spent the better part of the past few years storming the
Planet with SAMMY
MICHAEL ANTHONY & CHAD SMITH taking
the term Rock Band to new heights with CHICKENFOOT.
After a Gold Record with their
self-titled debut & several legs of a sold out World
is back in his wheelhouse with his 14th solo
Swans & Wormhole Wizards”.
Through the magic of his dynamic digits the passionate
performer inspires thought provoking themes from Love
to the Supernatural and everything ones imagination can
conjure up in between.
Of his many solo masterpieces Black Swans & Wormhole Wizards may be
his most personal collection of songs to date; writing
on the heels of the loss of his beloved Mother
while on the Road with CHICKENFOOT
& The Hendrix
Experience Tour SATRIANI
has penned the most poignant record of his already illustrious
did manage to take time out from his insanely busy schedule
this past summer recreating his stirring rendition of
the National Anthem on opening day for the
Oakland A’s in 2002 as
part of the upcoming Brad Pitt release titled “MoneyBall”,
a movie based on the novel “The Art of Winning
an Unfair Game”.
The Rock Rapport
had the good fortune to catch the master of the six-string
to talk about the new Record & upcoming tour as well
as what’s cookin’ in the CHICKENFOOT
as always great to speak with you once again we really
appreciate your time here in Western New York &
Southern Ontario; congratulations on another tremendous
collection of songs.
I must say I really look forward to listening to your
solo material; I try to absorb the instrumental arrangements
the first few times through without glancing at the song
- Wow that’s an interesting
approach, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of someone
doing that with my finished recordings, I think that’s
That’s one of the many strengths of instrumental music
whether it be classical, spiritual, rock or jazz, without
those words being shouted out at you by a singer you’re
free to bring the music into your heart and make it mean
whatever you want.
As we’ve discussed on your past solo Albums song placement
is essential with instrumental tracking; I like how you
wrapped the depth of the record in between the blistering
& the thunderous closing track “God
Talk about the sequencing of the songs on “Black
Swans & Wormhole Wizards”
Can I tell you the interesting story on the flipside of
that; when I was in Vancouver mixing the record with MIKE
FRASIER (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Metallica); I was having a
really difficult time sequencing the album.
Finally I decided to write down
all the song titles on a piece of paper and laid them
out on the floor of the hotel room; after frustrating
myself to no end I turned to my wife RUBINA and said,
“ do me a favor and arrange the album in sequence the
way you want it to look based solely on the song titles”.
I knew she was familiar with the music itself from hearing
me play it around the house the past couple of months,
but she had no inkling of the titles; believe it or not
after all of that her arrangement of the songs ended up
being the final tracking sequence.
That is truly amazing that RUBINA
was able to blindly place those songs in the order they
appear on the disc, once you listen & break the songs
down it most certainly seems like it was intentional.
- Now that the songs are out
there and I’ve been listening all the way through as we’ve
been practicing for the tour; I have to say I’m still
shocked at RUBINA’S psychic abilities to put this record
After all my struggles with it she sat down in a matter
of minutes and pulled it off; afterward I thought to myself
oh my God now it makes so much sense.
Sometimes you go out of your way to
find the ultimate song placement on an instrumental Rock
Record, year after year it seems to mean less & less
with the digital revolution upon us.
I remember back in 1997 when we were
putting together the “Crystal Planet” Record I had this
grand scheme of putting together the Album so that each
song sequentially would move up in a key so there was
always ascending movement in the key signatures.
It was a really cool thing to do and made for a very long
Record getting all those songs to workout that way.
At that end of all that I was
pretty disappointed that after two years of interviews
& touring around the world not one journalist or musician
even noticed, not even the guys in the band.
- I had the pleasure of speaking with you earlier this
year as you were getting set to release “Live
in Paris: I Just
Wanna Rock” DVD and
hitting the road with CHICKENFOOT
& the Experience
Hendrix Live Tour.
My condolences as I didn’t realize
at the time that you had lost your Mother until
I began researching Black
Swans & Wormhole Wizards
were you pay tribute to her on a few heartfelt tracks
“Two Sides to Every
Story” & “Littleworth
about what a cathartic experience this was for you in
writing these particular songs?
You for the kind words; the song “Littleworth Lane” was
the name of the street of a house that my Mother had bought
in the late seventies. The house itself dates back
to the late 1600’s it’s very unusual, quite small but
rich with character.
I’ll bet she was attracted to
the house based solely on the name of the street, I’m
sure she identified with the name “Littleworth Lane” as
she was always looking out for the underdog. She
was a wonderful Mother who loved to nurture; she spent
her entire life as a school teacher focusing on helping
As a family we shared beautiful
moments there, a lot of great life was lived in that house.
When I was thinking about writing Music about her passing
I thought it would be too much for me to bear. I
decided that I should start with something that was a
bright & positive modicum about her life something
I knew she had deep seeded feelings about.
Getting back to the new
Record the first song “Premonition”
is a cool lead track, he vibe is almost like a locomotive
gearing up to leave the station; there’s a short intro
with some bells & whistles, what were you aiming for
when preceding the instrumental piece?
