Joe SatrianiSince 1996, guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani has literally been surrounding himself with the competition. That was the year he launched the G3 Tour, featuring fellow shredders Steve Vai and Eric Johnson. Since then, the tour has continued semi-regularly, with Satriani the only original member.

Some of the fret-burners he's had out with him include Robert Fripp, Yngwie Malmsteen and Paul Gilbert, among others. The tours give all three guitarists a chance to play some solo material, with them convening for an epic jam for the second part of the show. Other than the logistics of getting two popular guitar players away from their ongoing schedules, Satriani has specific criteria when selecting fellow axemen.

"In general, I look for combinations of players that I think would be really stimulating, like getting Robert Fripp to be with Kenny Wayne Shepherd or Steve Vai," he tells Noisecreep. "Sometimes you'll just think of fireworks. Getting Yngwie Malmsteen out with Steve, I thought that was something that would provide a lot of fireworks. Having someone like Eric Johnson, who's so unique, putting him with anyone, like John Petrucci, is going to be different."

Satriani also looks for guitarists who aren't afraid to perform."I need someone who loves the audience, who loves to walk out on stage and drop all pretense, and forget about their band or the single they're promoting, and just look at it as a once in a lifetime chance to see three people together playing songs by rock and roll greats," he says. "It's a very different kind of a gig, and I generally give that speech to the guys that I invite, because they generally say no the first time I invite them. They're very worried about competition, and whether they're going to get a chance to promote their stuff. And they'll get a chance to promote their stuff in the beginning of the show with their band, but when you come out for the jam, it's really about all of us dropping the armor and making it a very special event for the audience.

"That's why we're not going to play our own material, we'll play [Jimi Hendrix] or the [Rolling Stones] or the Doors or whatever. And you can play however you want, and we're going to be amazed at each other and try to outplay each other, but it's all going to be in fun. And the audience gets into that. That's actually the show -- our attitude, together with how we're going to play, is the important part of the show. And it always comes to fruition."

And for all the guitarists Satriani has gotten to do a G3 Tour, he's still got a wish list, topped by Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen. "Jeff Beck came close, and [ZZ Top's] Billy Gibbons also has come close to doing it," he says. "I've been trying to get [former Queen guitarist] Brian May to come out. I'd love to do an all-blues one with B.B. King and Buddy Guy. You can tell that I just want to play with these guys, and the G3 Tour is a great opportunity to do it. And I know from experience that the audience feels just like I do. I become a fan, just like they do when they're walking through the doors with their tickets. I just want to see something really magical happen with three guitar players you'd never see play together."

Joe Satriani's DVD and CD 'Live In Paris: I Just Wanna Rock' is in stores now.

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