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Strange Beautiful Music is in stores now.
In these days of file sharing and the instant availability of almost anything you desire via the internet, record companies are still running different release dates for different countries. Joe Satriani, perhaps the world’s most outstanding guitar talent has had his new album Strange Beautiful Music on shelves in the US since July this year. But here in Australia, we’ve only just gotten it. His last record, Engines Of Creation, was only available as an import, but still the artist has accumulated record sales in excess of eight million discs.
“I’ve been trying to figure out international release schedules my entire career, and I’ve given up, basically,” he laughs. “You’d think especially these days with piracy being done professionally and by people at home that they’d want it all out at the same time. We certainly delivered it to everyone on time. I think we’re both equally perplexed by the whole scheduling thing. But in a way I guess it’s fun because when we get to Australia next people will still feel fresh about it.”
Satriani has certainly delivered with Strange Beautiful Music, his lucky 13th release. In an age dominated by nu metal and fuzzy three-chord rock, Strange Beautiful Music proves beyond a doubt there is still a place in the musical spectrum for those willing to push the limits of what the guitar is capable of. The fact that it’s not just a shred for the sake of playing fast type of album is even more telling of his musical prowess. Satriani makes lyrical, passionate music, without having to fall back on gimmicks.
While there are no concrete plans to tour at present, Satriani claims he’ll be here either with his band or to host a series of guitar clinics depending on the availability of his band. While a full on live show would be nice, the intimacy of a workshop is quite appealing.
“They’re (the Ibanez JS signature model guitar) not set up like mine. Guitar set ups can be pretty individual. Fifteen minutes with a couple of tools and it’s as good as mine. Actually, we had to do that recently, because one of my guitars was stolen, and I had to play a couple of brand new instruments the following night. It worked out great. One of them I got signed by a bunch of baseball players, but the other one is the one I played the following night, and it sounds great. I love playing it. Sometimes a new guitar can really be exciting to play after using the same guitar for ten years.”
The rare chrome plated instrument that went awol at t Florida gig in August, and its theft is still a disappointment.
“I can always get new ones made, but that’s besides the point,” he laughs. “People shouldn’t steal from each other. There are laws about that in most countries. It’s just something you don’t do to your fellow guy, you know. I put it in perspective. I can get another one, but it makes you angry to think someone will come in with the express purpose of taking something they know is very valuable to you. Even to the fans. Maybe we play to a million people after a year and a half of touring, and so many people get to hear those instruments. To have someone walk away with it isn’t right.”
Do you think people’s expectations of a Satriani show is based around seeing you up there with one of the chrome guitars?
“I think it ads to the presentation just a little bit, especially with people who haven’t seen me before. I think they see the shaved head, the sunglasses and the chrome guitar and they know they’ve come to the right concert,” he chuckles.
I saw pictures of you with a clear plastic model of the guitar recently. Are there many of those getting about?
“That was the crystal planet model. Like the chrome guitar it was a limited edition model, and they sold out in like a day at the trade show. Those things sound really cool, but they’re so heavy. You have to think twice about wearing those for two hours on stage. It’s a great guitar to sit down with. I used it on the last G3 tour. The plastic gives it a really unique sound like those old Dan Armstrong guitars.”
The original G3 tour found Satriani on the road with fellow guitar heroes Steve Vai and Eric Johnson. The tour is still going strong, albeit with altered line-ups, featuring some of the finest six-string talent to be found.
“We try to fit them in every year or every year and a half. When we started it back then it took about a year and half to put together. At the time I felt like Steve and Eric would have to be the guys to inaugurate the idea. It took so long to get time in everyone’s schedule, and no one was sure if they could do it or if they wanted to do it. Once we did, it just took off.”