Lari Basilio on channeling joy through guitar playing, working with Leland Sklar and discovering 7-strings

Lari Basilio
(Image credit: Eduardo Orelha)

That smile. It's one of the first things you notice while watching Lari Basilio play guitar – a high-beam smile that’s big, wide and seemingly irrepressible. “People always comment about that,” she says. “They’re like, ‘Lari, you look like you’re having such a good time.’ And it’s true – music brings such joy to me, so when I play, I can’t help but show it.”

Basilio’s incandescent spirit runs throughout her stellar new album, Your Love. Whether she’s shredding sparks on the breakneck rocker Running to the Other Side, bopping to the sleek funk of Alive and Living or conducting a legato line masterclass on the shimmering title cut, she imbues each track with a kind of radiant positivity that’s impossible to resist.

“For me, it’s important to share a message of hope with people,” Basilio says. “I wrote a lot of the songs during the pandemic, and that was a time when a lot of people were feeling depressed. In my own way, I wanted to try to counteract that with my new songs. We should always cling to hope and faith.” 

On previous releases, Basilio recorded with drumming legend Vinnie Colaiuta, who makes a return appearance here. Rounding out the rhythm section are two bass A-listers, Sean Hurley and Leland Sklar. 

“I’m blessed to be able to play with such incredible musicians,” the guitarist says. “It’s always incredible to watch them take my songs and start to flip things around, which helps to keep me on my toes. That’s especially true with Vinnie, because he never listens to demos. He just comes in and goes for it.”

Basilio’s signature Ibanez LB1 was her main electric guitar on Your Love. “It’s so versatile in terms of tone and comfort that there’s very little need for me to use anything else,” she says. 

However, she has begun experimenting with an Ibanez seven-string AZ7 model, which she used to punctuate the rhythm tracks on Alive and Living. She notes, “That’s a great guitar for heavier riffs. I haven’t been much of a seven-string player, but I might incorporate more of it in the future. It’s pretty inspiring.”

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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar World, Guitar Player, MusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.