Rick Florino of ARTISTdirect recently conducted an interview with CHICKENFOOT guitarist Joe Satriani. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
ARTISTdirect: Do you feel like CHICKENFOOT is more of a proper band on “III”? Did everything click more seamlessly than it did the first time around?
Satriani: Definitely! When I think back to that first album we did, we barely knew each other. We would get together for two or three days, record some songs, and say goodbye. We wouldn’t see each other for a few months. Then, we’d repeat the process. It took a year of that to compile a record. This time around, it was a little bit more normal. We had a history with each other now. We’d done a few tours. We’d learned about each other a little more. Certainly as I was writing demos for the record, I thought, “Now, I’ve got experience playing with Mike [Anthony, bass] and Chad [Smith, drums]. I know the kind of rhythm section they are. I’m going to write music that really brings out more power and finesse knowing what they can do.” I spent so many more hours with Sam [Hagar, vocals] writing, and I realized there are great things he does that no one has heard before. I wanted to write songs that brought that side of him out too. It feels like we knew each other more, and we were able to bring better performances out of each other.
ARTISTdirect: Your riffs and leads really entwine with Sammy‘s vocals. Do you feel like you two have a special interplay?
Satriani: It was something that I was specifically trying to achieve on the record. I’m happy that you noticed it. I don’t like when I hear other kinds of music and there seems to be a disconnect between the vocals and what the band is playing — even if the songs are ultimately good. It gives you the impression that someone simply wrote a track and didn’t think of what the song is about and somebody came in later and sang whatever they wanted to sing without thinking of the instrumentation. A lot of pop music is like that because of the nature of how it gets put together, who writes it, and who sings it. CHICKENFOOT is a band. We write and record all together. All of the recordings are done without click tracks or sequences. We’re basically making live recordings and overdubbing on top of that. CHICKENFOOT is an organic thing, and it’s so important we make that a hallmark of the recordings. That chemistry is always a part of what people hear. As I was writing for this second record, I wanted to take advantage of that as much as I could and write things that make me meld into the drums and bass and be part of a bigger unit rather than just play big guitar riffs and tell the guys to play a straight rhythm behind me. I never wanted to do that! I thought Sam and I should get together on our parts so sometimes we’re singing and playing the same thing. It’s all in the effort to make a big unified sound. I think Jimmy Page in LED ZEPPELIN was really good at that. Jimi Hendrix was as well. He brought his vocal lines, melody, and rhythm playing together on those early recordings. That added a very unique quality to that music. They didn’t know they were creating classic rock, but that’s what they were doing [Laughs]. It’s something which comes natural to everybody in the band.
Read the entire interview from ARTISTdirect.