Devin Townsend on hating guitar, loving Noisescapes, and doing the Steve Vai project “because it was there”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 1993  By Steve Newton Things have a comical way of working out for some folks in the wacky world of rock ’n’ roll. In the case of 21-year-old Devin Townsend—who came out of nowhere (well, Vancouver, actually) to claim the prestigious lead vocalist spot in Yankee guitar god … Continue reading Devin Townsend on hating guitar, loving Noisescapes, and doing the Steve Vai project “because it was there”

Eddie Van Halen: what Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Jake E. Lee, Leslie West, and brother Alex told me about “the king”

By Steve Newton One of the biggest regrets of my career in rock journalism–and there aren’t that many, believe it or not–was never getting the opportunity to interview Eddie Van Halen. I did get to chat with his big brother Alex once, and he gave me a really great interview, but it just wasn’t the … Continue reading Eddie Van Halen: what Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Jake E. Lee, Leslie West, and brother Alex told me about “the king”

That time Steve Vai told me that his body language changes a lot when he’s playing rock ‘n’ roll

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Steve Vai, back in May of 1990, he had just released his sophomore solo album, Passion and Warfare, a technically dazzling instrumental guitar opus. At the same time, he was also touring with Whitesnake, whose straightforward, radio-friendly rock tunes were not nearly as challenging to … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me that his body language changes a lot when he’s playing rock ‘n’ roll

That time Steve Vai told me that he had to make Passion and Warfare when he did make Passion and Warfare

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Steve Vai, back in May of 1990, he was touring with Whitesnake while at the same time promoting his new solo album, Passion and Warfare. As he explained to me quite vehemently, it was the album that he had to make at that time. I … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me that he had to make Passion and Warfare when he did make Passion and Warfare

That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

By Steve Newton Back in January of 1990 I did the first of my seven interviews with Joe Satriani. At the time he was touring behind his latest album, Flying in a Blue Dream, and the buzz about him was growing fast. People were learning that he’d spent several years as a guitar instructor, teaching … Continue reading That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

That time Steve Vai told me about the “cornball arrangements” on his Zappesque debut album Flex-Able

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Steve Vai, just after he’d released Passion and Warfare in 1990, we got to talking about his previous album, Flex-Able. Turns out the success of Passion and Warfare was pushing sales of the six-year-old Flex-Able, even though the music on it was the opposite of … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me about the “cornball arrangements” on his Zappesque debut album Flex-Able

That time Steve Vai told me that a teenage out-of-body experience inspired his Passion and Warfare

By Steve Newton Steve Vai blew a lot of guitar freaks away when he released his Passion and Warfare album back in May of 1990. I was one of them. Just as the album hit record-store shelves I interviewed the 29-year-old fret master and asked him about the “dream state” experience that inspired it. Have … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me that a teenage out-of-body experience inspired his Passion and Warfare

That time Steve Vai told me what was so great about Ibanez guitars

By Steve Newton The first time I interviewed Steve Vai, back in May of 1990, he had just released his Passion and Warfare album and was on the covers of all the top guitar mags clutching an Ibanez guitar. So at one point in the conversation I asked him about the Ibanez seven-string and what made … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me what was so great about Ibanez guitars

That time I asked Steve Vai how it was different playing with David Coverdale than David Lee Roth

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Steve Vai in 1990 he had just released his solo album Passion and Warfare, but at the time was also a member of David Coverdale’s hugely popular Whitesnake. A year earlier Vai had left David Lee Roth’s equally successful band, so when I called him up I … Continue reading That time I asked Steve Vai how it was different playing with David Coverdale than David Lee Roth

That time Steve Vai told me that there never will be another musician like Frank Zappa

By Steve Newton I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know much about Frank Zappa’s music. One day I need to sit down and absorb some of that guy’s massive body of work, I reckon. What I do know is that many of the finest musicians I’ve interviewed over the past 40 years or so … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me that there never will be another musician like Frank Zappa

