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© Alessandro Pone/Demotix/Corbis
On August 29th, in San Diego, CA, Joe Satriani kicks off a 48-date, two-month tour of the US, his most extensive such trek ever. The guitar icon will be performing nearly all of the songs from his recently released 14th solo album, Unstoppable Momentum, as he did on a just-completed swing through Europe.
“It never ceases to amaze me how an album seems to take on a new meaning when you start playing it live," Satriani says. "Of the songs from the new record, the crazy parts got crazier, and the sweeter stuff got sweeter. Everything has more punch, musically and emotionally. The guys in the band have really been delivering all of the nuances and the fire."
Returning on keyboards and guitar is longtime Satriani band mate Mike Keneally, but the rhythm section is comprised of two new players in Satch's universe, bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann, who, when schedules permit, also perform with guitarist Guthrie Govan in the progressive rock band The Aristocrats.
"Bryan and Marco have been such a joy," says Satriani. "I hadn't played with them before rehearsals for the tour, but I checked out their DVDs, and I could certainly tell that they had all the abilities and then some. And watching their clips on YouTube was just hysterical – they’re playing all of this impossible music, and yet they’re laughing and having a great time. That was certainly a good indicator for me. They had confidence, charisma and all of the things you'd want when you’re putting together a live band.”
Satriani is thinking of adding several catalogue songs to the set for his fall run, such as Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing (from 1989's Flying In A Blue Dream) and the title track to 1995's Time Machine. “I’m also toying with the idea of bringing in my very first version of a song called Luminous Flesh Giants that nobody ever heard," he says. "It was done by myself and producer Eric Valentine, prior to the  eponymous album, which Glyn Johns produced. That could be pretty interesting."
Several days before the tour starts, the guitarist will reconvene with Keneally, Beller and Minnemann to work out a new setlist, a process Satch calls "a fluid, work-in-progress kind of thing. Certain songs I always do, and luckily, over the course of 14 albums, I have some really great cornerstones that people expect when they come to see me. It’s hard, though – if I picked a song from each album, that’s a big chunk of the set. Something’s always gotta give. Having too many songs that people love – what a problem to have, you know?”
On the following pages, Satriani discusses the songs from Unstoppable Momentum and talks about how each one has transcended from the studio to the stage. For complete information and details on tickets for the North American tour, which starts in San Diego, CA, and hits cities such as Los Angeles, Denver and Dallas, among others, visit Satriani's official tour page.