From the Archive: Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen Discuss the 2003 G3 Tour
From 2003: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen discuss their G3 Tour.
VAI: It's funny, exactly the same thing happened to me. I was in a band called Alcatrazz! [laughs] A record company came to a show, signed me to a solo deal and said, "You should make an instrumental album." And that was [1990's] Passion and Warfare.
MALMSTEEN: I don't know what it was like for you, but I wasn't supposed to leave the band. I just ended up doing it anyway. I felt better doing my own thing. But that's funny. I didn't know it happened to you too.
VAI: In exactly the same way. Well, I left the band because I got that gig with David Lee Roth.
MALMSTEEN: He asked me too.
MALMSTEEN: We were on tour, headlining. Dave Roth came to a show. After the show he asked me if I wanted to join his band. I probably should have said yes.
VAI: You would have gotten along great with him. [laughs]
Joe, you never said whether you chose instrumental music or it chose you.
SATRIANI: It's kind of unusual. I was in a power pop band called the Squares. We were working really hard, but on one holiday from the band I put together a little EP of my own [1984's Joe Satriani] and made it instrumental. My idea was just to make it as weird as possible. I think I was inspired by cassettes that Steve was sending me of his music -- stuff like "Garbage Wrapped in Skin."
And I started my own little company to release the EP. The record got reviewed in guitar magazines. The turning point for me was that the reviewers didn't know about the Squares and did not know who I was. They reviewed the EP as if it was a serious record by a guy who was very serious about this particular musical direction. That sort of lit up a light bulb over my head. So it was a unique, cathartic moment to leap out of this power pop band and take this [instrumental] approach to music. Because this was an era when there was no instrumental music on the radio other than jazz. You definitely weren’t gonna get on MTV. Michael Jackson and Motley Crue were ruling. That was the kind of thing that was selling millions and millions of records.
So it was a similar situation. What seemed like a solo side project became the main event.
SATRIANI: That's right. And I'm sure all of us had a point where we were told, "You gotta go on tour now." And we thought, Go on tour, instrumental? All night long?
VAI: That's why I didn't tour for Passion and Warfare, which is probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. Because it was a time when I should have toured. But I'd just gotten off a 13-month tour with Whitesnake, my wife just had a baby, and the idea of touring off an instrumental record was just, What!!??? It was like, "Go out and take all your clothes off and go onstage."
Speaking of live shows, what is the G3 audience like? The preconception is that it's all adolescent male guitar geeks.
SATRIANI No, I think it's much more mixed than that. Each artist attracts his own different set of fans. And G3 over the years has created its own audience as well. They know it's something unusual and special that they're not going to get anywhere else. It seems to me that young and old, both sexes, all come out. They all look at each other like, Wow, what are those people over there? They're surprised at their own diversity.
VAI: As far as I'm concerned, G3 is beyond trends. It's an alternative form of entertainment that you'll really enjoy if you like the guitar. Because we really put out. Whenever Joe calls me for a G3 Tour my heart goes pitter-patter. 'Cause it really is a sharing experience -- a celebration of the guitar and music. And it's okay to come to a show like this if you're 13 or 14 and listening to Korn. It's not like you're not being cool.
And as you suggested, all of you probably goad one another to perform at your very best.
SATRIANI: It's the best kind of competition you could ever have. Because it's totally friendly, and what's the result? A better show. Everybody wins.
VAI: My respect for these guys has always been tremendous. But I'm also fiercely confident in what I do. We all are. And Yngwie -- the reason people are intimidated by him is because he is so confident. They're intimidated by his confidence. You can see it. Read all the interviews over the past 20 years. This guy has no choice but to be Yngwie. And that's a beautiful thing, man.
YNGWIE: I'm just very honored to be on this show. The three of us together, I think that's gonna blow people's minds. I'm really excited about it.
SATRIANI: Getting Steve and Yngwie together was an idea I had for a very long time. It was difficult to get the schedules to work together and in the right climate. But this just feels like a very good time.
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