Joe Satriani: I never stopped trying to be the best musician I could be

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One could write an entire book about Joe Satriani. Born in 1956, he started his career very early on and he reached fame rapidly, as a highly appreciated music teacher and guitarist. His style, a very technical type of instrumental rock is influenced by blues-rock, sometimes his music takes you thinking at Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.

A 15 times Grammy nominee, he sold over 10 million albums, making him the best sold artist of his genre. Because his long solo tours were taking him far away from his friends and colleagues, Joe came up with the idea of the legendary G3: a tour in which he performs together with 2 other guitarists of the same calibre, making G3 three concerts in one!

He produced his first album Not of This Earth on his own and it brought Satriani a negative balance on his credit card. It did put him on the musical map though and in 1987 when his second album Surfing with an Alien was released, the charts received it arms wide open. Passionate about Ibanez instruments, he also become the image of this important electric guitars producer and he even has today his own line there, the JS series.

His first concert in Romania 5 years ago was sold out. This year, he comes back to Bucharest as part of his What Happens Next Tour. We had thus the perfect excuse to talk to him about his musical career, his sources of inspiration and the future plans of a timeless performer.

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Mr. Satriani, what do you think was the main inspiration for you as a teenager, the one element that shaped you? 

The day Jimi Hendrix died I decided to become a guitarist, I was devastated by his passing. That day shaped my future and created my life as a musician.

Tell us more about your early music life, the bands, the albums, the artists you used to play with. 

My first public performance at 14 years of age started a lifelong love off playing live music for audiences around the world. I didn’t come to the world’s attention until I started making instrumental recordings on my own record label. I suddenly had a record deal and a new career at age 31! In that one year, 1988, I had a platinum album and was playing lead guitar for Mick Jagger. I never looked back, never stopped trying my best to be the best musician I could be.

Your G3 project, where you feature two other guitar gurus, is on everybody’s lips. Even more this year when, for the first time, you take along Phil Collen (Def Leppard). How did you first come up with this unique concept? 

Back in ’95 I was looking for a way to hang out and play with my guitar-playing friends more often. I thought if we could make it a show to take on the road it would be more fun for everybody, and give us all a chance to interact more.

You were a teacher for a long time and had the opportunity to coach some big names: Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett(Metallica) etc. How did you find having them as students?

 My pupils, Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett, Alex Skolnick, Larry LaLonde, Charlie Hunter, David Bryson, Kevin Cadigan, were all exceptional students, which made teaching them fun and easy. I couldn’t be more proud of their success!

On July 25th you will be back in Bucharest for your latest tour – “What Happens Next”. What should your fans be prepared for? 

I’ve got a great band with me: Mike Keneally on keys and guitar, Bryan Beller on bass and Joe Travers on drums. We will be playing new music from What Happens Next as well as fan favorites from my catalog. We always like to put on a high energy show and look forward to celebrating with the audience.

The last track of your album, “Forever and Ever”, sounds like something Jimi Hendrix would play. Was that your main intention or is it something the song evolved into? 

It was the last touch to a song that was written with an orchestral introduction. I tried to engage in some contrarian arranging, and felt the Hendrix influenced introduction and ending would be as opposite as I could get from the original idea for the song. As it turned out, it actually worked better at conveying the emotion of the song, so, I went with that!

And, finally, what happens next? What are the future plans, desires or projections of Joe Satriani? 

I will continue touring around the world through 2018 and look forward to 2019 with some new musical projects in mind.

This article was published in Be Blue Air Magazine, issue 45.

 


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