Interview With Courtney Cox
(Of The Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale)

Rockin’ Interviews- Tell me how you started playing guitar.

Courtney Cox- “I did the typical grade school thing. I started off in the cheesy band thing, I played clarinet. Not by choice, but it was given to me. I wasn’t really a music person at the time, I was always drawn to in, my grandmother played piano when I was younger. I was more of an athlete, I played a lot of sports. But around 13, randomly I just wanted a guitar. I really freaked out my parents when I asked for a guitar because they were really confused. Within a week I was jamming along to Metallica. I had the feeling there was something here, and I never looked back.”

R.I.- What made you decide to teach yourself guitar, rather than take lessons?

C.C.- “One: I was the worst student ever, I tried but I’ve always had that fight mentality and I didn’t want someone to tell me how to do things. I wanted to create my own sound, so if I go to teachers left and right, I’m gonna sound like them. I never had the patience to be told what to do, typical female.”

R.I.- Were your parents supportive of you back then?

C.C.- “They’re my biggest cheerleaders, but when I first got the guitar, I was really into lacrosse and I was gonna go to college for that, and at that time they didn’t see music as, oh you should do that, they said I needed to go to college. That whole parent deal. Then I was in a car accident, so I couldn’t play sports anymore. So everything shifted to music.”

R.I.- You started touring at 15. What’s one thing you would say to your 15 year old self?

C.C.- “You’re an idiot. No, I’m kidding. I’m glad that I started so young because I was naive and I wouldn’t be the musician I am today if I didn’t start that young because I grew up fast. Not only being on stage, but the business side of things and how nasty it can be. I really learned a lot.”

R.I.- Tell me about your tribute to King Diamond you formed back then, Queen Diamond.

C.C.- “At the time me and my girlfriends, we were all 15 or 16 at the time, and we were on tour with Adrian Belew, so we were doing prog and King Crimson stuff, then that tour went into touring with John Anderson which was more prog and were the girls at soundcheck wearing Slayer shirts. So we were the heavy metal girls. We looked at each other and we were like, this isn’t giving us the outlet we need. So we came up with this crazy idea and put it together and it was fun.”

R.I.-What’s been the best part of touring the world with The Iron Maidens?

C.C.- “You experience one tour and you think the next tour is gonna be the same, but it isn’t. And you can’t really predict anything. It’s the best job in the world, it’s not even a job. I get to be onstage every night. I think the best thing is just seeing how the music touches people throughout the world, especially Maiden, it’s like a religion.”

R.I.- A couple years ago, you put out your signature Caparison guitar. What made you decide to make it in Pink and Green?

C.C.- “For me, I always had a pink and a green axe, so that’s me. Of course, pink and green.”

R.I.- What was the most challenging part of designing your signature guitar?

C.C.- “I wasn’t really thinking about that it has to sell, it was more of pleasing myself, which is the hardest thing to do because I’m my own worst critic. Luckily if the luthier at Caparison doesn’t think something is right, he’ll help me decide. Literally it took weeks going through what I really like and the result is my perfect guitar, I don’t need anything else.”

R.I.- You’re a big King Diamond fan. What do you think draws you most to them?

C.C.- “I think definitely Andy (LaRocque)’s guitar work especially with his whammy bar. I don’t know, that was the weird thing, I’m this kid blasting King Diamond and it’s not this band that people say, oh they’re great, because the vocals kinda creep people out. They just wrote good songs, they still do. The power in the stage show, that was my version of KISS.”

R.I.- If you could only ever listen to one again, would you only listen to Iron Maiden or King Diamond?

C.C.- “I would say Judas Priest (laughs).”

R.I.- Do you ever get sick of playing Iron Maiden all of the time?

C.C.- “I’m not gonna lie, certain songs, after you play them a million times, kinda get under your skin. But at the end of the day, most of the time it’s not for me, it’s for the audience. I still listen, especially when I’m working out, to Maiden all of the time. I love to do that because then you find deeper cuts that you completely forgot about, and then you bring them to the table. The one song I avoid is “Run To The Hills”.”

R.I.- Which one of your tattoos is your favorite?

