Joe Satriani: Hey Joe
GW How did you find the time to put together the Live in Paris set?
SATRIANI The truth is, most of it was done pre-Chickenfoot. At least the shooting was. Like most live sets and DVDs, they’re borne out of opportunity. When you’re not thinking about it, somebody comes up and says, “Hey, would you like to be filmed doing this show?” and that happened when we were getting ready to do our tour of Europe in 2008. I thought the idea of being filmed at the Grand Rex Theater in Paris was great—it’s such a wonderful venue.
The director, Gunther Kutsch, was a really cool guy who presented some terrific ideas. We talked about the way I have a hard time staying in reality when I’m performing—it’s like I become this different person almost, and I’m seeing movies in my head for each song. So we talked a lot about that, about bringing that emotional rollercoaster that I’m feeling and presenting it visually. I think he pulled it off.
GW Visually, it does have a lot more impact than your previous live DVDs.
SATRIANI That’s true. My other live DVDs were pretty straight-ahead. I’m not knocking them, but this one is more interesting visually. Also, the band didn’t suck the night we filmed it! [laughs]
GW There’s a selling point right there.
SATRIANI I would hope so. “Check it out—we don’t blow!” [laughs] You know, we didn’t go out and film 20 shows and edit them together and pick the best takes of each song. It was one night—boom! I was telling myself backstage, “Joe, you’d better be good tonight ’cause the cameras are rolling.” And the great thing is, luck was on my side that night. Once in a while on every tour you get those golden moments when it just seems that everything is right: your amp feedback is perfect, your performance of a particular song is the best it’s ever been, the band rocks harder than ever... That night in Paris was one of those nights. Oh, and I didn’t trip and fall down, which actually has happened. [laughs]
GW For the tour, your band consisted of Jeff Campitelli on drums, Stu Hamm on bass and Galen Henson, who plays rhythm guitar and doubles as tour manager. Did you have to throw Galen extra bucks to be part of the band?
SATRIANI [laughs] He’s the highest-paid man on the whole tour. He was a bass tech on the G3 Tour, and one night, as we were getting ready to hit the road, I heard this great guitar playing coming from another room in the practice studio. I walked in, and it was Galen. I couldn’t believe how well he played. So I asked him, “Any chance you can play ‘Always with Me, Always with You’ for me?” Which he did, right there and then, perfectly. So afterward I said, “Hey, do you think you could come out onstage and play three songs?” because we were doing kind of the trio thing and I wanted to beef up the sound a bit. The whole thing expanded to him doing three more songs, and three more songs, and by the time of the Satchafunkilus tour, it made sense to have him be a part of the band.
GW Tell me about Stu. How has working with him changed over the years?
SATRIANI Stu’s great. He’s a very musical bass player with deep roots in funk, jazz, classical, fusion... He’s always seemed to me to be a brand-new rock enthusiast—and this is going back over 20 years ago when I first met him. I don’t think he knew more than three Led Zeppelin tunes at the time, but during our times together he would sort of blossom into this other area. Check out the Time Machine record, where he was experimenting with distorted bass. He was going for the rock there. I think he was even wearing a bunch of chains around his neck and stuff. [laughs] He really threw himself into it. And what’s great about him is he takes risks. He pushes himself, and that pushes me. He’s the one guy who can maybe do something fusion-y and I’ll respond to it, whereas that might not work with somebody else. He brings me the balance I need.
GW The set list has a good combination of your classics and selections from Professor Satchafunkilus. While you were touring, did you ever find certain new songs weren’t working, or did they all hit the mark right off?
SATRIANI At the beginning of the tour, we thought some of the new songs might be difficult to play live, from the standpoint of both playing and audience reaction, but we decided to do as much of the new album as we could. There was one new song, though, called “Andalusia” that was extremely taxing for me, personally. We’re talking five minutes of fast physical playing. So I was quite happy to put the bass solo directly afterward so I could have a break. [laughs]
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