Guitar goddess Nita Stauss took to the stage in New Orleans at the newly reopened Hangar in the latter part of 2021, but her local fans would get an unexpected second dose of her signature blazing hot rock 'n' roll in Covington at Covington Rock 'N' Blues after her Baton Rouge date was canceled. This surprise show would be the very first show of her 2022 headlining tour, and it brought a great start to the new year.
Nita and her band shredded through several of her original songs from her 2018 album Controlled Chaos (written, produced, and several instruments performed by Nita herself) and her upcoming album, as well as some Alice Cooper classics. After her show, I was able to speak to her about performing, creating, and releasing music in this new era and more.
WYAT: How did you get into playing guitar?
Nita Strauss: My dad was a touring musician before I was born and comes from a whole long line of musicians. It was in my blood. I was around it all the time growing up, and my dad is the one who got me my first guitar, and it felt really natural to me.
WYAT: And now you've got a signature guitar of your own. Tell me about it.
Nita: It's called the Ibanez JIVA10. I wanted to have a player's guitar that guitar players could afford. So the original JIVA that came out, the JIVA10, was right at the mid-range price point, but we didn't sacrifice anything as far as really high quality materials. So we have an African Mahogany body, Quilted Maple top, Bound Ebony fretboard, and DiMarzio pickups. It's everything that a super pro player would need that is not like, 'Oh my God, this is $5000,' which is unattainable for many people. It's the one that I play live. There's no special bells and whistles on mine that everybody doesn't have on theirs. There are now three JIVA models: the JIVAX, which is the high-end one, the JIVA10, and the JIVAJR, which is the more affordable model without some of the bells and whistles but still a super, super high quality, beautiful guitar. We have a little something for everybody, and there are also some new options in the pipeline that we're exploring, so keep an eye for that.
WYAT: 2014 was a huge year for you when you started playing for The L.A. Kiss arena football team and joined Alice Cooper's touring band. During that time, did you feel like, "This is MY year."?
Nita: I feel like that every year. I'm really big on New Year's resolutions and taking a moment at the start of each year to reflect on the last year and think about what's going to happen in the next year. Every year, I get this sense of 'This is MY year. This is the time for me.' Every year, I feel like it has happened a little bit. Like each year I've gotten closer and closer to my goals. 2014 was a big one playing with the L.A. Kiss Football Team and then going on to join Alice Cooper on the Motley Crue World Tour. Huge year for me. The following year, I stayed with Alice, then we had more and more breakthroughs. In 2018, I released my signature guitar, my first solo single, and then, right after that, I released my first album. Then I did my first headlining tour. 2021 came around, and I now have the number one song on radio. 2022 is coming around and it's already looking better than ever. I think you just have to keep climbing. Look at each year as a step in the right direction.
WYAT: Speaking of making goals each year, what was the pandemic like for you?
Nita: 2020 was definitely a pivot, but I like a challenge. I don't mind a good challenge. I would have preferred a challenge that didn't put the entire world on hold and destroy so many people's livelihoods. But we really made it work on my end. We did a lot of online stuff. I got involved in my Patreon page, which is like a fan club. I recorded all the music for my next album. I released an online guitar lesson course called Rock Guitar Fundamentals. I think it was as successful as it was during the pandemic because people were at home and they needed something to occupy their time. What better time to learn how to play guitar than right now? And just trying to do as much as we really could to stay active. Now that we can get back out on the road, I'm just touring, touring, touring like crazy because it's such a good feeling to get back out there.
WYAT: Your music is very 1980s thrash and old school heavy metal, which isn't mainstream like it once was. What would you say to people who feel like that kind of rock music just isn't cool anymore?
Nita: I'm on a tour right now that is proving those people absolutely wrong. I've spent the last 20 years of my life touring and proving people wrong one after another after another. I'd like to see somebody come to one of my solo shows and tell me that the music sounds old-fashioned. It's the same thing with the Alice Cooper songs. Even though some of these songs are 30, 40, I think even 50 years old, they don't sound old when we play them. Talking about longevity as an artist, no one has more longevity that Alice Cooper.
WYAT: Have you ever felt like you, as a woman, had a more difficult time rising in rock 'n' roll since it's a male-dominated genre?
Nita: I can't lie to you and say there have not been challenges. The great thing about it is during my time in this industry, which I started touring at 15 and I'm 35 now, it's just gotten easier and easier to be a woman doing this. There are women today in power positions all over our industry now. I have a female tour manager, I have a female VIP and merch manager, a female content creator on this tour. I have 10 people on my tour bus, and five of them are women. For a long time, that was unheard of. Now it's easy. Everybody is amazing at their job. I'm not choosing people because I want a woman; I'm just choosing the best people for the job. And they happen to be badass babes. I love that, and I love seeing women have it easier to be taken seriously in our industry.
WYAT: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans about what's to come in 2022?
Nita: I'm going to tour with Alice Cooper; I go out with Alice at the end of my tour. We've got a big year definitely with Alice Cooper. I think we've got three, four months already on our schedule for touring this year. Then my album will come out hopefully in the late spring, and I'll be touring during my downtime to support that.