As I write this I’m sitting in Hawaii (Maui) under a coconut tree, overlooking the bluest ocean you could ever imagine in your most vibrant dreams. Pia is sitting next to me sipping some exotic drink with little umbrellas in it. We are at the Kea Lani Hotel. It’s really paradise. I’m actually here for some business meetings. By the way, Mike Tyson just walked by with 2 giant body guards. Seriously, he’s been training here for a month and staying at the hotel in a villa on the beach. His quadriceps are bigger then my waist.
I want to write about the G3 tour we just did last week in Mexico. It was absolutely special. We attempted to do this tour two times before, but due to 9/11 we had to cancel. Luckily the shows were rescheduled for May 15th in Mexico City and May 17th in Monterey, Mexico.
I always look forward to G3 tours. It usually means the best accommodations in the best venues with the best crew and the best musicians. It’s a sheer pleasure and I believe it’s a show that you would be hard pressed to witness anywhere else. The level of musicianship that graces the stage is tremendous and everyone on this tour delivered famously.
The first show in Mexico went down without a hitch. There were close to 10,000 enthusiastic music lovers. When I look at the way I delegate my time during a normal day I realize that I have a tendency to clutter my life with stuff that takes me away from the guitar, but when I jump out onto that stage I’m reminded of the sheer freedom and liberation one can have when creating art and performing for people who are not only interested in what your doing but are unbelievably supportive. We dismantled the place.
There was a curfew so we were only able to do 3 songs in the jam instead of the 4 we usually do. I occasionally get a chance to watch John’s show and am continually awed by his control of the instrument. Besides being one of the coolest guys I’ve ever toured with, he delivers a performance on the guitar that pushes the envelope of what’s possible to do on the instrument.
My band and I watched Joe’s show from backstage on a TV. It was so perfect. His concentration is solid and his playing seems flawless. His command on the instrument is stunning. He squeezes that neck to get every sound and note possible. Reeves Gabrels put it perfectly once when after a 2 and a half hour Satriani performance, he said it reminded him of a prize fighter in the 15th round and he’s made every punch his body could muster and still keeps slugging it out (I’m paraphrasing). We were all just looking at each other while Joe was playing, and laughing at how amazing it was. After the show I asked him how it went and he had the nerve to say “Ah, I played kind of sloppy tonight.” I told him to shut the fuck up before I get sick.
The next day the crew went onto Monterey and the bands stayed in Mexico. It was a day off but Joe and I had press all day. It started out in the hotel where the record company (Sony) and the promoter scheduled a ton of interviews and rented out the whole wing of the hotel. The idea was to put me in one room and Joe in an adjoining room and have the camera crews and journalists go from one to the other. Well, for the first interview I walk into this room and there is a big Steve Vai banner draped across the backdrop and a camera set up in front of the door. I can’t remember the name of the show (I never can) but is was the equivalent of CNN in Mexico. It’s supposed to be the most popular TV show they have. I sat down dressed in a long black coat, dark sun glasses and my lime green (GRAMMY) shirt underneath. I was trying to be real cool and suave by talking slow and being very descriptive and animated with my hands bla bla bla.
The first question was, “so, how does the audiences in Mexico differ from the rest of the world?” Now, I get asked this question in almost every interview and as usual I had to try to make it seem like, “Oh, what an interesting question.” I start to speak with this very philosophical look of interest on my face. I bring my huge hands up to display my deep inner thoughts in gesture form when all of a sudden there is this huge SPLLLAAATTTT!!! type explosion sound that emanated from the fire sprinkler that was situated over the camera and right above the extremely high heat giving light. What had happened was the light that they were using to light me was too close to the sprinkler head that was in the ceiling and it caused the sprinkler to go off by first exploding a powdery like fire extinguishing chemical throughout the whole room, and then violently spraying water as if the walls of Montezuma had opened and the flood gates had blown!
The second I heard the explosion I knew what happened. All hell broke loose. The TV crew was stunned and started to dash about in a frantic display of confusion and terror. The way they were all of a sudden running around, it looked like someone had kicked a beehive. I started laughing hysterically while clumsily trying to make my way off the chair and out of the range of the water flow. Dave Weiner and I were tremendously amused at all this. The crew tried desperately to save the camera from the water fall that was filling the room. It was impossible to get out the door without going through the spraying water and I figured that I had better make a dash for the side door that led to the adjourning room.
So there I was, laughing hysterically and trying to make my way through the water to the door. The door was already opened a crack and as I grabbed it and pulled, it slammed into my own face. After the stun of the impact from the door, the whole Keystone Cop activities made me laugh even harder. I go through the door soaking wet busting into Joe’s interview.
He and his interviewer just looked at me like “What are you doing coming out of the bathroom covered in water”? It wasn’t the bathroom and I tried to explain what was going on but felt it would be better to get to the outside and inform someone to turn the sprinkler system off.
Well, they eventually shut the water off but the room was destroyed. There was water billowing out from under the door that drenched the carpet throughout the hall. I just found a chair and relaxed in my giggling stupor while they set up another room.
I was told that they were most definitely going to air this aqua episode as this would probably make for a more entertaining show. I suggested that after they show me dashing from the room and opening the door on my own face, they should cut to Joe’s camera to catch the surprise on his face along with me tramping through the room.
