A “Tribute” to All-Female Tribute Bands

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As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 15 – Spring 2021 – Electrified!

Hey, guys! Watch out. The womxn have you covered. We’re paying tribute to the all-female “tribute” bands paying homage to their rock and heavy metal idols—think AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Queen, Kiss, and Black Sabbath. These ladies are taking center stage to treat their fans to one heck of a show!

Australian rock band AC/DC has caught the attention of several tribute bands. AC/Dshe from San Francisco has been at it since 1997, covering the Bon Scott era. Hell’s Belles launched in 2000 in Seattle. Mistress of Reality and Black Sabbitch take on Black Sabbath while the San Francisco Killer Queens belt out our favorite Queen tunes.

In this issue, we’re paying tribute to several of our favorite all-female tribute bands: Judas Priestess, Priss, Zepparella, Iron Maidens, and Ballbreakers.

Judas Priestess

Photo by Gyda Gash

Formed in 2009 in New York City, these talented women are the world’s only all-girl band paying tribute to Metal God, Judas Priest, being recognized by major music magazines as one of the current top female bands in the world.

Clad in leather-studded clothing for their energetic performances, these multi-talented women have garnered worldwide status from music critics and devoted fans who pack their shows—even receiving approval from Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford on VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show.

Band members Militia Vox – Lead Vocals

Josette – Lead Guitar

Rena Sands Petrucci – Lead Guitar

Gyda Gash – Bass, Backing Vocals

Hillary Blaze – Drums, Backing Vocals

Militia:  I’m the Frontwoman and Music Director, so it’s my job to lead the charge and make sure the band is giving everything they got and that the audience understands who we are, that we came to kick ass, and we’re all going to love it. What roles do each of you play?
How did you perfect your band character’s style—some of those iconic moves and riffs?  Practice—and also making it our own! We’re a tribute band, sure, but we’ve chosen to interpret the music of Judas Priest, not mimic. We don’t play it note for note, and we add our own flair and swagger to the songs and the stage energy—it’s ‘ferociously feminine.’ We don’t look like them—why sound like them? Ultimately, we are honoring them, their incredible songs, and their iconic legacy.
“Painkiller”—because I love to watch the jaws drop!!!! It’s mean, it’s heavy, it shows off everyone in the band, and it’s the most metal song ever. Favorite song to cover?

 

Priss

Photo by Jack Lue

Priss prides itself in being the only Kiss tribute band to perform on the KISS Kruise & Kid Rock Cruise, and they have also performed on A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels and Storage Wars. Priss performs worldwide and also had the pleasure of performing with Bruce and Bob Kulick.

Band members Moa Munoz – Lead singer and guitarist

Jennifer Paro – Lead guitar

Andrea Zermeno – Bass

Rolly DeVore – Drums

Moa – “Doll Stanley”

Jennifer – “Lace Frehley”

Andrea – “Jean Simone”

Rolly – “Peter Priss”

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What roles does each of you play?
How did you perfect your band character’s style—some of those iconic moves and riffs?  Moa:  Being a female singer, I am just never going to sound exactly like the original when the original is a man, so I think it has been a mix of trying to get the vibe of Paul and try to copy some of his swag while still keeping it me. For some of the riffs, I actually got some help from Bruce Kulick himself! I was super nervous, but it was also super helpful and cool. As a band and as friends outside of the band, we simply have fun together, and I think that shows. Everyone can learn to play a song, but it’s something different actually playing together. You know what I mean?

Joining Priss was my first gig after moving to the US from a small town in Sweden, and these guys really took me under their wings and helped and taught me so much. I am forever grateful to them, and for the day my guitar teacher, Lenny, recommended me for this audition, and almost eight years later, we’re still going strong!

Moa:  I love to play “Lick it Up.” It has a great groove, and I love singing it. It always drives the crowd nuts! “Detroit Rock City” is also another favorite. Favorite song to cover?

 

Zepparella

Pictured L to R: Holly West, Gretchen Menn, Anna Kristina, and Clementine Photo by Max Crace

Founded by Clementine, the drummer, in 2005 in the Bay area, the Led Zeppelin tribute band has gone through several members. With one studio album and three live albums under their belt, the band continues to wow audiences with their high-energy, spot-on performances.

