During the final performance of his two-year Unstoppable Momentum tour, Joe Satriani had an epiphany.
He found himself ‘playing the guitar with my teeth an awful lot.
‘I thought “why are you doing this?” It’s as if something else, or somebody else, was driving me to do it.’
Satriani seized upon this moment of self-realisation as the springboard and creative centre for his alter ego, Shockwave Supernova, the outlandish and extroverted ‘performance side’ of the normally shy and reserved guitar virtuoso.
With this new persona as ‘partner’, Satriani launched his ambitious 15th solo album, Shockwave Supernova.
‘This time around I was thinking about the concept of a tragic, alter ego scenario of a performer who is out on tour for years and who starts to believe in their stage persona more than their real personality and then they have a crisis, where in their mind that alter ego wants to take over.’
Time has flown by and I don’t for a second take this career for granted, it was gifted to me by the fansJoe Satriani
Joe has always believed in giving himself parameters to work within, to stretch himself creatively – all the way back to his very first solo EP, when he used just his guitar to create all the sounds on it.
And as the new album came together, he says: ‘I would write material to reflect the two personalities and them arguing this case to each other about who should be the dominant one.
‘I thought, this will work for me, it’s just another parameter the audience doesn’t necessarily need to know about to enjoy the songs out of sequence.’
The resulting 15-track album has seen Satch receive some of the best reviews of his career. But as he carefully notes: ‘I always keep in mind something Andy Warhol said – while others are busy trying to decide if it’s good or not, get busy making more stuff, and don’t concern yourself with how it’s being received. I took that to heart. It’s my job to create it, not to critique it.’
Next year marks 30 years since his debut album, Not Of This Earth, and an anniversary tour is already lined up. He’s also hoping to see Crystal Planet, an animated sci-fi show he co-created featuring ‘love, sex and danger and death and everything going on at once’, hit TV.
Looking back though, he says: ‘It’s pretty amazing – time has flown by and I don’t for a second take this career for granted, it was gifted to me by the fans.’
Joe is at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday, supported by Dan Patlansky. Doors 7pm. Tickets from £37.95. Go to portsmouthguildhall.org.uk