CONTROLLED CHAOS and MORE!
Nita Strauss....New Solo EP...New Solo Tour...Plenty of Rock
Her new solo album, Controlled Chaos has just been released. It is the album she has always dreamed of making. To her credit, she created it, beginning in 2017 while touring with the Alice Cooper Band. The album rocks and her playing is sheer passion.
The impression you get when you see one of Nita Strauss’ workshops is that she knows her craft, is confident, polished, and has paid her dues. The highlight of the workshop is to introduce her signature guitar, a lightweight, beautiful Ibanez JIVA and all the reasons she designed it as such.
Another aspect of the workshop is to inform the intimate audience about her path, and how to motivate others to go for it in music - if they work at it and play out live a lot. Because, as she says, “One day if you get a call from Alice Cooper to play in his band, you had better be ready to do so, having had those experiences.” This is positive information. However, the fact remains that very few, when it typically takes years to learn how to play guitar that well, will already be on tour after only two years of beginning to learn how to play. Nita was just 13 years old when she began to play the guitar and by the age of 15, she was on tour, traveling and sleeping in the back of an old pickup truck.
She mentions, and is sentimental, about her boyfriend (Josh) being there. She then puts on a track from her Marshall amp, and it is magnetic how much the crowd and I am drawn to her guitar playing. Clean, crisp, and her classic hair whips - sending her hair flying about. She is clearly in a trance playing her guitar, yet she commands it. Intricate, thrashing melodic patterns, dynamics and verve. She truly does rock.
Her boyfriend, Josh Villalta, is standing nearby. He is an accomplished drummer and is now touring with her on her first solo tour. He also is the drummer on her soon-to-be-released solo album, Controlled Chaos.
Nita’s guitar strap says “Hurricane” and later, when asked about that, she mentions how in L.A. a music journalist wrote this about her craft, “Look out Los Angeles, Nita Strauss is taking Los Angeles like a Hurricane.” Thus, she sentimentally wears that strap. She is also smitten about her boyfriend being there. However, you will find that she doesn’t seem sentimental about being linked to legendary composer Johan Strauss II.
At age 32, Nita Strauss is one of the quintessential rock musician guitarists in the music industry, especially in hard rock and heavy metal. Her skillset is vast and astonishing, when you hear how quickly it took her to hone most of her chops.
Nita Strauss has ranked to the number one position on the list of “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know'“ by Guitar World. She is featured on the computer game Heroes of the Storm. Nita began her path with the musical band, The Iron Maidens, an all-female Iron Maiden tribute band. She also has worked with Femme Fatale, and LA Kiss. She currently tours with legendary rocker, Alice Cooper.
When your relative from your father’s side influenced music, it’s a big deal. I can also understand how this might get annoying after a while. Yet, it should be mentioned that, as we move along in life, we realize how history and the history of music is pretty critical when it comes to landmark songwriters.
Johan Strauss the 1st was responsible for taking peasant waltzes/dances and putting them into the mainstream where courts and kings would love them; popularizing them for social events. Somewhat like social media, they became popular through him. Johan Strauss II, the man Nita Strauss’ father is related to, was responsible for people actually paying musicians a flat fee, instead of the previous donation baskets (or TIP JARS at gigs). Thus, he was important to the music business itself. People began to agree to pay musicians a flat fee for music during that time.
Is her playing genetic? Who knows. I only can see one thing in this that might be interesting to note, there are not many lead female guitarists who pick up the instrument at age 13 and then by age 15 are already touring doing the Vans Warped Tour. That does not happen every day. Additionally, Nita plays the electric bass well.
Even if she was not related to Strauss, what is key is also how she is an individual. She has worked for it. Now, with her solo album out, her songwriting and outstanding guitar chops are highlighted even more.
P.S. It is fine to not want to discuss your lineage. Yet, maybe one day she will embrace it fully and want to learn more or share more any findings.
On this day, I am not the only one who asks her about Johan Strauss. As she does the Q&A part of the workshop, an audience member puts up his hand to ask her, “Are you related to Johan Strauss?” Nita quickly says “Yes,” and more rapidly moves on to another question. I’m a bit shocked by this. Classical music, and these prominent composers, are the root of music in many ways. Eddie Van Halen and Billy Joel and many musicians speak about that. I then realize, “She is in her 30’s and maybe is just tired of this whole association.” She really must get asked this entirely too much.
