Joe Satriani of Chickenfoot Details the Recording of ‘Dubai Blues’
After speaking about the album as a whole in part one of our talk, the guitar legend was kind enough to indulge our ongoing obsession by answering all manner of questions about this song in very informative detail.
How did 'Dubai Blues' come together?
Most of these songs, the way that we work is, I write and record demos. Then I send them to the guys. In this case, I did about 14 or 16 demos, you know full on -- guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, that kind of thing. I record them at home on ProTools, then I send them out to everybody. Then, for the five or six months I was out on tour, they mulled over the material, decided which songs suck (laughs) and which songs they liked. Then when we finally got together, you know, to go through all of them.
That particular song had a drum loop that was from an adrenaline box, on the box was a loop that was an old Linn drum loop. It was kind of an old-school hip-hop drum loop. I stuck that on as the main drum pattern. So the song had more of a stream-of-concsiousness kind of rock meets hip-hop vibe to it; it had these scraping guitars during the verses, it was all very moody. But, basically, all the chords and riffs were exactly the same, everything was there. I had no idea what it was going to be called or anything. I think it was just called 'crunchy song' or something.
So what happened next?
When the band got a hold of it, Sammy was trying to channel some old school, '50s blues rock and roll story through it, but Mike and Chad decided that they would rockify it a bit more, so they kind of took it out of that old-school hip-hop, and they made it a little bit more of a straight-ahead, '70's rock kind of thing. Then, I had to change a lot of the guitar parts, now that the band was more dynamic, you know? We would up using, maybe, six guitars on that. There's a lot of guitars on there. It's subtle, but it actually took a lot to create that shiny wall of guitar chords. It's very unusual, on other songs we did there's just one guitar and it sounds fine. This one took a lot of layers to create.
Would that make this one of the more complex songs on the album?
Recording-wise, it was, musically it's very non-complex, I mean, the chorus has two chords in it, that's it. The basic premise of the song is a 1-4-5 blues progression, and I threw in a little bridge there, which I keep thinking, we should have done the bridge twice. But maybe it's good that way, that it's such a bright bridge when it comes in there. I remember -- it's funny how guitar players think about things -- I just remember how unique it was in terms of what we used to record it. We started out with a vintage 1955 gold top Les Paul, and we played two versions of that, you know, rhythm guitars. Then we listened to that and went, "Oh, that's too bright, there's something funny about it." So then we added, I think, two JS guitars, you know, my JS2400s. Then we thought, "Well, now it's really solid, but is it too solid?" Then I think we added a vintage Fender '58 esquire on top of it, and then later on we decided (laughs) well, we just need a little bit more for different parts, and I think we put a re-issue of one of the Jimmy Page Les Pauls on there. So it's got a ton of guitars; they're never all on at the same time. (Producer) Mike Fraser was very creative in how he would feature different guitars at different times to bring out the shimmering quality of the chords.
I take it you were pleased with the results?
It's funny, because when we record, the guys only hear my one guitar part, and then they go away - Chad goes back to play with the Chili Peppers, Mike goes back to L.A., and Sam's just popping in maybe once or twice a week with new lyrics for songs and stuff. So they don't know what we're doing. Me and Fraser are in there six days a week, overdubbing like crazy on top of the live tracks. They were all just totally blown away when they heard this wall of rock and roll guitar, you know? I think Sam once said, that's a shiny and smooth of a razor blade (sound), you know, that a compliment of guitars could ever get. He just loved it, and was so curious how we arrived at it. It's a complicated recipe of guitars.
Check out part one of our interview with Joe Satriani of Chickenfoot, where he talk to him about the band's unselfish goals for the rest of 'III,' and how he thinks the new songs are going to sound in concert.
Watch the Chickenfoot Podcast About the Creation of 'Dubai Blues'