THE IRON MAIDENS guitarist Nita Strauss, who recently joined Alice Cooper‘s touring band, recently conducted an interview with NI Rocks about the actual experience of performing with the legendary rocker. A couple of excerpts follow.
NI ROCKS – How was the connection made with Alice Cooper? Did his people approach you or were there mutual acquaintances or how did it come about?
NITA – It was through mutual acquaintances, through a former band member of his who heard he was looking for a female guitar player when Orianthi left the band. I think they were happy with the dynamic of the band, with three guitars and a female band member, so one of his former band members made the connection and I met Shep Gordon and Bob Ezrin, who are of course his long time manager and producer. We met in LA and got along famously. They sent me some songs to learn and then all of a sudden the next thing I knew I was on a plane heading to Michigan for rehearsals.
NI ROCKS – I’ve managed to interview three other current or past members of the Alice Cooper Band this year. All have mentioned Alice’s commitment to the performance and giving the fans 100%. How would you describe working with him?
NITA – Absolutely. Alice is a true professional, true performer in every sense of the word. The man is a legend. I have never seen him have a bad show and that’s the honest truth. Like you said, he always gives everything he’s got. He leaves it all on stage. Even off stage, he’s really amazing with his fans. He’s definitely passionate about what he does and is really amazing with the fans; even if someone interrupts him when he is having a meal or is busy with his wife Sheryl who’s on the tour with us, he always takes time to greet the fans, take pictures, answer questions and re-enact the “Wayne’s World” scene where they say “we’re not worthy” (laughs). He always takes time for everybody.
NI ROCKS – On tour you’ve committed quite a bit of time to Ryan Roxie’s “International Rock n Roll Parking Lot”. That just looks like such a fantastic idea, giving fans the opportunity to meet members of the band. Are you hoping to continue that for the next part of the tour?
NITA – Absolutely. I think Ryan has been doing the Rock N Roll Parking Lot for years, and for a long time it was just him doing it alone and when I found out about it, I’m not one to get left out of a party so I went along. Fans want to meet you. I felt it was important as the new member of the band, replacing someone who was very well loved by the fans to get out there and meet everybody, shake some hands and tell everybody how happy I was to be there. And hopefully they’re happy to have me there too. Then it really evolved into this really fun thing. You’re able to put merchandise of ours separately from anything at the merch stand. On the next run of the tour I’ll have my t-shirts and stuff that everybody will be able to buy. It’s a really great time, though every once in a while there’s someone who ruins it for everybody else.
NI ROCKS – Yeah, we all know those type. I’ve seen some of your merchandise. You’ve a pendant / chain that I quite liked! It’s pretty cool.
NITA – Yeah that’s true. Actually, I’m supposed to be getting those in on Monday. A big shipment of them and I’m really excited about it.
NI ROCKS – How many guitars would you take on the Alice Cooper tour and are there a couple of favourites that you like to play?
NITA – I take four and it’s not enough (laughs). I love every one of my guitars like a child and I wish I could take them all, so it’s always a battle thinking which one am I going to bring on tour. Unfortunately, there’s just not space. Especially on a tour like this one where we’re in a support slot for Motley Crue there’s just not room on stage to have a huge vault of guitars. So you pick and choose. My favourite, my go-too has always been my red Ibanez RGT. As soon as I got that one it’s been my go-too. That’s the one I play during my guitar solo. Then I use a black (Ibanez) S5470, I think demon shadow is the finish. It’s a really beautiful glossy black top. I use it for most of the set. Then on “Feed My Frankenstein” I use another RG with a custom finish by a company called RockstarTrendz(https://www.facebook.com/RockstarTrendz). It has a really cool finish with a Frankenstein or zombie looking hand kinda clawing at the guitar and where the guitar finish is ripped open you see a heart, like the guitar is alive. I asked then to do something like that and they definitely went above and beyond. It’s the same company that did my Ninja Turtles guitar so I knew they were going to do a great job.
NI ROCKS – How many guitars do you own, or have you lost count?
NITA – I’ve totally lost count! (laughs). My main ones that I keep readily available at the house, I probably have about six. But then there are a lot that are actually in my Mum’s house. She’s nearby and is kind enough to store them for me so that they don’t have to be put in a garage some place.
In June 2014, she replaced Orianthi in Alice Cooper as touring guitarist for 2014 tour dates.
You can read entire interview here.