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Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – ToddStar Photo

According to a recent press release: “Los Angeles-born guitar hero and musical force of nature Nita Strauss recently announced her brand new album The Call of the The Void, out July 7 via Sumerian Records. Pre-order it here. Nita Strauss has dazzled over a million live audience members per year across six continents worldwide. Fans may recognize Nita from her tours with Alice Cooper, Demi Lovato, and as the official guitarist of the Los Angeles Rams NFL team, as well as her successful career as a solo artist. Her 2022 single “Dead Inside,” featuring David Draiman of Disturbed, became the first song by a female solo artist to go to #1 at rock radio. Nita’s skill, exuberant stage presence, and love for all things about her instrument have earned her a stellar reputation in the music industry and endorsements including Ibanez Guitars, Marshall Amplification, DiMarzio pickups, Monster Energy, and more. She has been featured on the covers of worldwide print magazines including Guitar World and Guitar Player, and on dozens of albums, trailers, and soundtracks. Her debut solo album Controlled Chaos is currently available worldwide through Sumerian Records.” We get Nita to discuss new music, touring, BodyShred, and much more…

Toddstar: Nita, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule. I really appreciate it.

Nita: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Toddstar: You have so much going on. You’re one of the busiest people out there – constant touring and now some brand-new music is coming. You’ve been dropping some singles and teasing us all for almost 18 months with new music.

Nita: I know, right?

Toddstar: On July 7th, we arrive at the culmination, The Call of the Void. What can you tell us about this package that your fans might or might not grab the first time or two they listen through the whole album?

Nita: I think that it will be one of those records that people will discover new things the more they listen to it, different times through. There’s a lot of layering in the music that I think will just take more than a first listen. It’s a very complex album, musically. That’s something I think that might not be as apparent.

Toddstar: Everybody expects the instrumentals full of huge solos and tons of riffs, but as you said, this is a little more complex, a lot more layered, and you jumped off a beaten path.  You’ve cut a wide path in the past and have found a sweet spot in more mainstream rock with Alice Cooper and Demi Lovato. You’ve gone off the beaten path, in my opinion, with new tracks like “The Wolf You Feed” or the more recent “The Golden Trail.” They cut a bit off from what a lot of people are expecting. Was that intentional on your part to really display everything you can do or is it just who you are as a musician?

Nita: I think those two songs, more than some of the others, are closer to what I would do naturally as a musician. That’s sort of the kind of music that I listen to. In Flames and Arch Enemy are two of my earliest influences and favorite bands. I think the more mainstream songs, “Victorious,” “Through the Noise,” and “Dead Inside” are more of the player that I’ve developed into over the years. The heavier stuff is more who I am at my core as an artist.

Toddstar: Cool insight. Going through the tracklist, you’ve got some great vocalists with you on this. When you were putting together these tracks, was it in your mind, “Okay, I’m going to have Alissa (Gluz-White) do this track… I’m going to have David (Draiman) do this track” or did they just fall together after the fact? While you were writing, did you have in mind what songs sonically would match what voices?

Nita: It was a bit of a mix. Some of them were written with the specific vocalist in mind that ended up there, such as “The Golden Trail.” Really, there was no vocalist that would fit that besides Anders (Fridén) from In Flames. And then some of the other ones, we just had a vocal type in mind. Let’s say we want a female powerhouse vocalist, someone like Lzzy Hale, Dorothy, or Lilith Czar. So, you write for that voice and then you find who actually ends up executing it a little later.

Toddstar: The cool part for the fans is you’re bringing this out on the road and doing a quick little summer jaunt. How different are you going to approach this music from a live situation than you may have in a studio? Because this is you playing live and taking center stage. How are you going to approach this differently on stage, putting your name and stamp on all of this?

Nita: I love touring with my solo band. I’ve had the same solo band on the road and most of the same crew since 2018. We’ve done tons of tours together and we’re just such a tight-knit, great group. I couldn’t ask for better people to bring this vision to life and execute these songs so well. This is going to be the first tour that we’re going to have a singer. That’s going to be the main change from my previous solo tours. We’re going to have an incredible vocalist, Kasey Karlsen, helping us out with some of these vocal songs. Other than that, anybody that’s seen my solo show before knows it’s business as usual and business is good.

Toddstar: Business is definitely good based on the songs that have been unleashed so far. Nita, was there a different approach when you did this album than Controlled Chaos? That was a Kickstarter – a grassroots effort from the ground up – whereas this time you had a label supporting you on some level. Was there a different process other than the timeline?

