Interview: Joe Satriani

Randy Allar: Welcome to Radio Station WCSB.

Joe Satriani: Thank you very much.

Randy Allar: You're a long way away, but welcome to Cleveland anyway.

Joe Satriani: All right. How's it going there?

Randy Allar: Real good. How about yourself?

Joe Satriani: Very good here in San Francisco.

Randy Allar: You're going to be kicking off a whole new tour.

Joe Satriani: Yeah, we're starting October 24th with what we call "An Evening With Joe Satriani," which is a special two and a half-hour performance, that we'll be giving. No opening band required, Stuart Hamm on Bass and Jeff Campetelli on drums, and we are playing just as much as we can from the 88-song repertoire that I've built up over the last ten years.

Randy Allar: Is that all?

Joe Satriani: Yeah, that's a lot of songs.

Randy Allar: I was looking through the collection of music, you really do have a lot of stuff out.

Joe Satriani: Yeah, it just sort of crept up on us. It's great to be able to have the opportunity to explore music like this without anybody interfering with me. The record companies, both Epic and Relativity have been really good at giving me artistic freedom, so that's the reason why there's so much material there now.

Randy Allar: You also have a new album you are supporting called "Crystal Planet".

Joe Satriani: That's right, yeah. It came out in March of this year. We've supported this thing. The day it came out we were out touring . We started out with doing club shows; quite a few of them were broadcast live on the internet. We did a couple of live radio shows as well. We criss-crossed across the U.S. quite a bit, combined it with the G-3 tour. We did a few shows over the summer, mainly the outdoor arena types of things. Now we are continuing along. The record's deep. It has 15 songs on it. I think it is the best one I've ever done, so we're excited about continuing to play it for people.

Randy Allar: I don't know, you've done a lot of good stuff.

Joe Satriani: (Laughs) Well, you know, it's always hard. You always fall in love with the project that you just finished. Sometimes you have to get over the anxiety of how difficult it is to finish a project. In this particular case, we were real happy, I guess because we recorded it as we were touring. As we were doing G3, we were taking time off and recording the record. It just seemed like it captured us in the right spirit. The overall sound of it I thought was real modern as well.

Randy Allar: G3, again or not?

Joe Satriani: Oh, certainly! G3 is definitely here to stay. People may or may not know, the concept that we came up with a number of years ago was to be able to bring guitarists together that usually spend most of their time trying to stay apart. Managers and record companies are always trying to keep people separate. So we came up with the idea of bringing people together. One of the stumbling blocks that we have, of course, is that there aren't that many really fabulous players out there who actually have a show together, where they can take the stage themselves and play for an hour. There's no shortage of really great guitarists out there that have bands and prefer to stay within their band. We've been pretty
lucky in being able to pull people out. I'm always hopeful that we will be able to snag Jeff Beck, or a Jimmy Page or a Clapton to step out and do something more unusual within the G3 umbrella.

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Randy Allar: How did the idea come about? What made you decide to grab two of your competition to form G3?

Joe Satriani: (Laughs) It's funny, they are my competition, my friends, their my heroes in a way, especially Steve Vai. You know, he and I grew up together. He was one of my first students, and after a couple of years, he quickly became like a comrade. We've been joined together, our journey through life with music. It's the easiest thing in the world for he and I to play together. It's kind of freaky. Put us in a room with two guitars, and we pick up where we left off. We are both interested in what the other guy is doing. I just thought that it would be really great on two levels. Number one, artistically for me to play with people who could really kick my butt every night, and put the fear of God in my playing. I also thought the audience would really enjoy it because I did. I thought the audience would like to see unusual combinations of
players working it out together. It took about two years to convince Eric and Steve to join it, and then to sell it to promoters.

Randy Allar: It is hard to believe that the three of you would be a tough sell.

Joe Satriani: There's lots of reasons for it. All of the artists involved tour on their own, and promoters have a choice of just inviting us in one at a time. The other thing is the cost. The promoters have to buy three headliners all at once.

Randy Allar: How many discs have you recorded under your name?

Joe Satriani: I think I have nine.

Randy Allar: Actually, it should be ten. "Time Machine" is two discs, one live and one studio.

Joe Satriani: Aaah, I thought maybe there was some other company that released a record I was not aware of.

Randy Allar: There has to be some bootlegs stuff out there.

Joe Satriani: Yeah, there's some pretty good ones. There's "Guitar Killer." There's a few actually. I have a good amount. I don't have the whole collection. There's a guy on the web, his name is Roo, and he has a website coming out of Australia. He has got the ultimate Joe Satriani bootleg collection. I've actually fed it. I sent him some stuff that he didn't have. I've also sent him copies of my original EP that you can't get anywhere.

Randy Allar: You have different cuts titled "Rubina," "Rubina's Blue Sky Happiness," and you were the president of Rubina Records. Who or what is Rubina?

Joe Satriani: (Laughs) Rubina is my wife. I've written so many songs about her, but you can only use her name so many times. I ran into copyright problems!

Randy Allar: It has to be difficult being married to you always on the road.

Joe Satriani: I've slowed down quite a bit. After the birth of my son, I started to realize that I didn't want to be alone in a hotel room most of the time, so we started changing the way we toured. Over the last two years, I've brought Rubina and my son on tour. That's actually been a lot of fun. It keeps you from doing silly things, and it keeps you focused on the music.

Randy Allar: I do have to ask, The new look, was it a big change for you? It was shocking for audiences.

Joe Satriani: Certainly, when you shave your head, you feel every little draft. Boy, it's just so different. You get used to it, and there are so many great things about it. Most guys aren't into fussing about their hair, but when you shave your head, you really get rid of all that stuff. I had these snapshots of when I was like ten years old, and I swore I had a bad hair day for 25 years. When I shaved it off, I thought, "I not going to have any more bad hair days."

Randy Allar: Are you going to grow it back?

Joe Satriani: Yeah, I probably will. I think after the Crystal Planet Tour, I'll probably start growing it back.

Randy Allar: Why did you decide to do it?

Joe Satriani: Oh, you know, as far back as about 1986, I started to lose my hair. I thought one of these days you're going to have to stop combing it this way or that way, or stop wearing hair styles that work better for people with a full head of hair. It was a bold move because I'm photographed. I knew people were going to talk about it, but it really was quite simple.

Randy Allar: MUSIC'S BOTTOM LINE and radio station WCSB would like to thank Sony Music Tours in addition to Joe Satriani for keeping Cleveland up to date.

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Joe Satriani has been playing guitar for many years. There is a certain prestige associated with the name. When one thinks of Joe Satriani, many things come to mind. For some, its and alien on a surfboard. For others, it includes Steve Vai and Eric Johnson combined to form G-3. Yet for others, it is a radically new appearance including a chrome dome and guitar.

On a Friday afternoon in mid October, Satch was heard on the Fusion Show on radio station WCSB. In a lighthearted interview, the legendary Satriani enlightened Cleveland about his musical career, G-3, "Crystal Planet," and even losing his hair.