G3 interview 2018 : Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Uli Jon Roth

 In Interviews

Hey guys, it’s Saturax and welcome to this G3 interview with Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Uli Jon Roth made on April 17th 2018 in Bordeaux in France.

The three guitar heroes, who never played together on G3 were touring all over France for the G3 tour in Europe. We talked about the chemistry between them on stage, their musical connexions. We also mentioned their signature gear, motivations for reaching their goals and become great musicians, songbooks and next albums to come.

Subtitles are available in the YouTube video player.


Saturax : What’s the most exciting part about the G3 show?

Joe Satriani :
I think the camaraderie among the musicians is always the best thing about the G3. Everybody, here tonight at this venue, all the musicians want to put on a great show. We all are interested in each other, how we play, what we’re going to come up with tonight on stage, what we’re going to improvise with…

It starts with the very first show, and it just gets better and better every night, so it’s always that camaraderie, I think that’s the best part.”

John Petrucci :
Well the jams are always very interesting. That’s the highlight of the night, at the end when we are all playing together and trade off. That’s always so much fun, and it’s interesting, we learn from one another and experiment.

It’s interesting for me as I’m a guitar player who’s in a band, most of the time in Dream Theater touring, and playing without to do… to playing it different set up, as a trio instrumental. It’s interesting, it’s cool, it’s good exploration for me as a guitar player.”

Uli Jon Roth :
For me personally it’s the jam, because in solo concerts we always play our music and it’s interesting, but jamming is more interesting because you never know what happens.”

Saturax : Why did you choose Uli and John to play along with you?

Joe Satriani :
Well it’s interesting, in earlier interviews when I talked about G3 and the opportunities that exist when you put together G3. Also there were the issues of trying to get people together who never played with each other before, and may have some very interesting chemistry once you can kind of get them together.

So in the case of John Petrucci and Uli Jon Roth, there are two guys that I’ve played with on G3s before, but the two of them have never played with each other before. I just had an instinct that they would have a lot of things in common, and that their differences and their musical routes would actually create a lot of positive energy.

So that’s been the case, they come from two different worlds and yet, their common love of the guitar and music in general really is where they bond. It’s really exciting to see that happened. Once I had the idea of getting the two together, I think things moved pretty quickly.

Saturax : What’s your favorite song from John and Joe?

Uli Jon Roth :
“I don’t really have favorite songs, I wouldn’t know. There’s one that Joe plays every night, which I don’t know the name of. *laughs* I barely know my own song names so you’re asking the wrong guy. When John plays, I think it’s “Glasgow Kiss”, which is always spectacular and he also told me the story of what it means, which I didn’t know.

John Petrucci : “With Uli, “The Sails of Charon” I’ve always loved, he closes with that song so when it plays it it’s awesome. Joe has so many great songs in his repertoire but I have a very soft spot for “Always” when it plays it because it’s so beautiful. It’s always amazing, he’s spot on and it was also the wedding song for my wife and I, so… It’s a very special song. I love it every night.

Joe Satriani :
“I don’t think I have any #1 favorites. It’s funny I get asked that question all the time, everytime I go on G3 shows. People always ask me “what’s your #1 favorite song” and I would think “well I don’t have a favorite song because I don’t relate to the musicians that way”. If I was just a fan, I could probably answer that question.

But because I know the musicians, I kind of look past the materials that they do and could talk for hours about the different technical things that they do, and how they apply their feelings and their emotions to the guitar. That’s what I hear every night, I play with them every night on stage, I listen to their shows every night, it goes way deeper than just me sitting around going “mmh wonder what they’re going to that song” *laughs* I don’t even know. Half of the time, they’re playing out different songs from their catalogues and I don’t even know what they are because I’m not familiar with everything they’ve always done, their catalogue is so big.


Saturax : What was your main motivation to play guitar, practice every day, and become one of the best guitar players?

Joe Satriani :
“Well, my main motivation was just Jimi Hendrix, I love Jimi Hendrix. When I was a young kid and when he died I decided to become a guitarist. I learned right away that I wasn’t very good and that guitar playing was extremely hard, so I had to practice every day. That was the only way to accomplish my goal, just to play as much as possible, to try to play in front of as many different people as possible, and try to play with as many different people as possible.

The process of learning never ends, which is another reason why G3s are so great. All three of us are learning from each other every night, we are all dedicated for life to becoming the best musicians we could ever be.

Uli Jon Roth :
“It was really just my love of music and guitar. I just wanted to play. I never really had a motivation, I never questioned it as a “why”, it was very obvious for me, omething that was totally natural. And I guess I was born with a certain kind of destiny and when they came, I thought “that’s what I’m going to do”.

