Q&A for Scene Magazine, Brisbane
What was the defining moment that made you want to learn guitar?
S- I was 5 years old and this kid that was perhaps 8 came to school with an electric guitar and was strumming and playing it. I was stunned, had an epiphany and immediately fell madly in love with the instrument. But I was shy and never thought I would be any good and was perhaps afraid of being criticized or didn’t think I was good enough to even play. But then one day when I was around 12 years old I heard Led Zeppelin II, and that was it.
You were also given guitar lessons at the age of 12 by Joe Satriani. What’s the most significant piece of information you learned from him?
S- I was given many guitar lessons by Joe on and off for 3 years. There was a tremendous amount of info and technique I learned from Joe. Joe was always great, even when he was 15. But perhaps the thing about Joe that left the biggest impression on me was that everything Joe played, even if it was just a scale or finger exorcise, sounded like music. It was like every note was sacred.
What’s your favourite mode or scale to play in regards to getting the most colours out of your music?
S- I’m very attracted to the Lydian Mode. It’s sort of like being on top of a very high mountain with the deepest bluest sky in your eyes and the intoxicating elixir of pure air dipped in the fragrance of vibrant aliveness.
Or is that just the aftershave I was wearing???
Are there things you’re still learning as a musician?
S- I don’t think we ever stop learning whether it looks that way or not. How could we? We are never the same people from one moment to the next.
I’m constantly inspired to write and play music. It’s quite a life blessing.
You’ve also shared the stage and recorded with the likes of Frank Zappa to David Lee Roth. Who’s your favourite artist you’ve collaborated with?
S- There are things that I’ve learned and enjoyed from every artist I ever worked with but my favorite collaboration was when I was 8 years old and in a band with my younger sister Lillian.
It was just her and myself and I played the bongos and she actually played a little guitar with one string on it but we banged on anything that made noise and deeply loved every minute of it. We would write songs one right after the other and just play and sing. It was total freedom without any worries or cares. We didn’t have to think about what was going to come out of us, it just came out and we shared that creative energy with each other unquestionably and unconditionally. We never fought, and were not concerned if our songs were good enough, how we were going to get them recorded, how we were going to get a record deal, if they would make enough money for us to live on, if our music was going to be accepted and if people were going to like us or not, etc.
Yup, that was my favorite band.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever witnessed while on tour?
S- On the first night after the first show of my first big rock tour I did, I opened the door to my hotel room and looked out into the hall.
It looked as though a full on porno circus was taking place. Total bedlam. Walking down the hall naked on her hands was a girl I saw in the 3rd row that night at the show. Walking naked along side of her was one of the notorious roadies from the crew. There was an enema hose inserted into the girls butt and at the other end of the hose was a funnel that the roadie held in one hand. With his other hand he was pouring a bottle of wine into the funnel and then raising the funnel above the girls waistline.
I quietly closed the door and continued reading a book I was in the middle of at the time called “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
Do you ever make embarrassing slip-ups onstage?
Tell me about the concept behind your latest record, ‘The Story Of Light’.
S- This is the Story of Light
In all things are all things,
and all things are only one thing.
And this one thing is complete within itself and outside of itself is just more of itself.
Devoid of time and space, it was still and content and in it, the DNA of the entire creation lay dormant, and it moved with a thought
and that thought was desire.
The desire to unfold itself and intensify itself
by expressing its own infinite greatness.
And it breathed out into the void of nothingness
And the realms of the mind were created.
In these realms the three worlds were born,
the causal, the astral and the physical.
The tool that the infinite uses to express itself in the finite
is the law of cause and effect.
This law reacts with desire and all things come into being.
And all creatures of these realms
contain this self and are itself.
And all are one with this desire
to expand their own awareness through this law
until finally, its own refined awareness returns to itself
in its greater glory.
And this glory is the one, itself .
And that self is pure love, and this love is divine light.
How do you manage to get a story across when your albums are largely instrumental?
S- I use the liner notes in the album.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to other budding virtuosos, what would you say?
S- If you’re interested in being a virtuoso it’s easy, just practice all the time and don’t think of anything else, but enjoy the process because going through it is all the fun.