2019.07.30 – THE IRON MAIDENS – Nikki Stringfield, Wanda Ortiz, Courtney Cox (Interview)


The Iron Maidens is much more than just an ordinary cover band of Iron Maiden, which are many. Amazing concerts that in May this year the Ladies gave in Poland meant that I decided to reach the artists and talk to them about the band, but also about the individual plans of each of them. My questions were answered by the band’s guitarists Nikki Stringfield and Courtney Cox and it’s bassist Wanda Ortiz.


the iron maidens

You are the youngest member of The Iron Maidens and you play in this band for the shortest period of time. Your predecessor was Nita Strauss, who then rised to stardom alongside Alice Cooper. Was it difficult to replace her? How do you recall your joining the band?

Actually Nita and I were both Dave Murray subs at the same time. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2012, I joined a metal band called Before The Mourning. The guys in the band were friends with Courtney and Nita. Courtney asked me to fill in for Nita for a show and it all went from there. At the time the band had rotating Murray subs and I got thrown into the mix and eventually became a full time member.

Is Iron Maiden your favorite band? What are you currently listening to most? Do you have any guitar idols?

I can’t just have one favorite band.. Maiden has always been a huge influence and is one of my favorites for sure! Right now I’ve been trying to listen to a lot of newer bands since I’m getting ready to release an album… Ghost, Godsmack, Disturbed, Papa Roach. But of course I always keep the Metal classics in like Pantera, etc. I know he doesn’t ‘shred’, but Kurt Cobain is who inspired me to start playing guitar, along with Synyster Gates, Dimebag Darrell and Marty Friedman.

You are currently preparing your debut solo material. What made you decide on this step right now? What will your EP sound like? Have you worked on it alone or with some coworkers?

Well, I released several singles a few years ago and those were a bit of an experiment. They were recorded at home but people still seemed to really enjoy them! So I started writing and demoing my EP in early 2018. It’s been going for a while now and I’m so excited that it’s finally done! I wrote and played everything except for the drums. My producer, Jesse Billson, rocked the drums and really made the songs sound better than I could have imagined. Patrick Kennison of Heaven Below/Lita Ford produced and recorded my vocals and helped take things to the next level! Each song is a bit different but they’re all rocking.. several are very guitar driven, while others I chose to let the vocals shine. I tried my best to focus on the song writing over anything.

In August 2017, along with Kirsten, you appeared in the television game „Beat Shazam”. How did you get there? How do you recall your participation in this program?

It was so much fun! The band was asked to audition so Kirsten and I went for it. We really had no idea what to expect since it was a new show but we decided to just go for it and enjoy the experience. It was cool to meet Jamie Foxx! We were just happy we weren’t eliminated first, haha.

This year, along with The Iron Maidens, you performed in Poland for the first time. After the concert, you went to the fans, for which I would like to thank you since I wanted to meet you for a long time. What memories did you keep from Poland? Have any interesting stories happened during your stay in my country?

Poland was so awesome!! We got to play 3 shows there. Unfortunately with how much we have to travel we don’t get to see much of the cities we play in, but we did have some time in Gdańsk to walk around and sight see. It’s a gorgeous city! We really enjoyed getting to meet all the fans and I hope we get to come back soon!


the iron maidens

You joined the band shortly after its founding, after the departure of Melanie Sisneros. Since then you have been with Linda the only permanent members with the revolving door of guitarists and vocalists. How did the initiation of new members look like over the years? Did you do auditions or had you been looking among friends?

As we came to need new members we would either call on friends or hold open auditions.

Courtney and Nikki are currently preparing solo albums. Did you also think about recording your own record?

At this point in time, I don’t have plans to record a solo CD. However, it’s something that could happen in the future. It’s not something I have given a lot of thought to.

On the occasion of your concerts, one can get your pick with a playful inscription „I never use a pick, you can have this one”. Do you play with your fingers because you like it more comfortably or because you have to use the same technique as Steve Harris when playing Iron Maiden music?

I’ve always played with my fingers. I played the double bass before I took up the electric bass guitar. The double bass, when not being bowed, is always played with the fingers.

What have you been listening to lately? What are your favorite bands?

I just did an opera gig so I’ve been listening to a lot of Puccini lately. My favorites bands are Iron Maiden, Rush, Yes, pretty much any band where the bass is prevalent.

