Sunday, March 29, 2020

STEVE VAI Looks Back On Working With DAVID LEE ROTH And WHITESNAKE - "I Wouldn't Trade Those Experiences For Anything"

Guitar legend Steve Vai recently spoke with Guitar World, opening up about his formative years becoming the artist he is today, the bands he has worked with, and avoiding the stereotypical "rock star" pitfalls along the way.Following is an excerpt from the interview.

Guitar World: You went to work with Frank Zappa at such a young age. It was a great opportunity, but were you intimidated to be around him?
Vai: "Oh, my God, yes! On one level it was petrifying. I was 18, and this was Frank Zappa. I was enamored of him. I would watch him and think, 'OK, Frank is reaching for his coffee. What’s he gonna tell me? What the fuck am I doing here?' All those things went through my head. (Laughs) But it’s funny, because at the same time, on a performance level, I was completely different.
I knew I could contribute to his music, and I was fiercely confident. I was like, 'Go ahead. Give me anything you want. I’m going to play it, and I’m going to blow you away. I am not one bit intimidated, because I know the secrets.' And my secret was just my practice ethic. Give me anything and I will break it down. I’ll learn it perfectly until I can play it with confidence to the point where you’re impressed. And I did that. I did things that to this day I can’t believe - things like 'The Jazz Discharge Party Hats' and 'Sinister Footwear'. I loved playing those things perfectly and as beautifully as I could. On that level, I wasn’t intimidated at all."
Guitar World: Soon after leaving Frank’s world, you joined Alcatrazz. Did that feel like a starter band into the big leagues, or were you thinking at the time that it might be a lifetime commitment?
Vai: "No, when I joined Alcatrazz, I knew it wasn’t how I would spend my life. But I saw it as a good opportunity to step into the limelight of an incredible virtuoso, Yngwie Malmsteen, and make a rock record with some really cool guys. I never looked at any of the bands I joined as lifetime commitments; that just didn’t seem realistic. And this was much to the chagrin or disappointment of my high school band even, because we had a great little thing going, and then I suddenly moved to Boston to attend Berklee. 'Why are you doing this to us and our band that has all these hopes and dreams of fame and fortune?' I loved that band. I’ve said this before: It was my favorite band that I was ever in. Because when you’re in a high school rock band, there’s nothing cooler than that."
Guitar World: So you obviously didn’t see playing with David Lee Roth and Whitesnake as lifetime commitments either.
Vai: "No, absolutely not. I loved those guys, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. But as I was going through it all, I saw how easy it was to get wrapped up in creating an identity for yourself from it: 'I’m a rock star. I’m playing arenas, winning all the polls and making so much money. It’s who I am, and I’m going to hold on to this forever.' That always seemed like insane thinking to me. Did I enjoy it? Sure, but I also knew it wasn’t what I was going to do all my life, because the music I had in me had to come out; otherwise, my career would be an epic fail."

           Whitesnake - Fool for Your Loving 


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