The Viennese composer Johann Strauss can be satisfied that
his surname continues shining in the music world. His descendant now lives on
the other side of the Atlantic, plays electric guitar and waltzes are not
exactly her thing. Not that it would pose much of a problem for 28-year-old Nita Strauss, who not only replaced Orianthi in Alice Cooper's band but also unseated her from the #1 ranking in
the sexist classification of the women who most skilfully wield our favourite
instrument. She's not just another blonde with nimble fingers who flaunts her
figure in the 'hottest' calendar of Revolver magazine. She is a young 21st
century artist who is already giving lessons to many veterans, a member of a
new generation whose main influences are Steve
Vai and Jason Becker. She didn't have to learn by playing the
ukulele. She used the PlayStation remote control.
Her school was the hard work as a session guitarist for tribute bands like The Iron Maidens, music for video games with Critical Hit, her friends in Femme Fatale and crazy stuff like the space symphonies of Docker’s Guild. Her most recent recording credit is on their latest album – The Heisenberg Diaries, Book A…-, a look back at the soundtrack Queen composed for Flash Gordon. Before joining Alice Cooper for his last tour, Nita had shown her versatility on Jermaine Jackson's African tour, one more thing she shares in common with Orianthi, the last guitarist to work onstage with his brother Michael.
The relationship between the two, of course, doesn't seem to be that great: “Her fans hate me”, says Nita.
Her impressive track record doesn't end there but the first conclusion we can draw is that influence of this young guitarist -an Ibanez girl - is already much greater than it appears behind that sincere, unassuming image hidden behind the old glories. Under the direction of Jason Hayes, composer of the soundtrack to World of Warcraft, and the multimillionaire Michael Gluck, her sound and style are reaching literally millions more through Critical Hit than any of her other recordings. Another way of listening to the main theme of Tetris or Battle of New York (Call of Duty 3) that you would never have imagined.
It's also no coincidence that the French-American composer, professor and researcher based in Italy Douglas R. Docker selected her as the lead soloist for his latest musical project. The highlight is the 15-minute-plus Flash Gordon Suite, a showcase requiring someone capable of playing at the same level as Brian May. A "commitment" that Nita Strauss fulfils in truly spectacular fashion.
She explained it to Rolling Stone this way during the Christmas holidays last year: "There are tons of guitarists in Los Angeles. To stand out, especially in L.A., a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time. But more than anything else, you have to be prepared, be better than anyone else out there, and leave no doubt with your playing". It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll, a Bon Scott maxim that continues to be true to this day.
Nita, naturally, wouldn't think of not taking advantage of any opportunity that comes her way. Her “hope”, she joked in that interview, is for “people to like listening to guitar solos again. It would be nice to see a guitarist on the cover of People magazine instead of [Kim] Kardashian”. Onwards and upwards. For the time being Kiss have named her the official "guitar player" of the Los Angeles Kiss arena football team they bought in Los Angeles. The game is a long way from over.
(Images © Cordon Press)