Joe Satriani is considered by many to be one of the best guitar players in the world. Although excluded from Rolling Stone's list of the top 100 guitar players of all time, Satriani has taught such legendary string benders as Steve Vai and Mettalica's Kirk Hammett.
And, besides doing the solo thing, Satriani has also found time to play with Mick Jagger, Deep Purple and the Sammy Hagar-led supergroup Chickenfoot.
Though known primarily for his super-speedy technique, Satriani is actually a skilled composer who brings a lot more to his music than just shredding.
In advance of his performance at the Granada Theater tonight, Satriani was gracious enough to recently give DC9 a little time to chat with him during a tour stop in Canada. After the jump, he shares with us his thoughts on teaching guitar, playing with Jagger and why Rolling Stone sucks.
What's more rewarding, playing guitar or teaching it?
I've not taught guitar for a long time. Teaching was fun, at times. Other times, it was just my day job. I much prefer making albums and touring.
When Mick Jagger asked you to play in his touring band, were you nervous?
No, not at all. Mick was great. I've had a chance to play with many people I admire. When Mick asked, I jumped at that chance. Playing in front of that many people is something that every guitar player dreams about. Getting to share the stage with your heroes is incredible.
Are there certain artists whose material is harder to learn?
Not really. The challenge is performing live and getting the audience to have a good time. That's always a challenge. I think all performers share this challenge. With Mick, it was unusual in that people had a hard time accepting Mick as a solo artist. People had to get it out of their heads that this wasn't a concert by The Rolling Stones.
When Rolling Stone published its list of the best 100 guitar players of all time, your name was seen by many as one of the major omissions. Have you ever wondered why you were not on that list?
Everyone knows that Rolling Stone is shit. That list was made to be provocative, to get attention. And to Rolling Stone's credit, the list has gotten that attention.
Where were you when you heard the Coldplay song "Viva La Vida"? Did you immediately think they ripped off your "If I Could Fly" song?
I think I heard it in the mall. But I can't talk about that. There are legal issues that still have to be worked out. I really can't talk about that.
Is there a worse band name than Chickenfoot?
Hey, [Sammy] Hagar came up with that. I think someone called him that when he was a kid. But playing with Hagar is fun. The crowds are lively. Both the band and the crowd really get into the shows.
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This tour you are playing smaller venues. Would you rather play the smaller venues than the stadiums or arenas?
That's a trick question. Everyone wants to play in front of 80,000 people because then you know that you've been financially successful. But I've been in bands that were playing huge venues that were only half full, and it's hard getting in sync with the audience. Playing the more intimate venues is perfect for connecting with the audience.
Your 1993 album, The Extremist, is often cited by critics and fans as your best effort. What is it about that album that has made it such a favorite?
I don't know. I am proud of all of my albums. I have this new one called Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards and I am very proud of it. I feel very lucky to play my songs in front of an audience.
Has your audience always been mostly male-dominated?
Yes, but I think that's changing. On this current tour, I've seen a lot of women. Also, I've never seen such a range of ages before. I like to think my music can appeal to other people besides male guitar players.