The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world



By Shane Pinnegar


SHANE ROCKPIT: Firstly, what is it about Judas Priest that made you want to create an act in tribute of them?


GYDA GASH: I met my partner, guitarist D Mercedes, when we were on the same bill together at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC - me in an all-girl David Bowie tribute, she in an all-girl Motley Crüe tribute. We were so impressed by each other's musicianship and stage presence that we left our respective bands to form another one together. I wanted to do Black Sabbath, she wanted to do Judas Priest, and she convinced me.



GG: My favorite music of all time came from 70's Birmingham, England: Priest! Sabbath! Zeppelin! The masters. Some great hole in the sky must have opened up and a ray from outer space zapped that area. "Here in this spot shall be the creation of the best music mankind will ever know"! I felt that Priest, being the most extreme of the three, would be the biggest challenge to attack musically. The Judas Priest catalog is so diverse that it includes every musical style I enjoy playing. Plus I love that they are a very visual band.


SR: And how closely do you present the band onstage – both musically and visually?


GG: We wear the traditional studded black leather mixed with a bit of sexy vinyl spandex and bustier. Musically we duplicate the songs and arrangements, however our execution of them is uniquely different. We have an exceptional lead guitarist who covers both the KK and Tipton dueling leads, D. Mercedes. Grace Maiden of Metal is a precise strong rhythm guitarist. Together they create a punishing sound that is undeniably Priest. We're blessed in that we have Jojo Tubeato (quoted in the press as the "skin pounding goddess") undeniably the best woman drummer in rock. She can play complex pounding double bass and she's sexy as hell. In the press MilitiA our lead singer has been called a cross between Rob Halford and Tina Turner. She has the exact vocal range of Rob Halford adding her own soulful twist. You have to hear her to believe her. Her voice is so beautiful and compelling, audience members have wept at the intensity of her performance. Finally there's me... Priest bass player Ian Hill admittedly enjoyed staying in the background. I'm no back seat player - I will give the bass line a touch extra here and there. I want to be seen and heard.



GG: Because we have Priest being sung by a woman, we in effect have created an entire new sound and style. Judas Priestess is not just a great tribute band, we are a great band. I am continually blown away by the level of musicianship of these ladies. We tackle material that other tribute bands wouldn't dare. Anyone can play 'Living After Midnight' but few have the chops for 'Painkiller'.


GG: Judas Priest use some very well choreographed moves in their stage show. Tipton and Downing have this bouncing side to side signature rock move. We have created our own version which is much more in-your-face. The four of us in the front line all get together and give our audiences a good in-synch head flogging.


SR: What are your five favourite Priest moments?


GG: 1. Rob Halford coming out of the closet - an act of great courage and honesty. BRAVO!

2. In 1993, Judas Priest and their record label was declared not guilty in court after a long legal battle for accusations of "subliminal messages" and reckless endangerment due to 2 fans that committed suicide after listening to the band's recordings (particularly 'Better By You, Better Than Me')

3. Rob Halford rejoining Judas Priest in 2003!

4. Judas Priest was introduced to a new generation of metal fans with the 'Breakin the Law' video shown on Beavis+ Butthead.

5. This year when they won the "Best metal performance" Grammy for Dissident Aggressor - In his acceptance speech, Halford said, "The fifth time is the charm."



SR: I believe you received some good feedback from a couple of the Priest guys themselves – can you tell us a little more about that?


GG: The metal god Rob Halford gave Judas Priestess horns up when he appeared on VH1's "That Metal Show". This is the legendary episode where Grace Maiden of Metal stumped the Trunk!


GG: K.K. Downing did a front page feature on us in his Steel Mill website for its 3 year anniversary special with an interview and a beautiful quote where he referred to us as the "top female tribute band."

SR: The band has only been active for under 18 months, can you tell us a bit about what you achieved in that time?


GG: This band has gigged steadily since our debut last year and received rave reviews in the press from the very start. We have developed a huge, dedicated following. One male fan who formerly stated that women could not be good at metal, went and got JUDAS PRIESTESS tattooed on his wrist. Another unknown cyber fan flew all the way from Arizona (2400 miles/3863 km) just to come to one of our shows. We appear routinely on popular metal blogs like Talking Metal and Blabbermouth. For a tribute band this is unheard of!


GG: Our brand image of leather clad women rockers has caused quite a stir. MilitiA has inspired the likes of BEYONCE, who paid homage to her in her House of Dereon Fall 2010 Ad.


