Steve Vai Is Inviolate

Written by Randy Patterson

Posted January 2022

Inviolate finalClick Above To Order Your CopyWhen I first launched Boomerocity 12 or so years ago, I had a bucket list of people - once I decided that I was going to start interviewing people (which was not at the beginning of Boomerocity). Once I started interviewing people, I made a little bucket list of those I wanted to talk to and Steve Vai was on my shortlist of people I really, really, really, really wanted to talk to. Over the years, I would try off and on getting through to the right people to interview him.

Finally, it happened.

I'm extremely grateful to have recently been given the opportunity to interview Steve Vai and for Steve making himself available. A lot of people want to talk to the man. He's a phenomenon in and of himself when it comes to playing guitar.; I first learned about him watching the movie, “Crossroads”, where he played the devil guitar player and fought a guitar duel with the Karate Kid guy, Ralph Macchio. After that, of course, I saw him with David Lee Roth on MTV and those wild music videos back when MTV was actually about music. After that, I became intrigued with this guy named Steve Vai. He was as much of a showman as he was probably one of the best guitar players in the world.

When the opportunity came up to talk with Steve, of course, I jumped at the chance. He has an album coming out titled, “Inviolate”. I've heard the album, it's phenomenal, and a great guy to talk to as well. The guy is amazing. I know you're going to love the album. I also know you're really gonna love this interview, below. After you watch it, please share it with your friends.

Underneath the interview video are the album notes that were provided before the album went to press. You'll definitely want to check those out and the videos associated with them!

You can keep up with Steve Vai at his website, here, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Boomerocity Interview With Steve Vai

Click On the Lower Right Corner To Enlarge the Video Above

Pre-Release Album Notes

Teeth of the Hydra:

Perhaps 5 years ago I had the idea to create a wild guitar based on a steampunk type motif, with three necks and harp strings.
The amazing designers at Hoshino (Ibanez) went to work and after perhaps 2-3 years, and a prototype to boot, the Hydra was born.

That’s what I named the guitar, the Hydra. The Hydra is a mythical multi headed dragon like creature. It was inspired in me by the old film “Jason and the Argonauts”.

The Hydra and the track "Teeth of the Hydra" was a concept 5 years in the making. It started with the idea to create a 3-neck steampunk style guitar with harp strings. The idea was brought to Ibanez and their excellent team manifested the Hydra.
Original design and first renderings by Mr. Moti Kashiuchi
Built by Mr. Kazuya Kuroki
Electrical engineering by Mr. Hirotada Nomura

 

Zeus in Chains:

Although many of the titles on this record have Greek mythology attached to them, there’s no deep meaning here on my end. I just like the way the titles sound. Jeremy Colson on drums. I did the rest.

 

Little Pretty:

Think little red riding hood and the wolf, ha. The main guitar I used for this track was a Gretch, yup. It put up quite the fight but achieved what I was looking for. The solo section is particularly challenging for me in that I wanted to write changes that moved every odd bar, and have those chords spell out synthetic type scales. Most important was to make a melody out of the solo and not have it sound like I’m jazzing about over odd changes.
Drums: Jeremy Colson
Bass: Bryan Beller
Everything else: Steve

 

Candle Power:

This is a track that I was thinking about recording for quite a while before I did it. I finally recorded it during the first lock down year and released it with a video on June 6, 2020. The goal was to write a piece of guitar music with a trio and set up parameters with the guitar that were somewhat out of my comfort zone. To do this I decided on a Strat style guitar, a clean tone, no whammy bar, and only using my fingers to pluck notes. All of these things way out of my comfort zone. But then I thought that wasn’t enough. I’ve had this vision of a riff that requires a guitar without a whammy bar. The idea was to be able to navigate around the neck using multiple string bending in opposite directions while pulling off notes, releasing bends, hammering others, etc. It was a visualization, and it took me weeks to get the two passages that employ this technique. I call it “joint shifting” because in order to pull some of it off requires bending only the top joint of the finger independently from any other finger. I made a simple video performance of the track and the fans seemed to enjoy it.

Bending multiple strings is not a new concept. Obviously country players have been doing it, exceptionally Jerry Donahue. But I had not seen any of it done in the way I was envisioning it, but hey… has anything not been done before on the guitar? ha.

I decided to include this track on the new record as this one, (and Knappsack) felt like orphans in a way.
But I wanted to redo the drums on this and felt that Terry Bozzio would be perfect. Luckily, he agreed to lay down a new drum part. I love it.

I play guitar and Bass and Terry is on drums.

 

Apollo In Color:

I have all these little acoustic string instruments in the studio and decided to use them as flavor through this track. I asked Henrik Linder to lay down a bass track and Vinny Calouta on drums.

SV: Guitar and other string things
Bass: Henrik Linder
Drums: Vinny Calouta
Keyboards: David Rosenthal

 

Avalancha:

Drums: Jeremy Colson
Bass: Billy Sheehan
Keyboards and guitars: Steve

 

Greenish Blues:

This track is my take on blues. It’s the closest I desire to come to it.

Drums: Jeremy Colson
Bass: Philip Bynoe
Organ: Bob Carpenter
Guitar: Steve

 

Knappsack:

During lock down earlier this year I had to undergo shoulder surgery for 3 torn tendons. Oddly enough, at the same time I developed trigger finger in my left thumb, and it eventually froze and made it very difficult to play. I decided to get this stuff fixed.

My excellent shoulder surgeon was Dr. Knapp. He invented this sling that is specific for patients who have had this type of surgery. He calls it the “Knappsack”. Wink wink.

I had to wear the Knappsack for 4 weeks and did not have the use of my right hand, or my left thumb for which I had the surgery on around the same time. But during my first week of recovery, I received the first ONYX Black PIA. The “PIA” is the name of the new guitar I released with Ibanez. It’s like a Jem but with some alterations. It was so beautiful when I received it, I had to try and play it, but I only had my left hand to use. I immediately thought it would be interesting to compose, record and film the performance of a song recorded with just one hand.

Hey, any means necessary, ha.

Confidentially, in a weird twist of fate, during this last summer I actually tore another, and different tendon in the same shoulder, and the main finger on my left hand (ring finger) is starting to trigger.

 

Sandman Cloud Mist:

I create simple loops and just jam over them to warm up. That’s basically how this track started. I was making a video on digital delay for my Patreon channel and decided to improvise to this little jam and film it for the episode. I jammed and filmed for about 20 minutes and then cut it up for the vid and posted it to you tube.

For the record recording I didn’t want to use the loop that I used in the video, so I fleshed out the track with other musicians.
Drums: Vinnie Colaiuta
Bass: Philip Bynoe
Rhythm Guitar: Dave Weiner
Keyboards: David Rosenthal
Lead Guitar: Steve