Steve Vai spoke to AXS about his participation in this year's edition of the "Generation Axe" tour, also featuring Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi. Talking about how the trek came to be, Steve, who organized the tour, said: "The concept was very well accepted, and I knew it was something that would cool to the audience and guitar lovers. And it was supposed to be genre specific, so I just wrote a list of genres then I wrote all my favorite guitar players in those genres. The first one that I approached was metal — and the guys that were on this tour were the ones on the top of the list, and I was just so fortunate that they were all interested and wanted to do it. So when I told people, they were, like, 'Are you serious? Do you really think that you can get these guys on a tour bus together?' And I just felt, yes, absolutely, everybody knows the ropes, everybody has their sea legs — they've been doing it their whole lives — they've been through the drama."
He continued: "We're all friends and there's a mutual respect for each other, and because of the mutual respect, we work everything out; it's actually really enjoyable.
"When I'm with my wife and my sons, we're a family, and we'll huddle together and put our arms around each other and we feel that wonderful family vibe — that connection that only the four of us have. But a really great touring band has the same connection; it's different but it's the same. With these guys — and the band — there's that connection.
"My favorite part of the tour is the tour bus; it's our little traveling club. In that tour bus, we have so much fun; we listen to music, we tell stories — really funny stories and jokes — we discuss politics and religion and stuff like that. It's really great."
Vai added that "would love to" continue the "Generation Axe" tour concept beyond the 2018 edition of the trek. "We did the first American tour and we didn't know what was going to happen, because you've got five very strong-minded individuals and it's hard to know how that's going to balance out on tour," he said. "But I am so happy to report that it was the best. We just really enjoyed the tour and each other — and sure, there were challenges, things that go wrong, but that always happens; you just deal with them. But it was so good, we did want to keep it going and we tried to book a European tour, but schedules were just too challenging. But we did go to Asia, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and it was so fantastic. I recorded all the shows and I'm working really hard to get a live record out by the time we go back out. And we decided we want to do as much as we can. South America and Mexico, we're looking at another Asian tour, and if things go well, we'd like to book a nice, robust European tour. And the show is different than the last tour too — the lineup is the same, the concept is the same, but we're changing some of the songs to keep it fresh. And there's one song that I don't want to mention, but if we can pull it off, it's going to be just fantastic."
Vai, Wylde, Malmsteen, Bettencourt and Abasi once again will join together to tour North America to stage 32 appearances across the country. Beginning on November 7 at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, the run will return to markets where the inaugural tour was celebrated and hit several new cities for the first time.
Each tour stop will include a variety of collaborations by the five players, including everyone performing together as one cohesive band with a rhythm section including Pete Griffin (Dweezil Zappa, Stanley Clarke, Edgar Winter) on bass, Nick Marinovich (Yngwie Malmsteen) on keys, and JP Bouvet on drums. Vai, Wylde, Malmsteen, Bettencourt and Abasi will perform songs from their various catalogs and join forces on some well-known songs (as well as probably a few unexpected, unearthed gems).
Making this rare tour experience even more special, "Generation Axe" VIP packages will be offered, giving fans access to these guitars masters and exclusive one-of-a-kind memorabilia. A front row package (including a meet-and-greet), a meet-and-greet package, and a VIP tour package will be available.
For additional information, visit generationaxe.com.