Interview with JUDAS PRIESTESS
by Hombre Rancio
Today I have the pleasure to be talking to Judas Priestess, the only female tribute band to the Metal Gods Judas Priest. They are a big mass phenomenon all around the world.
HI girls, how did you get the idea to pay tribute to Judas Priest?
MilitiA.(lead vocalist): I wish I could say it was my idea but alas it wasn’t. Our bassist Gyda and our former guitarist started the band. I merely auditioned!
Gyda Gash (bass player and cofounder of Judas Priestess): The legend is that I and another player wanted to start a heavy all-girl tribute band. Having just spent some years touring in a doom metal band with White Zombie axe man Tom 5, I had it in my mind to do Black Sabbath – but she wanted to do Priest! I was happy with the decision because there is such wide range of styles in the Judas Priest catalog. I really love the mid-tempo heavy blues based material and there’s plenty of that to sink my fingers into.
How was it going at the very beginning?
MilitiA.: As soon as a I walked into the audition/rehearsal room, I knew I had found something truly special. The band as a unit and the girls individually were so unique and exciting. I knew I was meant to be with them and we felt lucky to find each other. Before we had even played our first show we attended a taping of Vh1’s That Metal Show that Rob Halford guested on, and he gave us his blessing and a lot of love, we were so elated.
Gyda Gash: We were so lucky to find Militia, a powerhouse vocalist with a five octave range who happened to be a huge Priest fan. She delivers the goods with a voice that mixes up brain shattering metal with skill and soulful grit – plus a heavy dose of sex appeal.
We caused quite a stir being this type of an all girl heavy metal band. There are precious few females who have the proficiency to play music of this intensity. Our present lineup is an impressive group of accomplished artists: Josette (lead guitar) is an ace shredder who began her metal career as a teenage rock star being produced by Eric Carr (KISS). Rena Sands (lead guitar) made a name for herself in the groundbreaking all-girl metal band Meanstreak and is married to the legendary guitarist John Petrucci (Dream Theater). Drummer Hilary Blaze was already a famous drummer from the band Jaded known for her thunderous double-bass attack.
You have the unvaluable support of the Metal God, KK Downing and Al Atkins. What can you tell me about this Big Three legends?
Gyda Gash: We met Rob Halford on That Metal Show. He was very gracious, posed with us for photos and showed support. When we first formed the band, KK Downing took notice of us straight away! He posted a Judas Priestess full interview and gave us shout outs on his Steel Mill website. We were thrilled when Al Atkins contacted us on Facebook – he is an original member and co-wrote “Victim of Changes” one of our favorite Priest songs. The song is the acid test for singers with its high notes. He saw a video of us performing it live on YouTube and was blown away. We so admire these gentlemen, these metal geniuses, to have them show acknowledgement and support is the ultimate compliment.
MilitiA.: To be acknowledged by them is humbling. They’ve created such an important contribution to music with their body of work, innovative style, and lasting legacy. It’s thrilling that they support a tribute band like us who want nothing more than to love, honor and cherish this great music.
What is your Judas favorite album?
MilitiA.: BRITISH STEEL! It was my 1st album by them so it’s forever my favorite.
Gyda Gash: I like Stained Class and there are some true gems on Rocka Rolla. And British Steel! And Point of Entry! And Sad Wings! This is an impossible question.
In Long Island, you opened the show for Pentagram, how was that moment?
MilitiA.: It was in Brooklyn, actually. It was at a club that no longer exists as a venue called Europa. That was a killer night. All the bands crushed and for us being direct support for a legendary band like Pentagram definitely warranted bragging rights! Plus, ultimately it was just really cool to connect with them onstage and off.
Gyda Gash: Since I had come out of that scene, it had been my dream to have us play a doom show to see if we would be well received. One of the tunes we added to the set for the show is Deep Freeze/Winter off Rocka Rolla. To me this song is straight up heavy 70’s doom. We segued into Dissident Aggressor and the crowd went apeshit wild!
Two questions for Militia, the vocalist of these JudasPriestess. You were on tour around Europe with the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, did you enjoy that experience?
MilitiA.: Absolutely! That tour broke me in for life on the road. Now I can handle anything! It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget – the stories, the people, the places and affirming an overall sense of pride in doing what I love and that both talent and hard work had gotten me there.
And the second question for Militia: French press says you are a symbiosis between Tina Turner and Rob Halford. I am a great fan of the female Metal and I think you are one of the best international vocalist in the genre. How do you feel with all these praises? They have influenced you or you are the same person/artist as ever and wherever?
MilitiA.: Thank you, Hugo! Believe me, I never get sick of getting compliments!! They don’t change who I am or what I do at all. Honestly, I’m so grateful to get noticed in any way by anyone. It’s a relief and a comfort to know that people are listening and like what they see or hear – it’s as special to them as it is to me. It’s a transaction.
I have seen live show videos of Judas Priestess and it was amazing. You have an incredible presence, you are powerful, and the audience goes crazy with you, singing along and so on. You are a band made for the live shows, aren’t you?
MilitiA.: Yes, the live show experience is where we shine the most (even though sometimes offstage can be pretty entertaining!) We love to take poeple’s idea of a tribute band and push it to the max. Not only are we paying tribute to one of the greatest bands in the world, but we are doing it our way with our own personas and to make the experience fresh, exciting, entertaining, intensely feminine and above all – FUN.
Gyda Gash: The adrenaline really flows when you perform to an enthusiastic crowd – that’s the best high in the world !
Would you like to tour sharing stage with Judas Priest?
MilitiA.: YES. That would be insane.
Gyda Gash: No words.
We will ever see you tounring around Europe? In Spain you have many fans…
MilitiA.: Well it hasn’t been confirmed yet but there’s some talk currently about us crossing the pond next year! Fingers crossed!!
Gyda Gash: I’m counting on it. I have my lucky Euro and I intend to spend it on a Judas Priestess tour.
Have you ever thought about releasing an album? It would be with songs of your own or the Judas Priest material?
MilitiA.: So far, we’ve released 3 singles digitally online: “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, “Heading Out to the Highway” and “Living After Midnight.” We are about to record a few more songs – more details on that to come! We’ve also talked about doing some originals.
Of all of your great versions my favorite is Desert Plains. Which one is yours?
MilitiA.: I sincerely love the way we do “Freewheel Burning.” We often open our show with it and it really kicks the vibe off right.
Gyda Gash: The aforementioned Deep Freeze/Winter segue to Dissident Agressor.
What are your future plans?
MilitiA.: Touring and recording as much as possible, challenging ourselves and keeping the band and our shows fresh so people can see us again and again.
It has been a big pleasure to be some minutes with the Priestess, thanks for your time and courtesy. If you wish to add something…
MilitiA.: Thank you for reading this. Please be in touch with us online at www.judaspriestess.com and get with us on our social networks. Love us? Hate us? Either way, we’d love to hear from you. \m/
Gyda Gash: That says it all \m/ \m/