Nita Strauss has no trouble keeping herself busy.
Largely known as the stellar guitarist for Alice Cooper, she stepped away from the legendary singer last year to back up Demi Lovato on her most recent tour. After her run with the pop singer, she has returned to Cooper.
Add to that her Body Shred fitness program, Rock Fundamentals guitar course, and recurring gigs for WWE and the Los Angeles Rams, and it would seem like it would be hard to find time to record a new solo album. Well, she did it, and it’s everything she hoped it would be.
Strauss will show off some of the songs from that upcoming album, The Call of the Void, when she hits the stage at The Eclectic Room in Angola on Friday, June 23.
Giving album a voice
Strauss admitted in a recent Whatzup interview that The Call of the Void, set for release on July 7, was not an easy project to complete. But now that she has the final product in hand, she is very proud of the accomplishment.
“Making this album helped me learn and grow so much as a musician and songwriter, and I’m excited to finally unleash it on the world,” she said of the album that will feature 11 songs with vocals, then each as instrumentals. “It’s my first time working with vocalists, so it was really great to collaborate with some singers this time around and do something a little bit different.”
Strauss said the album’s title refers to something known as the “high-place phenomenon.”
If you have ever been on top of a high building or on a ledge and had the thought of jumping, you have probably experienced “the call of the void,” she said.
“It’s not a suicidal impulse, it’s actually the opposite of that, a subconscious decision to live your life. To step back from the ledge, and take control.”
The first song off the album, “Dead Inside,” with Disturbed vocalist David Draiman, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, giving fans a taste of what she had in the works.
Strauss’ previous album, 2018’s Controlled Chaos, was an instrumental, so adding vocals this time around provided a different dynamic that gives the listener a fresh take on her music.
“It’s definitely something we did consciously,” she said. “There needed to be an evolution and a next step in the process. This seemed like the natural progression.”
Strauss said she really wanted to showcase a wide range of styles and different generations of musicians on this album. She achieved that by employing the likes of Anders Fridén of In Flames, Chris Motionless of Motionless in White, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy, and even her own boss, Alice Cooper.
Cooper was all in on his contribution to the closer “Winner Takes All,” Strauss said.
“It was great working with him and he did his thing completely,” Strauss said. “We didn’t want to tell Alice Cooper how to be Alice Cooper, and there was no intention of reinventing the wheel. He is, of course, a pro and took the idea, ran with it, and knocked it out of the park.”
Social media to the rescue
When Strauss, aka The Hurricane, brings the Summer Storm Tour to our area, she will need a vocalist on stage with her at times, a first in her solo career. This posed a problem: With so many different styles of music on her new album, how was she going to find someone who could handle all of the duties? That’s where social media stepped in.
“I found the incredible Kasey Karlsen on TikTok,” she said. “She is a bit of a TikTok celebrity, doing metal and rock covers, and has like a half a million followers.”
Karlsen performs a wide range of styles in those TikTok clips and is truly a “vocal chameleon,” Strauss said.
“She can sing ‘boy songs,’ she can sing ‘girl songs,’ she screams, she pig squeals, and she can sing beautiful high cleans, so it was like finding a unicorn,” she said. “I’m super grateful she’s able to come on the road with me this summer.”
Interacting with fans
One of the best things about her solo tours, Strauss said, is the chance to meet fans up close and personal. One of the ways she does that is by offering a VIP meet and greet that takes place before the shows.
A lot of bands do this as an additional income stream. Strauss’ VIP experience does come at an added cost, but it is well worth the price.
“I like to go out to merch and meet fans after the show, but the VIP is one of the highlights of the day for me when I’m on tour,” she said. “It gives me such a unique experience to get close to people. We do a long Q-&-A before the actual meet and greet part of it and I get to answer questions in depth. We take our time and do it right and make sure everybody has a great experience. I love any chance I get to connect with the people that are coming to see me.”
Regardless of whether you attend the VIP session or just choose to experience the live show that features Lions at the Gate, Zacara, and local act The Illegals as support, Strauss wants you to know you will not be disappointed.
“It’s going to be a high-energy, high-octane tour,” she said. “We have a lot of surprises in store for the show, and we will be playing a lot of these vocal songs for the first time ever.
“I’ve always felt Indiana is a great home for us between coming to Sweetwater and Fort Wayne and coming to Angola. I think I’ve been in Indiana on every single solo tour I’ve ever done, so I can’t wait to come back.”
It’s been a whirlwind of a year for Strauss, but she seems to take it all in stride as she continues touring with Cooper and promoting her new album.
While being a guitar hero may seem glamorous, it can sometimes be taxing, too, since free time can be hard to find.
“Anytime I get overwhelmed or feel like I don’t want to wake up early and get on a plane or do interviews, I think about the guitar player that worked all those years to get to that moment,” Strauss said. “Would that guitar player turn down a 4 a.m. flight to play at an NFL game or a chance to get up early to talk to a magazine in Sweden? Of course not.”