On Chickenfoot's long-awaited second record, jokingly titled Chickenfoot III, the supergroup of Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith is every bit as super as they were on their 2009 debut. More importantly, however, they prove to be a band for the ages, rising to self-imposed challenges, creating music that is by turns poignant and humorous, introspective and carefree - and always supremely rocking.
In taking such a long-view approach, Joe Satriani tells MusicRadar that he strove for a classic band sound to suit the material. "The riffs had to be huge, and the guitars had to sound really big," he says, "but I wanted to make sure they were fully integrated into the rhythm section. One of my personal goals for the new album was that Chad, Mike and I would be sinews of a giant muscle."
During the initial stages of writing, Satriani issued a directive to Hagar: sing differently. “I had my reasons," the guitarist says. "It struck me that, whenever we would work together on songs, just the two of us, Sam would sing in a lower register. It was intimate, so full of soul. I thought, Wow, nobody has ever heard this quality in his voice before. He and I agreed that the new material would allow him to explore those other sides to his range."
At the same time, Hagar turned things around to Satch and told him that he wanted the guitar virtuoso to play his instrument in a new way. "He wasn't as specific as I was," says Satriani. "But we did agree to take our creativity somewhere else. For me, it was something of an open canvas. It was hard at times, but ultimately it was very rewarding."
When the band convened at Hagar's warehouse studio (affectionately dubbed 'the Foot Locker') earlier this year with veteran record-maker Mike Fraser serving as co-producer and engineer, Satriani had another idea in mind: more Michael Anthony. "For years he's been underplayed," says Satch. "The way that Mike plays the bass and writes his lines is so special. Not only that, but his singing, as everybody knows, is phenomenal. Presenting Mike Anthony to the fullest degree was an absolute must."
Recently, Satriani listened to the finished album on his own while taking a walk at home in San Francisco. Just as the last song ended, his cell phone rang. "It was Sam," says Satriani. "He was so excited. 'Have you heard the record? Do you love it as much as I do? It's great, isn't it?’ The fact that we were both listening to it at the same time was an incredible moment of synchronicity. To me, it means something big.”
Chickenfoot III will be released worldwide on 27 September. (A special 'Fan Pack,' containing a 132-page magazine, will be issued on the same day in the UK.) On the following pages, Joe Satriani walks us through the album track-by-track.