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Legendary guitarist brings magic fingers to the Bing Sunday

Fri., Jan. 7, 2011

Whether steering the ship with his own band or playing lead guitar with supergroup Chickenfoot, the legendary Joe Satriani continues to keep listeners guessing with his extraterrestrial technique and phenomenal craftsmanship.

On his 2010 album, “Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards,” Satriani caught fans off guard by veering from his typical virtuosic fare and treading more groove-oriented terrain with slants of gospel, R&B, jazz and blues.

Satriani talked via e-mail about his post-Chickenfoot songwriting, his involvement with the Experience Hendrix tribute and the status of the Sound Strike movement protesting Arizona’s immigration law.

Q: Talk about the writing process for the new album.

A: I wrote about 50 songs, then spent a few weeks editing and picking the ones I found the most interesting. Next, I recorded demos and sent them out to the band and (producer) Mike Fraser.

Q: What was the intent of the record?

A: To reach people more deeply with my melodies, my phrasing and with the overall sound and feel of the record.

Q: You’ve said that there are songs on this album that your audience might not expect, can you elaborate?

A: “Littleworth Lane,” “Two Sides…” and “Wind In The Trees” are good examples of songs that might seem to be outside the style I’m well known for.

Q: Tell me about the significance of the Black Swans image and how it connects to the idea of wormholes.

A: Black Swans refers to the surprise, or “out of left field” style of some of the songs mentioned previously. In literature, a black swan is an unexpected or unlikely event, thing or action. Thus, the correlation with the direction of some of the new songs.

Q: How did you approach recording on this record?

A: Get a great live band in a big room and push record!

Q: How did you approach Chickenfoot versus how you approach your solo material?

A: Chickenfoot is collaborative in the studio, as we arrange all the material on the spot as a group. 

Q: In what way did your experience with Chickenfoot affect the way your look at your solo material?

A: It just made me excited to record more live-oriented tracks. 

Q: What can listeners expect from the next Chickenfoot album?

A: Something bigger and better than Chickenfoot 1.

Q: What was the Experience Hendrix project like for you?

A: I had a great time playing with all the super players on that tour. Playing Hendrix music is cathartic for me. I love Jimi’s music.

Q: What did you think about Nicki Minaj sampling “Always With Me, Always With You”?

A: Nicki and her producer asked for permission to use part of my composition “Always …” in their song “Right Thru Me.” So I am listed and compensated as a co-writer. I love what Nicki did with the song, she is a great talent.

Q: How did you get involved with Sound Strike, what’s the status of the movement?

A: We are waiting to see what the Supreme (Court) has to say about SB 1070 (the Arizona law). I am hoping they find it unconstitutional, and prevent its implementation. If not, I will end my boycott of the state and try to change their minds by showing up and making a lot of noise.

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