Exclusive Joe Satriani Interview 2014
Hi there, this is Saturax and welcome to this exclusive Joe Satriani interview, made for our community Joe Satriani Universe and all his members!
A new Marshall amp? New Ibanez guitars? An upcoming DVD? New albums?
Joe is answering the questions you asked him via our social medias!
You can enable the subtitles in the YouTube video player.
Saturax : About your Unstoppable Momentum album, what were your influences for the composition, where does your inspiration come from?
”Well, the basic inspiration is everyday experiences. Some of them are very light, you wake up sun is shining you feel good. Some of them are very deep Love, loss and tragedy, things that you read about far away, things that happen right in your own house, things like that. And I guess once he gets turned into music, as its starting to turn into music I’m influenced by the composers that I’ve studied my whole life, that I think are really brilliant at creating music to tell a story into elicit feelings from the audience.
You know, you mentioned « Unstoppable Momentum ». If you really look at that, it’s a little play on suspended triads. And moving bass line, same with this [Joe plays « Always With Me, Always With You » and « Not Of This Earth »] just in a different arrangement.
So I get fascinated by harmonic situations that are more modern, then that’s saying, going back to 300 years in western music. And at the same time I’m interested in simplicity and elegance that goes right to a person’s heart and gives them a great feeling and so I kinda play around with things you know if you were looking at these chords, you might think well these are really strange guitar chords, you know? They’re not your normal Major, minor, 7… Of course they’re not powerchords either. But the baseline I use is a very simple baseline that’s been used for 100 of years and it really does make people feel good so usually I’m looking at elements that get me to “first base” if I use an American expression and then I see what can I do to make it so interesting and that no one else has ever tried before and so I take harmonic structures that are very modern, things I’ve learned that started maybe 100 years ago up to the present, and then I start to use sounds that are very modern and its my way of enjoying playing with the elements of Music, and being able to tell someone a story.”
Saturax : You have a lot of fans here in France, we are so happy to have you on 12 shows this summer, that’s huge! How do you feel being back here again?
“Well it’s wonderfull! We’ve had a few times in our career going older back to 1988 where we’ve done a lot of shows in France and sometimes it ships where we’re doing more shows in the UK or in Germany certainly we do an enormous amount in North America, South America and Asia but you know France is very special to me because when we started touring, when I started out as a solo artist the first tour that we ever had in Europe had only 3 real shows on it. One was the Marquee Club in London, one was the Montreux Jazz Festival and the other was in Paris at the Theater Moment.
That was the begining of my relationship with promoter Gérard Drouot who was always taking care of us here in France and it’s a great… You know it’s very important for musicians out there to understand that the relationship with the agents and promoters is extremely important. The agent goes out and represents you at home and abroad to find gigs, but it’s the promoter who takes the risk to bring you over and it’s a significant risk, but without really good promoters who love music and who understand business, the musician would get nowhere.
And so Gerard has been a fantastic asset in introducing me to the French public and doing in a way that has allowed our audience to grow which is very important.
And then along the way he’s turned into a very close friend and we love him very much!”
Saturax : Are you planning to make a DVD on this Unstoppable Momentum tour?
“No, we haven’t really thought about that yet. You know we started this tour over a year ago and we took a break so The Aristocrats could continue, Mike Keneally had some work to do I was gonna be recording a Chickenfoot album so we had other things that we have to do, I had to finish my book, whatnot.
And then we started up about a month ago and we’re gonna go all the way until december so… Maybe in amount threshold we will start thinking about DVD but we haven’t really thought about that yet.”
Saturax : Some more personal questions now, about your nickname… Why “Satch”? Where does it come from, what does it mean?
“Well, it’s a real American thing. When you grow up in America when I was growing up, everybody came from somewhere else, their parents, you know, Romania, France, Italy, Germany, everybody had a name that sounded like it came from somewhere else here and so everybody quickly change their name to a nickname among friends and Bud Heimer would be “Buddy” and Satriani would be “Satch” and so forth you know.
That just was one of those things that is the strange culture of America in the 20th century because there was a real push to be american and no one really knew what that was but they knew that it wasn’t old-world Europe and it had to be something new so my grandparents came from Italy and landed in New York around 1907 and they raised my parents to be as american as possible, not to speak Italian or not to speak English with an italian accent and so when my sisters and brothers were born along with me it was again the same thing to sound as much like you came from New York as possible, with very little connection to Italian speaking family.
It’s very different now, where an american people really sort of celebrate their ancestry a little bit more. But that was back in the days when Americans were crazy they were afraid of communists and all sorts of things so… [laughts] So anyway that’s how “Satch” came about, that was just a nickname.”
Saturax : It seems that you can play a 2 hour show without doing a single mistake. What is your secret?
“The best thing you can ever have in your corner is a great band I gotta say that you have to have a great band. If a band always makes you feel like there’s room for you to play perfectly or to improvise, then There’s no tension you know what I mean? And then you can really focus on the moment and the audience, it’s very important.
I always thought it’s really important that when you putting on a Rock’n’Roll show it’s not a presentation. It is an event that happening once in a lifetime for the people that have come this one time, no matter where you’re playing. So in order to do that you have to kind be part of the event so that might mean that the part have to be simplified, maybe there’s a part where you play twice as hard, twice as many notes because there are people that are making you feel so excited. And your band has to understand that they have to learn to go with that, I think that’s most part of thing.
Other than that it’s the obvious, you do have to practice, that’s why I’m doing the interview but I’m also doodling around here because I didn’t play my guitar yesterday and so I wanna make sure I’m properly warmed up for tonight show.”
Saturax : 27 years have been separating Not Of This Earth to Unstoppable Momentum. What have changed in your practicing, in your way to thinking and playing the music?
