Steve Vai in Guitar Player Magazine

A couple of weeks ago in Borders I found the latest issue of Guitar Player Magazine, which had a great interview with Steve Vai. One quote completely stuck out to me and I’ve been mulling it over in my head since. However, I couldn’t remember what it was specifically in order to put it up here.

Well, I went out and bought the magazine last night so that I had the quote and then found this morning that the whole interview is already online.

The article is essentially Steve being interviewed about how he does what he does. How he became original.

The first quote that was interesting to me was this. Steve was asked “How do you create effective music”, to which he responds:

It’s just the muse. It’s that elusive, creative juice we all have. I would venture to say that if you asked Jimi Hendrix or Beethoven or Trent Reznor why they did what they did, the answers would be, “I don’t know.” I don’t think they did know. They had no choice. They were who they were. Danny Gatton had no choice—you know what I mean? He couldn’t help but be who he was.

I really liked the concept that these great musicians (Steve included) “did what they did because they had no choice”.

The next one is the one that actually stuck in my head. I think it’s pretty self explanatory. Steve is asked a question regarding musicians who can’t visualize their music too much past whatever their favorite artists are playing:

Steve replies:

I watched this documentary on how the brain works, and it stated that when Christopher Columbus approached the new world, the natives couldn’t see his ships. They were right there in front of them, but they couldn’t see them, because their brains couldn’t register what they couldn’t comprehend. Finally, a shaman came along who noticed the water was moving differently, and he stared out into the harbor until the ships became visible to him. I think some very rare guitarists are like that shaman, and we need them. For example, there was a time before Hendrix and Stevie Ray and Satriani when people couldn’t even conceive of the things they ultimately did. But once these pioneers came along and made their voices known, the new musical vocabulary they developed became assimilated into popular culture. We need visionaries and leaders to constantly show us what is possible.

The last few interviews I’ve read with Steve, (and even at the EVO Premium Meet and Greet) he has been talking at much more of a philosphical level than I remember him doing in the past. For some reason I really like this “meta level” talk about what he does much more than the scales and legato run talk that you normally get in the guitar magazines.

Take some time to read the article.

There are also interviews with both Steve and Billy Sheehan in the June 2005 issue of Guitar & Bass magazine.