C.C.- “I don’t know. They each have a story. I guess my favorite would be my Cowboys From Hell tattoo. I got it done like two days after he was shot, which still affects me today. But I was that cool kid in like 8th or 9th grade with a tattoo. That tattoo means a lot because Dime basically shaped my whole guitar playing.”

R.I.- Tell me how you and your cat Cheese met.

C.C.- “It was funny, me and Nita (Strauss) were living together at the time and we saw this Facebook post for kittens and I liked one of them. That guy is actually always on the cruise (Monsters of Rock Cruise) taking photos, Jeff. He showed up at one of our gigs and at like 2 in the morning at a meet and greet, he handed me a box with a kitten in it. Me and Nita looked at each other and we’re like what do we do, there are no shelters open, it’s two in the morning and I have a cat now, and I’m allergic to cats. But looking back it was one of the  best moments of my life. I love my Cheese.”

R.I.- Have you always named your pets after food?

C.C.- “No. Her actual name is Fromage. We always joke about Dexter’s Laboratory, the episode where he can only say Omelet Du Fromage. Then most people didn’t know how to pronounce it and they didn’t know it was French for cheese so we just said, you know what, her name’s Cheese. And Pickle, she’s another rescue because I’m on tour so much, I felt bad for Cheese being alone. I wanted to name her Mack, but my boyfriend had no way with that, so he said Pickle, so now I have a Pickle. And he has a cat named Onion, so I don’t think we can go back now, everything has to be named after food.”

R.I.- What’s your favorite Horror movie?

C.C.- “I’m gonna have to say, and it’s really really cheesy, but Trilogy of Terror. The third one, with the little doll. Then the typical child’s play. I’m a huge horror freak.”

R.I.- Is your solo album more shred or more slow melodic?

C.C.- “That’s the thing is, everyone probably expects me to do a full shred album. I can put out shred songs left and right, but that’s why I’m taking my time with this one because I don’t want it to be a full shred album. I want it to tell a story because I can hardly get through a whole instrumental album myself, even some of my favorite players, because kinda don’t zone into it. So I’m trying to make some songs with different feelings.”

R.I.- What do you think is the best way to make your mark on the music industry?

C.C.- “I would say, stay true to yourself and make your own sound because the business isn’t fair, life isn’t fair. It’s your own brand and I think a lot of people forget that. If you’re given a good deck of cards, you’ll play them well.”

R.I.- What made you transition from Jackson to Caparison Guitars?

C.C.- “I played Jackson for 12 years. They’re a good company to be with. But I was playing an Adrian Smith model and tearing them to shit basically. It’s nothing on the company, it’s just that I’m a very sweaty player and I destroy guitars left and right. But it wasn’t until I was handed a Caparison, it played like butter and it stood up to my sweat because my toxic sweat just eats away everything. It was a no-brainer. I have nothing against Jackson but Caparison was just it. Kinda like the Three Bears, you gotta find the right one.”

R.I.- Are you and the other Femme Fatale girls planning anything special for your last two shows on the Monsters of Rock Cruise?

C.C.- “I don’t know. Me and Athena (Lee) are definitely bringing a suitcase of party tricks. Our shenanigans are very organic and we don’t plan them out, they usually just happen and usually me and Athena are fueling it all. I wouldn’t miss the two shows, that’s all I’m saying.”

R.I.- What made you decide to make your merch a cartoon instead of a picture of you?

C.C.- “A friend of mine did that. I saw her doing a caricature, japanese-style for my friends in Killswitch Engage and I thought it was really cool. Obviously I’ll have different merch down the line, but I thought I would do something funny for the first shirt.”

R.I.- You’re good friends with Nita Strauss. How did you two come to meet?

C.C.- “I think we met at NAMM almost a decade ago. It was the kinda thing where we didn’t talk, but we were in the same room. I honestly forget. I think we just kept running into each other. She’s just there for me and I’m there for her. Down the line we had an apartment together and that kinda thing. It’s weird, but sometimes things happen like that.”

R.I.- What can we expect from you in the next year?

C.C.- “Aw man. Hopefully I can get my album out. My touring schedule is through the roof right now. That’s why I’m downing coffee as much as I can. Follow my social media accounts, @ccshred. Keep up with the dates because I don’t know, I just play it by ear. No pun intended.”

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© 2020 by Shannon Wilk.

Located in Connecticut, USA
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