Loved by Alice Cooper and coveted by Prince, Orianthi is to release ‘O’, her first album in seven years on 6 November 2020 via Frontiers and MetalTalk recently spoke with the platinum-selling Guitar Goddess to find out more.
Having played guitar since the age of six, Orianthi’s breakthrough came in 2009 when she became the guitarist for Carrie Underwood. This then led to her being hand picked to join the ill-fated Michael Jackson ‘This Is It’ tour.
2011 saw her become the first female member of the Alice Cooper band, covering two world tours, before leaving to be replaced by Nita Strauss.
Speaking about Prince, Alice Cooper previously told Billboard that “The only real relationship we [Cooper and Prince] ever had, was he kept trying to steal Orianthi out of my band. Every time I talked to Orianthi she would be on the phone and say, ‘It’s Prince again.’
“I said, ‘Could you tell him that you’re with me for about the next year’ — kidding, of course.”
Orianthi’s fourth album, ‘O’, sees her covering vocals, guitar and programming and features Evan Frederiksen on drums and bass, with Marti Frederiksen covering these duties on the track ‘Rescue Me’.
MetalTalk: How has your year been going so far? It is a crazy time especially for professional musicians.
Orianthi: “Yeah its been crazy! I think everyone, especially in the entertainment industry, has been feeling it.
“The fans as well. I just can’t wait to go see another show and of course playing a show is something else.”
Your new solo album ‘O’ is just about to come out. Its been a long time since your last solo album – what kept you?
“Yeah! Its been one of those things where it just felt like the right time to enter the studio and write something fast. Marti [Frederiksen] and I had a really good time writing it together. It’s pretty eclectic, but pretty cohesive I think.
“Its got Rock and Pop elements, Blues and Electronic…it’s a good mix.”
How was it working with Marti Frederiksen on the album?
“It was awesome working with Marti. He’s a good friend of mine and I’ve known him since I was about 20 years old.
“He is a very talented writer and producer and a really good friend.”
Is it a different kind of release for you when you are singing and not just playing the guitar ?
“Yeah! I mean I’ve been singing since I was six years old. It’s a different kind of expression and I don’t know…growing up singing Elvis and The Beatles. It’s just what I know.|
What do you hope fans will think of the new album?
“I hope they will want to put it on in their cars and just not turn it off (laughs) and listen to it from the beginning to the end and not get bored.”
Recently, MetalTalk spoke with Ryan Roxie and he said one good thing to come from this lockdown is that lots of good albums are going to be written!
“I love Ryan. He is absolutely right. It is a perfect time for reflection and writing and I think people are definitely digging in.”
How was your time with Alice Cooper?
“Amazing! We got to celebrate Halloween every night! (laughs).
“Those guys are like my brothers and Alice is like my road-dad! (laughs).
“When I told my parents I was joining Alice’s band they looked him up. Everyone has tattoos and there is a guillotine and a boa-constrictor on stage (laughs).
“Then they found out they are the sweetest people ever. Alice just gives 110% every night and it is all about keeping up with him.
“He is just inspiring and he helped me become a better performer.”
You have worked with a lot of artists in the Pop community as well as the Rock and Metal community. What do you think about some Metal fans dismissing them offhand?
“I just think if the music is good, its good. I mean, I am a fan of a good Metal song and I am a fan of a good Pop song – I just love music.
“That’s where I am always going to be at and I like incorporating different genres. They are all different flavours.
“If you are a great Pop star, you still entertain people and I think there is value in that.
“Somebody will say ‘ohh! But they don’t write their own songs’ but I still say ‘yeah! But they do entertain the hell out of people’.”
If a pop star like Justin Bieber called you up tomorrow and wanted to tour would you take the gig ?
“I actually know Justin and we did a radio tour! This was in the early days when he just started, around 2009.
“He was really sweet and if he wanted me to do a guesting thing for a short run, sure!
“If it is something different and cool, absolutely.”
Speaking of Pop, you did work with The King Of Pop himself. Looking back on ten years since Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ rehearsals, how does it feel?
“Oh, it is still wild to me. It was wild looking back from just a year on. It was wild a few weeks on and it is weird looking back at it ten years on.
“It was a surreal part of my life and I am so honoured I got the chance to do that.
“I think for everybody who was involved, there is a lot of sadness that comes with it too, because of what happened.
“I am so grateful I got to work with him. We were building something that would have been incredible.
“That is another sad part of it, him wanting to put on this show for everyone and it would have been the greatest show ever.”
I think we may never see another artist like Michael Jackson or Prince again.
“No. Prince was a friend of mine too, I had known him since 2007. He was going to produce my first album actually.
“We stayed in contact over a couple of years. Prince actually called me two months before he died and he wanted to play table tennis with me.
“He wanted to play table tennis and come over and just chat and hangout. He called and he says ‘Do you have a basketball ring?’, I said yeah.
“He said ‘Do you have a table tennis table?’ I said ‘umm, no’.
“He said ‘well can you get one? I want to come over in the next month and I’m going win!’ (laughs). It was really funny.
“Then he said he was going to start a network with Oprah and he wanted me to be on it.
“It was so sad when he passed on. He was a legend and a friend.”
What did you think of Carlos Santana saying that if he had to pass on the baton to a younger player, you would be his first choice?
“That’s wild (laughs). Honestly, I can’t even put into words what it means to me, because Carlos is the reason I play.”
Do you still remember your first guitar?
“I do! My dad was a left handed guitar player and he found this old acoustic and switched it around for me.
“Then I got a Strat and finally a PRS. They were expensive in Australia at the time, so I got a second hand one and never put it down.”
Is the RSO project [with Richie Sambora] on hold or done?
“No, I want to leave that door open. I am so proud of that record. Richie and I both are and we love writing together.
“I think the problem with that record was that it wasn’t really given a real chance.
“Stuff happened behind the scenes and we really wanted to tour it. But, we leave the door open for that, since a lot of people dug it.”
So you guys are still friends right?
“Oh yeah, we support each other completely. Forever. It’s just one of those things.
“We are really proud of that record and who knows what could happen in the future. Richie is an incredible talent as a songwriter and guitarist and we connect as songwriters.”
The entire Rock world was in mourning with the loss of Eddie Van Halen recently. Do you have any particular memories with him or his music?
“Yeah. I was so sad to hear about Eddie. I actually got to speak with him over the phone when I got the gig with Michael Jackson.
“He called me and said congratulations and we have got to jam!
“Because the rehearsals were so intense, we never found the time. He was very supportive and obviously I am a huge fan of his. He was an incredible player.”
What are your plans for the future?
“Well, once the world is better again, I cannot wait to be back playing shows. I cannot wait to go everywhere – UK, Europe, Brazil, everywhere.
“I just want to thank everyone for the love and support over the years and I hope to tour soon.”