, no matter what style, having an impact on him? JENWow! You have an Autistic son too? My hats off to you Neon! Yes, in fact my music training has opened my eyes to a rhythmic, physical way of communicating with him that none of his therapists were doing at the time when he had no speech. I would tap his thigh rhythmically while speaking on the beat and I would start leaving out words in the sentence until he started filling in the words on his own. WA-LA, he began talking! I would sing some words as well which helped him recognize which words to repeat. It was a very enlightening and joyous realization for me and I think rhythm and music therapy is not recognized to its full potential in Autism Therapy practices today. Im also partial to the Discrete Trial method first made famous by Ivar Lovaas out of UCLA. That method worked wonders with my son. Neon: He also seems to be very proud of you. How does that make you feel, as a mom and a musician? JEN--Hes a great kid. He likes to tell the kids at school when were in the paper or if we have a special high profile gig or TV/radio appearance but anything I could accomplish with this band or any project is nothing compared to how far hes come beating Autism (which is curable by the way, if you catch it soon enough). When he was two he still had never spoken a word, not even Mama, nor did he know what ANY word meant. The fact that he can talk now and act like a normal little boy most of the time makes me grateful for absolutely everything I have in my life. Every milestone where he beats the disorder a little more just reinforces to me that any stupid, minor (or even major) setbacks in my own life that used to upset me, are totally insignificant and dont matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Neon: If you could put together the ultimate metal show who would the line up be, besides one obvious choice of Iron Maiden? JEN--Hmmmm. Id love to put together an Iron Maiden festival with Maiden and a bunch of tribute bands OR a concert of dead legends like: Jimi Hendrix, Layne Staley, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Cliff Burton, Kurt Cobain, and a couple other guys I cant think of right now. Call me supernatural, but that would be the ultimate show. Think of what people would pay for tickets? The LA Coliseum couldnt even hold THAT crowd! Neon: When did you first realize that you wanted to do an Iron Maiden tribute band? JEN--I was putting together a new hard rock cover band and was surfing the net one day and saw the REVELATIONS website. Theyre a Maiden tribute out of Chicago. Thats where I got the idea for a Maiden tribute with a female singer. It made the most sense since Dickinson molded my voice and style more than any other metal singer during my formative years. Neon: Did you guys ever face the comment of we have enough tribute bands out there; of course you had one thing going for you. The band is all female! JEN--I heard that sometimes when trying to book my first Maiden tribute band: Wrathchild. I just pressed on and worked on making the show better and more unique. Persistence is the best thing for that There are quite a few Maiden tributes across the US, Europe and South America, were just the only female tribute to Iron Maiden. Neon: My favorite IM song is Wickerman. Are you planning on adding it to your already extensive play list? JEN--We did The Wickerman with WRATHCHILD but The Iron Maidens do not currently perform that song. We like it but we have a list of like nine songs we want to learn first. Everybodys got their favorite so we have to compromise. Neon: Has there been any talk of going into the studio and recording Iron Maiden songs for a tribute CD? JEN--Yes, I believe we start recording this December after our Pacific Northwest mini-tour. With all that gigging on the road, we should be nice and tight for the studio. Our producer recommended that we record after we return. Weve recently added a new bassist, Wanda Ortiz, and shes changed the vibe of the material. Theres a different dimension now and weve all had to adapt. Wanda brings her acoustic up-right bass classical background to the project, which lends itself nicely to the aggressive Harris fingerpicking style. Neon: Tell us about the band that you were in called Wrathchild. JEN--Wrathchild was my first Maiden band. All the members were male except me when we started. We had a lot of fun I systematically replaced the men with women when competent female players came into my life. The first was Melanie Sisneros and we kept that line-up for almost two years. Then Jojo, Linda and Sara came into our lives and we made the transition all at once to a female line-up. Neon: What advice would you give a young woman entering this business? JENDont get discouraged if you are auditioning for projects and not finding a fit. Start your own project whether its, original, cover, singing at birthday parties dressed as Cinderella it doesnt matter. Whatever you do, make it your own and put all your heart and soul into it. Dont do it half-assed. Find a music style where your passion lies and just do it. If negative people try to dissuade you along your path, dont waste your time worrying about it, just laugh and move on. Surround yourself with caring, supportive people who share your vision and you cant fail. Neon: Who will be replacing Melanie Steve Heiress Sisneros on bass? JEN--Wanda Ortiz is a metal bassist playing hard rock and metal for years locally she lives down the street from me right near the beach. Her classical background adds an