Joe Satriani: Hey Joe
Originally published in Guitar World, April 2010
He played an extended world tour in 2008 and spent the past year performing with Chickenfoot and readying his brand-new DVD, Live in Paris. So where is Joe Satriani going with that ax in his hand? Straight onto the 2010 Experience Hendrix Tour, that’s where.
For the past two years, Joe Satriani has been in perpetual-burn mode, with little time to relax, let alone reflect. In 2008, he released the solo album Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock and embarked on a lengthy world tour. Last year, the man who virtually redefined instrumental guitar rock realized his lifelong dream of forming an honest-to-goodness vocal-oriented band with Chickenfoot, which includes Sammy Hagar, bassist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
Touchdowns were duly scored. The well-received Professor Satchafunkilus satisfied music fans starved for audacious, yet beautiful, shred—the kind of big-time guitar-god stuff few players can pull off. As for Chickenfoot, they were an odds-defying, not-so-littleengine that could—a gang of middle-aged vets whose debut album was filled with high-energy, riff-heavy, hot-and-horny rock that kicked a donkey’s ass. That it was certified Gold in this day of eroding CD sales stunned many. Even the band’s members were surprised by what they’d achieved. “We thought, Hey, if the record allows us to play shows, that’s great,” Satriani says. “But to go Gold, that was some icing on the cake, boy.”
For Satch, 2009—the Year of the Chickenfoot—was an astounding achievement. And there is still more to come. “It’s like, there are no words for it,” Satch says. “That we were able to work with everybody’s schedules and become a living, breathing entity; how we wrote, recorded and finished an album that we could be proud of; that we toured the world and found that people were still hungry for a brand-new band, playing music they’d never heard before but wound up loving—it’s totally wild. I’m ready for a rest, but I’m very happy with what we accomplished.”
“Rest” is something of a subjective term for the 53-year-old guitarist. He’s just released the DVD Live in Paris: I Just Wanna Rock and a two-CD companion collection that captures his Satchafunkilus show in a stereo mix that puts you front and center. At times it feels as though you’re onstage with Satch and his long-time rhythm section of drummer Jeff Campitelli and bassist Stu Hamm, during a bracing 22-song set that combines classics like “Satch Boogie” and “Ice 9” with a generous helping of new cuts.
“It was a great night, so I’m glad we got it on film,” Satriani says. “Many times on any given tour I find myself saying, ‘Man, we’re pretty damn great tonight. We should’ve filmed this one.’ For that Paris show at the Grand Rex Theater, we really got it right.”
Now Satch is primed to take part in the 2010 Experience Hendrix Tour, on which he’ll share stages with the likes of Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Billy Cox, Sacred Steel featuring Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang, Ernie Isley, Brad Whitford, Doyle Bramhall II, Living Colour, Hubert Sumlin and Chris Layton. The tour hits 17 cities throughout March, and Mr. “I’m Ready for a Rest” can’t wait to get on the bus. After all, Satriani famously quit his football team at age 14 when he heard of Hendrix’s death, vowing to devote his life to playing the guitar.
“I think everybody knows how much I revere Jimi Hendrix,” he says. “So for me to get a chance to honor my hero in such a terrific way, with an amazing group of players, come on, it’s a dream come true.”