World-renowned guitar virtuoso, Joe Satriani is getting ready to release his incredible 16th solo album, What Happens Next on January 12th via Sony/Legacy Recordings.

Joe Satriani will revive his G3 Tour entity in 2018 beginning March 16th in Moscow and winding up on April 30th in Birmingham playing shows in many European countries, including the UK. France, Italy, Spain, Poland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland and more. Satriani has invited Dream Theater’s John Petrucci and the former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth to join. 

National Rock Review recently caught up with Joe Satriani to talk about his new album What Happens Next, working with Chad Smith and Glenn Hughes and the current state of play with Chickenfoot.

NRR: You’ve got a brand new album coming out which is going to be released on the 12th January, the album is called What Happens Next. Unlike some of your other albums in the past and in particular your last album Shockwave Supernova there seems like there isn’t so much of a concept with this album. I just wondered what was your starting point when you began to put What Happens Next together?
Joe: I was really thinking about dropping a lot of the arrangement ideas that I was sort of working on that went all the way back to Strange Beautiful Music, which was introducing a lot of progressive rock elements and also using the studio quite extensively to create real studio sounding records. It was something we really wanted to do because prior to that we had done the G3 Live recordings and I had done the eponymous release in ’95 and then Crystal Planet, which were very sort of live musicians in the studio kind of things, so it was a swing.
We played around a lot with not worrying about representing what a band sounded like in a room so much and I think Shockwave Supernova really was sort of the pinnacle of that where John Cuniberti and I decided that every song could sound completely different. We could do “San Francisco Blue” and we could do “Stars Race Across The Sky” and we could do the title track and they didn’t have to sound like anything. The band was given carte blanche to play like different musicians if they wanted to. It was all, especially with the last record, to serve the narrative of you know me and my alter ego having a conversation, a confrontation about who should be the dominant personality. It was just a fun little narrative to use to allow a big sprawling studio sounding album to really come together.
This time around, starting with the last year of the Surfing to Shockwave tour, I kept thinking I want to return to a simpler trio sound, a more powerful/a more emotional sound, I want the record to have the sound of the three guys in a room, I want that energy captured and I want to sort of reconnect to some of the more essential parts of my playing. It started with just that pure artistic desire and then it just sort of snowballed into What Happens Next.
NRR: The title of the album itself to me is quite a thought-provoking question. I was just wondering what were you actually reflecting upon at that point in time. What Happens Next – it could be at a personal level, but also there is so much crazy stuff going on in the world right now it could sort of delve into that arena. What were you actually thinking about when you came up with the title of the album?
Joe: Yeah well you are right, the title did start out as a question because not only was I bewildered like most people in the world with this deluge of tragedy and ridiculousness coming from all sides of life and you do throw your hands up now and then and you just wondered yeah, whats gonna happen next, was today as worse as it can get. But we are out there on tour and because the way that the music industry works you really do plan a year or so in advance, shows are getting booked two years in advance.
Right, when you are just getting comfortable with one tour your manager says so what’s happening next? Where are you going to go next? What songs are you writing? What’s your direction? Everybody wants to know that, even if I’m just talking with the engineers at Ibanez they want to know what I want to do two years from now because everything takes so long to really dream up, manufacture and test. With music, you’ve got to reach out, and if you have some unusual requests in terms of people or location you have to sort of nail them down, send them invitations and everyone’s got to write it down in ink way in advance.
I was asking myself that question, riding around on tour buses in Europe in between the shows I’d be saying I know I’m doing this, I’m celebrating 30 years of Surfing with the Alien and the Shockwave tour at the same time. However, right now at one in the afternoon as I’m driving through the Alps, I’m asking myself what am I going to do next. There’s a duality going on, it’s not a schizophrenic kind of a thing, but you do have to disconnect from the show mentality and project yourself into the future and ask yourself what do you want to do next. Then when you hit the show, you have to forget about that sort of future thought, that sort of artistic projection and you have to be there and in the moment and celebrate the catalogue with the fans.
So in a way, it became a kind of a joke to me because so many people as the tour started getting closer and closer to the end people would just keep asking me what was happening next.
So when I got back from Asia in I guess it was March, we had to turn around within a few weeks and record because although I was lucky that both Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith signed on for the project, we actually were going to meet I think in April or something at Sam Studio. So I had a few months to sort of gather my compositions together and get everything organised.
All of a sudden I found out that Chad couldn’t do it unless we could do it right away and we had to relocate to L.A. So within a few days, everything got changed and I had just about two weeks to sort of recover and get my shit together (laughing) and head off down to L.A. But it turned out to be really great because being in L.A. and the intensity of just coming off the tour added to the excitement. Glenn had just the day before finished working on Black Country Communion and Chad had just done a show the night before I think in Seattle or Vancouver with the Chili Peppers, so everyone was walking out of one gig and into another and there was a lot of great energy at Sunset Sound.
By then, of course, I knew that the question mark had been removed from that phrase what happens next, I realised that I was in the middle of what was going to happen next. So I thought to myself, that should be the title, this is what happens next. But it is provocative as you said, just by leaving it there, a question without a question mark.
NRR: You just mentioned Chad Smith there and I know you’ve worked with Chad in the past with Chickenfoot. I just wondered what’s the current state of play with Chickenfoot, is there any plans to regroup in the future?
Joe: Well, we are hoping to be able to something in 2018. I’m not really sure when or how but I do know that Sam’s really into it and I think it will be a good time for Chad. I can make some room with my touring schedule.
The way that it usually works with Chickenfoot is that I start the writing, I send out some songs and then we pick two or three days where we are going to meet. Then everybody pours over the songs and puts in their two cents and we kind of rewrite/rearrange it right there on the spot. Then we record it right there on the spot, that’s kind of like the way we’ve always worked. It’s not like we need two months in a secure location or something like that, we kind of just hit the ground running and record as we go like that.
I’m pretty confident that we are going to be able to record something, but that’s kind of like where it’s at. I know Chad was wondering if we could do something in the next couple of weeks, but this press schedule has got me doing interviews everytime I’m not actually playing, so it might be difficult for me to do that, we will see if I can manage. We will be rehearsing at Sammy’s studio for my live band and then when we finish I’m supposed to go to L.A. but that very same day Chad is coming into the Bay Area so we’ve got a bit of a ships passing in the night kind of thing.

What Happens Next, is set for release on January 12th via Sony/Legacy Recordings.

“What Happens Next” Track Listing:

1 – Energy                                                                           7 – Headrush

2 – Catbot                                                                           8 – Looper

3 – Thunder High On The Mountain                          9 – What Happens Next

4 – Cherry Blossoms                                                        10 – Super Funky Badass

5 – Righteous                                                                     11 – Invisible

6 – Smooth Soul                                                                12 – Forever And Ever



Tuesday April 24              Southend Cliffs Pavilion 

Wednesday April 25       London Eventim Apollo

Thursday April 26             Bristol Colston Hall

Friday April 27                   Manchester Apollo

Sunday April 29                Portsmouth Guildhall

Monday April 30              Birmingham Symphony Hall

Joe Satriani
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About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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