GG: Our biggest achievement is that we've become better musicians and are proof that women can definitely rock as hard as men- if not HARDER!


SR: What are Judas Priestess’s plans for 2011 – are you touring or recording?


GG: In November we celebrated our one year anniversary where we played our very first show, at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park. In the works are tour dates in other parts of the USA, the West Coast and Alaska. We're hoping to get to Europe in the summer. We DREAM of coming to Australia! We are road ready - promoters listen up! We want to come to your town. We will be recording [soon] in response to numerous fan and radio DJ requests.


SR: Do you think there is potential for a tribute act to release their own recordings – either a live document, or original material in the style of the band being tributed?


GG: Absolutely there is great potential, especially when you have a band like Judas Priestess who has such a unique style. As I mentioned, we have been contacted by radio stations from as far away as Birmingham, UK who want to play our music. The audio from video live recordings don't do us justice: we will get into the studio with the proper producer and I'm confident we will have an exciting product. Judas Priest has covered tunes by other artists: 'Green Manalishi' is a Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac tune - look what they did with it! I envision our recording having a similar impact.


SR: It seems every new generation of metal kids can’t help but discover Judas Priest– why do you think their music is so enduring and still relevant?


GG: The music endures because it is the best rock music ever written, plain and simple. Original bands today that try and create in the classic 70's style just don't sound authentic in my opinion. They didn't live it, so they can't express it. They don't have the hunger, the energy. Kids today all have their noses stuck in their gizmos thus the only authentic music of today really does sound computer generated. Which sucks, it doesn't speak to the soul. Not mine, anyway. There can and there never will be another Judas Priest. Another Led Zeppelin. Black Sabbath.


SR: Is playing in a tribute band a better financial prospect than slogging away in an original band?


GG: The way things are today it is very rewarding to be in a tribute band. Many of the classic national acts have stopped touring for one reason or another. When they do, few people can afford the ticket prices. Tribute bands make the music accessible to everyone. You attract an enthusiastic crowd who knows and loves the music. In our case, the audience is thrilled to see women doing Judas Priest.


SR: Reading through the band’s bio online, you’re all extremely accomplished and experienced musicians. Can you tell us a little about your other projects – I believe you have some solo music coming out soon?



GG: I recently had a 7 inch release 60 Milligrams b/w Ghost Boyfriend on Needleteeth Records. The press refers to the record as "Two absolutely crushing tunes in the vein of Black Sabbath/Pentagram". I actually wrote 60 mg for Pentagram frontman, Bobby Liebling. It's a limited edition but I believe there are still copies available (certain to be collectible some day)

D. Mercedes is famous for being the guitarist and founder of the seminal punk band "the Stimulators" from back in the day. ROIR records just reissued "Loud Fast Rules!" "This long awaited re-issue... is more than just a record; it’s a piece of New York punk history." This is
also a highly collectible item.


SR: Which Judas Priest song would you most like to have had a hand in creating?


GG: 'Victim of Changes' which was written by Al Atkins the original Priest singer before Rob Halford. It's off the Judas Priest masterpiece LP "Sad Wings of Destiny". Priest added great intensity to the original Atkins version and still include this epic number in their repertoire when they play. This song takes me to heaven with its gorgeous Sabbath-like, blues-based stoner riffage - chunky churning heavy metal chords - sweet, slower melodious intervals - insanely soulful guitar leads - all topped by a beautiful vocal line that is so emotional it will make you weep.


SR: There are tribute acts out there such as Beatallica (The Beatles done in a Metallica style) and Dread Zeppelin (Led Zep with an Elvis singer done reggae). If you had to create a mash up of Judas Priest, who would it be combined with?


GG: How about the Plasmatics? Picture Painkiller crossed with Butcher baby. "Butcher baby, dressed up in red. Butcher baby messed in the head - He Is the PAIN KILLER!"


SR: Where is the best place for fans to find out more info about Judas Priestess and your side projects?




SR: Finally, what for you is the Meaning of life?


GG: I'm so glad you asked me that because I have the answer. Human beings are the only species who are obsessed with finding meaning to their existence. If you want to find true meaning, just look at your dog or cat or a squirrel in a tree, or in your case a koala bear. Animals simply EXIST. The meaning of life is that there is no meaning. Happiness and satisfaction are perceptions of the human mind. It's important to get control of your mind, do what makes life 'meaningful' for YOU, and live your life to the fullest. Don't waste a second - we're only on this planet for a short time. NOW GET OUT THERE AND LIVE IT!
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