Home' Rhythms Magazine : September October 2018 Contents 39
NEXT? Joe Satriani tours later in the year
after a back to basics album.
By Brian Wise
“That’s insane, isn’t it? I can’t believe it
myself,” says Joe Satriani when I remind
him that it is 30 years since his first tour to
Australia. It’s a visit that neither of us are
likely to forget.
“The memories are flooding back,” he says,
“of spending so much time at the Sebel
Townhouse in Sydney and where we landed
to rehearse with the Mick Jagger band, and
then playing all over the country. It’s fantastic
memories, great performances, hilarious
tragedies, the usual rock and roll thing. And
it seems like every time I go back I’m getting
more and more familiar.”
Memories come flooding back for me too.
Not just because the guitarist was playing
with Jagger but because I managed to miss
one of the city’s legendary gigs of all time – a
not so secret Jagger club gig at the Corner
Hotel with Charlie Musselwhite as special
guest. By the time I arrived there was a
thousand people lined up outside trying to
get in. Standing outside you could practically
hear the sweat dripping down the walls.
“I remember they had to really sort of pull
a fast one on everybody,” recalls Satriani. “I
think we just plugged in to another band’s
equipment or something like that.”
Thirty years and sixteen studio albums
on and Satriani is set to return but, while
the guitarist is renowned for being able to
shred at an incredible rate, his latest album,
What Happens Next?, is really a return to
a simpler style. Although his band does
include keyboardist/guitarist Mike Kenneally
who once played with Frank Zappa, hardly
renowned for simplicity. Kenneally also
works with the Zappa family in delving
through the vaults.
While Satriani’s touring band is blindingly
powerful he decided to take a different path
for his latest studio album. He enlisted Chad
Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and
Glenn Hughes, former bassist and singer
with Deep Purple.
“I told people that I was really working hard
to break free of my past,” explains Satriani,
who adds that he just texted a simple
message to Smith: “I’ve got a crazy idea. You,
me, Glenn Hughes, rock album. All I need is
“So it happened really fast,” he continues.
“We had a great week at Sunset Sound and
recorded a really fun record that was exactly
what I was hoping to get. So, it was really
fortuitous, and even though it was a bit
chaotic, it turned out to be the recipe for
Not only was the album simpler in terms
of the music, the themes diverged from
Satriani’s other pre-occupations.
“There was no science fiction narrative,” he
says. “There was nothing convoluted about
the theme of the album. It was really just
about human stuff: love, sex, and desires,
hopes, tragedies, all that kind of stuff.
“The approach I gave both Glenn and Chad
was to take each song like you’re grabbing
the bull by the horns, and just really put
yourself into it, and I’ll make space for you.
Glenn had never been hired to play only
bass. I mean, he’s a singer, he’s one of the
craziest singers you’ve ever heard in your
life, and here I am telling him not to sing a
note. But, I said, ‘Channel all that thing, that
everybody knows is Glenn Hughes into the
bass.’ Because I knew he was an absolutely
amazing bass player.
“And I’d played
and made records
with Chad before
so I knew he could
really deliver in a
rock and roll way,
what an instrumental record would need.
And they brought all of it to the party, and
they really gave me exactly what I needed
and what the record needed to allow the
more essential, simpler, rock arrangements to
really sound ten times bigger than the sum
of their parts, which is always the trick with
You can see Satriani and get a sense of
what to expect from his forthcoming tour
by watching the documentary, Beyond the
Supernova about his 2016 and 2017 tours.
Satriani asked his son, who is a filmmaker,
to get involved in the production and
he suggested that it should also be a
retrospective of Joe’s extensive career.
“I didn’t really wanna do a concert DVD,”
says Satriani, “because we’d done so many
of them. I asked him to really find what
was the real story going on, and he said,
‘Well, obviously you’re going through a
creative catharsis here. And I don’t know
if you wanna show that, but this is what’s
happening, and this is what I’m getting.’
So, it turned into a one hour documentary.
It’s really a very beautiful looking important
kind of a look at an artist that goes through
a lot of internal turmoil in order to recreate
himself. But, at the same time, you get to see
how much fun we have on tour, and there’s
great music and beautiful visuals.”
Joe Satriani tours in November. Beyond
The Supernova is streaming now.
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