Steve Vai recently spoke with your friendly neighborhood Nightcrawler. Here are the results.
Crawler: Hi, Steve. I’m a big fan and excited to see you coming back to our neck of the woods. I actually spoke to you not too long ago, too, when you were teaching a master class here that you called Alien Guitar Secrets.
Steve Vai: Right, right. That was the Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires. My son went there and they had asked me about doing something. I have actually done Alien Guitar Master Classes before, but nothing to that extent. It was well received and just a beautiful fit.
This time around, you arrive on the heels of the Story of Light release, which seems to be a companion piece to 2005’s Real Illusions: Reflections, if I am not mistaken.
Well, you are not mistaken that there is a connection. But basically, I have an overall story concept that I plan to tell over three CDs, The Story of Light being the second. But all of the songs offer glimpses into the concept, but not in the right order. Eventually, I would like the fourth release to be a CD box set that puts them all together in proper order, along with a narrative in the liner notes that will really put it all together.
Like a Tarantino movie!
(Laughs.) I would be ecstatic if it comes out half as good as a Tarantino movie, but yes—like that.
You also have Beverly McClellan singing a tune on the disc and opening up for your entire tour. Can you tell me how this affiliation came about?
I saw her on The Voice, and I was just blown away, to be quite honest with you. I had a tune that needed vocals, so I asked if she might want to try something a little more different and intense for my album, and that led to the tour slot.
The song you refer to is called “John The Revelator,” and there is another, “Book of Seven Seals,” which also has an obvious religious derivation. I always knew you were a spiritual guy, but I have never seen it in your work to this extent. Is there anything in particular to which you would attribute this?
That’s a good question. I mean, when most artists move into their creative element, they write about the things that interest them. So you get love, hate, war, politics and the like. I have studied a lot of belief systems and have a deep respect for all religions. I have also found that many, if not all, have very similar origins. They basically start with a prophet who was later deified by man through a series of manmade rituals and ceremonies. So I guess it’s this ongoing exploration and fascination with all of this that leads to songs like those.
Forgive me, but I have to chuckle as I realize I am asking the devil’s henchman about his religious beliefs. In 1986’s Crossroads movie, you represented the Prince of Darkness in a guitar duel contest for Ralph Macchio’s soul.
(Laughs.) Hey, it was a gig.
And nothing you should be ashamed of! I have friends who still quote lines from it as though it’s Star Wars or E.T., even though it didn’t do a tenth of the box office of those films.
I can say I never cease to be amazed by it. You can make dozens of records and sell millions of them, but to this day, I can still walk down the street and get, “You’re the guy from that movie!”
You are such a theatrical performer, too, I’m surprised you’ve staved off the bite of the acting bug.
Well, you know, I always enjoy watching good acting … and the truth is, a lot of roles started pouring in after Crossroads. But I guess I was typecast, because all the offers had me playing these really dark characters. I figured I’d leave the acting for the pros and go back to this guitar thing that I know and love.
Tickets for the Steve Vai show at the Calvin range from $25 to $45 and are available at iheg.com. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Send correspondence to Nightcrawler, P.O. Box 427, Somers, CT 06071; fax to (860) 394-4262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.