CHICKENFOOT's JOE SATRIANI: We Were Lucky To Naturally Stumble Upon An Identifiable Sound

Peter Hodgson of recently conducted an interview with CHICKENFOOT guitarist Joe Satriani. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. The first thing that really struck me about [the new CHICKENFOOT album, "III") was that there's a really identifiable CHICKENFOOT sound. It doesn't sound like a Joe Satriani album, it doesn't sound like a Sammy Hagar album.

Satriani: That's great; I'm so happy to hear you say that. That's something that I've always felt that we were very lucky to naturally stumble upon. But we didn't want to overthink it or intellectualize it. Just do it naturally and let it happen. This album is almost like an essay on the right hand of Joe Satriani there's a lot of great rhythm stuff going on.

Satriani: As I was writing the demos for this record, I was once again conscious of trying to not hold back and to use as much as I had to flesh out a lot of the songs. It's a funny thing, because when we're away, we'll maybe be taking a flight somewhere and we'll be talking about what kind of songs we like as a band, and that's one thing, but when we get together to play there's really no time for discussion or any of that stuff. We basically have to record very quickly, and everybody has to bring all their stuff to the table and just do it. And so I hate to talk about it and give the wrong impression and that we thought about it, because we didn't, but I all I can tell you is that I prepared for the experience by making sure that everything I knew how to do was fresh on my fingers and ready to be exploited at a moment's notice. So I like to say that I've taken all the good stuff that I've ever heard from any guitar player and I've tried to learn it and to use it and to understand it. So a lot of my roots come out when I'm making a CHICKENFOOT record. I really like the solo in "Up Next" there's a real art to those kind of solos where you play against a delay pedal where if you play the wrong note it can all go off the rails.

Satriani: That was a spontaneous solo. That was a song that started with a demo of mine. I came up with about ten or twelve songs in August and sent them to the guys before I went out and toured for my last record, and I think something like that was on that demo, so when we finally got together to start tracking in February, I just sort of played something like that and everybody was like, "That's really cool. We should just do that." So every time we got to that section, Chad [Smith, drums] and Mike [Anthony, bass] just really hunkered down to make sure they wouldn't interfere with the delay. That's part of it: I'm being complemented by those guys not being so busy. Then when we go back to the rest of the song they expand their part. But you're very right. You have to be careful with stuff stacking on top of each other, notes that don't belong. But I thought it was a good idea to have something that was sort of crazy-sounding when it comes in, because the rest of the song is very down on the beat, you know what I mean? It's got a stomping kind of quality. So the last thing you expect is some sort of ping-ponging, odd-sounding solo with noises and whatnot. It's funny, I didn't hear the lyrics until all that stuff was recorded, and then after I heard the lyrics I thought, "Wow, the solo actually makes sense with the story that Sam's telling." It was a total coincidence. Another one of my favourite guitar moments on the album is that really haunting melody in the chorus of "Come Closer".

Satriani: Oh, that's so cool, I'm glad you picked up on that. That's a song I wrote on a piano one morning when I was looking over some lyrics that Sam [Hagar, vocals] had sent me. We don't usually write that way but as an experiment he wrote a song first without any music and said "Whatever you come up with, let's surprise ourselves." So I came up with this moody piece on the piano, and when I showed it to the rest of the guys they had to create a rhythm around it. So once Mike and Chad had created a groove behind it I realized I had to somehow figure out how to get this piano part onto the guitar. It turned into that sort of secondary melody and it worked out really good. I was very happy that Sam liked singing around it.

Read the entire interview from


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