That time 29-year-old Steve Vai told me that he suffered making “For the Love of God”, but that blowjobs also do the trick

By Steve Newton I did my first interview with Steve Vai when he was touring with Whitesnake in May of 1990, but I was more interested in talking about his brand-new solo album, Passion and Warfare. I was particularly blown away by the track “For the Love of God”, which still stands up as one … Continue reading That time 29-year-old Steve Vai told me that he suffered making “For the Love of God”, but that blowjobs also do the trick

That time I asked Steve Vai if he was daunted by stepping into Eddie Van Halen’s shoes with David Lee Roth

By Steve Newton I did my first interview with Steve Vai in May of 1990, when he was just 29. He had just released his solo album Passion and Warfare, and was touring with Whitesnake, which was then basking in the glory of its multiplatinum Slip of the Tongue album. Before Whitesnake Vai had played … Continue reading That time I asked Steve Vai if he was daunted by stepping into Eddie Van Halen’s shoes with David Lee Roth

That time I asked Steve Morse if the success of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai boded well for instrumental-rock artists

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Steve Morse for the first time in May of 1991, the American instrumental-rock scene was making great strides. While Morse himself was winning over critics with his Southern Steel album, both Joe Satriani and Steve Vai were heading toward gold-album status with their most recent discs, Flying in a … Continue reading That time I asked Steve Morse if the success of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai boded well for instrumental-rock artists

David Lee Roth shows off manly biceps, a giant surfboard, and Steve Vai on the Skyscraper Tour

@shotbykevin ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 27, 1988 By Steve Newton Whether you like David Lee Roth or not, there’s one thing you’ve got to admit: the guy’s a star. It’s hard to take your eyes off him, and few did at the Pacific Coliseum last Saturday (May 21). Whether you’re ogling his sexy … Continue reading David Lee Roth shows off manly biceps, a giant surfboard, and Steve Vai on the Skyscraper Tour

Album review: Joe Satriani/Eric Johnson/Steve Vai G3—Live in Concert (1997)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 10, 1997 By Steve Newton Talk about a rock-guitar freak’s dream gig! Three American masters of the electric six-string unite for a tour that sees each of them performing a separate set before they combine on a three-song jam-o-rama. Break out the air guitars, kids—and dust up on … Continue reading Album review: Joe Satriani/Eric Johnson/Steve Vai G3—Live in Concert (1997)

Bass god Stu Hamm compares Joe Satriani to Steve Vai and raves about Jaco Pastorius

By Steve Newton Way back in October of 1991 I did an interview with bassist Stu Hamm, a giant of the four-string who was best known for his work with guitar heroes Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. He had recently released his album The Urge, and was headed to Vancouver for a club gig. At … Continue reading Bass god Stu Hamm compares Joe Satriani to Steve Vai and raves about Jaco Pastorius

Steve Vai on cocky G3 tourmate Yngwie Malmsteen and tormented “genius” Devin Townsend

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 9, 2003 By Steve Newton I was a tad taken aback when the press release came in announcing the lineup for Joe Satriani’s 2003 G3 Tour. It wasn’t a surprise to see long-time G3er (and former Satch student) Steve Vai’s name on the bill. But I didn’t expect … Continue reading Steve Vai on cocky G3 tourmate Yngwie Malmsteen and tormented “genius” Devin Townsend

Steve Vai on his long fingers, long feet, long arms, and…”you know”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 25, 1997 By Steve Newton On the cover of his Grammy-nominated Alien Love Secrets CD, Steve Vai strikes a pose while covered in metallic-blue body paint. He’s got his hands over his face and is peering out from between fingers that are so long, you’d think one of … Continue reading Steve Vai on his long fingers, long feet, long arms, and…”you know”

Steve Vai takes Devin Townsend on in a fierce guitar duel but doesn’t let the home team win