You have recently played in Poland. I was at your concert in Cracow and I talked with you after the show, during the meeting with the fans. What memories did you keep from Poland? When will you come back for more concerts?

The people in Poland were pretty awesome. We also got to visit a few historical sites that we will never forget . While we hope to play there again soon, we don’t have any news shows booked yet. I would like to go there again on my own just for vacation.


the iron maidens

How did you started to play the guitar?

I started to play guitar at around the age of thirteen. I went to my parents one day and just told them I wanted a guitar. They were confused as it was random and unlike me to ask for such a thing. I didn’t know why and didn’t have any life changing event that led me to play, I just wanted a guitar for some reason. After a week of having the instrument, I was already playing along to the bands I was listening to at the time such as Metallica, Judas Priest and Pantera. I taught myself and from doing that it was more interesting to me as I was finding my own style of playing, my own voice with the instrument.

Nita Strauss said in an interview with Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe that her very first song which decided about her will to play the guitar was Megadeth’s „Trust”. What Was Your first one and why?

The first two songs I ever learned how to play were Metallica’s ‘One’ and Anthrax’s ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’ ( I have that song titled tattooed on my lower stomach funny enough). It wasn’t just those two that inspired me to continue on, it was the whole metal genres of classic heavy metal and thrash that really pulled me into what would fuel my playing from then until now and into the future.

Previously you played for Queen Diamond, the all-female King Diamond tribute. Then you switched to The Iron Maidens, an all-female Iron Maiden tribute band led by former Phantom Blue drummer Linda McDonald. How was your way into this band and why then you decided to play covers?

I played in Queen Diamond during my teenage years in Philadelphia and that is where I’m originally from. The Philly music scene was dead around that time and I wanted to get out as fast as I could and gave my mother a week notice that I was moving to California. She of course was upset but encouraged me to go as I’m from a town where it is difficult to get out and make something of yourself. I left home at nineteen with a guitar,a suitcase and a dream. I found the Iron Maidens through Myspace at the time and saw they were auditioning for their Adrian position. Since I was new to California, had no friends, and no money, I went ahead and auditioned. I could not have asked for a better opportunity for me then and with the situation I was in. The band had formed in 2001, so I was stepping into a band that already was a force in the music scene. It is not just a tribute band, they are family. I don’t care if I’m playing covers or my own material, I want to play up onstage, tour the world and any chance I get to do that is a blessing.

Currently you work at your debut solo album. How is it going to be? Have you already decided about it’s final form?

My debut album is still in the works. It has been a difficult journey so far since the Maidens have been touring most of the last year,but it is coming together piece by piece. It’s going to be a heavy metal album with an instrument or two thrown into the mix. I never knew how much of a critic I was on my own playing until I started writing the tunes. The perfectionist has definitely come out. The hardest challenge I have with this project is not the playing or writing but knowing when the songs are truly finished. I know it will come to a point where I just have to hand everything over to the engineer and walk away haha. You have to find the happy balance between less is more and more is more. I’m not rushing the release so everyone is just going to have to hang tight for a second, you shouldn’t rush creativity. It is scary letting people hear what goes on inside of your mind musically and I look forward to hearing the responses. Your mind is the last thing you can truly keep to yourself. Handing that over in the form of an album is letting the world hear your thoughts, fears, dreams, successes, failures and everything in between. I will have a proper announcement when it is ready to be released for all to hear.

You are endorser for Caparison guitars. What convinced you about their quality?

I knew about Caparisons from watching Andy Larocque from King Diamond as he used to play one of their Horus models. It wasn’t until I had the chance to play one that I knew I had to have them, I’ve never played an instrument that played so fast with such resonance and tone and one that fit me perfectly. The head designer of these guitars is a master. I beat my guitars to death on tours and these instruments handle every second of it. I’m a Caparison artist for life. I highly recommend them. They also treat their artists like family and not a number like a lot of other companies do and that is something that means a lot to me.

And last but not least, This year you played in Poland for the first time. I attended the show in Cracow. What is your best memory from Poland?

Poland was a blast. My best memories are hanging with all the fans and crew at the venue before and after the show. We had a warm welcome in Cracow and I look forward to returning soon! You guys rock!

Questions by Patryk Pawelec
Live photos by Maryline Stein
Photos from the author’s archive by Łukasz Prajzler

the iron maidens
the iron maidens

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