It's full throttle for guitar maestro

Joe Satriani is pleased with his 'cool' new album, hears Paula Yeoman.

Expect high-energy shows from the legendary Joe Satriani when he returns to New Zealand for two spring gigs in November.
Expect high-energy shows from the legendary Joe Satriani when he returns to New Zealand for two spring gigs in November.

Guitar god Joe Satriani was last in New Zealand in 2012 with the super-group G3, made up of fellow wielders of the axe, Steve Vai and John Petrucci. He is coming back in November, but this time he's alone.

Here, he reveals who the world's most underrated guitarists are and his Kiwi link to the only time he was paid to sing.

You're touring your last album, Unstoppable Momentum. Were you happy with it?

Yes, very. Any time I can successfully get the music out of my heart and on "tape" I feel like I'm the luckiest guy on earth. My team rose to the occasion and gave me great performances. The album has such a cool sound and vibe to it to, very new and fresh.

How do you come up with fresh ideas on your 14th studio album?

I wish I knew! I have this drive to play today as good as I did yesterday and write something today that's better than I wrote yesterday.

I live for writing, recording and performing.

You must've been to every country on the planet by now?

Still waiting to play Africa and the Arctic. But just about everywhere we go and play we have fun. I just played a show at the Iridium Club in New York to celebrate Les Paul's 99th birthday. That was very cool indeed. It was filmed for a TV show ... a very special night.

Talk me through a night on stage with Joe Satriani?

I like a high-energy show and I put it all on the line. We like to have a good time onstage and make it a memorable night for the audience.

What's the most requested song?

Always with Me, Always with You.

How much of what you do is about instinct?

The music and mojo come from within and it's still a mystery to me. The musicianship, acquired along the way, helps to organise it so I can share it with the world, but it's just a natural thing happening in the background.

You studied music. Did it help or hinder your career?

It has consistently been an asset to my musical life.

What or who has taught you the most in all the years you've been playing?

Performing for live audiences and playing with different musicians is the best way to keep your artistry growing and your techniques improving. The most important lessons for me are always the same one -- melody first, always tell the truth with your songs, give all you have to the audience every night. You can't go wrong with those.

You consistently make the "top guitarists of all time" lists, alongside the likes of Steve Vai, Slash, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, but are there other greats who are not so obvious?

Tommy Emmanuel has got to be the greatest acoustic guitarist ever. Sonny Landreth is the most awesome slide player. Allan Holdsworth is the most innovative with harmony. I could go on for hours.

How do you protect your hands and health?

Just staying away from the obvious bad behaviour seems to do the trick.

What's the longest time you've ever gone without playing a guitar?

Two weeks. Sometimes it's good to give the hands a rest.

And, finally, did you really sing backing vocals on a Crowded House album?

Yes! The one and only time I was ever paid money to sing.

Joe Satriani plays the ASB Theatre in Auckland on November 1 and the Opera House in Wellington on November 2. Tickets are on sale from midday, Friday, June 27. See www.satriani.com or www.livenation.co.nz

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 24 Jul 2014 01:56:49 Processing Time: 793ms