@shotbykevin ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 7, 1993 By Steve Newton Vancouver vocalist Devin Townsend caused a minor uproar (and prompted a few letters to the editor) when he was interviewed in the Straight a few weeks back. Some folks didn’t appreciate the 21-year-old’s caustic view of the music industry or his offhand … Continue reading Steve Vai takes Devin Townsend on in a fierce guitar duel but doesn’t let the home team win

Steve Vai talks Frank Zappa, dream states, blowjobs, and Passion & Warfare

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 7, 1990 By Steve Newton In rock guitar circles, Steve Vai is the type of personality that Entertainment Tonight might giddily term hot. Walk into any magazine shop, glance at the rock ’n’ roll section, and chances are you’ll see the handsome, raven-haired guitarist grinning wickedly from a cover … Continue reading Steve Vai talks Frank Zappa, dream states, blowjobs, and Passion & Warfare

Devin Townsend’s early days: Gray Skies, Steve Vai, Commodore highs

Vancouver’s Devin Townsend is a master of extreme metal. I’m not saying that from personal experience, because I’m not into extreme metal. Old Iron Maiden’s about as extreme as I get these days. But from what I’ve heard the fortyish singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist is quite the artistic genius when it comes to various … Continue reading Devin Townsend’s early days: Gray Skies, Steve Vai, Commodore highs

Steve Vai goes weedley-eedley-eedley at the Commodore

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, APRIL 28, 2005 When you go to a Steve Vai concert these days, you definitely get your money’s worth, musicianwise. Not only is Vai one of the most gifted rock guitarists alive, his bandmates hold some serious credentials as well. Rhythm guitarist Dave Weiner is still in his 20s, but he’s … Continue reading Steve Vai goes weedley-eedley-eedley at the Commodore

Steve Hackett doesn’t think the job of Genesis guitarist is available to him

By Steve Newton Genesis freaks will be getting their fill of the band’s “golden age” tonight at the Vogue Theatre’s Genesis Extended show. That’s when former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett leads his touring band in material from the prog-rock group’s ’70s heyday, when it featured him, singer Peter Gabriel, drummer Phil Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, … Continue reading Steve Hackett doesn’t think the job of Genesis guitarist is available to him

That time Steve Earle raved to me about the influence of Elvis and the generosity of Springsteen

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Steve Earle five times, ’cause he’s one of my favourite all-time songwriters. The first time was back in May of 1987, two weeks before the official release of his second album, Exit O. (“It’s Exit Zero”, he explained to me when I tried pronouncing it “Exit Oh”.) At one point … Continue reading That time Steve Earle raved to me about the influence of Elvis and the generosity of Springsteen

That time Steve Hackett told me about hearing Queen’s demo tapes and thinking Genesis’ label should sign them

By Steve Newton Before Queen became one of the top rock bands on the planet, they were just another struggling band trying to score a record deal. That’s how Steve Hackett remembers it, anyway. When I interviewed the former Genesis guitarist back in 1993 I asked him about his relationship with Queen guitarist Brian May, … Continue reading That time Steve Hackett told me about hearing Queen’s demo tapes and thinking Genesis’ label should sign them

That time Autograph guitarist Steve Lynch told me about the crazy times touring with Van Halen

By Steve Newton Way the heck back in October of 1985 I interviewed Autograph guitarist Steve Lynch because his band was headed to Vancouver as opening act on Motley Crue‘s Theatre of Pain tour. Back then two-handed tapping was very popular among guitarists in hard rock and metal bands, and Lynch was among its top … Continue reading That time Autograph guitarist Steve Lynch told me about the crazy times touring with Van Halen

That time I asked Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin whether Steve Howe was a hard act to follow

By Steve Newton Way back in April of 1984 I interviewed Trevor Rabin, who at the time was the new guitarist in Yes. The band was on a world tour supporting its latest album, 90125, which had spawned the hit single “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and was topping the charts. At one point in … Continue reading That time I asked Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin whether Steve Howe was a hard act to follow