“I think that over the years, success brought me the ability to understand live performance a lot better. Before Not of this Earth I always wondered why when I performed that I can only show people maybe 40 percent of what I can do, and I couldn’t figure it out. What would happen on stage where I get so excited or nervous, intense, that at the end of the show I think they never saw the real Joe Satriani playing. They just saw some reduced version. And I thought well it must be something that I’m not doing. And I didn’t really understand that until I think in 1988 when I was touring with two entities, I was beginning to tour as “Joe Satriani the solo artist” which was brand new and I really wasn’t quite sure, like sould I run around a lot? Should I stand absolutely still [mimes] when I play? Should there be lights moving around? It is Jazz? Is it Fusion? Is it Rock? Is it Metal? What is it, you know?
But also that year I played with Mick Jagger and that was a really great break from trying to be a solo artist. And so I was a solo artist for three weeks in january 1988 and then immediately I was one of nine people in the Mick Jagger band and I can relax a little bit. Because Mick Jagger was there, he was running around being the greatest Rock’n’Roll entertainer ever and they were an other guitarist, and a keyboard player, and a horn player, and background singers… I started to understand that there was a place to be yourself. And Mick Jagger was always telling me “Just be yourself, just walk out there and give everyone the best show possible but that means that you have to be Joe, don’t worry about trying to be Keith or Mick Taylor and related, just be yourself.”
And so when I got off the first Jagger tour then went back to doing the solo work with Stu Hamm and Jonathan Mover, I had a new sense of how I was going to show people all that I could do and that year was very important for the development of bringing the album Surfing with the Alien and Not of this Earth to the people because I knew how to do in the studio, I just had figured out how to do it live and make it fun to look at. Because I could stay there and play the whole record note for note but that’s not really exciting. And I learned a lot of that from Mick and how he would take the Rolling Stones songs and his own material and make it work live. But not change himself, he would stay true to himself. And it was great to see him do that, it gave me a lot of faith in Rock’n’Roll.”
Saturax : You had a blue guitar with three single pickups during the Experience Hendrix Tour, now you have a deep purple guitar on this tour, is it a new guitar on its way with Ibanez?
“The purple one is definitely being manufactured there’s actually two models, two versions of that model. They both will have this special deep purple sparkle and it’s actually sort of a purple metallic in a way, it’s a very interesting color we came up with. One will have a setup just like this, and it’s 24 frets muscle basically it’s a JS2410 but with it’s a different finish but the alder wood and 24 frets.
There’ll be another model that will have the Sustainiac pickup in a place. I use that a lot during the shows because there’s always one song, you know every three songs there’s one song where I use the Sustainiac for some part. We’re gonna do that and then we’re still working on the blue three single-coil guitar.
We’re trying to find a unique color, the color of that particular prototype is not really available anymore and so we’re looking for a substitute that we think is even better and in the meantime since we’ve had all this extra time to work on the color, Steve Blucher and DiMarzio has been helping me to refine the three pickups and now we have the Satch Track pickups that are gonna go in that guitar so actually the only thing left is the color, the color of the paint! I’m hoping we find the right blue color.”
Saturax : And you have a name for this guitar yet?
Saturax : What about new pedals or gear with Vox and Marshall?
”There’s nothing happening with Vox, but… there is something happening with Marshall that I’m very excited about but I don’t I’m not sure I can talk about it! [laughs] But we have been working in Santiago Alvarez their main engineer and I have been working for a number of months on a new amp that I think a lot of people especially people who don’t go on tour are really going to enjoy, I’m hoping we get to finish that before the end of the year.”
Saturax : Your last album Unstoppable Momentum was a success. Is it to early to ask you which direction you want to explore with your next solo album?
“You know maybe halfway finished with that record I guess the things that I am still leaving open for me is the fact that I have this new band and we still have a lot of touring to do.
I’m was thinking maybe after the South American tour, I can start writing songs specifically for Bryan, Marco and Mike, because they’re very unique players and I think what we create together as a four-piece is very different from any the other bands that I’ve put together and so… But instead of just bring the men and say “play this music I’ve already written” I think it would be great to write new music knowing that Marco, Bryan and Mike and play it to capitalize on what we sound like live.
Those are things I have left to work on and we’ll get to them at the beginning of next year, right now we’re working at a schedule where Mike Keneally records his solo album, The Aristocrats records their solo album There’s the Chickenfoot album and my solo album, so right now we’re just kinda moving schedules around make sure there’s enough time for everybody.”
Saturax : You have just mentionned a new album with Chickenfoot, what can you tell me about the line-up and the release date?
”It should be the original line-up, I’ve seen Chad and did a show with Sammy not too long it was just a couple weeks ago in San Francisco, and everyone sort of ready to do something but we all have thing to do, there is my touring schedule, there is the Chad’s writing and recording with the Chili Peppers right now and Sam is actually on tour all summer so…
I’m thinking if we’re lucky by the end of the year we can go in a record, we’ve got songs already, enough for an album and it’s just a question what everyone feels like recording first. So 2015 will be pretty productive I think.”
Saturax : My final question, what about the G3?
“Maybe 2015, we’ve been talking to a few players, yes because everyone is busy for the rest of this year and maybe the second half of 2015 would see us but we will probably start in the US because we haven’t done a US G3 in a long time, so we would start there but I can’t tell you who yet.”
Saturax : So thank you Satch for having answered my questions, I wish you a great show for tonight in Six-Fours (France) and see you next time.
“Yes, thank you very much, bye !”
Interview shot in Six-Fours-les-Plages (FR) on July, 8th 2014 during the Unstoppable Momentum Tour in Europe, realised by Saturax and Pierre Malet.
Credit photo : Pierre Malet and Flow.
We would like to thank Joe and all his team, especially Mick Bridgen for his kindness and attention.