NITA STRAUSS On 'Beauty' Of Instrumental Music: 'The Songs Can Mean Whatever You Need Them To Mean'

June 15, 2019

ALICE COOPER guitarist Nita Strauss recently spoke with Sara of the Philadelphia radio station 93.3 WMMR. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the origins of her "Hurricane" nickname:

Nita: "It actually came from the first write-up of my first band ever. There was a little rock magazine in L.A., and the write-up came out, and the last line was, 'Get ready, Los Angeles — Hurricane Nita is in town and here to stay,' or something like that. I was a teenager, and I was like, 'That is awesome,' so I just adopted it. I completely commandeered it, and I think it kind of speaks for itself [in terms of] my stage performance and my style."

On her debut solo album, "Controlled Chaos":

Nita: "I wanted to make an instrumental record that non-musicians could listen to and understand — not just something that's a lot of fast notes played in sequence, but something that tells a real story. The great thing about instrumental music is [that] it's subjective. The songs can mean whatever you need them to mean. A sad song isn't necessarily about a death or a loss — it can be whatever you need it to be in that moment. I think that's the beauty of instrumental music — it transcends lyrics, and it transcends language and any kind of cultural barrier... I know what I want to say with the song, but I don't want to tell anybody else what they should take from the song. Pick a song, any song, and you kind of know what it's about. 'This song is about a break-up.' 'This song's about being in love.' 'This song's about playing a rock show.' My songs can be about anything... whatever it is that you need, these songs can be that, and I love that about them."

On the album's musical diversity:

Nita: "I wanted to make an album that's sort of a cross-section of who I am as a musician. Of course, it was going to be an aggressive album because I'm kind of an aggressive guitar player, but I'm not aggressive all the time. Nobody can maintain that kind of aggressiveness all the time. There are happy songs; there are sad songs; there are songs about hopes and dreams — things that I still dream of achieving in my life; songs that are about joy — happy moments in my life; and, of course, songs that are taking out aggression and feeling pressure and all that kind of stuff. It almost listens and reads like a cross-section, like if you cut a tree in half and you see all the rings in a tree, that's what I wanted to create with this album."

On whether she considered using any guest vocalists:

Nita: "I think definitely in the future, I would definitely think about working with some vocalists, but all my heroes are instrumental guitar players — Steve Vai, [Joe] Satriani, Paul Gilbert... I just wanted to make one album that followed in that footstep and went on that path. There aren't a lot of girls doing it — there are a few, but vastly fewer than there are men doing it, so I wanted to kind of take that step down that trail and follow in the path of the few, the proud that have done it."

On her rapid ascent as a solo artist:

Nita: "It's so surreal to get to be out here headlining and playing these shows. It's really an honor. As a solo artist, you never really know – especially because I was so well-known for playing other people's songs – and to step out into a genre of music that a lot of people were not expecting and a lot of people said wouldn't work, saying, 'You're on this great upswing with ALICE COOPER and everything else you have going on. Make a band. Get a singer, and create songs that can be played on the radio'... When you stick to your guns and you create something as an artist that you're truly proud of, and you put real time and effort into it, it's amazing how the public will respond."

On playing with ALICE COOPER:

Nita: "The whole ALICE COOPER camp is so welcoming, and so kind and generous to anybody coming in. It's an amazing, amazing group to be a part of. It will be five years this month that I've been with them, and it's just been an incredible experience... It's still as surreal as the first day. As a young guitar player, you work your whole life to have an opportunity like this. That's what I told him during my auditions, and that's still how I feel today."

On breaking barriers as a prominent female rock guitarist:

Nita: "It has been such an honor to be a part of this front-wave of female guitar players. I just hope that this wave and the momentum that we're building – me and Orianthi and everybody that [is] out there building it up, I just hope the momentum keeps up. From the looks of it, from my guitar clinics, how many young girls are coming with guitars and learning, and parents are telling me that they brought to see us on the ALICE COOPER tour and now their daughter wants a guitar for her birthday... I think the future's in very good hands. I feel good about it."

Strauss has been playing with Alice Cooper since 2014 when she replaced Australian musician and former Michael Jackson player Orianthi. She joined Alice in time for a mammoth MÖTLEY CRÜE tour. She was recommended to Cooper by the legendary rocker's former bass player and WINGER frontman Kip Winger.

"Controlled Chaos" was released last November. Nita will spend the next several months touring with Cooper.

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