Joe Satriani Discusses New ‘Cathartic’ Documentary
Joe Satriani's documentary, Beyond the Supernova, will premiere on March 6 at 10PM ET on AXS TV. It was completed last year after being shot during his Surfing to Shockwave tour, which found him performing material from the 2015 LP Shockwave Supernova, along with his 1987 breakthrough Surfing With the Alien.
You can watch a trailer for the movie above.
Described as “a deeply personal introspective that captures the legendary virtuoso at a pivotal point as he contemplates the future of his career,” Beyond the Supernova was directed by Satriani’s son ZZ, and features appearances by musicians Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Mike Keneally, Marco Minnemann and Bryan Beller.
“I started to think that the whole narrative of [Shockwave Supernova] was about confronting a decades-old buildup of an alter-ego," Satriani tells UCR. "You know, somewhat dramatized, let’s say. It wasn’t like I was going through some sort of psychotic break or something. It was just a playful look at something that was real. I thought, ‘You know, I’ve got to break with this. This is probably the best place to start.’ You know, not with changing my string gauge or my amp or throwing away my wah-wah pedals or something like that. I went all of the way to the source, which is me.”
He said the fictional story’s aim was about confronting an alter-ego. "We had to have a battle and I would win out in the end," he says. “You know, through my son’s documentary, what I learned from his extensive interviews of me is that I was really just trying to return to who I really was. It wasn’t like there was this other personality that was taking over that was foreign. What I learned in the process of making the documentary was that I was really just feeling the need to realize that it was me after all, and that I wanted to go back to the earliest version of me where I was the most excited about playing guitar. That became really the basis for the next record.”
That album -- What Happens Next, featuring Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith -- was released in January.
“It was extremely cathartic," Satriani says of the movie. "What a trip. And possibly, I think if it was somebody else, a stranger, a professional documentarian or something like that, I’m sure the process would have been 50 per cent less real and important and certainly less cathartic. But because it was my son and you can’t fake it with your family, he immediately unlocked my true self. I found myself revealing things to myself and as well to him that I wouldn’t normally have done to a professional film crew. So that process was very interesting.
Still, Satriani says they didn’t go into the documentary thinking "We’re going to do a documentary so that Joe can open up and figure out what he’s doing.’" "We were trying to have fun and make a really cool film," he notes. "But the byproduct, the surprise secondary effect, was that it did in fact help complete this journey to create a new album. Ultimately, I wanted the album simply to be just a lot of fun and fun to listen to and fun to play. I wanted it to be, what I’ve always tried to do on records – which coincidentally, was the theme of the record we were just finished celebrating, which was Surfing With the Alien – which was all about excitement and fun about guitar and my roots. It was very fitting in a way, but we didn’t know that until the documentary was finished.”