Tag: Nita Strauss

Interview: Nita Strauss Discusses Her Infectious Debut Solo Album, ‘Controlled Chaos’

Photo Katy Cooper

2018 has certainly been a memorable year for Nita Strauss. The guitarist, widely known for her time touring with Alice Cooper and for being one of the most in-demand clinicians on the planet, started the year out by unveiling her first Signature Model guitar, the Ibanez Jiva. This coincided with another round of live dates with Cooper as well as solo performances that included Wrestlemania and for the Los Angeles Rams as part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service”. Now, the beautiful blonde shredder is doing something else she’s never done before: releasing her monstrously cool, debut solo album, Controlled Chaos.

With help from her longtime visionary, Josh Villalta, the instrumental album is a snapshot of Strauss’ life as an artist and features an eclectic mix of emotion and guitar wizardry. From the dark and aggressive sounds of songs like “Our Most Desperate Hour” and “Mariana Trench,” to more peaceful tracks like “Hope Grows” and “Here With You,” there really is something for every taste. Strauss even gives a nod to Queen with a haunting version of “The Show Must Go On.”

AXS recently spoke with Nita Strauss about Controlled Chaos and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How would you describe Controlled Chaos and how it relates to where you are as a guitarist?

Nita Strauss: This is my first album and first chance to show my personality, so I didn’t want to make a strictly rock or a strictly metal album. I wanted to make an album that encompasses all the different styles and emotions I’ve gone through as a person. On Controlled Chaos you’ll hear the dark and aggressive side (of course),4 but you’ll also hear a bright and fun side and a calm and peaceful side. It’s a snapshot of myself as a guitar player.

AXS: What’s your writing process like?

NS: For me, it starts with a story and with me saying this is what I want to talk about and here is how I want to talk about it. A common misconception people have about instrumental music is that it’s all just notes that work together in sequence. I learned from studying my guitar heroes that’s really not the case. I want to tell a story with the song but leave it to the listener to have their own interpretation of what each one is about. It’s not like a song with words where the lyric is already telling you what it means. These songs can be about whatever they make you feel. That’s the beauty of instrumental music.

AXS: What was the recording process like?

NS: I did a bulk of the recording on a break from the tour over the summer in L.A. The rest was done in the back of tour buses, venues and in hotel rooms. Anywhere I could set up my recording rig. Even if I only had a free hour in-between sound check and the show, I’d set up my equipment and get something done. It was grueling at times but was so worth it because I was able to be really hands on. The album came out exactly the way I wanted it to.

Read the rest of my
Interview with NIta Strauss by Clicking Here.

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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!

‘We Start Wars’: Vocalist Seana Discusses Band’s Infectious Debut Single and Performance At The Whisky A Go Go

We Start Wars, the new band which features guitar goddess Nita Strauss along with 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 breaking down the “chick band” stereotype by combining virtuoso playing with multi-layered songwriting and high-energy performance.

The band’s infectious, groove-driven debut single, “The Animal Inside” showcases all of the aforementioned technical and melodic abilities of this adrenaline-fueled sextet as well as delivering something that has never been done before.

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

I recently spoke with Seana about We Start Wars, her songwriting, career and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did We Start Wars come about?

It actually started with Nita [Strauss]. She’s been dreaming of putting this band together ever since she started playing guitar. She spent a lot of time finding girls by focusing on technique and abilities. I was the last piece of the puzzle. This band has a lot of energy and power and I love the fact that every song is different.

What can you tell me about the band’s debut single, “The Animal Inside”?

The music for the song had already been written, so I just took it and added the lyrics. I based the song off adrenaline. So, the animal in “The Animal Inside” is adrenaline. Adrenaline affects us all and gives us the strength and power to do whatever needs to be done. Whether it’s a wrestler before stepping into the ring or an artist taking the stage or an audience waiting for a show to start, it was inspired by that feeling. That adrenaline rush. It’s also a great way to introduce ourselves.

As an artist, what’s your writing process like?

My songwriting process is eclectic and no process is ever the same, which is actually what makes being in a band so awesome. I’ve written songs alone and have taken tracks home and added lyrics and melodies. I’ve also collaborated with other members and have hooks and melodies that come to me in dreams. No song is the same and that’s what keeps it interesting. As far as inspiration, I’m inspired by life, death and this whole crazy ride we’re on together. I like my songs to leave a person feeling like they always have a place to come back to. Whether it’s a place where you can get pumped up, laugh or cry I like talking about things in life and am not afraid to talk about the sad because life isn’t always perfect. I like to keep it real.

 What can fans expect from We Start Wars’ debut at The Whisky?

This is our first show, so expect lots of adrenaline and high energy. We have a lot to prove and we’re going to prove it on stage at that show. I’m stoked!

Was a career in music something you always aspired to have?

For the most part. I always saw singing as a hobby until Amy Lee and Evanescence showed up on the scene. That was a game changer. She made me think of my singing as something I could make a career out of. I decided then and there that I would work really hard and never give up.

Who are some of your other musical influences?

Prior to Amy Lee, I was influenced by Pink Floyd, who were life changing for me. My first best friend was my grandpa who passed away when I was four. He had this room where we used to play together and after he was gone, I remember sitting in the room by myself listening to the radio and Pink Floyd’s “Time” was playing. It was the first time I understood that music was more than just words and instruments. It was therapy. Other influences would be Jewel, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Heart and Rage Against The Machine. My grandmother was a piano teacher and was also a big influence on me.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I have a pop project I’m working on which is just my name, Seana, and have a few songs recorded that I’m piecing together. It’s definitely different than my rock stuff, but I love all kinds of music. I did vocal jazz in school and went to college for vocal performance where there was a lot of opera.

What are you most looking forward to about this next phase of your career with We Start Wars?

I’m excited to share this experience with other amazingly talented ladies. I’ve never been in an all-girl band before and am looking forward to sharing the stage with other strong-willed, talented women.

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.

Guitarist Nita Strauss Talks Touring with Alice Cooper, Gear and Three-Guitar Attacks

Following the April premiere of Alice Cooper’s film, Super Duper Alice Cooper, at the Tribeca Film Festival and its subsequent on DVD, rock’s greatest showman is hitting the road as a “very special guest” during Mötley Crüe’s final “All Bad Things Must Come To An End” North American tour, which starts in July.

NitaStrauss

But the tour also will mark the debut of Cooper’s new guitarist, Nita Strauss, who recently was listed as one of GuitarWorld.com’s “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know.” Strauss takes the place of Orianthi, who had toured with Cooper for the past several years.

Strauss — whose influences include Steve Vai, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert and Shawn Lane — has already made her mark with the Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale. She’ll now join Cooper’s three-guitar attack, joining fellow six-stringers Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen.

I recently spoke to Strauss about the upcoming tour, her gear and how she got her start.

GUITAR WORLD: Tell me how you got involved with this project.

Kip Winger was the one who actually connected the dots. We met each other on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, where he saw me play. He later heard through the grapevine that Alice was looking for someone, so he sent them a few links and videos of me performing. I was then introduced to Shep Gordon [manager] and Bob Ezrin [producer] who sent me over a few tracks to learn and from there. Everything just seemed to fall into place. I’m so honored and excited to be a part of this project. It’s hard to put into words.

What was it like when you first met Alice?

I first met Alice in LA when he was recording some material for his new album. Ezrin called and asked me if I’d like to come down to the studio and meet him. So I went down and got to sit in the studio for Alice’s recording session. He’s such a cool guy. The whole experience was pretty incredible.

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