Band members Anna Kristina – Vocals/Harmonica 

Gretchen Menn – Guitarist

Holly West – Bass

Clementine – Drums

Anna – “Robert Plant”

Gretchen – “Jimmy Page”

Holly – “John Paul Jones” 

Clementine – “John Bonham”

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What roles does each of you play?
How did you perfect your band character’s style—some of those iconic moves and riffs?  Anna:  Lots of listening and watching and listening and watching and practice, practice, practice! In the very beginning, I did a really deep dive into the movie The Song Remains the Same. I watched it over and over to immerse myself in Plant’s stance, stage presence, musicality, and interplay with the band. But the learning and the studying never stops. I check out as many Zeppelin concerts as I can find, and I seem to continue to uncover different beautiful nuances every time I watch a live clip or listen to tracks in preparation for shows. The music is so deep, and Plant’s musicality is so rich that there is always something new to uncover. And I’m always listening for and watching for the inner expression that’s going on rather than just looking to accomplish only superficial mannerisms and mimicry. It’s an ongoing process. 

Gretchen:  I’m a work in progress, and the more I grow as a musician, the more I notice subtleties of aspects I thought I had down. That’s the endless beauty of the path of music—you never arrive. On a more practical level, I rely primarily on the app, Transcribe! It allows you to loop sections, control pitch and tempo independently, and adjust EQ so you can really hear what’s going on. I also study live versions of what Jimmy did, and I’ve even referenced good tutorials on YouTube to cross-check my ears with those of others. There are so many great resources available for anyone who wants to get seriously geeky—and get it right!

Holly:  It takes a lot more listening than practice to get the riffs down. You really have to understand John Paul Jones’s techniques, and you get that by listening intently and then practicing them.

Clementine:  I am still working to perfect Bonham’s style—it’s a life-long project! More than anything, I try to make the songs feel the way I remember them feeling when I was first listening as a teenager. Then, I work forever on getting the technique up to par. That involves a lot of woodshedding.

Anna:  Whew, the constantly tough question to answer. It’s a good problem to have, but it’s so hard to narrow it down to just one. I’d have to say either “The Lemon Song” or “In My Time of Dying.” I lean towards both of them because they both take several different musical turns, and it’s fun to go into so many directions in one song. And both really showcase Plant’s wonderful rhythmic feel and phrasing. I really enjoy playing with those musical elements, where Plant is almost speaking and singing together. It rings the same cord in me as when I sing jazz in that it’s almost like scat singing—using the voice as a rhythmic instrument. And both songs embrace a wide dynamic range going from whispery soft to aggressively loud. I love the beautifully arresting a cappella moment in “In My Time of Dying” that then explodes into the groove that builds to the end. And similarly, I love the bass breakdown in “The Lemon Song” that then migrates to the intimate back and forth between the guitar and vocal and then explodes right into the pounding drums and guitar solo. And both songs have a super slinky swing inside the rhythm. That swing is my home. As with so many of Zeppelin’s songs, they are joyous musical journeys from top to bottom.

Gretchen:  I can never pick a favorite. I tend to be partial to anything new, as that brings the aspect of excitement and novelty. I do always love playing “Dazed and Confused.” There is everything in that one—improvisation, dynamics, beating the crap out of a Les Paul with a violin bow.

Holly:  Personally, I love playing “The Lemon Song” because it’s a huge challenge to get 100% correct. I also enjoy “Whole Lotta Love” because while we stick to the structure and riffs, we get to let loose a little and jam too.

Clementine:  “In My Time of Dying” because it’s got so many different aspects to it, and I love the slide guitar.

Favorite song to cover?

 

Iron Maidens

Photo by Jack Lue

The Iron Maidens—the world’s only all-female tribute to the heavy metal band Iron Maiden was formed in the Los Angeles area in 2001 and quickly established themselves as one of Southern California’s top tribute acts. The band covers repertoire from all eras of the Iron Maiden catalog, encompassing their greatest hits as well as more obscure works. Their stage show includes appearances by “Eddie” (Iron Maiden’s mascot), the grim reaper, the devil, and more! Over the past two decades, the band has toured worldwide, developing an international following.