That whole day was filled with press and later that day Joe and I had to go out to do a live TV show that was broadcast to all Latin countries including Mexico, Spain, Portugal, etc. As we exited the hotel the sky opened up and it began to torrentially rain. This was the second time I was getting rained on this day.
The show was very cool. It was sort of like an intimate setting, and was quite nice. Joe and I sat for one hour in front of a small audience of young guitar lovers and answered questions and demonstrated various things on the guitar.
It’s far too seldom that Joe and I get to sit together as two people and just play the guitar. When I was a kid we used to do this every week I would go over his house and we would sit in the backyard for sometimes 4-5 hours and just play only using our ears and our fingers. This is where I developed my musical ears because I had a real live tremendously able and inspired musician to communicate with. It was just pure expression, no ego or thoughts of anything else. These memories with Joe as a kid are truly my most fondest musical experiences. At that tender age of 14-16 that lesson every week was what I lived for. When I get together with Joe these days and do these kinds of things, it’s as if the world melts away and we’re two kids again sitting in his backyard or bedroom and allowing each other to share that valuable intimacy of our inner ears and musical thoughts.
We both looked at each other after and agreed that someday….. Oh well, you get it.
So, I’m far from done.
Now, I usually don’t go out while I’m on tour unless I’m dragged because I like to be alone and stay in the room and … ha, answer e-mails. Well, we had this wonderful promoter rep named Andrea and she told me that I had to go see this show that was taking place called De La Guarda (I have to check the spelling on this). It originated in Argentina and has ran in London, New York and Vegas. I said, thanks but I think I’m going to stay in, it’s been too wet all day. She sort of refused to take no for an answer, saying it was the most amazing theatrical display in the world. A bunch of the guys including Billy (Sheehan) Joe, Virgil, etc., were going to go. I had seen Stomp, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil and was told this is sort of a combination of all those things. I was suffering a bit from Montezuma’s Revenge as a result of eating the fruit in Mexico, but I had loved those other shows and decided to go.
You walk into and stand in this dark room that has about a 9 foot ceiling made of paper. The music is thumping percussion stuff. As you look up you see and hear things being dropped onto this paper like little balls, water, paint, balloons, etc. There are these mysterious shadows of people flying across the ceiling and as the music grows and the colors change the ceiling slowly rips open to reveal these crazy performers who are suspended by ropes as they poke their heads out of the paper and allow the water, balls, balloons and smoke to billow into the room. Once again, I was getting rained on from the inside. This was the third time in one day.
The music grew and the entire ceiling ripped open to reveal a much higher ceiling with these performers flying back and forth across the room and running on the walls while being suspended by wires. What they were wearing, along with their facial gestures, screams and body language, made for a colorful and quite erotic fanfare. At one point some of the performers would drop into the crowd and molest various members of the audience. The male actors would embrace and kiss female audience members at random and vice versa. One over zealous actress came up to me and just grabbed a handful of my man parts, turned to another woman in the audience and exclaimed something in Spanish that led me to believe she was impressed with the situation at hand. And hey, I got wood. Ah, I guess if your going to attend a contemporary dance theater show, you better be prepared.
One of the nightly traditions that is performed during this frenetic display of theatrical excess, is to select a member from the audience, hitch them to one of the flying members of the cast and take them up to swing over the crowd. All I could think was whoever goes up there better be prepared to stomach such a thing, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine the liability of the situation. I though to myself, Phewww, I’m glad it’s not m…..
Now I don’t know why these things always seem to happen to me but sure enough, before I knew what was happening, the woman who had previously been so bold as to secure a generous handful of my stuff decided I might be the perfect candidate to swing from the ceiling too. All I could think was, why don’t they just pick Joe! But hey, I’m down with it. What the heck, I may never get another chance for something as ridiculous as this to happen so they led me to the center of the room to this strapping young guy who they secured me to, face to face. I had to put my arms under his and lace my hands into these loops while they joined us at the hips with a carabeaner and strap and off we went. The fact that I had to hug this guy and lock legs for dear life didn’t bother me, but he was working pretty hard that day and as a result could have used some ode-da-doo-da-day anti-perspiration deodorant. We flew around the room and I was screaming and laughing and watching the entourage from above. It was actually a blast. When I got down Andrea told me how one time there was a famous… I think it was a soccer player or something, was up there swinging around and he experienced a bout of vertigo and projectile vomited all over the audience. Well, in my situation if the Montezuma’s Revenge was as bad as it could have been, the potential disaster would have been much worse than the predigested spewage off the soccer player.
After I touched back down the show really started to freak. Little satellite stages would be wheeled out with various percussion players beating away in these tribal like grooves to die for. As I watched all this I embraced the pounding beats and the sheer extravaganza of the show and in one quick and penetrating flash the entire concept and title for my next record came to me.
I started to weep. I could hear, see and feel in my psyche the whole record. I tried to hold onto the idea until it sunk deeply into my soul and burned it’s impression into my imagination glands. The biggest problem with an experience like this is that it’s so overwhelming. At one point you feel like you are on top of the world but you have nothing to show for this extraordinary epiphany except the look on your face and all the work of making it real in the world lies ahead of you. But I got it, it’s in here and starting June 1st it’s going to start to make it’s way out and It’s going to be my most important work yet.
It’s going to be called….
On second thought, I better not tell you yet.
Uh oh, here comes Mike Tyson again and he just sat down two lounge chairs away from me. Hmm, I would like to start a conversation with him but I’m afraid he might chew my ear off, daaa!