Tag: Alice Cooper

Interview: Guitarist Nita Strauss Discusses her new Signature Model, The Ibanez Jiva

Photo by: Samuel Lathrop

Nita Strauss, the Los Angeles-based guitarist known for her shredding skills as part of the Alice Cooper band, was recently awarded her first Signature model guitar from Ibanez.

The Ibanez JIVA gets its name from the Hindu word, which means the vital energy of life and the creative essence that lives on after the body passes away.

Strauss’ JIVA is based on Ibanez’s popular S-series model and features a quilted maple top on a mahogany body. There’s also a 24-fret, ebony fingerboard with a uniquely designed “Beaten Path” EKG-Style inlay. The guitar also comes with Strauss’ signature DiMarzio pickups, which the guitarist designed herself.

The Ibanez JIVA’s unveiling at this winter’s NAMM Convention makes Strauss the company’s first female guitarist with a Signature model. Strauss has been on the Ibanez roster since 2008 and the JIVA is a well-deserved award that recognizes one of the most inspiring and hardest working guitarists in music.

Strauss is currently gearing up for a new round of touring with Alice Cooper and is deep into production on her first guitar-driven, instrumental solo album.

AXS recently spoke with Nita Strauss about her new Signature model guitar, her upcoming tour with Alice Cooper and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: Where did the idea and inspiration for your Signature model come from?

Nita Strauss: I think once you start playing guitar and learning about their components, you start figuring out what features would make it better. So, like most guitars players, I started designing my Signature guitar when I was in grade school [laughs]. I would always write down all my ideas into a notebook that I would carry around. This year is my tenth anniversary with Ibanez, and last year was when the discussion for a Signature model first started. I already had a clear picture of what I wanted from all the endless decisions I’d done in my head. So, once the final decision was made, it was a pretty straightforward process.

AXS: Why the name, “JIVA”?

NS: The word “jiva” is a Hindu word that means the part of yourself where all your creativity, ideas and life force comes from. It’s your jiva manifesting itself. Whether it’s your art, music or creativity, it’s the part of you that lives on after your body passes away. I thought, what more appropriate thing to call my guitar. On a personal note, my Dad’s band was called Jiva a long time ago. Since my dad’s the one who taught me how to play guitar, it’s also a fitting tribute as well.

AXS: What can you tell me about the guitar?

NS: It’s a mahogany body with custom maple top and ebony fretboard that weighs exactly seven pounds. That combination of wood gives it the tone I love and sets the guitar apart from others in the S-series. The Deep Space Blonde color is also unique as well.

AXS: What about the guitar’s pickups?

NS: Choosing a pickup was a trial and error process. I wanted something with a lot of body and sustain. Something that could hit top harmonics and hold them out but also not be too noisy on stage. We have a happy medium with my DiMarzio Pandemonium pickups. They’re really bright with harmonic resonance but are also really quiet.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Nita Strauss by Clicking Here!

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Nita Strauss and Nicole Papastavrou Discuss Their New Band, We Start Wars

“The Animal Inside” is the groove-driven, debut song from We Start Wars, a new, all-female band led by Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss.

The band—which also features Nicole Papastavrou (eight-string guitar), Alicia Vigil (bass), Seana—a.k.a. Shauna Lisse (vocals), Katt Scarlett (keyboards) and Lindsay Martin (drums)—prides itself on being a “chick band” that breaks down stereotypes while combining virtuoso playing with multi-layered songwriting and high-energy performance.

Strauss has always been fascinated by the idea of the female warrior, and admits We Start Wars is the band she’s been wanting to build ever since she first picked up the guitar.

We Start Wars will make their live debut May 25 at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood.

I recently spoke with Strauss and Papastavrou about We Start Wars, their debut single, gear and more.

How did We Start Wars come together?

STRAUSS: I’ve been trying to put this band together since I started playing guitar. I’ve always felt that female musicians were under-represented in the music scene. It’s not that they weren’t out there, it’s just that there wasn’t a lot of all-female bands getting notoriety, especially ones with good technique and musicianship. I started out looking for great musicians and great performers that cold elevate the status of the female musician. I met Nicole at a NAMM show a few years ago and after we started talking we realized we had very similar views. It was an instant connection and it’s cool that we’ve finally gotten a chance to work together.

How would you describe the band’s sound? 

PAPASTAVROU: I’d say it’s super melodic metal but also has a little bit of something for everyone. We wanted to broaden our audience not do anything too aggressive, but there’s still a little bit of heaviness in there.

STRAUSS: There’s a lot of crossover appeal. Nicole and I probably have the heaviest influences in the band, but when it comes down to it we make music a lot of people can enjoy.

Why the name, We Start Wars?

STRAUSS: I’ve had that phrase stuck in my head for at least 10 years. I remember being in school when one of the teachers said to us, “The greatest wars in history were fought over a beautiful woman.” I just remember thinking how badass that was. The concept of how the love and honor of a woman was worth putting everything on the line for. I also love the aesthetic and idea of the female warrior and someone who can fight her own battles and not have to depend on anyone for anything. That’s a lot of what this band is all about.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Nita Strauss and Nicole Papastavrou Here!

Nita Strauss Talks “Pandemonium” and Upcoming Alice Cooper/Deep Purple Tour

Nita Strauss
Nita Strauss

When Steve Vai asked guitarist Nita Strauss to take part in his new Favored Nations compilation, She Rocks, Vol. 1, the Alice Cooper Band shredder didn’t give it a second thought.

For years, Strauss has cited Vai as the reason she decided to pick up the guitar in the first place, so getting the chance to contribute an instrumental track to the project was a dream come true.

Strauss’ “Pandemonium”—which you can hear below—is a perpetual burn that showcases Strauss’ infectious style of playing while taking the listener on an extended, hook-laden journey of speed and dynamics.

In addition to the new track, Strauss is gearing up for an Alice Cooper/Deep Purple tour that’ll kick off in August. I recently spoke with her about “Pandemonium,” the upcoming tour, her gear and more.

How did you become involved in the She Rocks project, and what was it like meeting Steve Vai?

It was the most surreal thing. As most people know, I started playing guitar after seeing Steve’s scene in Crossroads. He’s always been my biggest inspiration. But I had never met him until last year, and one of the first things he asked me was if anyone had talked to me about the compilation album he was putting together with [former Guitar World editor-in-chief] Brad Tolinski and Laura Whitmore. I told him I hadn’t, and the next thing I knew, I had gotten an email from Brad.

I wrote and recorded “Pandemonium” in a single evening. My boyfriend, Josh Villalta, played drums and Katt Scarlett played keys. It really came together organically in a very cool way.

How would you describe “Pandemonium”? 

I think by the title. It’s a self-explaining name. I’ve never actually said what the song is about but I really wanted to take people on a journey. An instrumental song doesn’t have any lyrics, but it tells a story, and it could be about anything. I love to hear what journey it takes people on.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Nita Strauss by Clicking Here.