||JOE SATRIANI: IN CONVERSATION ABOUT HIS SOLO CAREER, CHICKENFOOT AND COLLABORATIONS
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke and Tony Conley
Joe was very kind to put some of his invaluable time aside to talk to Tony Conley and Gary Clarke from MetalTalk about the forthcoming box set 'The Complete Studio Recordings' and loads more.
GARY: "'The Complete Studio Recordings' Box set is an impressive collection of music. Why is this getting a release and what does it mean to you?"
JOE: "The time was right to re-master the studio albums with an audiophile sensibility. Mastering engineer John Cuniberti has gone to great lengths to make each record sound just like they did to us in the studio as we finished them. I've always felt that the audio on cassettes, first generation CD's, mp3's, etc… sound very little like what we heard in the studio when we were working on the music. With this release we give the listener the best possible listening experience."
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TONY: "You've been with Ibanez for a great many years as an endorsee and signature artist - what have you both done to make such a long relationship work?"
JOE: "I bring them design ideas and they turn them into real guitars that play and sound great. The Ibanez team has always been open to innovation, turning new ideas into compelling instruments for players of all levels and every kind of music."
GARY: "On 'The Complete Studio Recordings' Box set, will the 'Not of this Earth' album be featured with its original cover artwork or retain what fans have become used to with the usual cover artwork?"
JOE: "That was a hard decision to make, but we decided not to confuse everybody, again, and used the 2nd more widely recognized cover. Beside, it's the music that counts!"
TONY: "If you could go back to 1969, whom would you ask along on G-3?"
JOE: "Jimi Hendrix and Jimi Page!"
GARY: "Regarding the 1987 album 'Surfing With The Alien', what do you think it is from your perspective that fans find so appealing about it in comparison to your debut album?"
JOE: "It pulled together more widely accepted forms of rock music and was produced with a higher degree of energy in its sound. 'N.O.T.E.' was a truly quirky record from its writing to its guitar sounds. It was not meant to be commercial in any way."
GARY: "How did you come up with such a creative title for 'Surfing with the Alien' in the first place?"
JOE: "It was just a funny daydream I had about being visited by aliens from outer space and having fun with them, instead of violent conflict, which is so often the theme in bad science fiction."
TONY: "What did you think of Steve Vai's work with Billy Sheehan in David Lee Roth's band?"
JOE: "That was a great band! Steve, Billy and Gregg created such a high standard of rock band musicianship, but kept it fun. And live on stage they were just crazy good. Steve really shined in that element."
TONY: "What's your take on the current state of rock guitar?"
JOE: "There are a lot of very interesting guitar players out there making cool music in new ways. Sometimes it can be hard to find them, but it's worth the hunt."
GARY: "'Flying in a Blue Dream' was the first album by you that I ever heard and I was blown away by the technical skill and the diversity. The main thing I loved about it was that you were so courageous and added lead vocals to some of the tracks. What inspired 'I Believe' in the first place and what are your thoughts about the song these days?"
JOE: "'I Believe' is about carrying on in the face of adversity, and having courage during the worst of times. The year of 1989 I was faced with the deaths of my father and grandmother, and my own health issues. Writing that song helped me get through those times."
GARY: "By this point of your career, what lessons had you learned about the recording process and what worked the best for you?"
JOE: "John Cuniberti and I discovered that if we could control the recording environment I would perform better, write better and produce more compelling recordings. The success of 'Surfing...' afforded me the credibility to insist upon it."
GARY: "'Friends' is such a profound title for a track. Why did the title fit so well with the vibe of that track?"
JOE: "I wrote that song while looking at a photograph of a group of children with their arms around each other smiling into the camera's lens. The picture was such a beautiful image of true friendship that I was moved to write the song in just minutes."
GARY: "With an album title like 'The Extremist' you expect something pretty far out! What was the goal or intention when you entered in to the recording process for this album?"
JOE: "The album is a celebration of my roots. Growing up when I did and coming of age in the early '70's had a profound effect on my musical sensibilities, and I wanted the record to reflect those sensibilities. I wanted live drums, and band interaction as cornerstones to the records production and sound."
GARY: "On your self-titled 1995 album it sounds so organic. 'Down, Down, Down' is one of my all time favourites by you, what was the objective from these sessions and what are your thoughts about that album today?"
