While public safety restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have left most people isolated and - frankly - unproductive, one man has used the downtime to create an assortment of new work: Joe Satriani.

“I wound up writing two albums,” the guitarist reveals during a conversation with UCR.

The rocker’s most recent LP, Shapeshifting, came out in April 2020, and he expected to spend the rest of the year touring in support of it. The coronavirus, however, had other plans. Satriani admits that canceling the trek was “gut-wrenching,” but the silver lining was that he suddenly found time to create new material.

“All that energy that usually would have been expended night after night onstage around the world was really just focused on the few instruments I had at home,” he explains. “I approached the live band saying, ‘What if we did an album of instrumentals and an album of vocal songs?' … I thought this would be really great to develop two sides of the live band, because they’ve got creativity and talent, and I didn’t want to just to just put them out on the road playing ‘Satch Boogie’ and ‘Summer Song’ when they can really explode in so many other avenues.”

Satriani moved forward with this two-album concept in mind, but as the material started taking shape, his vision for what it would become changed.

“I started to realize that the instrumental stuff that I was writing was really going in this direction over here and the vocal stuff that I was writing really didn’t sound like the band so much,” he explains. “Maybe because I was sitting around the house with the acoustic guitar, I started to write more acoustic music.”

Instead of doing both albums with his band, Satriani decided to focus the group’s efforts on the instrumental LP, describing it as a “record that is just gonna go all over the place stylistically.” Meanwhile, for the vocal album, Satriani recruited friend and frequent collaborator Ned Evett.

Now, both records seem poised for release sometime in 2021.

“All the songs are written,” Satriani says. “About half of the instrumental album is already recorded. And the record that I’m doing with Ned, the full-on vocal album, we’re just trying to complete our last demo.” The guitarist adds that the latter album will need more refinement before it's ready for release. “It’s gonna take some new partners to help us get it produced properly.”

 

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