He’s on tour in the UK again supporting yet another fantastic album and we can’t get enough of Joe Satriani – a genuine guitar hero. Check out his exclusive interview with rushonrock here. rushonrock: The new album boasts a particularly strong mid-section – just talk us through the tracks Solitude, Littleworth Lane and The Golden Room…
Joe Satriani: As far as Solitude is concerned it’s so odd how that song came out of me. I was working on another song which ended up being a bonus track – a song called Heartbeat. I really laboured over that song and always felt it was lacking something. I guess I got myself in a certain mood and then felt it needed a new beginning. I went deeper and deeper into the mood I was in and then I realised that what I came out with was something altogether different. Emotionally I felt that the ensemble piece I’d come up with was about the personality of both of my parents and their need for solitude. Eventually I asked Mike Fraser to separate it from Heartbeat and what we got was the song Solitude. I love it.
rushonrock: Littleworth Lane has a retro British blues rock feel – is that intentional?
JS: The title comes from the street that my mother’s house was on. She lived in that house for many years and it was built in the 1600s which, by US standards, is very old. It was a tiny colonial place which she fell in love with the first days she set eyes on it. She passed away last December and I wanted to write some music reflecting on her life and what she meant to me and the rest of the family. She was very warm hearted and gravitated towards people who needed help. She was a teacher all her life and loved music: jazz, gospel, blues. She was always in an upbeat mood and her positivity reflected on others.
rushonrock: Golden Room features Jeff Campitelli at his best – just how good is your drummer?
JS: With that song it’s something I’d started maybe two years ago. It was a piece that was primarily an Indian-influenced song. I was fiddling around with the guitar and started playing this Spanish chord sequence over the initial idea. Suddenly I thought I’m really onto something here! Why not combine an Andalucian theme with Indian music? I wanted the piece to reflect a coming together of two different cultures but I had to figure out how to do that. Then Jeff started playing on a Korg Wavedrum and it all became clear. Jeff is really fantastic as a drummer in a rock band because he really listens to what everyone else is saying. He’s a unifier. That’s why the groove is so great on the records he plays on.
rushonrock: How do you find time to release another solo album and commit to Chickenfoot?
JS: I love being in Chickenfoot. It’s a great band. I just did two shows with them and it was crazy. We just get together, roll up, play a show and there’s mayhem. We never know what’s going to happen and we never have any time to rehearse. The four of us just get together for this regular celebration of classic rock. It’s like this extroverted live version of a classic rock band and what we do is unique. I always come off stage feeling great after playing with that band. I think anytime you do something like that it’s like trying a new spice – you try something different and you realise what you’ve been missing all these years. It’s a completely different feeling for me compared to the feeling I experience doing the instrumental stuff. The two are so different and so unique that I want to find the time to do both.
rushonrock: You famously started out as a teacher – do you miss that and do you wish you had more time to teach?
JS: Because of everything else I have going on there’s no time for teaching. A really good teacher has got to sit down with his student at least once a week and get to know that student. Once in a while I do some clinics but as far as making that kind of weekly commitment is concerned I just don’t have the time or the energy. If I’m honest I don’t miss the teaching. It’s a very difficult job – especially if what you’re really into is making albums. And if nobody listens to what you’re trying to do that can crush your spirit. I feel for all the guitar teachers out there – it’s a very difficult place to be. The work is very hard and you have to give your heart and soul to the job.
rushonrock: So how did you manage to combine teaching with making your first records?
JS: I remember back in the early days when I was producing Not Of This Earth and Surfing With The Alien I was basically teaching full time to finance those projects. To come from teaching the students and then go into the studio and then do some solos and then try to get some sleep and then go back to the students was tough!
rushonrock: But you must take immense pride from what your students have gone on to achieve?
JS: Absolutely. I’m full of pride for those guys. We all share the same dream to get on stage and play music and make records. When any one of those guys succeed the rest of us cheer them on because we were all part of a very close group and we all had the same goals. I know how difficult it is to achieve success in this business and so I have a huge admiration for all of the students who have gone on to pursue their chosen careers. From Steve Vai to Kirk Hammet – all of them were hard workers first and foremost.