- When I was putting that
song together I was thinking of how to paint a sonic picture
of what it feels like when you’re getting what one might
feel is a “Premonition”, whether it be good or bad.
I started to fool around at home with just some
random sounds and I found a distant bell, footsteps, some
strange musical overtones, all sorts of weird sound effects.
When I brought it into the studio MIKE listened and suggested
we listen to some of the sounds backwards, trying to add
to the confusion of that moment that the feeling falls
Ultimately we just meshed it all together
for a short intro and I’m still not quite sure what we’re
saying but it just sounded right when we listened to it
as part of the song.
You’ve stated that most
of this record was written & recorded during the
tours, did those world-class musicians & musical influences
seep into the new material?
- After finishing the “Satchifunkilus”
solo release, the CHICKENFOOT thing really took off; in
that Group I was experiencing something brand new for
me, that being writing with partners.
We recorded the tracks very quickly each time being a
live vital recording, all live no click tracks or sequencing,
needless to say I was way out of my element at that point.
That being said what I found was that we would record
this stuff and it would take on a life of its own which
was a new & interesting process for me.
The CHICKENFOOT Album was done
in three different segments over a ten month period, including
recordings from SAMMY’S rehearsal studio, to the full
on Band recordings at the George Lucas Skywalker Sound
Studio, which incidentally is were I recorded the “Black
Swans” Album. The entire process was essentially
a performance based record from the start including SAMMY’S
amazing vocal contributions.
Every night was just so exciting once we took the songs
out on tour, its such a crazy band, it’s always on the
edge and the way that we play is just pure insanity.
I was thrilled with the Live DVD recording “Get Your Buzz
On” we captured such a great night both as a Band as well
as the audience participation, which is a crucial element
with live recordings.
The danger of putting a Band
like CHICKENFOOT together was the comparisons to everyone’s
rich musical contributions. We managed to create
chemistry in our crazy approach which lead us to a fifth
element if you will.
When you listen to the songs you can’t
say it sounds like the CHILI PEPPERS, VAN HALEN or SATRIANI,
what we accomplish when we get to together is playing
music based on our shared musical roots, it comes out
like a Hyper Classic Rock Celebration.
As you mentioned I immediately
followed up the CHICKENFOOT
tour with the Experience
shows; playing with all those different people every night
and not playing my own music was absolutely fascinating
for me. Celebrating the genius of HENDRIX
was just a great way to step outside myself as a player.
When I finally got home I started
thinking about how I wanted to approach this solo project;
I really wanted to capture some of the raw energy that
had been driving me over the previous months after being
surrounded by such amazing talent while on the road.
The way I approach my instrumental
work is by putting together what would be considered Rock
Music, by that I mean material with solid structure along
with good choruses, versus & bridges.
The challenge MIKE & I faced was
how to get this amazing live vibe & and in your face
musical message I was still carrying from the road, without
compromising good songwriting, composing & arranging
skills so that it would come off as a tight Rock &
Our ace in the hole was the Band
we put together there was no drop off in musicianship
for me with Bassist JEFF ALLEN and my longtime drummer
MIKE CAMPITELLI. They are very different from each
other but like CHICKENFOOT when they come together they
create this other worldly thing that is extremely powerful.
made you choose “Light
Years Away” as the first
know I always try to step away from that part of the process;
I would be the worst person to make those kinds of decisions.
I generally listen to satellite radio or my head is always
filled with whatever project I’m working on at that moment.
Once the Album is finished and I’ve decided on the Artwork
and all that kind of stuff, it’s sent off to the Record
Company & the Radio Rep. I just kind of wait to see
what they have to say.
I must admit I was pretty surprised
when they wanted to lead off with “Light Years Away”,
personally I would have thought it would be two or three
of the other tracks.
With the state terrestrial radio is in today I don’t envy
anyone with that daunting task; especially considering
the fact that your 1992 single “Summer
Song” from the “Extremist”
Album was groundbreaking in the sense it crossed over
into mainstream Classic Rock Radio which was unprecedented
at the time, not to mention charting on Billboard &
garnering a Grammy nomination.
It’s what those guys do for a living there good at it,
most importantly they are aware of the trends that are
happening in radio right now.
I really have to give credit
to Gary Jay from Landshark he’s been my Radio guy for
awhile; we brought him aboard to pick a single for the
CHICKENFOOT Record to get the word out early on.
He selected “Soap on a Rope”
as a lead single we all thought he was crazy, he kept
saying it’s not the hit single that’s going to be “Oh
Yeah” but “Soap” is the song you want to kick off the
CHICKENFOOT campaign with.
Turns out he was right CHICKENFOOT
continues to sell Records, the Album went Gold and the
two singles continue to chart in the Top Ten on the Classic
Rock Radio charts.
Chant” from the
Album & “I
Just Wanna Rock” from
the Professor Satchafunkilus
and the Musterion of
Rock” there’s not a trace
of vocal tracking on the new Record was that a deliberate
maybe it was a subconscious thing after working on the
CHICKENFOOT project. Working with SAMMY who is a
larger then life vocalist is such an incredible experience.