I’ve never asked any questions regarding this. I just did it. And it was very easy. *chuckle* From the beginning. The guitar playing is the easy part. Then there’s stuff that’s not so easy. *chuckle* Guitar playing is more like a holiday. From life.

John Petrucci :
“It’s hard to sort of explain. When I was a teenager I started playing guitar a lot. It kinda just hooked me, it’s something that I started to learn and I was pretty good at it. I was always a creative type of personality, and so I would always draw or paint or write, so getting into music was felt like a very natural thing for me.

You know, once I got into it and I started realizing I could make music on the guitar, I was learning from a lot of the bands I looked up to and admired. I was learning a lot of music and getting better and better and it just kind of… you know, from that time in my mid-teenage years, it just hooked me, and it just continues to be something that I love to do, I love the creative aspect, I love the performance aspect and I love the craft, I’m just trying to get better and better and top what you do. It’s a little bit of an athletic aspect to it, which is great. It’s just challenging and fun.

Saturax : Are you planning to record a new solo album?

John Petrucci :
“That’s a very good question. People ask me that a lot, because the only one I really have is “Suspended Animation” that came out in 2005. I have material to do a new solo album, I’m playing some new songs live on G3 currently so it’s just a matter of finding the time to be up to record them.

After this tour, after a very quick break in May, Dream Theater comes back into the studio and we start working on our new album. So it’s really hard to find that chunk of time to get in there and record. The next one will be with Dream Theater. We will be writing that over the summer and record it through the fall. That should come out early 2019.”

Uli Jon Roth :
“I am planning but my problem is that I have so much touring to do all the time and there is very little time literally to be in the studio. I’ve written a lot of music, but doing an album for me is always quite a protracted affair, it just takes long.

I’m not one of these people who just walk into the studio and two weeks later you have an album. It’s more of the opposite, because I’m never satisfied with the results and I don’t really particularly enjoy recording albums. So for me it’s always hard work and it has always been hard work, and that’s why I don’t know when the next one will be finished.”

Joe Satriani :
“You know, I just released What Happens Next just a few months ago, and so usually when I finish that process of making a record and releasing it, I like to take a good number of months off the mental process of having to dream up a new album, because it can be very draining.

It’s more fun at times to just go out and be a performer, just think about playing music and not worry about having to construct a whole new concept for a new album because I just did it, right. So for now “What Happens Next” will stay with me for a good year and anything else I’m working on will be just one song at a time, so I’m not tied to any project.


Saturax : Is there any signature gear on its way?

Joe Satriani :
“You know, I took a break from concentrating on panels, and amps, and all that kind of stuff because most of what I was using was really not moving forward, I was just getting more out of it. A good example is the Marshall JVM410HJS. That amplifier is so good, so complete, that for me, to just try to do yet a new amp just a few hours after this one’s been out seems a bit funny. It’s been out for a couple of years but it seems just like hours and it takes a while in the amplifier market, for people to understand exactly how to use something. People are still trying to figure out how to properly utilize a 5150. It was a great amp when it came out but most people just thought it was a Van Halen amp but then it suddenly became “the metal amp”, in the hardcore amping. But I’ve used that amp quite a bit in the studio, it’s a beautiful modulatic amp. It takes time for people to understand how to use an amp of ours, so…

I’ve concentrated mainly on the Ibanez guitars, we really wanted to get the older body 24-fret Sustainiac models out there, and so now we have two of them out there. We have the Muscle Car Red and we have the re-issue of the Chrome guitar. I’ve got them both on tour, they sound great, they play great, they’re really good tools for anybody who plays any kind of music on the guitar, so that’s been my main focus for the last two years.

Uli Jon Roth :
“I have my signature guitar, the Sky Guitar. That’s quite a lot of signature you know, because we have several models on the market, and recently I’ve formed my own company called UJR Sky Guitars. We are building them to order, they’re all hand-built, and there are only so many that people can do in a year. Which is also why they are very expensive, but for me they’re my favorites and I can do anything with these guitars. They are pretty amazing for me. They’re not for everyone but, there’s two types of players : some pick up a Sky guitar and it works, some other people maybe won’t be able to handle it. 
Yeah they are 7-strings and they all have an extended range, that’s why they’re called “Sky guitar”.

John Petrucci :
“On its way… Well I have a very robust collection of signature gear that really reflects all of the instruments that I’ve been playing since I was really young. Including Ernie Ball Music Man guitars which has been eighteen years now, with Sterling Ball and its family. We’re always working on innovating and creating new things as far as that is concerned. But we’re working on an 8-string version, and I’m not sure of the schedule of that but that should be forthcoming in different versions of the Majesty guitar which has been our most successful model. And so you’ll see the new aesthetics and colors, combinations and special things with that in 2019.

