The band—which also features Nicole Papastavrou (eight-string guitar), Alicia Vigil (bass), Seana—a.k.a. Shauna Lisse (vocals), Katt Scarlett (keyboards) and Lindsay Martin (drums)—prides itself on being a “chick band” that breaks down stereotypes while combining virtuoso playing with multi-layered songwriting and high-energy performance.
Strauss has always been fascinated by the idea of the female warrior, and admits We Start Wars is the band she’s been wanting to build ever since she first picked up the guitar.
Recently, Strauss sat down with Let There Be Talk to discuss We Start Wars—and, to some degree, female guitar players in general.
“[Nicole Papastavrou plays] an eight-string; it has a bigger neck than a 12-string, I can’t even play her guitar,” Strauss said. “I got an eight-string from Ibanez a couple of years ago, maybe five years ago when they first made one. I just gave it back the next day. I don’t want it. [Laughs] I don’t know what to do with it. It’s like a baseball bat! And she plays it like…
“I picked her because she has a super-solid right hand, which is not something you see. I’m the last person to be sexist in this industry, but you don’t see a solid right hand on a lot of female players. I don’t know why, you just don’t see it. It’s not a common thing.
“I wrote a lot of tight rhythms, and I wanted somebody that could keep up with a really, really tight right hand. And Nicole’s right hand is miles and away better than mine. Especially on those big strings, on the eighth string; the low string looks like a pinkie finger! [Laughs] It’s almost like a bass. She’s kind of got like a top two bass strings on her guitar. So, it’s pretty rad sounding with her on eight and me on the six.”
Strauss is definitely thrilled about the new band—and about playing her own tunes for live audiences.
“For me, it will also be exciting to finally get to play my own music on stage,” she said. “And I try not to harp on the ‘chick’ thing too much, but I think it’s important to note that the walls are coming down for all of these traditionally male-dominated fields: race car drivers, female boxers, MMA fighters and now musicians. It’s cool to be on the forefront and to show people that this stereotype is long dead and gone.”