When you stand next to him in the studio or on stage you
realize the difference between a real singer and someone
who can sing a little bit.
He’s a lead singer through &
through his magnetism automatically draws people in and
his voice is ten miles wide, it’s really freaky.
I’ve been in the studio recording him and it’s just unbelievable
how big his voice is, it’s on its own sonic level on how
much space it can take up. All he really needs is
a high hat in the background he’s truly remarkable.
- He really is a freak of nature celebrating his 62nd
birthday on 10/13; it’s not like he’s ever been known
to hold back on any given night after almost forty years
of belting out his songs.
right about that he sings at 100% every night, he takes
it right to the limit; after touring with CHICKENFOOT
I didn’t even want to think about singing, that’s his
department and he heads it up quite well.
With the songwriting
partnership you’ve developed with SAMMY
and the fact that you’re in the process of writing the
record; are there demos you thought might work best in
the band or do you have to distance yourself from the
band atmosphere when writing in the SATCH
constantly writing so we do go back & fourth when
it comes to new material. There are songs sometimes
that will be on a set of demos that could go either way.
There are times SAMMY
will notice that too, I’ll send him seven songs and he’ll
these are great songs but track six sounds like it could
better for you”,
so yeah songs do have a tendency of bouncing around for
a while before they reach there final destination.
was one of those songs that were written around the time
I was doing demos with
in the early stages. I didn’t make a decision as
to whether it was going to be a vocal song or not I just
kind of wrote in a general sense at least as a demo.
That’s really the beauty of working with
you just never know what he might respond to.
When I returned form recording
Swans & Wormhole Wizards”
I immediately jumped into the CHICKENFOOT
demos, I ended up writing ten songs immediately and sent
them off to SAMMY.
We had planned on getting together
later this month to work on them but as it turned out
CHAD has studio commitments with the CHILI
work on their new Album.
As it stands it looks like we
won’t be able to get together again until late January
but by then we should be ready to record the full Album.
Since were chatting about
sophomore release I have to ask, since the band has used
the self-titled card on the debut Album will you guys
give this second Record a title?
- (Laughter) Yeah,
Boy everyone in the Band has been talking about that,
I’d have to say that CHICKENFOOT 2 is a strong contender
at this point.
Back to the great new disc tell us about the lineup changes
in your band adding Bassist Allen Whitman
& Keyboardist Mike Keneally, tell us
what they bring to the Band?
- Those guys are just so
different, Keneally of course from ZAPPA & STEVE
not only plays keyboard he can play anything on guitar
I had toured with Mike over the
years with VAI so I knew he was a brilliant player and
more importantly a strong improvisational player, I knew
he would have an understanding of were to fit in with
the keys relative to the guitar.
Allen I’ve known as long as I’ve
known Jeff Campitelli from our early days in San Francisco,
he’s been playing in a Band called the Mermen’s the past
Jeff & I went to see him
play a few months before we hit the studio to record Black
Swans; we were just blown away how energetic he was on
stage he had this big beautiful Rock & Roll sound
and like Mike had that extra improvisational level that
not all players are fortunate enough to achieve.
I noticed from your always
fan friendly website that your offering a Deluxe Edition
to the new disc, which includes your autograph along with
two bonus tracks, “HeartBeat”
tell us where those particular songs fell in relation
to the grand scheme of Black
Swans & Wormhole
- They’re very emotive
pieces they weren’t as hard Rocking as the other eleven
tracks. I had originally thought I could amp them
up once I got them in the studio but it just did happen.
For me the performances were just so interesting on those
songs; I was really happy when they where selected as
the bonus tracks just because it was something I wanted
my fans to have the option to hear. In the end it
was the right choice to leave them off with the original
- I see in the press release that you got your acting
chops on this past summer in the upcoming BRAD PITT movie
Were you holding out for an A-List actor to work with
before you signed on for a movie?
- (Laughter) Hardly,
I just stood there and played Guitar with a hat and a
pair of shades on. Yeah it was pretty cool hanging
out with BRAD
at the Ballpark for the day.
(Laughter) I have to tell you
it was my second cameo appearance in a movie, I was also
in a movie called “For Your Consideration”; again let
me preface that with the fact I was once again only playing
myself in a band, I haven’t worked my way into a speaking
role I’m to petrified for that.
I know there will be some disappointed fans in my region
as the University of Buffalo Center for the Performing
Arts didn’t make the tour schedule this time out;
can those fans look forward to a concert
DVD from the Black
Swans & Wormhole
- I really do love playing
Buffalo but we can never get everywhere that we’d like
As for the DVD I’m always assuming as we move along on
the tour that we will decide to Record at some point so
we’ll be camera ready.
As always the Rock
Rapport would like to THANK
JOE SATRIANI for his valuable time along with Melissa
Dragich for hooking us up.
Be sure to check out SATCH’S fan friendly
for Tour Dates, News and to purchase
BLACK SWANS & WORMHOLE WIZARDS.
also follow CHICKENFOOT’S
progress on their second Album due out in 2011 at
********************PEACE & Harmonies********************