We walk into Replay Guitar Exchange in Tampa, FL and I’m instantly in awe. So many steel and wood beauties lining the walls, vintage axes, and more. This is a great setting to meet Nita Strauss in. Next, I walk down the hallway to use the restroom, and I see Nita just sitting in some small office in the back, hanging out, waiting to begin the Meet and Greet. When she is ready for us, I walk up to her and she is tall. I’m 5’6” yet she seems more like an athletic volleyball player in build and height. Tall, fit and broad shoulders. She is welcoming, smiling.
TRR: I know you are asked this a lot, yet I have to be redundant here, tell me how you are related to Johan Strauss.
NS: Many generations ago on my father’s side.
TRR: Have you heard any stories from way back in the 1800’s? (Dumb question, maybe, but hey, I still remember in a Music History class a great story about Haydn not being able to go to sleep if the other guys in his school dorm ran downstairs to play I to V chord and not resolve it to annoy the hell out of him. I though maybe Nita might have a funny story like that)?
NS: Are you talking about from way back when, in the 1800’s? I wish I had some stories from way back when in the 1800’s. Do you have any stories from way back in the 1800’s? (laughing)
TRR: (The truth is, I do know about my lineage, and about where my family was in Europe in the 1800’s, yet the interview is not about me, so I keep going and let it go…Also, I’m not linked to Mozart or Beethoven, or Johann Strauss, so I doubt it would be interesting.) I have none, but I am going to look it up on ancestry.com. (we both laugh)
TRR: In 2014 you began to play with Alice?
NS: Yes, I did play in 2014, and it was Kip Winger who asked me to play, when Alice was looking for someone to replace Orianthi. I think they were kind of excited about the vibe they had going on with 2 guys and a girl in a band, and it worked great.
TRR: Then in 2016, you played on the Heisenberg Diaries album, Dockers Guild, how did you get into that?
NS: That was a session, he hired me for it. It was really cool being part of a concept album like that. It was really exciting to realize someone else’s vision, and he has specific things he wanted me to play. It’s exciting to see a full complete vision with a concept album.
TRR: What was the first moment you knew you were drawn to rock music? What age, where were you, what were you listening to, what happened?
NS: I was 13 years old, I had just gotten my first guitar, I was watching the movie Crossroads. Seeing Steve Vai play was an a-ha moment for me.
TRR: Tell me the best story about meeting someone you respect in Music?
NS: When I met Joe Satriani. I never want to be too much of a fan, yet I also don’t want to act like I’m ‘too cool for school.’ We were
backstage after a Chicken Foot show. We got introduced, and then we were just standing there, and I was like “So, you’re from San Francisco, right?” And I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I said, “You guys get a lot of fog, right?” I wanted to make normal conversation, so in my mind the weather was normal conversation. He was really tolerant and nice, so he said “Yeah, it does get foggy in San Francisco, you’re right.” (laughing)
TRR: Aw, that’s cool, he made you feel comfortable. What do you listen to on your cell or wherever, that might be surprising for us to know about?
NS: I listen to Biohacking/Bulletproof, and fitness podcasts. Or The School of Greatness.
TRR: That’s great. And now, your goals of what you’d like to do ahead?
NS: Oh my gosh. It’s so hard to say, cause 2018 has been the year of me achieving my lifelong dreams.
I have my signature guitar, I’m the first female signature artist, I’ve played at Wrestlemania, I just played yesterday at the Ram’s football game, “America the Beautiful,” and I’m on the cover of Guitar World this month.
TRR: OK, so my question should have been what else do you want to do?
NS: I don’t know, I need to think up some more boxes, I’ve already checked off the boxes on my list now. (laughing)
TRR: That’s excellent. And true! How is it working with Alice Cooper?
NS: It’s amazing, Alice is the most awesome person to work for. Totally professional every night, he puts on an amazing show; more than twice my age, and I still have to work to keep up with him.
TRR: He’s excellent. Still rocking. Well, thank you so much, Nita. We are looking forward to seeing your workshop in a few. minutes. Keep rocking it!
Nita: Thank you guys.
Abbe Davis, Music Journalist
Tru Rock Revival Magazine
Abbe has written for Fortune 500 companies. She is
the lead singer/songwriter for her own band, Sordid Fable.
Abbe’s goal is to support original music and Rock and Roll.