Interview With Joe Satriani
Interview By Keith
Joe Satriani made a name for himself by releasing great guitar albums at a time when
the guitar God was in full form. He also taught such notable guitarists like
Steve Vai and Metallicas Kirk Hammet. Still on a major label, Joe continues to
release top quality albums that showcase his incredible musicianship and songwriting
talents. Just finishing a tour with Dream Theatre and Kings X, I had the opportunity
to speak with Joe about his new album, Strange Beautiful Music.
How is the market these days for instrumental guitar albums? How strong is the
market overseas (Japan, Europe)?
We are touring from Bulgaria to China this year, so, the audience has grown.
Why didn't you join bands on a permanent basis like Steve Vai did? He enjoyed a
career as a band member and a solo artist, a best of both worlds type scenario.
I enjoy being on my own.
Do you think being self-taught helped you develop your unique style - the way Eddie
Van Halen says it did for him?
Maybe so. But I feel like I learned from everybody else!
Why the musical departure from Engines of Creation?
"Engines" was the departure! Live in S.F. and Strange Beautiful Music are
more like my true nature.
How does your songwriting process come about?
Writing is still a mysterious process to me. I don't know where the ideas come from.
But, when they come, I follow.
Why do you think the "guitar God" is missing from today's bands? Do you
think has made bands more or less appealing?
Guitarists got lazy.
How do you explain your longevity?
Beer and pizza! OK, a few vitamins here and there. I don't like to think about stuff
Were you surprised a major label like Epic still releases guitar albums today, even
though such artists have lost such a big piece of their fanbase from their earlier years?
I generate a great deal of profit for the label because my new releases as well as my
catalog continue to sell very well without the need for MTV/VH1 videos or extravagant
Why did you cover "Sleep Walk"?
"Sleep Walk", by Santo and Johnny, was a huge hit in 1959. The original
version is a perfect song, performance and recording. Covering it was a labor of love and
respect. Having Robert Fripp along for the ride was a real pleasure.
Are there many outlets, especially radio, that cater to your style of music?
How is the Dream Theater tour going? Will you set out on your own afterwards?
The tour with Dream Theater and Kings X was fantastic. But, now we move on to Asia and
back through the northwest with our "Evening with" 2 1/2 hour shows. We may head
back to South America as well.
I see you started playing guitar at 14, a relatively old age. Did you play any other
instrument before that? Why did you start so late?
I was a drummer from age 9 through 11. I was a bit frustrated with not feeling a
natural ability to progress further. So, I took some time away and then decided to play
guitar the day Jimi Hendrix died.
How does it feel to have your students go on and become so successful?
Very, very good indeed!
How does it feel to be an influence on so many guitarists? Who were your influences?
Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Billy Gibbons, Todd
Rundgren, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker.
How much has the scene changed since you recorded your first album?
Wow! The Internet has forever changed the landscape of the music business, as well as
the way people think about music. Five years from now it will be even that much more
What lies ahead for Joe Satriani?
I'd like to concentrate on live performance for the next year. Maybe do another live
DVD with a twist of some kind.
Band Website: www.satriani.com
Label Website: www.epicrecords.com