Interview with Joe Satriani
Joe, can you tell us what you’ve been up to lately?
Well, right now, we are finishing up a live DVD in surround sound that should be released probably right in the beginning of June. It’s a full concert that was performed on December 29th in San Francisco at the Fillmore. We mixed it in 5.1 surround sound to accompany the footage for DVD. The surround sound really gives you a lot of cool options to sonically bring people right back to the moment of the concert. It’s just amazing. It makes you feel like you’re right there.
We are also going to be releasing a companion CD for those people who just want to listen to it. I think Sony is going to release an audio only surround sound DVD as well. I’m also doing some work with the Playstation 2 people, which has been a lot of fun. I’ve been writing and performing a bunch of music for different Playstation 2 games but it’s too early to tell which games the music will wind up in. I’m also gearing up for the next rock n roll Joe Satriani record which we’ll probably begin recording in October.
Your last three albums were very diverse musically. Where do you think your next album is going to take you musically?
Well, it’s always hard to tell prior to going into the studio because so much of an album seems to get conjured up on the spot. I’ll be playing through my Marshall with a rock band, but we’ll probably add some elements of modern production as well.
It seems from your description that its going to be more of a band oriented recording rather than a studio project which Engines of Creation seemed to be?
Yeah. From the very beginning, Engines Of Creation was conceived as some kind of a techno record and therefore, we set very rigid parameters. We didn’t want to go into a studio, use any microphones, or any outboard processing gear for that matter. We purposely did that so that we could occupy a particular space each day that we worked on it. But I think that I can go back and look at my records and see that my records were very well-defined from each other. So, this time around, I don’ t want to turn my back on any of the things that I’ve done. I’m looking for some combination of elements that worked on previous records and want to try and come up with something entirely different.
About a year ago, I watched an old video from when you were playing with Mick Jagger. Do you think that sometime in the future, you’ll be doing other projects where you’d accompany another artist or maybe do a band project?
I would like too. I’ve always found those projects that I picked to be really thrilling. When playing with people like Mick Jagger, Deep Purple and even Greg Kihn, there were elements of it that were very exciting for me artistically because I was standing behind a vocalist, being directed by the band or the band leader. It’s very interesting because you don’t know what’s coming next. When I’m doing a Joe Satriani live performance; I’m that guy and we’ve got an enormous amount of detail to attend to for each song.
When I was playing with Jagger, it wasn’t about me. Mick Jagger was leading the whole thing. The thing with Mick Jagger was that I had 25 years of lead guitar playing to try and emulate. I had to play stuff originally done by Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood and Mick Taylor. I think there was even a tune we did that Jimmy Page had played solo on. It was really interesting for me to just jump into each guy’s skin a little bit and to feel the music the way they felt it. Of course, you can never play exactly like somebody else. I think it can be a really rewarding experience if the music is great and in the case of the guys I’ve mentioned, their set lists are obviously amazing.
Do you have any other goals left as a musician at this point?
Oh yeah, plenty. I’ve lost 11 times in a row at the Grammy Awards, so I’m thinking one of these times, I’d like to get one of those. But I’d loved to write for films. Not just incidental music but including main themes. There are certainly some things that I would love to do that I’ve always wanted to do. I know Steve Vai and myself would eventually love to figure out a way to do a record together. I’m sure that will take another 10 years! But like most other artists, I’d like to find the time to collaborate with other artists more.
Is there any thought of doing another G 3 tour?
No. I really would like to do another one of those however. I think, we’re hoping for a little bit of magic like the kind we had the first time we decided to put together G 3. It took about a year and a half but outside forces just sort of aligned and allowed Steve, Eric Johnson and myself available at the same time. It would be great if I could somehow get Jeff Beck, Tom Morello, Steve Vai and Brian May together. As we proved from the ticket and record sales last time, there is an audience that is dying to see and hear that type of thing.
Now, lets talk about gear a little bit. Which Ibanez guitars are you utilizing at the moment?
Aside from Chrome Boy? I’m looking at my guitar stand right now and I’ve got a new white JS1000 guitar on it, which sometimes I gravitate towards because of the colour. When I really get tired of the stuff I’ve been playing, I go to a white guitar and I feel like I’m starting on a clean slate. I also dug up my old JS6 mahogany to use for slide guitar and the JS700 with the soap bar pickups, which I also use for slide guitar. I’m determined to push my slide playing into the next level, which means I really have to practice quite a bit. I’ve also been working with a Universe 7-string quite a bit. I’m determined to unlock the secret of setting it up so it responds a little more like the JS guitars. I plan to use it on it on some Playstation 2 tracks.
Well, maybe we need to build you a JS 7-string?
That’s a good idea. That would help me out a lot.
What records have you been listening to lately?
The last couple of days, I’ve been listening to a record that my sister sent me. It’s called Stone Rock Blues. It’s a record that has all the old songs from which some of the most popular heavy rock songs were stolen or based off of. I’ve also been listening to Downward Spiral by Nine-Inch Nails. Hurt is an amazing song on a lot of levels. It has a really creepy set of lyrics and then the recording, of course, sounds entirely new. It’s what you’d call ground breaking. It’s a document of very creative people making decisions that nobody else has made, using the same tools that everybody has.
Joe Satriani – Light Years Away from the album Black Swans & Wormhole Wizards
Joe Satriani – Wormhole Wizards from the album Black Swans & Wormhole Wizards