JOE: "That record was very hard to make. It was started and stopped twice before finding its way. Producer Eric Valentine and I got things going first, but the pace was too slow for me. Next I got back with John Cuniberti to try and move it forward only to grind to a halt again. It was producer Glyn Johns who imagined the record in a new and different direction for me that pulled it all together. It's a stand out record for sure. 'Down, Down, Down' is one of favourites too."
GARY: "Embracing instrumental technology perhaps or studio technology when you approached the recording of 'Crystal Planet'?"
JOE: "Jeff Campitelli, Stuart Hamm and I actually tracked most of that album live in the studio. The trick was we were listening to Editor Eric Caudieux's techno versions of each song in our headphones as we recorded our parts. It added a unique energy to our performances that gave the album its special quality."
GARY: "On 'Crystal Planet' it sounds like you're really pushing yourself, would you say that some of the toughest tracks in your catalogue of compositions are on this studio album?"
JOE: "No, not at all! It was a very comfortable set of sessions. We had fun every day we recorded and mixed."
GARY: "As part of 'The Complete Studio Recordings' Box set, is the 'Additional Creations' E.P. going to be added to the 'Engines of Creation' album?"
JOE: "Yes, and with previously unreleased bonus tracks and remixes too."
GARY: "Out of curiosity, why did you end up with an additional E.P. worth of music?"
JOE: "With some records you try doing songs in a variety of styles before you find the right approach. As time goes by sometimes those alternate versions start to sound better and better. The bonus disc is a great home for those tracks."
GARY: "On 'Strange Beautiful Music' is it true that Robert Fripp appeared on it playing Frippertronics?, and what was it like to have him guest on the album?"
JOE: "Robert added quite a few guitar tracks to my re-make of 'Sleepwalk', originally recorded by Santo and Johnny back in 1959. I recorded Robert at my home studio one afternoon; it was so cool to watch him work his genius."
TONY: "What was it like gigging with Deep Purple and Mick Jagger, and getting to play in bands you obviously loved?"
JOE: "I have great memories of touring with both Mick and the guys from Deep Purple. It was a dream come true on both occasions, not only because of the music but because they turned out to be amazing people I still call my friends."
GARY: "Since recording two studio albums with Chickenfoot, what would you say you get from playing in that band in comparison to what you achieve with your solo output?"
JOE: "I love the collaboration process in music. With Chickenfoot the energy is always high, and the cool ideas are always flying back and forth between all four of us. You can't really duplicate that when you are on your own. I really like having both situations to work in, as a solo artist and with a band."
TONY: "If you could play with any band you've not played with, who would it be?"
JOE: "The Rolling Stones."
GARY: "What is it about sci-fi and space that fascinates you?"
JOE: "Sci-fi is really the future of reality. It's where all the new ideas come from."
TONY: "Where do you go for new musical inspiration these days?"
JOE: "I keep my ears to the street so to speak. I dip back into old music too. There are so many musical treasures yet to be discovered. I keep reading and learning as it is a constant source of inspiration in life."
GARY: "When it comes to either album titles or track titles, do you stumble across ideas all the time and write them down in a special book? Or do you record the track first, and then while listening to it afterwards decide and create titles that you feel best fit the music?"
JOE: "Most of my song titles come first along with the inspiration for the song. I sometimes trim them down a bit, or, change them along the way as the recordings develop. Yes, I do have a few books with song ideas, titles, etc..."
GARY: "Can you share with us what is your proudest achievement when you look at the terrific amount of music that's available within this box set?"
JOE: "The engineering, production work and performances by my friends and co-producers still blows me away. I'm proud of the work we've done together."
TONY: "What haven't you done yet?"
JOE: "An acoustic album... Orchestral album... Blues album... etc..."
TONY: "What do you play when you're sitting by yourself late at night?"
JOE: "Whatever my heart pours out. It's never the same."
TONY: "Is it time for an all guitar TV channel?"
JOE: "No. I don't want television to corrupt such a beautiful thing. TV would kill it and make it cheap like most things on television."
GARY: "What is next for you?"
JOE: "My own TV show! No, just kidding… I recently re-signed with Sony/Legacy for multiple solo records, and so I'm back to writing new music while completing the 'Unstoppable Momentum Tour'. I'm writing with Sammy too, just in case Chickenfoot finds a few days to record this year."