I’m proud to announce the new band: Steve Vai’s String Theories.
SV: guitar, vox and audience panderer. (not so new member)
Jeremy Colson: drum kit and all sorts of things that you hit. (not so new member either)
Dave Weiner: Rhythm guitar, sitar, acoustic guitar and smile. (The longest member besides Steve)
Bryan Beller: Bass and impossible ears.
Alex DePue: Electric and acoustic violin, keyboards, the new fast fingers.
Ann Marie Calhoun: Electric and acoustic violin, Viola, Banjo and keyboards, confidence personified.
Zack Wiesinger: Solo opening act guitar extravaganza and perhaps a few saxophone honks here and there with the band.
How did we find these brilliantly talented folks?
We recently held auditions for the new band in support of the new CD “Sound Theories”, and quite frankly I enjoyed the process a lot. Especially since I feel as though we found some tremendous players.
Coming across so many talented musicians made the choice of picking one for a position very difficult. But now my address book is filled with wonderful contenders.
So, how does one find these people?
The Universe will provide.
For the audition process for the new band we did not specifically reach out to anyone and request they come down. I felt that the best way to go was to just announce that we were looking for people and those interested would apply. We put the word out on our site and contacted some friends who could pass the word onto people they thought might be interested. There were no personal invites as I felt if someone heard about the gig and they wanted it they would apply. This way there was no pressure on their part.
We posted info on what songs to learn etc. and anyone interested needed to send materials or direct us to a web page that contained some performance music or footage of them. If we felt they fit the parameters we would then invite them to come down, hence the “special invitation” language on the posted audition page.
We received a good amount of inquiries from many talented people.
On the first day we had bass players, and guitarists/keyboardists come down, the second day was violinists, on both evenings we had open auditions. The third day was callbacks.
The new record “Sound Theories” is an orchestral record with a rock band that was part of the ensemble of the Metropole orchestra that performed the music. Read about the new record here.
Although it’s impossible to perform much of this music live, I wanted to figure out a way of introducing some compositions from “Sound Theories“ into a set list that also consist of some older favorites and some tracks from the catalog that have not been performed live yet.
At first I was planning on a complete overhaul but after careful consideration I decided to invite Jeremy Colson (drums) back into the band as I felt his abilities would meld with the new material. Plus, I have played with what the world considers to be the finest drummers on Earth and I would have to say that Jeremy Colson has the most solid time of any drummer I have ever worked with. In the past 4 years he has never dropped one beat. He understands rock music but at the same time is comfortable grooving out in a brisk 13/16. He is a supreme team player. I considered other players but he is my number one choice in the world for this band. I’m lucky to have him.
I needed a keyboard player that doubles on guitar and during auditions I tried out several but could not find the heaviness of a 7 string that some stuff needed and the delicacy of an acoustic player who could also play wicked keyboards, but fortunately both of the new violin players double on keyboards so all I needed was a good solid rhythm guitarist. I decided to invite Dave Weiner back into the band, as he is a chameleon of the strings. I feel fortunate that he took the invite.
I have had the pleasure of working with bass player Bryan Beller on several occasions in the past. He is the bass player that played with the Metropole orchestra on the new “Sound Theories” record.
We have been friends for years and when he came in and played with us he fit perfectly with the new concept. At what he does Bryan is truly a Giant. His inner musical ear is so receptive that it’s scary.
So many wonderfully talented violin players came down and the choice was very difficult. But Alex’s sound was so sweet and at the same time so ballsy, (that’s a technical term). He has ferocious chops and his intonations blends seamlessly with my guitar. Another lucky find for me.
I felt relatively set with the band but was also feeling that it was not distinctively different enough. Then I received a video from Anne Marie after auditions had stopped. This girl played with so much confidence and like Alex her intonation was virtually flawless. My mind started to arrange the songs in my head with two powerfully proficient violin players and I soon felt that having both of these talents would lend itself to some virtuostically menacing situations.
How lucky am I?
Don’t let the preconceived sound and expected music of an acoustic violin fool you. When brutally processed this stringed wonder can rival the weight of any guitar. We plan on using this instrument to it’s dimensional potential.
A word about Zack
Zack Weisinger is a 20-year-old prodigy. I met him at a Grammy camp 4 years ago when he was 16 and he started to send me some of his music and art. Whatever “it” is, he has it. He just does his thing without any concern as to why he shouldn’t or can’t. He is oblivious to compromise and that’s a sign of greatness. Most importantly he does what he does because he enjoys it and it gives him a kick.
At the time that I am writing this Zack is going to the national finals of the Guitar Center competition, and rightfully so. For a good part of what he does his inner ear is steeped in the blues but he is capable of adding his own quirky sense of brilliance without any excuses.
We were planning on making this tour an “Evening with” which denotes that there would be no opening act but I wanted to bring Zack on tour to open the show by standing in front of you with nothing but a guitar for 20 minutes or so and just entertain you with his unique blend of…. Hmmm, what is he a unique blend of??? He’s just Zack. You’ll have to see him and decide for yourself.
He may also be joining us on stage to add yet more threatening frequencies to the mix. I have not figured it out yet.
There you have it…
When I think about how the songs are going to sound with this ensemble I get so energized I could explode. I almost can’t contain myself. I’m actually bouncing off the walls right now. Yup, there I go.
I love being excited about the band because if you’re reading this you are probably one of those folks who are interested in this stuff and are planning to come to one of the shows. When I believe you are going to enjoy something, I can’t help but get all wound up.
I can tell you that you are in for a real treat. I’m uncomfortable being so optimistic but I just can’t help it. Am I gushing too much? Too bad, this is for your own good!
You won’t want to miss this show.
Did I tell you I’m excited?
See ya at the Evo experience and beyond…