Guitar Maestro JOE SATRIANI Discusses His New Album ‘The Elephants Of Mars’

By Andrew Catania

He has 6 gold and platinum records, has sold over 10 million copies to date, and has been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards so far.  A guitar hero for guitar heroes, Joe Satriani had already served as a teacher for some of rock’s most impressive axe slingers before accomplishing the rare feat of breaking into the mainstream with instrumental guitar music. His 1987 album Surfing with the Alien turned him into a star, kicking off a series of hit records that included 1989’s Flying in a Blue Dream and 1998’s Crystal Planet. There were dozens of successful tours all over the globe, as well gigs backing Mick Jagger in the ’80s, joining Deep Purple in the ’90s, and jamming with Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith, and Michael Anthony in the supergroup Chickenfoot. Satriani’s unstoppable momentum kept going for decades, with the guitarist releasing new music into the 2020s with albums like 2022’s The Elephants of Mars.

In 2020 with all-time constraints removed, The Elephants of Mars truly represents the album that Satriani himself hoped he could deliver with his band. “We did everything. We tried the craziest ideas. And we entertained every notion we had about turning something backward, upside down, seeing what could happen.”  Similarly, the creative gates were wide open for all of the musicians to take liberties on the songs for The Elephants of Mars and share a side of themselves they hadn’t previously been able to.

Satch is one of my favorite people to interview and always a pleasure to hear his insight.

What made you leave Sony after all of these years?

JS: My deal with Sony started in 1989.  If you can believe that longevity and history and I think the last six or seven albums is what we call the options period of a contract where when you finally fulfill delivering the set number of albums the label has the option to say would you like to do another one? Every two years for the last 15 years we were wondering if they were going to ask us for a new one and they kept saying yes I really enjoyed working with the team especially the men and women at Legacy Sony.  We had so much fun stuff together. They were great at reviving catalogs and coming up with great ideas like the Chrome Head compilation but about two years ago I realized that everyone that I had known at Sony going back to 1989 from the Presidents to the A&R department were all gone. They either retired or moved to some other label.  The only person that I knew there that I was still working with was Mary Thayer and she was kinda new. We came to the end of that option period and said, we got the catalog and we will keep working on that. We are working on remixes right now with Surfing with the Alien so we are still working together but the actual new record contract I’m happy to say was a wonderful coming together between me and Max Vaccaro (General Manager at earMUSIC). I’ve known Max for over ten years. He signed Chickenfoot outside of the US, he’s a music lover and a guitar lover. We know what we like about rock music and it’s been great that we could finally do an album together. The whole team at eaarMUSIC is just great – it takes a team to get an album made and distributed. So I’m very thankful that I’ve got a new team of friends to work with.

I know you’ve said in past interviews with me that Sony never interfered with your creativity when it came to recording a new album.  Has earMUSIC offered you the same room for creativity?

JS: You know I think labels are made, populated, and run by individuals that come and go that have very unique talents. I’ve always had a great relationship with the record labels I have been very lucky to sign with Relativity and Sony because I relate to these individuals that are there and we just have a fun time dreaming up projects. In all three cases the labels never interfered with what I wanted to do.  They always would start a project by asking what do you want to do and I would say this is what I’m planning on doing and they would say how can we help? It was the same on this one. I didn’t have to worry about the time clock or any kind of delivery date. I just spent time talking with Max talking about what I wanted to achieve and they said well go ahead and let us know if you need anything if we can help and off we went. It’s been really great. I have to say I look back over the 19 studio albums and I realize I was kind of given this carte blanche to do whatever I want and it’s reflected in the catalog.

Do you have any future JS Series guitars coming out?

JS: Oh no we are rushing actually to make sure we have got every little thing in order for the summer NAMM show. We have at least two guitars coming out. We have this beautiful old-school 22 frets golden chrome JS guitar coming out. It is really something. We’re just dealing with supply issues of switches believe it or not so we’ve been scrambling for months making sure we can get a good supply of these little mini switches that are part of the design and we don’t want to push the button on that until we know that we can deliver them to the customer. That’s what we are waiting for and we have another guitar that’s got some art from my wife on it.

Pre-orders continue to be available for fans and include a special limited digipack cd release featuring seven double-sided cards of original artwork by Satriani representing each song from the album. In addition, several colored vinyl options will be available as well to pre-order including orange, pink, and a special purple version sold through Guitar Center only.

Order the Elephants of Mars here

Read our interview with Joe discussing his new comic book ‘Crystal Planet’ here

Joe embarks on a US tour later this year!

Joe Satriani’s EARTH TOUR Itinerary
9/21/22 Fox Performing Arts Center / Riverside, CA
9/22/22 Balboa Theatre / San Diego, CA
9/23/22 Orpheum Theatre / Los Angeles, CA
9/24/22 Talking Stick Resort / Scottsdale, AZ
9/25/22 Grand Theatre @ Grand Sierra Resort / Reno, NV
9/26/22 Bob Hope Theater / Stockton, CA
9/28/22 The Moore Theatre / Seattle, WA
9/29/22 Bing Crosby Theater / Spokane, WA
9/30/22 Elsinore Theatre / Salem, OR
10/2/22 Fox Theater / Oakland, CA
10/4/22 Paramount Theatre / Denver, CO
10/6/22 Stiefel Theatre / Salina, KS
10/7/22 Hoyt Sherman Theatre / Des Moines, IA
10/8/22 The Pageant / St. Louis, MO
10/9/22 State Theatre / Minneapolis, MN
10/12/22 Chicago Theatre / Chicago, IL
10/13/22 Peoria Civic Center Theatre / Peoria, IL
10/14/22 Kalamazoo State Theatre / Kalamazoo, MI
10/15/22 Honeywell Center / Wabash, IN
10/16/22 Canton Palace Theatre / Canton, OH
10/17/22 Count Basie Center for the Arts / Red Bank, NJ
10/19/22 Carolina Theatre / Durham, NC
10/20/22 Palace Theatre / Greensburg, PA
10/21/22 MGM Northfield Park / Northfield, OH
10/22/22 Taft Theatre / Cincinnati, OH
10/23/22 Brown County Music Center / Nashville, IN
10/24/22 Ryman Auditorium / Nashville, TN
10/26/22 Warner Theatre / Washington, DC
10/27/22 Beacon Theatre / New York City, NY
10/29/22 Danforth Music Hall / Toronto, ON
11/2/22 & 11/3/22 Ridgefield Playhouse / Ridgefield, CT
11/4/22 Scottish Rite Auditorium / Collingswood, NJ
11/5/22 Orpheum Theatre / Boston, MA
11/7/22 Atlanta Symphony Hall / Atlanta, GA
11/9/22 Ponte Vedra Concert Hall / Ponte Vedra, FL
11/10/22 Hard Rock Live / Orlando, FL
11/11/22 The Parker Ft / Lauderdale, FL
11/12/22 Ruth Eckerd Hall / Clearwater, FL
11/14/22 Mars Music Hall / Huntsville, AL
11/16/22 Tobin Center for the Performing Arts / San Antonio, TX
11/17/22 Paramount Theatre / Austin, TX
11/18/22 House of Blues / Houston, TX
11/19/22 Majestic Theatre / Dallas, TX

More dates TBA

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: