Spotlight artist: Joe Satriani, rock legend
Joe Satriani now (above) and then (below).
By Lauren Mineau
Joe Satriani, an American instrumental rock guitarist inspired by guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix, is on the tail end of his European tour but continues to have passion and momentum, much like his new album Unstoppable Momentum says.
The Grammy-award winning Satriani began his work as a guitar instructor with many successful students including Kevin Cadogan, the founding member of 90’s rock band Third Eye Blind.
Satriani’s extensive career has brought him on tour with the likes of Mick Jagger and Deep Purple, and also led to his own tour, the G3 Tour, which includes him and two other musicians, which change each year.
Currently, he is the guitarist for the rock supergroup Chickenfoot, in addition to his solo work. Chickenfoot is a collaboration of Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (both ex-Van Halen).
His music has many reoccurring themes of science fiction and he can be described as a guitar virtuoso. Satriani uses the guitar as an instrument of expression and has mastered many techniques like volume swells, harmonics and distinctive whammy bar tricks. Satriani also is passionate about the guitar itself and has endorsed a line of Ibanez JS Series guitars.
His most recent album, Unstoppable Momentum, was released in May of this year and his Unstoppable Momentum will bring Satriani to The Palace Theater in Albany on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.
ASP: Tell us about your new album, Unstoppable Momentum.
Joe Satriani: The album was put together pretty quickly, I suppose for about nine to 12 months. 2012 was a pretty exciting year, I found myself playing with lots of different types of musicians in different places, an usual year of live music, but a great one. But I sort of brought that energy back home with me each time I finished a tour and sort of wrote songs based off of that inspiration. By the time it was the end of October, I had written about 60 pieces of music that I had to sift through and find a new direction to take and invite some new people into the studio with me. What inspired the writing was unique and that got me in a very excited mood to write new material and play with new people.
ASP: Where did the name Unstoppable Momentum come from?
JS: I was in the studio on a break during a tour and I found that I was still excited like a teenager about the big things, like the prospect of making a new record and the little things, like changing a pick or guitar. A lot of those aspects were changing because I’m involved with a lot of equipment design. But it was sort of a fitting moment when I realized that after all these years, I’m still loving it. I love tinkering with the small stuff and playing huge shows around the world. Also, the album kind of epitomizes that passion I’ve felt since I was about nine years old.
ASP: You’ve been on your world tour most of this year, how’s that going?
JS: It’s been a lot of fun, we have a new band with a couple guys from a band called The Aristocrats and another friend of theirs that they’ve played with for a couple years on guitar and keyboards. We made a couple records together and we go way back to 1996, so it’s a new band with a lot of interesting connections within the band. There’s so much we can sort of pull from and lean on and they create new inspiration night after night.
ASP: How do European audience differ from American audiences?
JS: Europe has so many different places. Even just the last two weeks we did in Russia, and the crowd in Moscow was different than the crowd in St. Petersburg. These are different people who grew up listening to different music. Everyone reacts in a different way, I think to the music based on the culture they’ve grown up in that changes from decade to decade. You know if you went to South American in the 60’s you wouldn’t find a lot of people who knew about rock and roll but today, they are virtually the same as America. Now that culture is more homogenous and everyone knows who Metallica or Lady Gaga is. Miley Cyrus does something and within 24 hours everyone has seen it, places are not as remote as they used to be. Sometimes you might think stepping on stage in Miami, for example that they might not do things the same as Tokyo but in fact, they do.
If you stand up in front of a crowd of people in any city of the world and say “Everybody put your hands together,”
they’re all going to clap.