An Interview with Kirsten Rosenberg of the Iron Maidens

Header image credit: Elsie Roymans

Image credit: Bryce Cain

Recently, we caught up with veteran vocalist, Kirsten Rosenberg of the Iron Maidens. Among other things, we touch on how the Maidens are kicking off 2022, her origins in music, her animal advocacy, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about the Iron Maidens, the link to their webpage is here. Once you’ve checked that out, dig into this interview with Kirsten. Cheers.

Andrew:
Kirsten, thank you for taking the time to dig in with us. How have you been holding up?

Kirsten:
I’m happy to report I’m doing well, thanks! I’m glad the world of live music is opening up again for all the folks who depend on it for their livelihoods, as well as for all of us who just miss the enjoyment. Music is such a unifying force, across borders and cultures, and never have we needed this “salve for the soul” more than now with all the madness in the world. But I’m fortunate that I also love being at home during downtime because that means time with the hubby and all our critters – mini horse, donkey, ten chickens, two potbelly pigs, two dogs, and two cats. 

Andrew:
Going back, what were some of your earliest memories of music which first sparked your interest in rock music? 

Kirsten:
I distinctly remember hearing Heart‘s “Barracuda” as a wee youngin, and I was particularly taken with “the gallop.” I love horses so maybe that’s why I was drawn to the gallop, which is also one of my favorite aspects of Maiden, but I always loved the harder rock as a kid. Although I found the KISS album covers terrifying. [Laughs].

Andrew:
Who were some of your earliest influences that helped shape your style? How has your style evolved as you’ve grown as a musician?

Kirsten:
As I mentioned, I was listening to Heart as a kid, and who wouldn’t be inspired by Ann and Nancy Wilson? Then I got into Cheap Trick starting with Budokan and then Dream Police. Robin Zander is another inspiring mega talent. I also got into heavier stuff like Metallica, Armored Saint, and the like, but at the same time, I liked 80s new wave artists like Duran Duran, although that’s not something this metal kid would have admitted at the time. But as far as early influences, generally speaking, I loved 80s metal ranging from radio-friendly hair, to underground speed and thrash. So, I guess I imprinted on big 80s vocals mostly, with lots of high, soaring notes. That said, the first time I heard Maiden I actually found the heavy vibrato in Bruce’s voice a bit off-putting, like, a little too theatrical sounding. Of course, that initial aversion turned around right quick and I grew to absolutely love that quality. But oh yes, my tastes have certainly expanded as an adult! Now I love so many different genres and vocal styles, including hip-hop and pop. I’m intrigued by Billie Eilish’s voice, which is completely dissimilar to my own style, and I consider Barbra Streisand a vocal god. What she can do with her voice blows my mind. Same with opera singer Cecilia Bartoli, her vocal gymnastics are staggering. This might sound weird, but I don’t really know what my own style is, other than I like belting and using vibrato. In fact, I don’t even really like the sound of my own voice, but that ain’t gonna stop me. [Laughs].

Image credit: Adam Kennedy

Andrew:
My understanding is you’re something of a writer yourself. Dig into that for us. What brought on the transition to music?

Kirsten:
Well, my dad is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, so I guess writing is somewhat in the genes. I used to be Managing Editor for the Animals’ Agenda magazine, too. But even though I’m an avid reader, creative writing was never my thing. I was never into journaling or keeping diaries. Yeah, I can come up with a vocal melody and decent song lyrics but they’re not so much inspired as more just a matter of, “Well, most lyrics I hear on the radio suck so I’m sure I can come up with something at least as inane.” And that’s just what I did when my previous band wrote some originals. How’s that for motivation? [Laughs]. But they weren’t bad, I can turn a phrase now and then. Really, whenever I feel inspired to compose lyrics, it’s usually something parodic, like, in the style of the brilliant Tenacious D. 

Andrew;
You’re also an avid animal rights activist. Why is that something that is important to you, and how does it affect your approach in regards to your music?

Kirsten;
Ah, yes, I’m always most delighted when people ask me about this! Step aside while I climb onto my soapbox. Maybe I should wear a button saying, “Ask me about animal rights.” [Laughs]. This is the most important, meaningful way I self-identify. This is the core of my being. I became a vegetarian when I was twelve and vegan since 1994. I’ve worked in the animal advocacy movement, both professionally, and as a volunteer for decades. All of our animals are rescues. Thirteen billion animals have already been killed for human consumption this year in the US alone. Going vegan is the single best thing we can do for not only relieving the immense, unnecessary animal suffering, but also environmental degradation, climate change, world hunger, and improving human health. Being vegan has never been easier than now, but I want to emphasize for those (most folks) who find this daunting, even reducing one’s animal-based consumption makes a difference. So go ahead and stick a toe in, start by going meatless for a day. There are so many aspects to animal rights and advocacy. I mean, it literally impacts nearly every facet of daily living from working on pro-animal legislation, animals in entertainment, medical research and product testing, fur farming/trapping, hunting, dog and cat rescue and the list goes on. But I think the biggest impact is to strive toward a vegan lifestyle as much as possible. And it’s not about personal purity or perfection. It’s a journey of compassion. There are so many helpful resources available. And as far as affecting my approach to music, I’m not sure that it has. But it definitely affects my approach to costumes! I won’t buy leather, although I will use what I “inherited” from the band when I joined, such as the spiked leather armbands and the feather “Powerslave” mask, as those pieces are no longer part of the economic chain exploiting animals. But once those items are toast, then their replacements will be faux. I bet my answer to this question will be what sparks any flaming comments from readers, but I’m used to that. C’est la vie.

