Alice Cooper‘s guitarist Nita Strauss talked about adapting her playing to Cooper’s style upon joining the band, describing herself as a hardcore shred type of player. She told Music Is Win :
What is your approach to making music on the guitar as far as songwriting goes? Are you of theoretical background? Are you playing by ear? What’s your mindset?
“I’d say like 95% by ear. I learned a little theory on my own. I was totally self-taught. I took a few guitar lessons in 2014 when I got the Alice Cooper gig.
“Because basically I was just a shred kid from Santa Monica, CA. I know nothing about blues and classic rock and that kind of stuff. All I ever wanna do is play Malmsteen songs.
“So as soon as I got the gig, I got a stern call from Bob Ezrin – who’s been Alice’s producer forever, he did [KISS’] ‘Destroyer,’ ‘Welcome to My Nightmare,’ all these amazingly classic albums – and he said, ‘Look, you need to become more of a rock player for this. Alice doesn’t need a metal player, he needs a rock player.’
“So I started going around LA and I found a guitar teacher and that’s when I took my first lesson to get some blues licks, to get some rock licks.
“And it’s funny, because being a self-taught guitar player – you don’t know that stuff. It’s hard to find all the information about everything. So, for instance, this teacher told me… I knew the pentatonic. And I didn’t know you can put [flat fifth] in there. No one told me!
“I didn’t have a teacher to explain all these cool little things you can do to jazz up the playing and make it so much easier. And now that little flat five is my go-to little note to make people go, ‘Oh, she’s really good.’ [Laughs]” I was never doing any of that stuff before. I was just trying to sweep.”
That’s the easier stuff.
“I know! I totally skipped over the easy stuff for the longest time. But I’m kinda glad because it’s kind of like going back and finding an episode of your favorite show that you didn’t know existed.”
Where does tone come from?
Every guitar player has to drive past a billboard every day for the rest of their life. What would you want that billboard to say?
“Never give up.”