Courtney: Why wouldn’t you pay tribute to Iron Maiden? It is a no-brainer there. Timeless.
Nikki: I couldn’t think of any better band to pay tribute to!
Wanda: We chose to pay tribute to Iron Maiden because we thought it would be fun! They are one of our favorite bands, and we enjoy playing the music.
Linda: I discovered the live album, Maiden Japan, while on a forced vacation from high school (hehe) and fell in love with the band and drums. Maiden music is permanently engrained in my being, so when the idea of playing in a tribute band to Iron Maiden arose, it was a no-brainer! To do a tribute band justice, you really have to love the music you will be playing because you’ll basically be living with that music all the time! You really need to feel this music to perform it right. Aside from the epic tunes, they are also a complete blast to perform live for fellow Maiden fanatics! \m/

Band members Kirsten Rosenberg – Vocalist 

Courtney Cox – Guitar

Nikki Stringfield – Guitar

Wanda Ortiz – Bass

Linda McDonald – Drums

Kirsten – “Bruce Chickinson” 

Courtney – “Adriana Smith”

Nikki – “Davina Murray”

Wanda – “Steph Harris”

Linda – “Nikki McBURRain”

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What roles does each of you play?
How did you perfect your band character’s style—some of those iconic moves and riffs?  Kirsten:  Still “perfecting” those vocals! Coming at it as a true (very) longtime Maiden fan, I’ve been practicing for years—and it never gets old. Vocal lessons help, too, lol. Oh, and my air guitar is tight! 😉

Courtney:  I’ve been a fan of Iron Maiden and Adrian Smith before even picking up a guitar, so it was second nature to get in the “Maiden” zone and shred the tunes every night on stage. I have the time of my life from the first note to the last. The minute our intro track starts, I’m taken over with such a wave of joy, and we all just bring it full force for the fans.

Nikki:  I grew up listening to Maiden, and one of the first riffs I learned was “Two Minutes To Midnight.” Since Dave Murray has such a unique and identifiable sound with his solos and legato, I made sure to practice a lot to do him justice. Also, I really just love the music like the rest of the girls in the band, and I think that makes all the difference when you’re in a tribute band.

Wanda:  I’ve been a longtime Iron Maiden fan, so growing up, I would practice along with their recordings. I’ve also seen quite a few of their shows and videos and was already familiar with how Steve Harris dressed and moved on stage before joining the band.

Linda:  The endless cycle of listening, listening, and practice, practice. 🙂 After a while, you really start to understand your band character’s style and can feel where they are going to go next.

Kirsten:  Must I pick just one? Today, I’d say it’s “Flash of the Blade”…or is it “Moonchild”? Wait, maybe “Brave New World,” or….?

Courtney:  “Sea of Madness.”

Nikki:  It’s so hard to pick, and mine usually changes with what set we’re playing. Right now, I’d say “Powerslave.” 

Wanda:  It’s hard to pick only one; some of my favorites include “Losfer Words, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and “Powerslave.” 

Linda:  My favorite Maiden song to cover at this moment is the “Phantom of the Opera.”

Favorite song to cover?

 

Ballbreakers

Photo is by Elevinphotography

⚡️ BALLBREAKERS ⚡️ Atlanta’s own All-female AC/DC Tribute band showcases a hot rocking, authentic AC/DC experience from both the era of Bon and Brian! Started in 2014 by a group of fun-loving rocking girls who came together over the love of AC/DC, Ballbreakers gives fans a High Voltage AC/DC Tribute Concert Experience with an authentic reproduction of AC/DC’s signature sound, full performance show, and their iconic looks. Lead singer Taylor Pierce brings an unmatchable voice of early Bon Scott himself from the early roots of the band’s Australian club circuit days up to the current superstar worldwide hits of Brian Johnson with an unwatchable raw vocal power and fun stage presence. The rhythm powerhouse section features long-time rockers Vanessa Izabella on rhythm guitar and Amy Epperley on bass, along with hard-hitting drummer Lindsey Tulkoff; they hold down AC/DC’s quintessential wall of sound. Rounding it out is the ultimate ANGUS YOUNG, Lynnay “Lyangus” Della Lucé, who delivers electrifying iconic solos and high energy performance, all for one unforgettable AC/DC experience. For those about to rock, We Salute You!!!