Nita: The main difference for me was the difference in crafting songs where it’s just me and my boyfriend and my best friend, my writing team for Controlled Chaos, and working with not just my label, Sumerian, but the different labels, different management, and different timelines of the releases of the featured artists on the different tracks. That was the biggest challenge that we faced for this record. It was something new to learn that we hadn’t experienced before. That was the most challenging thing overall and why the record took as long as it did.

Toddstar: That makes sense. When you look back over your career and the different accolades you’ve had, how important are those things to you in comparison to the fans really grasping and making that connection when you’re on stage, lock eyes, and you know you’ve made a difference? How different is that from the accolades you can get from the industry?

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – ToddStar Photo

Nita: Industry accolades are incredible, and I think that the two go hand in hand. You’re not going to get one without the other. The endorsement of the companies won’t take notice unless you’re doing something to make a difference in people’s lives. You’re out there playing shows, whether it’s live on stage or people that just do it on social media or whatever it is. Those are the things that get you to the accolades if that makes sense. First for me always is going to be the fans and the live experience; going out and playing these songs live, whether it’s with Alice Cooper or Demi, performing at Rams games, or performing with my solo band… live is always going to be the most important thing.

Toddstar: I’ve yet to see a solo show and you’re coming to one of my favorite venues in the world, the World Famous Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan.

Nita: Oh, we love The Machine Shop. I was there just last year.

Toddstar: They’re excited to have you back. I was able to catch the first show on Alice’s current swing at Soaring Eagle in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.  The camaraderie you have in that unit, is that something that when you were putting your band together years ago was an important part for you to have, as an extension of your family, so to speak?

Nita: I think anybody that you choose to go on the road with is an extension of your family, in a way, especially on a club tour like mine where it’s not particularly glamorous. We don’t have hotel rooms every day. We are not separated by multiple buses and stuff like we are on a tour like Alice Cooper. You’re eating, sleeping, breathing, waking up, and taking turns in the shower, just as you would with your siblings. It’s even closer than roommates because you don’t do every part of your day with your roommate. It really is like being in it with your siblings. The only turnover that we’ve had in my solo band and crew is really when people don’t fit into that family vibe that we have, which is very, very rare.

Toddstar: Watching you on stage, you can tell that this is all something that comes from the heart, and you genuinely appreciate the fact that you’re doing it. You’ve been doing it about 20 years, give or take, professionally. If you could go back and talk to a young Nita, way back in 2002 or 2003, what advice would you give yourself then, knowing what you know now?

Nita: The biggest piece of advice I would give would be to continue being yourself and don’t compromise the artist that you want to be. For many years I had people leading me in one direction or another. Different managers, different band members, or different people in the industry saying, “You should dress like this. You should not dress like this. You should talk like that. You should appear available even if you have a boyfriend.” All this kind of bullshit advice. It wasn’t until I sort of embraced who I was a little more authentically… dressing how I want to dress, making the music that I wanted to make, and articulating myself the way I wanted to in interviews, that I really found the niche and the success that I was looking for in my career. So, if I could tell my younger self one thing, it would just be to waste less time taking advice from everybody and just be yourself.

Toddstar: That’s great advice to anybody, especially someone who’s been climbing the ladders that you’ve been climbing.

Nita: Here I am giving the advice. (laughing)

Toddstar: Well, speaking of climbing… I mentioned earlier, you’re one of the busiest people out there. You’ve got tours and you’ve been putting together music in the background. But you’ve also got another project. Tell us a little bit about Body Shred. You’ve relaunched that on the social platforms. How important is this program to you as a person and how does it play into the music? Can I get the background on how it plays into your life?

Nita: So, the backstory is that when I got sober in 2015, I made a promise to myself that I was going to make the sobriety journey worth it, because getting sober is the worst. It sucks. Doing it in the middle of a tour is even harder. I said, “If I’m going to go through all this, I’m going to make it worth it and I’m going to take good care of the machine of my body, and I’m going to get myself into the best physical shape that I’ve ever been in.” I took the next year and dropped a lot of water weight just from not drinking and took the gym much more seriously. I started working with a coach. Over time, people started noticing and asking me, “Well, what did you do? And what did you eat? And how did you do it?” I was writing these novels of Instagram comments of like, “Well, I ate this, and I drank this much water. You should try this, and you should test that out.” I thought, what better way to give back to this community that has given so much to me than by sharing all this knowledge and providing some incentive for people to get healthy the way that I have? I’m not going to preach to anybody that they need to get sober, because it was the right decision for me, it might be the right decision for others, but that’s not for me to say. Instead, we created Body Shred. Body Shred is a fusion of music and fitness. Winners win an Ibanez JIVA guitar, my signature guitar. A Marshall Amp. This year for the first time, we’re bringing two winners out to the 1st Phorm headquarters. 1st Phorm is one of our sponsors and they have a state-of-the-art incredible gym. We’re doing two all-expenses-paid trips to fly out and work out with me at their gym. There is a companion eBook that I wrote which has all the nutrition tips and mindset tips and encouragement and motivation that I can think of, and healthy recipes and two different work plans for different types of goals. I try to give everybody all the tools that they will need to start down that path if they want to. We just finished signups for the latest one, which is Body Shred 5. We have over 600 people from all over the world participating and committing to making a change in their physical body to have a better experience going forward. It’s been an awesome, rewarding progress and I can’t wait to see how this one ends up.

