Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai recently spoke to the Reno Gazette-Journal about the G3 '03 tour, which features Vai alongside fellow axe shredders Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Satriani.
"It's a recognition of the guitar and a tribute to the guitar," said Vai. "We're all there because we love the instrument. You get to hear it being attacked and brutalized and also tenderly made love to. It's all these different things played in different ways by different artists.
"G3 is one of my favorite touring experiences," he continued. "It's a cake walk, man. We've got the best crew, the best routing, beautiful venues and most importantly, just good people and extraordinary talent."
When asked for his opinion of his two comrades' abilities, Vai said, "Yngwie has probably the most control of the instrument in the way of chops and shredding and just sheer technical ability. He's very passionate about what he does. He has pretty much embraced that neo-classical atmosphere so what he does, it's one side of the playground. And he does it extremely well, better than anybody else I've ever heard. Yngwie is about taking a piece of wire and wood and playing the (crap) out of it as fast as possible. Through it all, he comes up with some nice melodies occasionally, but it's staggering to just watch him and see the way he handles that instrument."
Regarding his former teacher Satriani, Vai said, "Joe has the gift of melody. He has complete control of the instrument. He's the elite of the elite. He's not a shredder like Yngwie, although he has enough chops to definitely play fast if he wanted to. But with Joe it's more about songs and phrasing and dynamics, which is all too lost on the guitar these days. His ability to phrase and control makes him one of the greatest guitar players in the world.
"Joe phrases melodies. He doesn't just play notes. He uses dynamics, different slides, bends, different places of hitting the string. The only other person I've ever heard — Jeff Beck is the master at that. There is nobody that can phrase on an instrument like Beck. He's a craftsman — and Joe is very much like that too, but in a different way."
Vai also said he feels fortunate to play with the likes of Malmsteen and Satch.
"One of the great advantages of being in this kind of situation is that it pushes you to do your best," he said. "You have to see people do amazing things in order to be inspired to achieve your own potential."
But Vai said there isn't any competition between the three guitarists, each of whom will perform their own set. At the show's end, all three guitarists jam together on stage.
"I use them to compete with myself because, frankly, I would be an utter fool if I tried to compete with Yngwie's speed or Joe's sense of melody and song structure.
"But I'm not interested in those things in my music. My goal is to explore my inner passion and bizarreness and absurdity and beauty and all those things as deeply as possible and to not be afraid or ashamed and to have the courage to make my inner ear a reality through the instrument."