Sleaze Roxx recently conducted an interview with CHICKENFOOT guitarist Joe Satriani. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Sleaze Roxx: One thing I like about CHICKENFOOT is that the drums and bass don’t have to fight their way through the vocals or the guitar. You don’t overplay on the album, you play what the song needs then you kick in with the solo. Was this all done by design or is this how things turn out when you get together?
Joe Satriani: It’s a natural thing. The sound that we make as a unit is so impressive and so delicious sounding that I’d hate to play all over it. To me, playing all over a recording is a dated style. You heard that in the ’80s where a guitar player was all over the place while the singer is singing. We don’t write music like that. That era was great, but it came and it went — we’re in a different era. If you put on a guitar and you were playing with Michael Anthony and Chad Smith, you’d understand that you want to be part of it and not on top of it. When I was writing “Big Foot”, I wanted to write a riff where the three of us could sound like a wall of sound — where we’d be so tight that no one would be the superstar except for Sam‘s [Hagar] vocal when he came in. The same goes with Sam, he doesn’t want to over sing it, he wants to fit right in. Ultimately it makes for a larger sound when you have everyone joining forces rather than someone trying to be the superstar.
Sleaze Roxx: I have a friend who played me the opening section of the song “Big Foot” when you released it online. He said, “I bet you don’t know who this is?” I replied, “Sounds like CHICKENFOOT to me,” and he said to me, “How did you know?” It’s the trademark sound. You guys have this swinging power funk groove that’s rocking. There are two great examples of this on “III”, “Big Foot” and “Up Next”. Is this what happens sonically when you guys get together?
Joe Satriani: It’s definitely a chemistry thing. The majority of this album had the music written in demo form by myself about a year ago. I had about three weeks in finishing my last solo album, “Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards”, and the tour. I spent those three weeks in a very creative period. I wrote the majority of these songs having in mind exactly what you just said. I wanted to take advantage of the swing and forceful groove that I know Mike and Chad can play. I wanted to be able to join in with that. I wanted the riffs that I was writing to take full advantage of those musical elements. I wanted to leave plenty of room for Sam to come up with the kind of things that only he can come up with. When I started my solo tour, the guys had about 16 of my demos to think about for a period of about five months. When we went into the studio in February they had let a number of those germinate. When we played the song “Big Foot” for the first time, I went “Wow!” (laughs) It was like you said, and you said it very well, there’s a swing to it and yet there’s this heavy rock thing to it. It’s just so unique and that is exactly what I was counting on when I wrote those riffs.
Sleaze Roxx: One thing that should be noted is that Chad Smith played on the album, but due to his commitment to the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, won’t be playing live with you guys. Instead you have Kenny Aronoff doing live dates. How did you settle on Kenny for the sit-in drummer for Chad?
Joe Satriani: It was actually Chad‘s idea. We knew that this was going to happen a year ago, we just didn’t talk about it. We knew it was going to happen but we figured we’d do the record first then worry about that later. (laughs) A few months ago we played in friendly situations with other drummers, and Chad said, “You guys have to get together with Kenny; he’s the guy.” We’ve all known Kenny for years, we’ve just never played on records with him or done any touring with him. The first time we played with him was a few weeks ago when we shot the video for the song “Big Foot”. That was an amazing two days — he killed it. He’s very professional and he has an enormous amount of influences, like Chad, that he brings out. Kenny has such a great personality, too. You’d think that Chad and he were brothers or related in some way; they have that same over-the-top energy and enthusiasm. They can do that swing thing and play straight rock at the same time. It’s a very unique blend of styles and perfect for the FOOT.
Read the entire interview from Sleaze Roxx.