Having featured an AC/DC tribute band and a Guns’N’Roses tribute band the time has come to a Judas Priest tribute band in the form of JUDAS PRIESTESS. Answers by Militia Vox = Lead Vocals + Rena Sands = Guitar. Anders Ekdahl ©2016

What is it that made you want to start a cover band?
RENA: First lets distinguish the difference between a cover band and a tribute act such as Judas Priestess. Cover bands play various songs from a mixture of bands. We as Judas Priestess are paying homage to one of our favorite metal bands by bringing a concert designed to emulate the experience of seeing a Judas Priest show live. Our fans are die hard Priest fans who get the added benefit of rocking out to their favorite Priest songs performed by some fine ass bitches!
MILITIA: Thanks, Rena! That being said, I had never considered being in a tribute band before. But when I heard about Judas Priestess forming and that they were looking for a singer, I couldn’t let some other girl get the gig!

There is no band that has a discography of great albums so how do you pick the songs you play?
MILITIA: We established a bit of a game since the original lineup of the band where, on a rotation, we each get to choose a song that we think will go over well and then try to sell the rest of the band on it! Sometimes, we take requests from fans and friends.
RENA: Well lucky for us, Judas Priest’s discography is filled with great albums, one of which we are about to perform in its entirety: British Steel. We will include the additional songs released on the 30th anniversary edition. Our previous set lists include the songs we feel would go over the best in a live setting. Our fans like to hear the obscure songs that Priest don’t perform often, so we constantly change the set and songs to meet the demand of our audience.

In Sweden we to got cover bands like yours too but it seems that there is a huge scene for band like yours. Why are cover bands so popular?
RENA: Cover bands are everywhere but I believe the tribute scene is big because people like to see a whole set of songs from their favorite bands. It’s a novelty and it’s fun. You know what you’re going to get and it’s also fun to reminisce and celebrate the music you grew up with. Our fans are an integral part of our show as well. We try to play a lot of smaller intimate venues so we have that up close and personal interaction with the audience, which is an experience that you won’t get seeing Priest in an arena.
MILITIA: Because, nostalgia.

How hard is it to find the right art work? What are you looking for?
MILITIA: We tend to the art work the way we tend to the music, while it’s all Priest, we always strive to give the artwork our own personal flair- whether it be logos, flyers, web designs… Our bassist Gyda Gash is phenomenal at executing this and she truly has an eye for edgy designs.
RENA: Our bass player, Gyda, designs all of our art work so it’s not hard at all. She’s an incredible artist and she keeps the Priest style in all of our branding.

Do you ever feel that you get spat on and ridiculed because you are a cover band? That you should be second rate musicians for not playing originals?
MILITIA: There are some people that have a negative mentality when it comes to tribute and cover bands. I believe it’s our job to change that attitude and I think we do a damn good job at going above and beyond what’s expected of a tribute band. We make it our own. Each of us play and have played in original projects- I’ve been in original bands since I was 19 years old. I am also a solo artist that writes, co-produces and performs my own original music.
RENA: Quite the contrary. People are blown away by our ability to play Judas Priest songs with such power and technical prowess. No one comes to our show expecting originals. All of the band members play in other projects performing originals, but this band is dedicated to being a tribute. As performers we are all used to the idea that some people aren’t going to like what we do, but for the most part our fans are hugely supportive and do not spit on us. Plus if anyone tried that Militia would jump off the stage and have her way with them.

Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve, nationally as well as internationally.
RENA: We are still working on exploring the international market but here in the states we are enjoying national success. We’d love to come to Sweden. Can you hook us up?
MILITIA: I’m constantly humbled and amazed by the attention we get by the media and supporters across the globe. We can thank YouTube for that. More than anything, I’d love for us to perform outside the US in the areas where metal is very popular.

Is the end of physical close by or is there a future for all formats?
RENA: It seems digital has taken over, but vinyl has made a resurgence and is becoming really popular. Is it just a trend? I don’t know, but I believe there will always be a market for physical formats because they include art work and special editions which will have collector value.
MILITIA: Honestly, I like the idea of physical formats ending because I find it to be wasteful and junky. I prefer to have my music, movies and other media at the push of a button. When I think of all of the albums, cds and dvds that I’ve bought and then had to throw out, I’m disgusted. I’ve only saved certain albums because they are rare or have sentimental value. Collectors will keep physical alive but it’ll never be how it was.

I get the impression that today’s touring scene is most made up of festivals or multiple band line-ups. Is it harder/tougher to tour today?
MILITIA: That’s a loaded question. Touring has always been tough. I think it’s just different now. There is definitely more competition now and there are less venues to play, so in that respect it’s tougher to tour these days than it was in the 80’s and 90’s. Rock and metal music was more mainstream then, so the audiences were there. But that generation has grown up, most have real jobs, kids, etc; they’re not going to see live bands every weekend. But they’ll come out for the big events, festivals and strong lineup concerts. I think it comes down to the artist’s wants and expectations, their fan base, adapting to this modern market and keeping costs low to put their show on the road. If you look at certain bands and DJ’s that are out now, they tour successfully and make good money doing it. On the other hand, a band can loose their ass touring. Ultimately, you’ve got to enjoy it, but supply must meet demand.
RENA: It’s hard to say. Festivals are great from the consumer stand point because you get to see a lot of great music bundled together and it is more of an event. It’s obviously easier for promoters to bundle bands into huge festivals and they can guarantee attendance. On the other hand there is something more personal seeing a band perform their show, especially if they are carrying their own production. Here in the states there seem to be less festivals than national tours, with the exception of summer when most of them happen.

If you were to decide how would the stage show look like?
MILITIA: LED lights, video walls with both live visuals and surreal graphics, motorcycles roaring, lots of smoke and PYRO! And I’d like us to fly over the crowd.
RENA: Big light show, motorcycles, old style wall of guitar cabinets, leather everywhere! ‘

What does the future hold?
RENA: We’re in the process of recording a few tunes which should be finished in April/May. In the meantime check out judaspriestessband.com for our upcoming tour dates.
MILITIA: Music, always. MUSIC. Stay tuned…

Live photo Shawn Evans ©2016

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