MAIDEN AMER­ICA

PAUL SOUTH­WELL FINDS OUT WHAT IT TAKES TO BE THE WORLD’S BEST IRON MAIDEN COVER BAND FROM THE IRON MAID­ENS’ SHREDDERS COURT­NEY COX AND NIKKI STRINGFIELD.

Australian Guitar - - Feature -

Bri­tish heavy metal heavy­weights Iron Maiden have in­flu­enced gen­er­a­tions of gui­tarists world­wide. They quickly at­tained the top po­si­tion in the new wave of Bri­tish heavy metal decades ago, whilst to­day, their live shows are mam­moth pro­duc­tions that con­tinue to in­spire with new mu­sic.

Their cel­e­brated back cat­a­logue has nat­u­rally spawned many tribute bands, which notably in­cludes the Iron Maid­ens – the world’s only all-fe­male ver­sion.

Aus­tralian-Gui­tar spoke to es­tab­lished gui­tarists Court­ney ‘Adri­ana Smith’ Cox and Nikki ‘Dav­ina Mur­ray’ Stringfield about their im­pend­ing (and fast-sell­ing) tour that prom­ises a unique pre­sen­ta­tion of a plen­ti­ful se­lec­tion of clas­sic Iron Maiden songs. What got you into heavy metal at the start?

COX: My older brother was a huge metal fan, so I’d al­ways hear him blast­ing his al­bums through the wall – then I’d get in trou­ble for steal­ing his al­bums, so it spawned from that fam­ily feud. My mother jokes that she’s glad I wasn’t alive in the ‘80s, be­cause I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have sur­vived. It’s cu­ri­ous that a Maiden tribute band comes from LA, given the ‘80s shred era with bands like Racer X.

STRINGFIELD: I’m from Dal­las, so I grew up lis­ten­ing to Pan­tera and got to see Da­m­age­plan, but I was born in 1990 so I missed the golden era. I love in­stru­men­tal shred, es­pe­cially Marty Fried­man and Paul Gil­bert’s Racer X stuff. Maiden is go­ing to be the last of the big metal bands. There are not many peo­ple do­ing what Iron Maiden, Me­gadeth or Me­tal­lica did. Adrian Smith and Dave Mur­ray have a large amount of equip­ment in their live rigs, so repli­cat­ing their set­ups would be un­re­al­is­tic. Do you use am­pli­fier sim­u­la­tors and ef­fects pro­ces­sors?

COX: I use a tube am­pli­fier, and my ped­al­board is sim­ple with de­lay for songs such as “Moon­child”, cho­rus and a boost pedal to cut through. I’ll use a har­moniser pedal for “Can I Play With Mad­ness” and a wah pedal for songs like “Killers”.

STRINGFIELD: I just got a Kem­per, so I can get pretty close. I’ve been us­ing an ENGL tone. Trav­el­ling with your ex­act tone ev­ery­where makes life so much eas­ier. I was us­ing an auto-wah for “Num­ber Of The Beast” and “Run To The Hills”, and now that I’ve got the Kem­per, I’m re­vamp­ing my whole setup. What gui­tars are you us­ing these days?

COX: I was with Jack­son for 12 years and they made me a green Adrian Smith model. Now I use Ca­pari­son Horus-M3 gui­tars, and I’m re­leas­ing a sig­na­ture model in Septem­ber.

STRINGFIELD: I play Schecter gui­tars and have a sig­na­ture model – the Nikki Stringfield A-6 FR-S – which has Sey­mour Dun­can pick­ups. I don’t play Stra­to­cast­ers like Dave since I’ve got an awe­some en­dorse­ment and a sig­na­ture gui­tar. Mine is a stock model, so it’s ex­actly what you get if you buy it. Maiden’s early sound has that dis­tinct twin-gui­tar style. Do you im­pro­vise at all on­stage, or do peo­ple de­mand the Maiden ex­pe­ri­ence and want to hear the so­los as they are on their records?

COX: Learn­ing the ma­te­rial, I tend to do it note-for-note. But I’m not Adrian, so I try to keep the key notes and then be my own player. I think that what sep­a­rates us from other tribute bands is that peo­ple iden­tify us as our­selves. Peo­ple seem to see us apart from the peo­ple that we are on­stage. We’re bring­ing the pow­er­house tunes, but we still sound like our­selves. Dave and Adrian have dif­fer­ent gui­tar styles. Have you spent a lot time study­ing their tech­niques?

STRINGFIELD: Dave uses so much fluid legato with ham­mer-ons and pull-offs. I al­ways liked al­ter­nate pick­ing, so I re­ally had to put time into try­ing to em­u­late him. His so­los are so fun to play, bluesy and fast. I try to get that tone, but there’s al­ways a part of you that goes into the play­ing. If you fol­low the ca­reer tra­jec­tory of the band’s lineup, given Adrian left tem­po­rar­ily, at least Court­ney can re­turn and you’ll have a three gui­tar lineup with a Jan­ick Gers char­ac­ter.

COX: If we were play­ing sta­di­ums, no prob­lem. We’re at the mercy of sound en­gi­neers in these tiny clubs, so adding one more in­stru­ment would drive them in­sane. We’re not try­ing to be any­thing we’re not – we just try to stay hum­ble and have our laughs on­stage. If I wasn’t on­stage, I’d be in the au­di­ence. We’re not try­ing to take over the world; we’re just play­ing one show at a time.

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