interesting rhythmic style to our sound. Check her out at http://www.theironmaidens.com/bios/wanda.htm but her name is Steph Harris. Neon: Your names are really clever. How did you come up with them? JEN--Lets see, John Leighton, Wrathchilds guitarist came up with my Bruce Chickinson, Sara came up with her own MiniMurray, I suggested Adrianne Smith as one possibility to Jojo and Steph or Stephe Harris to Wanda, I came up with Nikki McBrain for Linda and she added the BURR since Clive Burr was the man who first got her serious about her drumming. Neon: Having been in previous bands before The Iron Maidens did any of you ever write your own material and would you ever put out a CD with that material? JEN--The Phantom Blue gals have CDs out on Shrapnel and I believe Geffen Records. They got pretty well known in Europe, South America and Japan, but never really broke in the U.S. the way Vixen did but they still have quite a following that show up to Maiden shows now and know every little nuance of Phantom Blue trivia. Phantom was much more technical and progressive and not a pop hair band, which have always seemed to sell better in the U.S. Check out www.phantomblue.com for more on their history. Weve all put together some riffage of original stuff but at the present time, we dont have time to pursue it. Maybe when we do our Pac. NW tour well have more creative time to brainstorm. Neon: Do any of you have a background in the theatre? Where does the influence for your stage shows come from? JEN--I have a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts from Cal. State Long Beach (Scream for me Long Beach). There I learned every aspect of theatre from management to light rigging, to make-up, prop preparation, stage-craft, marketing and P.R., directing, acting, Martial Arts, you name itexcept fencing.) Plus R.J. our Eddie has much theatre experience and Mark our manager has worked in television and film for years, so together we make a great team to put together a Maiden show on a budget. Neon: Will we ever hear scream for me, Dallas? I would love to see you guys play a show here! JEN--We will. I know there are a lot of Metal-heads in Texas. Hopefully early 2003! Lately more and more promoters who book the West coast have been approaching us so it shouldnt take too much longer. Neon: What do your families think about what you do? JEN--My family is very supportive. My parents are musicians and my brothers work in the film industry. My Bruce Chickinson metamorphosis to them is pretty normal. They help with stuff when we visit their town, like my Dad will be Eddie and my mom will man the merch table. Neon: By the way, I found your site through Raven Mad. Great band! Jen--Thanks, Thats Melanies old original project. She left the Maidens to go tour with a Finnish band, Sinnergy. Neon: Tell us about the IM re-issue CD release party. How did that come about? JEN--The Sony rep got in touch with one of our main LA promoters and asked him whom the local Maiden band was. It was his ideas to have Maiden tributes play the event. He did the same thing in San Diego w/ a Maiden tribute down there called PIECE OF MIND. Neon: As I have said in other interviews I am a very big fan of The Doors and fond of The Whiskey a-go-go. What was it like for the band being able to play there? JEN--Phantom Blue played the Whiskey. The Maidens have yet to play there and have no plans of doing so in the near future. The club in Hollywood we seem to play most is the House of Blues. Neon: How does it make you feel knowing the impact youve made on metal fans everywhere? Not just male/female or IM fans but metal heads in general? JEN--I like it. I mean the main reason an artist of any kind presses on, is to affect others with their art or their method of entertainment, so its all good. Neon: What would you like to be doing in a year? JENTouring Europe, jamming with Maiden at NAMM or a Maiden Fan Convention, making cameo appearances in goofy comedy movies and performing for the U.S. Military Armed Forces. Id also like to branch out and do more conventional vocal stuff. We shall see. Neon: What do the girls of The Iron Maidens like to do for fun when not rehearsing or performing? JENWell, I know Linda does Tae Bow and sits in with a handful of other projects, Jojo produces horror films and scores music soundtracks, Im writing a book on mothering an autistic child, Wanda plays a ton of classical music concerts, and Sara plans and executes the most amazing parties that you could imagine. Neon: Jen, your husband is in the Metallica tribute band Creeping Death. How hard is it for you guys to find time together or do you just make the time regardless of what is going on? JENFinding time together is very difficult. You cant really make time when youve already cut everything out of your life that you possibly can and youre still only getting three hours of sleep a night because your day is too jam-packed with vital stuff that must be done. Its a struggle, but Ill slow down when Im eighty-five years old, after Im sick and tired of my old lady--Vegas-Maiden-Broadway-lounge-act. Thats it Run to the Hills jazz hands--jazz hands The Mariner, hed wished he died .kickballchange---turn---splitz---Along with the sea creature CHACHACHA---arms up---end bow. Iron Maiden on Broadway. Gotta love it. Why not? It worked for the Lion King. Neon: I would like to personally thank the girls of The Iron Maidens for what they do and to Jenny for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this interview. Keep rockin! JENTHANKS NEON! ROCK ON!!!