With a new collection named 'Squares - Best of the Early '80s Demos' due out on April 5th, Joe Satriani shares with fans a lesser known section of his career.
Fans will hear some of the guitar legend's earliest recordings for the first time in the collection, a restorecd and remixed package overseen by longtime producer and collaborator John Cuniberti.
The set includes song 'So Used Up', which you can listen to early below.
"When I listen to a song like ‘So Used Up,’ I’m really impressed by the uniqueness of the chord progression and how I play the riff. I remember when we started working on that one [for this new album], I immediately picked up the guitar and asked myself, ‘Now, how did I do that?' It felt really clumsy and I’m looking at my fingers and I’m thinking, ‘Did I really write and play that?’ And I think to myself, boy, that is quite unusual for a guitar player to string together those voicings and those riffs and to support a vocal like that," Satriani said.
The band, Squares, featuring Satriani, drummer Jeff Campitelli and singer Andy Milton, formed in 1979. Satriani had been working on songs with his brother-in-law Neil Sheehan at the time, and the pair envisioned it would create a "new version of power pop" with their music.
We would bring in elements of old rock 'n' roll, punk, New Wave, heavy metal, classic rock, just about everything you could think of
"I think it was really exciting, because we were so different from each other. Andy had a real background in ‘50s rock 'n' roll. He could sing like Elvis, so he had this connection to that kind of American roots rock 'n' roll. He shared none of my love for heavy rock, heavy metal, fusion, jazz, bebop -- that was not his world at all. So I think he found it kind of exciting in an exotic way that this Italian kid from Long Island was such an expressive player."
Satriani said Milton was a "throwback to a kind of musician" he’d never really played with and says the pair welcomed its differences. Campitelli proved to be the perfect drummer for the developing musical alliance.
"He was so much younger than us, but at the same time, he seemed to have wisdom of a hundred years of drumming under his belt. He could receive my style and Andy's style and somehow pull it together. So we made a very interesting sound together."
For the new project, Satriani had the idea to treat Squares as though they were a new band: "I thought, 'Well, if it was a brand new band, what we would do is we would get the best recordings of the best songs that had the best performances,'" he explains.
"So when John and I started talking about it, we thought, 'You know, we can do this now.' We have enough distance emotionally from that era, where we can look at it in a real professional way. We have better technology to make the transfer and to remix. I think there’s a strange combination of being super passionate and dispassionate and professional at the same time, where you can have the right insight and also the right distance to put together a project like this."
"All we needed was the proper musical perspective to be able to pick the best performances. The earlier cassette tapes that we would release, they may not have been the best performances of those songs or certainly not the best mixes. This let us go back and kind of do what you do if you were releasing a remix of a [Rolling] Stones record or what the Beatles have been doing, releasing the White Album with alternate mixes and things. Over the decades, you gain perspective and you see what worked and what didn’t and it allows you to put together an album that really shines."
Satriani says he's also starting to put together ideas for the follow-up to his 2018 'What Happens Next' album, but no timeline has been mentioned yet:
"I don’t really have a direction yet. I’m in that wonderful period where I’m just writing for anything. I’m just really reflecting what’s happening in the world and my life and I’m not worried about a schedule just yet."