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more... ArtistsBassistsGuitaristsDecember 2011ChickenfootJoe SatrianiMichael Anthony

Chickenfoot: For the Birds

Chickenfoot: For the Birds

Did the reharmonized version throw him off?
Satriani: No, it fit because I think when we did the last tracking together everyone was just worried about their parts, they really weren’t thinking about what Sammy was singing, they figured he’d change his vocals. But I know Sammy and when Sammy gets on a trajectory he’s not going to change his vocals. He’s going to look at me and say, “Joe, change those chords.”

“Come Closer” showcases a moodier side of the band.
Anthony: That’s a song where Sammy already had the vocals and lyrics first.
Satriani: One morning I just went over to my piano and put the cup of coffee on one end and the iPhone on the other side and I very quietly sang a moody… it was sort of like, if you can imagine, Radiohead doing an R&B song. It was kind of drifty, especially in my croaky voice. I quickly emailed it to Sammy to see if this was something he could get into because this was me putting him in a lower register.

Was that one originally written on the piano in A♭ minor (as it sounds) or A minor but then played tuned down?
Satriani: It was written in A minor. I’m not too good with A♭ minor [laughs]. I play just enough piano to get a song across.

Anthony digs into his signature Yamaha bass at Detroit’s Fillmore in 2009. Photo by Gene Schilling

Michael Anthony’s Gearbox

Yamaha BB300MA Michael Anthony signature bass

Ampeg B-50R

MXR Micro Chorus (live only), MXR Blue Box (live)

Strings, Picks, and Accessories
Dunlop picks, Jim Dunlop strings (.045, .065, .087, .107), Monster Cable (studio), Shure wireless (live)

Joe, in your “Come Closer” solo, you play this long arpeggiated sequence then in the last two measures you break away from it so it doesn’t sound predictable.
Satriani: Right, I had to let loose. To tell you the truth, when we were rehearsing, it had a loaded bluesy solo in the beginning, and I just started thinking that it sounded too much like a power ballad where the guitar player steps up and he’s blowing a solo on the mountain top. I thought that was too corny. I kept thinking with the solo that I wanted to be part of the band.

Let’s talk gear for a second. Joe, I understand on this record you used that blue Ibanez prototype with three single-coils you played on the Experience Hendrix tour.
Satriani: Yeah, that prototype is a winner, man. We’ve worked on that one for almost 10 years now and Steve Blucher at DiMarzio just came up with really cool pickups that, for some reason, really go together with a maple neck and that particular body. It just sounds like the punchiest Strat you ever heard in your life.

Is this the first album you recorded with this guitar?
Satriani: I think it is. And the whole record was done primarily on my new 4-channel Marshall signature amp called the JVM 410 Joe Satriani Signature Model.

Michael, I know you generally use your Yamaha signature bass, but what happened to the Jack Daniel’s bass?
Anthony: I still have it and it will probably come out on tour. At the end of every tour, I put it in the closet and say I’m done with it. And there’s always somebody like you who says, “Hey, what’s with the Jack Daniel’s bass?” My original one has been on display for at least a couple of years now at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Michael, there’s a rumor that you’re the richest among the original Van Halen members, is that true?
Anthony: [Laughs.] Well, everybody used to joke that I saved the first dollar that I ever made in Van Halen. I probably did somewhere. You know what, my wife Sue and I, we just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in February. That might have something to do with it, because every guy in Van Halen is divorced—a couple of them a couple of times. So, of course, that’s going to tax their account a little bit.

Some people out there say Chickenfoot is in it just for the money, but you guys don’t really need the money. Sammy made something like 80 million dollars selling a share of his tequila business.
Anthony: And that was just selling the first 80 percent. Once he sold the last 20 percent, I’m sure he made a good penny on that, too. The best part about Chickenfoot is that nobody needs the money. We’ve got nothing we need to prove to anybody. We wanted this to be a fun band and when we get in the studio it’s just so loose, relaxed, and open. It’s like the early days of Van Halen. Everybody’s just throwing in their input and having a great time making music. We don’t want any pressure and we said if any came up, we should just stop doing this.

Michael, if the situation presented itself, would you rejoin Van Halen?
Anthony: At this point in my life and career, I’m so happy with what I’m doing and I want to have fun making music. I don’t want any drama. That whole drama thing in Van Halen, the way it ended up, I was like, “I’d rather make no money having fun playing music than make a shitload of money tearing my hair out.” Maybe when I was 20 it would have been different, but not at this point. I want to keep my sanity.

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