Toddstar: I’ve been very intrigued by it. It was different and cool to see your approach of “It works for you. This works for me and if I can give it to you, great.”

Nita: Totally. That is the overarching theme of Body Shred. People have pointed out in the past, I’m not a personal trainer, I don’t have any degrees, I’m not a nutritionist. The way that everything’s presented is I’m the busiest person that I know, and if I can make this work on my schedule where I rarely even have a fridge, much less the grocery store and everything else, these are the tips and tricks and hacks and workouts that have worked for me personally. It’s a very doable, very sustainable approach. We don’t encourage fad dieting, we don’t encourage crash dieting, serious calorie restricting, or anything like that. It’s about a healthy, sustainable approach to getting in better shape. As you’re getting in better physical shape, you’re also helping your mental health as well because those endorphins and everything are some of the most powerful mental health aids that I have experienced in my life.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – ToddStar Photo

Toddstar: I love the backstory behind some of your motivation; it’s so different than so many other guitar players and rock stars out there. I know you’re busy, so I’ve got a couple more, if you don’t mind. I love the fact that this album, if you go out and you get the digital stream, it’s also going to have all the instrumental releases of the vocal tracks. I am not sure if the physical release will include these. I loved being able to hear the instrumental version of “Dead Inside” paired up against the vocal track. Is that something that you intentionally set in motion so fans could hear these as well to hear what you knew existed before you had vocals laid on top of them?

Nita: It wasn’t something that we initially had set out to do, to release them separately, but I’m so glad that we’re doing it now because I’m so proud of the instrumental versions of those songs. As we touched on earlier, there’s so many layers. The songs are so multifaceted and there’s a lot of stuff you wouldn’t have heard. As you said, if you listen to the instrumental version of “Dead Inside” versus the vocal version, you really hear that big difference. So, I’m really, really glad that we’re doing it. It is only going to be on the digital release. It would make the vinyl too long. We already have a double vinyl, so I think if I added seven more instrumental songs to it, it would just be like a gigantic… it would probably add a whole other disc. It is going to be on the digital releases where I think a lot of people would go for streaming those sort of auxiliary bonus tracks of instrumental versions of those songs. I’m excited for that and excited that it will probably lead to some cool covers. People will be able to take that and cover it on their social media or YouTube, and that’ll be cool too.

Toddstar: I agree with that. As you get ready and you’re formulating your set list for this run, what song or songs from the new album are you really chomping at the bit to rip through live and showcase when you hit the stage at the Machine Shop or the other venues you’re going to play?

Nita: I have been having so much fun rehearsing all these songs. I haven’t played them in almost two years, most of these songs since I’ve finished recording them back at the end of 2021. It’s been really a treat going back and playing through them and figuring out what we want to do live. I was working on “The Wolf You Feed” yesterday and going through that solo, and that solo is just so much fun to play. Challenging, but really, really fun. I am really looking forward to that one. That was the first song of mine that I ever heard Kasey, the singer who will be with us on the solo tour, sing. She just knocks that song out of the park. It’s right in her wheelhouse. So that one stands out as one I’m looking forward to.

Toddstar: Nita, I cannot wait to see you on stage… already purchased my VIP ticket and ready to finally witness a Nita Strauss live solo show.

Nita: I’m excited to get out there.

Toddstar: Thanks so much. Safe travels and we will see you at the Machine Shop in a couple of weeks.

Nita: Thank you. If you talk to the guys over there, please let them know how excited we are to come back. We had the best time last time I was there, and we are very excited to come back and see everybody. Please tell Kevin… it was a sort of must stop for us when my agent was like, “Well, do you want to go back to Detroit, or do you want to go to Flint?” We’re like, “We want to go to The Machine Shop.”

Toddstar: Awesome. I’m looking forward to it. Thank you so much, Nita, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Nita: Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.







Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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