Guitarist Steve Vai is the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show to talk about reuniting with a long-lost ‘Swiss cheese’ guitar that was stolen over 30 years ago, and is about to become famous. If not, his dream job would be a high school music teacher.
this is all go/gouachehis latest record – another Vai commodity, mostly lost to time – in 1991, to satisfy his desire to personally soundtrack the Joyride of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. First recorded.
In the interview below, Vai recalls how he recovered that iconic guitar he found in his grandparents’ attic in Tijuana, Mexico. He also talks about the musical influence of the late Jeff Beck and offers his thoughts on teaching guitar, not only did he enjoy that aspect of guitar from a young age, but he was completely content with his life as a high school student. A music teacher inspired by his own high school teacher.
Read the full discussion below.
Let’s talk about the recently recovered “Swiss cheese” guitar that was stolen over 30 years ago. What is the familiarity you immediately recognize when reconnecting with a long-lost instrument?
It’s like Christmas morning. It was stolen 36 and a half years ago from a rehearsal when I was with David Lee Roth at Perkins Palace. It was one of four stolen guitars. That was a long time ago and after a while you let it go.
But in this strange twist of fate, this young child found it in his grandparents’ attic in Tijuana, Mexico. He found it and started some research and discovered it was one of my long lost stolen guitars As soon as I saw it, I contacted him and he drove over from Tijuana and gave me a guitar.
One of the fairy tales.
Jeff Beck’s passing has saddened both musicians and music fans. Without the influence of his playing, how could you become another guitarist?
When I was younger, Jeff Beck was like the Chosen One, so it’s impossible to quantify.
Congrats on his touch on the instrument, sensibility, musicality, innovative qualities and being one of the only guitarists I know who continues to improve throughout his career and is a mere mortal guitarist. I was. his brilliance.
the first time i heard [the news of his passing], I, like everyone else, was just stunned and saddened. After a few days, he was on my mind all the time, and I began to appreciate the fact that he was there, that he had contributed so much, and that he lived to be 78 years old.
It’s an incredible run. I am very grateful to that man. I don’t know what his performance would be like without him.
Novice musicians tend to be attracted to the glitz and eventually learn the nuances as they mature. How do the opposing sides of guitar playing actually share information with each other?
It’s all based on an individual’s interest level. As a young guitarist, some are more interested in analyzing instrumental science, music theory, sound, and more. Others want to be performers. They want to be on stage that moves in a certain way with an overwhelming presence.
I always wanted it all.
Joe Satriani famously taught Kirk Hammett and Alex Skolnick. Did he ever get attracted to teaching guitar?
Absolutely. I loved that process. As soon as I started learning how to play, I started taking guitar lessons. That was how we survived certain periods in the early days.
When I was in high school, I knew that I loved music and that I liked playing the guitar. In my fantasies, I dreamed of performing on stage. [doing] pretty much everything i do today. But when I was 16 or she was 17 and I was trying to plan my career… I really didn’t know what the future would hold.
What attracted me was the idea of becoming a high school music teacher. My high school music teacher had a huge impact on my musical life. I thought that was a good thing, and I was willing to do it, but I think the universe had other plans.
Not only did you write the liner notes for Frank Zappa’s new archival live album, you inducted Twisted Sister into the Metal Hall of Fame. What is important to you, the listener and player, about the commonalities of very different types of music?
We are influenced in many ways in our lives. When I was a teenager on Long Island, the Twisted Sisters were a powerful representative of rock and roll with utter devotion. They sounded just right, so we went to see them. They were so confident. When you see a band you know, what we react to when you see a performer and feel the music is the performer’s confidence.
They made no excuses, so I went to see them every chance I got—they were rock and roll…the end, that’s it. They were totally committed and that inspired me. Of course, I go in different directions with different types of music, but I couldn’t deny that band inspired me. That’s the mental vibe and that’s what I want. Not necessarily because of what they were doing, but because of what was important to me.
You are always working on 200 things at once. Beyond this record, can you talk about what we can expect in 2023?
In order to continue the tour, we are currently preparing many tours. invade Because I had a solo record that came out a year ago. I’ve toured my butt about it. We had a great run in Europe and a really great run in America. In March we will return to Europe and Eastern Europe for a few months. Then I came back and did another American leg for about two and a half months, then he did South America and Mexico in August and then Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Asia…all of them. Great place.
We plan to wrap up with Africa and India, and by then I think it will be next Christmas.
Thanks to Steve Vai for the interview. Grab a copy of his latest record “Vai/Gash” here and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, twitter and Spotify. Find out where to listen to Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.
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