.Guitar Virtuoso Joe Satriani at LBC

Longtime guitarists and pals Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, never ones to sit idle and rest on their laurels, embarked on their current tour on March 24th. And while their tour ultimately ends in our fair city of Santa Rosa on May 12th, fans can expect even more new music and more touring when time permits. 

Their latest collaboration and single is called “The Sea of Emotion, Pt. 1” and finds the two friends playing on a whole other level than their guitar peers. For those who have yet to hear the collaboration, expect some shredding over the 6-minute-plus song. Audiophiles will remember that both started releasing new music at Relativity Records and would follow one another with a run at both Sony Music and Epic Records. From G3 tours to incessant touring as headliner artists, both guitarists’ trajectory has been upward with no limit in sight. 

Although known as a largely instrumental guitarist, Joe Satriani’s records have also proven him to be an able singer, helping him sell an astounding 10 million copies. Lifetime accolades include (but are not limited to) two Platinum, four Gold-certified records, and a whopping 15 Grammy nominations. And while he has hosted workshops under the G4 Experience banner, Joe has been quite prolific, releasing 19 full-length platters, with “The Elephants of Mars” (2022) being his latest offering.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

We caught up with Satriani while crisscrossing the United States during what little downtime he has. 

Bohemian: You’re now 67 years old and still touring like a 20-year-old. How do you do it?

Joe Satriani: Music has always been a welcome source of energy for me. It keeps me going. I’m grateful I can continue to make music and art every single day. I try to challenge myself as much as possible and improve my playing skills daily. I do follow a healthy lifestyle, so that must count for something. 

Bohemian: I purchased ‘Not Of This Earth’ (1986) as a teenager and remember loving the myriad styles on the album. Was thatyou intent during your early years? 

Joe Satriani: My intent in those early years was the same as now; to be as original as I wanted to be, but not affected by the current trends. I had different ideas about melody and harmony that I needed to share with the world. The opening chords of ‘Not Of This Earth’ go a long way to explain my creative state of mind back then. My engineer and co-producer John Cuniberti shared my desire to make a groundbreaking album that sounded unique. His studio chops were amazing.

Bohemian: You’ve been signed both to Epic and Sony Music and are now part of the earMUSIC family. Does being on a major mean anything today as a largely instrumental guitarist? 

Joe Satriani: Being with Sony from 1995 to 2020 was a great experience, especially in the early years. They had a great national and international staff of super creative people. As the internet flourished, record companies started to scale down in size and their role in manufacturing and distributing music changed. A solo artist like myself wasn’t in need of their new, lean record company structure. It was an amicable split and we are still partners in my catalog from ‘Not OF This Earth’ up through 2020’s ‘Shapeshifting.’ Working with earMUSIC has been fantastic. They have expanded my music’s reach all around the world with their modern approach to artist relations and marketing.

Bohemian: You’re going to tour with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony playing vintage Van Halen songs. How are you managing to practice Eddie Van Halen’s parts during a national tour of your own?

Joe Satriani: While on tour, I put in an hour or so each day. It’s a joy and a labor of love. The Van Halen songs are interesting and fun, and the extra time focusing on another artist’s unique technique has had a beneficial effect on my own playing. I’ve been sneaking in some EVH stuff during the jams, getting a good rise out of the audiences for sure.

Bohemian: What do you like more about being a solo artist as opposed to projects like Chickenfoot? 

Joe Satriani: It’s apples and oranges when you get down to it. Both are super fun and artistically satisfying. I love being left alone to create music with no outside influence or distraction, but the band thing is not to be missed if you’re lucky enough to find collaborators you can really click with. I like having both opportunities to explore.

Bohemian: Will we be seeing a follow-up to ‘The Elephants of Mars’ (2022) anytime soon? Any songs already written or demo’d yet? 

Joe Satriani: Steve and I have embarked on a long-awaited collaboration which is a full album of new music. “The Sea of Emotion, Pt. 1” is our first single from the album, and will be followed by subsequent releases as we progress with recording the album. We are looking at a Spring ’25 release date for the finished album followed by a tour.

Bohemian: As an aside, I was your Sony rep for many years based in the Sacramento Valley and ran an in-store at Skip’s Music for the ‘Super Colossal’ record some 18 years ago. Do you ever do these anymore given the state of the industry? 

Joe Satriani: Skip’s Music! Yes, I remember Skip’s. I miss those days of visiting record /music stores and signing LPs, CDs, cassettes, etc., but change is a constant. Those events have been replaced by the VIP Experience at each gig. Steve and I have been doing special Q&A sessions with VIP ticket holders at the concert venues each afternoon and they are really fun. We get to spend some quality time with about a hundred fans answering all their questions and getting some photos taken. It’s a better experience for us and the fans than the crush of the old in-store appearances.

Bohemian: Why not dub the current tour with Steve Vai a G3 extension and add another guitarist as you just did with Eric Johnson? Are you playing even more songs together on this co-headliner? 

Joe Satriani: The Satch/Vai tour is like no other tour Steve and I have ever done. Can you even think of another tour that focused on two different solo guitar players that have been playing together since childhood? Steve was one of my first students when he was just 12 years old, and I just 15. We’ve known each other and worked together ever since we were kids. This tour is a celebration of that long, enduring relationship. It’s truly special for us.

Joe Satriani plays the Luther Burbank Center For The Arts located at 50 Mark West Springs Road in Santa Rosa. Steve Vai co-headlines the night’s festivities. Doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts promptly at 7:30pm, Sunday, May 12. Tickets start at $79 and can be purchased at https://lutherburbankcenter.org. All ages are welcome. There’s certainly no reason you can’t celebrate Mother’s Day with a little guitar calisthenics. So good even your mother would approve. 


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