Band members Taylor Pierce – Vocals

Lynnay Della Luce – Lead Guitar

Vanessa Izabella – Rhythm Guitar

Amy Epperley – Bass

Lindsey Tulkoff – Drums

Taylor  – “Bon Scott/Brian Johnson”

Lynnay – “Angus Young”

Vanessa – “Malcolm Young:

Amy – “Cliff Williams”

Lindsey – “Phil Rudd”

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What roles does each of you play?
How did you perfect your band character’s style—some of those iconic moves and riffs?  Each one of us spends a lot of time and attention on the sound and overall tone of each AC/DC member we are trying to emulate through the use of the same or very similar equipment and playing styles. Also, getting into character usually involves wearing versions of their iconic outfits but with our own spin on them and sometimes even sporting like hair cuts. 

Vocally, Taylor has always been drawn to the early days of Bon Scott with his “cheeky lyrics, distinctive gravelly vocal edge, and hard rocker attitude,” so our set includes many of these early ‘70s AC/DC cuts, but she can also match Johnson’s own unique vocal compression technique and expansive range to give fans those huge arena rock hits too. 

For Lynnay to get into the Angus that everyone knows and loves, “I just have fun with it. I put on a schoolgirl outfit, plug in my Gibson SG into a Marshall JCM 2000 or a Marshall ORI20C for smaller venues, and rock out. Angus has a pretty easy setup. I’m looking to get the Solodallas Storm pedal that replicates Angus’ wireless rig from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Other than that, I don’t use anything else but an EQ boost for solos.” Her journey into lead guitar began with this band, “I was looking to challenge myself more on guitar and learn lead. I thought this would be a great opportunity to push myself to get to the next level.” 

Vanessa helps hold down the wall of sound of the tight rhythm section and is the most recent member to join the band. She uses a 1981 Ibanez Artist and a Marshall JCM800 head through an Orange 2×12. “As a guitarist, I always loved AC/DC. They wrote great songs and were a solid band. Finding out that Malcolm wrote most of their riffs was very cool. He was always in the background, but Malcolm, Phil, and Chris held it down so that Malcolm had a great musical platform to perform on. I’ve fronted a few bands, and I have been lead guitar, and this was a very nice change to just “Chug” in the background. I like to listen to some AC/DC and other hard rock before I hit the stage, even a little meditation to get me in the right headspace. Sadly, Malcolm is no longer with us, and I know that his musical legacy will live on in rock ‘n’ roll history. It’s fun to get the opportunity to bring his guitar parts to life in our live performances.” 

For bass, Amy’s playing style focuses on recreating the feel and details of Cliff’s solid no-frills driving bottom layer for the band to ride on and uses the classic Ampeg SVT-810E cabinet with a SVT-7PRO Head and trademark Ernie Ball MusicMan StingRay strung with D’Addario roundwound XLs. “I never get tired of listening to AC/DC, and there’s no song that I don’t like; they all really rock for me, so I will often listen to an album back to back right before shows to get into it. Because of my love of AC/DC, I thought this would be a really fun project to play in, so I quickly jumped at the chance to join the band when I was approached early on its inception. You gotta really appreciate a good rhythm section like AC/DC that carries the band. I love the way that Cliff plays; it’s relentlessly driving and straight to the point, so I try to emulate all aspects as close as possible in sound, notes played (or not) in the pocket, that classic bass tone, and even the coordinated rhythm player’s stage movements and outfits though I still add my own personal rocker stage performance flair to it sometimes.”

As a band, our favorite song to cover is “Boogie Man.” Not only is it a lost gem off the 2005 Ballbreaker album from which we got our name’s inspiration, but all of us have a love of the blues and have been influenced by AC/DC. So, this song captures not only the essence, power, and electricity of AC/DC, but when paired with Brian’s gritty vocals, there’s those authentic slinky ’70s smokey backroom stripped-down riffs on an old school tube amp for a classic feel. It was also a big favorite of long-time friend and occasional sub drummer for the band Douglas Hazelwood who recently passed away so we always keep it in a prime location within the live set. Favorite song to cover?