Joe Satriani recently dropped in at the Howard Stern Show with his new Best Of All World tour bandmates for an appearance that saw him tackling a grab-bag of Van Halen tricks and licks as they were thrown at him on the fly.
BoBW frontman Sammy Hagar and the presenter set the virtuoso up with some tricky sections drawn from the Van Halen catalog, and Satch did a great job of coping with the test.
However, one song Mean Street – a track that Hagar labeled “impossible to play” –appears to have provided the biggest stumbling block during the live appearance, and it seems the moment did not go unnoticed by the man himself.
Now, in a forthcoming interview with Guitar World, Satriani alludes to the group’s recent Howard Stern appearance, noting: “I royally screwed up, which hurt like a thorn in my side, but I'll get over it.”
Satch is being too hard on himself, of course, but then he has notoriously high standards.
There aren’t many players who would gamely take on off-the-cuff impersonations of the greatest guitarist of the last half-century on live radio – let alone on one rehearsal, with new gear and a 6am call time.
But then, you don’t get as good as Satriani without learning from your mistakes, and the guitar icon is pretty inspiring on that front, noting the moment has given him renewed insight into Van Halen’s tonal challenges.
In particular, he references the difficulty EVH must have faced delivering his early catalog through the incredibly gain-y rig of his latter touring years.
“He probably struggled with it the most,” says Satriani. “Because I'm sure when he sat down to do the beginning of Mean Street, he experienced what I did on Howard Stern, where it's like, ‘There's too much gain!’
“Because you want a peak in the midrange of the gain so you can get those harmonics to sing out as loud. But if you cross the line, you get too much surface noise. But to try and figure all of that out at six in the morning was like… ‘Damn, this is rough.’”
Ultimately, Satch reckons it’s a privilege to have that challenge, though, concluding that when it comes to his preparation and dealing with the setlist Hagar is throwing at him, “It's all in good fun. I'll figure it out by the time the summer tour comes!”
Indeed, Satch looks like he’s going to have the time of his life in 2024.
Alongside the aforementioned summer tour with the Best of All Worlds band (completed by Michael Anthony and Jason Bonham), he’s also got the G3 reunion tour and a new co-headline run with Steve Vai in the offing. Satch and Vai are even promising to debut their first studio collaboration ahead of the dates.
For more on all of that, keep an eye out for our forthcoming Joe Satriani interview.