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Music

Steve Vai remembers stealing garden lights for his high school band

Guitarist Steve Vai has opened up about some of his formative influences, stating that Led Zeppelin, Queen and Deep Purple were his bands of choice during his earlier years. His high school bands tended to play Kiss and Aerosmith as they began searching for their own sound and identity. But before he engaged with rock, he enjoyed something a little more classical.

“All through my early years, I listened to all kinds of classical music, and I’d doodle notes, and then, when I was maybe 10 or 11, I started to compose,” he said. “And when I was 12, I entered a high school music theory class for 12th graders, and for six years, every day, I was heavily trained in compositional music.”

The guitarist realised that his way of creating new forms of work was unorthodox for the era. “At the same time, on the other side of the tracks, we’re stealing lights from people’s lawns to use in our light show at our gigs. We were doing high school dances and blowing up smoke bombs and stuff onstage, it was just the best!”

The guitarist recalled working with hard rock outfits from the 1980s, including David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. Frank Zappa‘s music gave him the opportunity, and the permission, to sideline into any venture he saw fit, recognising it was music, not genre, that ultimately mattered. Vai’s quest for idiosyncratic music resulted in his second solo offering, Passion and Warfare.

The musician claims that it’s never ended in the years since, hence his diverse back catalogue. He claims that Roth and Zappa came looking for him and that they were the ones who made the overtures towards him. In other Vai related news, the guitarist recently credited fellow six-stringer Joe Satriani with his sound.

He claims that Satriani offered some seminal advice and one that has served him well over his career. In the interview, he likened Satriani to a brother and says the pair are always searching for excuses to work or tour together. The pair have a similar sense of sonic invention and style.