Mesa Boogie, my signature Boogie is a dream come true, I’ve been playing Mesa Boogie since I was a kid, and to have one that has my signature, it’s the only Mesa Boogie signature amp that’s in regular production. It’s just such an honor. And then DiMarzio with the pickups, I’ve been working with them since forever and ever. Dunlop, with my guitar picks and Wahs. TC Electronic, that is another company that I remember being a teacher on Long Island where Joe is from too in a music store, and getting into TC, and to have my own signature pedal with them is amazing.

So basically this is all the gear that I used, all the companies that I used when I was younger and got attached to, and then kind of made connections with all the people who run those companies and own those companies, and kind of became part of their family. The proof is in the fact that I have been with all of them for so long, so we’re always developing new things. But as far as I know, to get back to your question, is there anything new specifically?

I guess the latest and newest thing is the guitar pick with Dunlop that we just came up with. It’s part of their “Flow” series and it’s a 2.0mm pick, that I keep telling everybody that if you use it, you will become 30% faster on the guitar *laughs* I gave one to Joe and Uli and Mike Keneally, they’re all having fun with it. Anyway, that’s the latest thing that we came up with a couple months ago.

Saturax : You haven’t released a songbook since Unstoppable Momentum, where are they?

Joe Satriani :
I don’t know. You know, I don’t read songbooks so I have little interest in it and so I know that publishers have their own business model for figuring out why they should put out a book and why they shouldn’t so… *laughs* YouTube has destroyed the publishing market when it comes to manuscripts and tablatures because it seems pretty silly, when a phone can record exactly how you play something.

People learn so much faster by just looking at a video. The printed pages… unless you’re dealing with a score that lasts for thirty minutes, it’s silly to refer to manuscripts for something that’s only four and a half minutes long, you know what I mean ? Times are changing, it’s 2018, that just the way it is.

Saturax : Thank you very much for having answered my questions, I leave you the final words!

Uli Jon Roth :
Well, the final words… We’re here in France, and it’s always a pleasure to play in France for me. I have a long history of playing in France ever since 1975 I think, and it’s always been one of my favorite places to play, so I’m glad we’re doing this extended G3 tour here, we’re playing so many shows in France as well. Maybe later this year or early next year I’ll come back with my own tour, and we’re doing an anniversary tour because this year is the 40th anniversary of Electric Sun.

Electric Sun was quite strong in France back in these days, in the 80s. And we’re going to do a set of nothing but Electric Sun numbers, haven’t done that for a long time, but people have always asked me “why don’t you do that” you know, and now the time has come so I’m looking forward to that. I think it will probably be around october/november. Probably. I hope to see you there.

John Petrucci :
It’s great to be here in France. Dream Theater comes here to France a lot, every tour in Europe we always play Paris and sometimes we’ll play in another city but on G3, I think we’re playing 6 shows in the country of France, in all these areas that I’ve never been before, including here in Bordeaux. So it’s kind of interesting and fun for me to see different parts of the country as opposed to the main city of Paris. I’m looking forward to play to new fans, and it’s great to finally be a part of G3 in Europe, because I’ve done many G3s, probably around seven or eight of them all over the world, but never in Europe – this was my first time.

So it’s been fun playing to friends and fans, and all these countries that I’ve been to so many times, but never with G3. So, thanks for all the french people. And thank you to Joe for inviting me every time because I would always say yes because I love Joe, and he’s the best. So, thank you to Joe. Thank you Joe.”

Joe Satriani :
The final words? What could they possibly be? Well the final words- am I looking there? I’m looking there? People at home don’t realize that you got a furry little thing at the top of the camera that looks like a little rabbit. *laughs* So my final message to you is : figure out how to film the little grey rabbit on the top of the camera so the people at home know what I’m looking at.

The other thing is, it’s very unusual to do an interview to someone who’s sitting right here, because then you have to turn this way, but then there’s two cameras here. So, it’d be easier if the interview was there, because you would look right over there. These are the things people at home don’t think about, but they wonder “why are there two people sitting next to each other” and, you know… it’s sort of awkward isn’t it ? *laughs* That’s why you need another- you need an assistant! Yes! You should ask him to get you an assistant. And then they could be holding the camera over there. Or one over here. behind the headshot, like they do in news programs. *laughs* Thanks guys.

Many thanks to Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Uli Jon Roth for receiving us so well, as well as for Valeria Fortin, Rikk Feulner and especially Mick Bridgen.

Interview shot in Bordeaux (FR) on April 17th 2018. Realized by Saturax and Brad Coudray on the camera and behind. Special thanks to César Angelini for working on the interview post-production.

Go see the G3 on tour : www.g3tour.com

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