Signal Path Podcast: Nita Strauss
Listen to the latest SIGNAL PATH podcast with NITA STRAUSS, an LA guitar hero who’s shredded for Alice Cooper, Demi Lovato and more.
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Episode 065: Nita Strauss
In this episode, Laura Davidson speaks with the LA-based guitarist Nita Strauss. Nita has played with artists like Alice Cooper and Demi Lovato, and she's just about to release her second solo album The Call of The Void which is pack full of metal chops. As well as her insane shredding skills, Nita is known for her dynamic onstage persona.
Laura met up with Nita to talk about her origins in the Los Angeles music scene, taking her mom backstage to meet Alice Cooper at the Hollywood Bowl, and how the Shure GLX-D+ wireless system for guitarists makes her wild performances possible.
Laura Davidson: You've talked about the Hollywood Bowl before. What was it like to come back as a performer and be on that stage the first time?
Nita Strauss: I feel like growing up in LA and starting out in the music scene here gives you a real advantageasyou get older and you grow as a musician, because it's so competitive, it's so cutthroat.
You always hear about people becoming the biggest fish in a small pond, and then moving here and talking about being a small fish in a big pond. But if you grow up in the big pond, you're sort of already conditioned, already seasoned, to battle it out, to be the best, to be tough, to perform well, to show up on time, to give a great performance…because all the best musicians and performers from every small town all across the world come here to do this.
So, I think that growing up here gave me a great advantage. I really do. And to come back here on my first tour with Alice Cooper, play at the Hollywood Bowl, buy my parents a box to come and see me at the venue where they used to bring me to see free kids concerts…that was definitely one of the coolest experiences.
Laura Davidson: So when you came as a kid, did you get to go on stage?
Nita Strauss: Yeah. They used to do this thing called ‘open house at the Hollywood Bowl’, which was world music geared towards families. So they would have Russian folk music and Latin music and samba and all kinds of incredible performers from all over the world.
And it was very fun and family oriented. Everybody brought picnic baskets and the kids could go on stage and dance sometimes. It was really, really cool.
Also, my mom saw Alice Cooper play at the Hollywood Bowl in the seventies. So when I finally played there myself I brought her backstage and she was looking around and she said, “I can't believe I finally am backstage at Alice Cooper after 30 years!”
Laura Davidson: What made you pick up a guitar for the first time?
Nita Strauss: My dad. My dad is a musician, and he was in touring bands all his life. So, he's the one that gave me my first guitar, showed me my first chords, and really just instilled that drive in me to pursue this as a career.
Laura Davidson: How'd you approach learning the guitar?
Nita Strauss: All I wanted to do was play fast. I skipped everything except the shredding stuff. Which is funny, because when I started playing with Alice Cooper, I ended up having to go back and relearn a lot of basics. I wouldn't even say relearn – I had to go back and learn from the beginning. A lot of basics, like expanding the minor pentatonic and all that kind of stuff.
All I wanted to do was be Steve Vai, be Jennifer Batten, my shred shrapnel guitar heroes. Yeah. So I went out and I bought all the music DVDs that I could get my hands on, because those were the post-VHS, pre-YouTube days. I got John Petrucci’s‘Rock Discipline’ andMarty Friedman’s‘Melodic Control’ and Frank Gambale’s ‘Modes, No More Mystery’.
I was just sitting as a novice guitar player watching these players that were so out of my league, and just trying to learn from that. I got the very basics and then I bypassed all the middle stuff and just went straight to what I wanted to play.
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