Andrew:
Take me through your indoctrination into the Iron Maidens.

Kirsten:
I discovered them while I was in my previous cover band while living on the east coast. I was blown away.  I thought to myself, “I want that singer’s job.” [Laughs]. As fate would have it, they were holding auditions for a new singer when I was visiting my family in California. I scored an audition, then won them over by wooing them with vegan baked goods (I owned a vegan bakery at the time). I don’t consider myself a particularly good singer but apparently singing Maiden is my niche. I guess those high school years spent rocking out to Maiden in my bathroom with my curling iron microphone paid off! As an added boon, the Maidens actually had a following. I was used to playing to a few mostly bored par patrons. [Laughs].

Image credit: Jack Lue

Andrew:
With the Maidens, early on, you recorded some excellent covers albums, but the band has been dormant as a studio entity for some time. Given the immense songsmith, and musicianship within the band, does the band have any plans to release original material at some point?

Kirsten:
Wouldn’t that be fun? We’ve toyed with the idea, but we’ve just never put the time into creating originals together. We love what we do with The Iron Maidens, but folks are busy with other projects and endeavors outside of the band. So we’re happy continuing to just pay tribute to the mighty Maiden with this project. We do intend to release a fresh recording of Maiden covers at some point, which is long overdue given the band’s previous recordings were done prior to our current lineup.

Andrew:
As Bruce Chickinson, you play the role of Bruce Dickinson in the Iron Maidens. Given your intricate knowledge of Bruce’s parts, if you can, speak on his influence on metal?

Kirsten:
The man is legendary and a metal god. With his “air raid siren” voice, he raised the bar for vocals in metal. It’s really fun and satisfying to watch vocal coaches react and comment with awe on his singing during those “reaction to songs” videos online. They get it! As far as performing, it’s unbelievable the energy Bruce exudes – flying and leaping across the stage nonstop – while he is singing. And he has brought so much theatricality to metal performances, not just standing in one place grim-faced, but gesticulating wildly to make sure the folks in the nosebleed sections get the same show as the people in the pit. And as a student of history, he helps shape Maiden’s historically based epics. I think so many bands today have clearly been influenced by all of these Brucey hallmarks.

Andrew:
What are a few of your favorite songs to play live? Which albums are your favorite, and why?

Kirsten:
Well, my answer often changes because there is just so much great material to choose from. If I’m forced to pick, say, my top three albums I’d say Powerslave, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and Brave New WorldPowerslave was my introduction to Maiden and I first saw them on that tour. All three of those albums feature such soaring vocal melodies – a singer’s delight! Some of my favorite songs to perform are “Powerslave,” “Flash of the Blade,” “Can I Play with Madness,” “Stranger in a Strange Land,” “Brave New World,” “Hallowed be thy Name,” and I could just keep going on and on. Big, sustained notes – so much fun to sing! 

Image credit: Fuson Photography

Andrew:
A bit of a controversial question here: are you partial to Paul, Bruce, or Blayze?

Kirsten:
I have more of an affinity for Bruce’s style of singing, so I would say I’m partial to him. But I love Paul’s work, too, and (bucket list moment) he joined us on stage when we played in London a few years back, and he sounded absolutely phenomenal! Blayze is a solid vocalist and seemingly nice guy, but just not the right fit for Maiden, in my opinion.

Andrew:
In recent years, there has been a big push to do away with terms “like female-fronted metal,” and make things more inclusive. What are your thoughts regarding that?

Kirsten:
I agree there’s no need to qualify by saying “female-fronted” anymore. But, truth be told, there are times when it’s simply a handy way to describe a band when you’re talking with someone. But I don’t think it should be considered a category. 

Andrew:
Given your prowess and versatility as a vocalist, do you intend to give a solo career a try at any point, or are you comfortable where you are for now?

Kirsten:
Kind of you to say. I don’t see “solo artist” on my list of goals. I think of myself more as a performer rather than as an artist with a burning desire to create. Just being real. [Laughs]. This is kind of ironic given that my husband is a musician, so I’m surrounded by instruments and recording gear. That said, however, I do enjoy guesting on others’ projects. Future goals for me include opening a cat cafe at some point. 

Andrew:
Last one. What’s next for both yourself and the Iron Maidens in all lanes, Kirsten?

Kirsten:
I’m just so grateful and ecstatic to be performing with The Iron Maidens – as an only child these women are the closest I’ve ever had to sisters. And their musicianship makes being onstage pure joy. It’s truly amazing the opportunities this band has to travel and play.  And of course, that’s thanks to the incredible fans of Iron Maiden and the band itself for creating such timeless quality music. So, I know our band hopes to continue on this wild ride as do I while planting some vegan seeds for change along the way!  

Image courtesy of Kirsten Rosenberg

Interested in learning more about the Iron Maidens? Hit the link below:

Be sure to check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found VWMusic in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Idle Chatter. Over time, the column grew into a website that now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process. Some of Andrew’s favorite artists include KISS, Oasis, ACϟDC, Elvis Presley, Ace Frehley, The Rolling Stones, Rush, The Pretenders, Led Zeppelin, The Gaslight Anthem, Iron Maiden, John Lennon, The Melvins, Noel Gallagher, Regina Spektor, Rory Gallagher, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Neil Young, Blur, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
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