By John Voket – CTBoom Concert Correspondent
Tuesday night March 29, guitar daredevil Joe Satriani opens the US leg of his ‘From Surfing To Shockwave Tour’ to New Haven’s College Street Music Hall. CTBoom music and concert correspondent John Voket recently caught up with ‘Satch’ who confessed that when he’s out on tour – he makes it a rule to stay away from his guitars – until right before showtime, that is.
“If I’m on tour I really save it up for the show. No playing in the hotel or on the bus,” Satriani told CTBoom. “I take about an hour of warm up before the show, but I’m careful not to peak and not go crazy. I don’t summon up the demons until I walk up on stage — then I bring it all out. That makes it very satisfying — I can hit the stage with everything firing and I don’t leave until I play every last note I could possibly play.”
Since he decided on a career playing electric guitar on the day Jimi Hendrix died, Satriani has been lucky to play with, be taught by, and to teach some incredible musicians. He’s credited with giving guitar lessons to Steve Vai, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Testament’s Alex Skolnick.
While the list of players Satriani has jammed with is so diverse, it’s impossible to name them all. But CTBoom did pitch the names of a few famous collaborators at him, to find out what Satriani REALLY thinks of some of his former playmates!
CTBoom: Let’s start with Prog Rock guitarist, King Crimson founder and David Bowie collaborator Robert Fripp?
Joe Satriani: Robert is one of the funniest guys that I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with and travel with – he’s a genius musician and a complete innovator. But his sense of humor is under appreciated by the world I think, because few have gotten to hang out with him as much as I have. We shared a bus on one European G3 tour and it was a really great time – it was really great to get to know him.
CTBoom: How about Queen’s Brian May?
Joe Satriani: I gotta say, besides being one of the greatest guitarists and modern music composers ever, he’s probably the nicest guy you’ll ever meet on the planet earth. He’s just a special human being all around!
CTBoom: Tell me about your Chickenfoot bandmate and Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith – and we don’t have an hour, right?
Joe Satriani: (laughing) Chad is a tornado, a hurricane and an earthquake all wrapped into one. It’s hard to encapsulate the total force of Chad’s personality. He’s got a heart of gold, but he can come on super strong.
CTBoom: Tell me about your inspirational music teacher and Grammy Hall of famer Lennie Tristano?
Joe Satriani: Lennie was like a Zen master of Be-Bop, but he was no fuss, straight talking, right in your face jazz age hero. I could talk about him for hours. He was one of the greatest musicians I have ever been able to learn from. I remember one lesson when I was 17 or 18 years old. And by then Lennie was blind, and he had a habit of walking right up to you – I mean an inch from your face – and he’d start talking to you in that gruff rattling voice. And he says to me, ‘That’s pretty good Joey – keep it up and maybe in about 15 years you’ll be playing something good.’ And that was a COMPLIMENT – I was over the moon when he said that It was about as good as you were ever gonna get from Lennie. Funny thing was, I started releasing my solo records about that time – so he was really prophetic.
CTBoom: And what could Joe Satriani say about David St. Hubbins from Spinal Tap?
Joe Satriani: (laughing) You know I have an autographed 8×10 signed by the three surviving members of Spinal Tap, and i look at it often for inspiration. That’s because it constantly reminds me not to get hung up on all the silly stuff, and don’t base a tour on characters drawn by some crazy fan, and probably don’t walk around medicated all the time. But keep your eye on the prize. I think sometimes I relate a lot more to Nigel Tufnel because he’s the lead guitar player. Nigel has a lot of stupid sayings that are good to live by.
Maybe fans won’t be looking for any armadillos in anybody’s trousers, but they will be expecting Joe Satriani to crank it up to ’11’ when he hits the stage Tuesday night at College Street Music Hall. Grab the last few remaining tickets now at collegestreetmusichall.com.