During a recent interview with VWMUSIC, Steve Vai talked about his experience working with David Lee Roth. He answered a question of whether he ever felt restricted during his collaboration with the former Van Halen frontman.
Over the years, Steve Vai worked with influential bands and singers, such as Whitesnake, Alcatrazz, and David Lee Roth. He laid the foundations of his guitar skills when he began playing with Frank Zappa in the early years of his career. What started initially as being a transcriber for his work later turned into being fellow musicians on the road.
Then, Vai worked with many other musicians such as Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake. He mentions how inspirational it was for him to work with these names in almost every interview. In a previous conversation, Vai called Yngwie Malmsteen a ‘unique player,’ and he indicated that it was a ‘great motivation’ for him to top himself.
When Vai once talked about David Lee Roth, he stated that working with Roth was a great challenge for him while he was playing Eddie Van Halen songs. Vai said that it was hard for him to adapt to the band’s style because he was playing differently. However, he added his style to Eddie Van Halen’s songs.
Furthermore, Roth became an inspiration for Vai with his wild performances on the stage. Vai mentioned that thanks to Roth, he learned how to be extroverted while he was performing. Steve noted that they were changing their clothes from one song to another to make the performances more impressive. He identified this experience as a different time in the music world.
In a recent interview, Vai looked back on his collaborations with Alcatrazz, Whitesnake, David Lee Roth, and Frank Zappa and shared details about how these experiences affected him. Vai mentioned that he was aware that he had to play the parts of such vital names as Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, and John Sykes. However, he did not feel restricted while working with these bands because he was not trying to be like them.
When asked if he felt restricted working with musicians like DLR, Vai replied as below:
“On one level, absolutely not. You know, on one level, I was pushing myself, joyfully, to the absolute end of my ability because the platform was there; I had to deliver. I wasn’t going to try to deliver like Yngwie in Alcatrazz or Edward Van Halen with Dave Roth, or John Sykes with Whitesnake, I couldn’t. But I knew that I could deliver something, and I threw myself into it, and it was great.
But I knew, as I was going through it, I was living a particular fantasy of being a rock star, and I knew it was fleeting, and I was totally okay with that. I didn’t want to chase that for the rest of my life. I knew that the timing was right, and I had the opportunity to travel the world, to play to sold-out arenas, be treated like a king, make a gob of money, and make great music with great guys.
I also knew that it was going to come to an end because I had to, at some point, start doing this other type of music, and when I started to do it, and I recorded Passion and Warfare; I actually thought my career was over. Surprise, surprise.”
As Vai mentioned, he put his uniqueness into this genre and became an inspiration to those who came after him. Just as these big names helped Steve Vai go beyond himself, he continues to push his limits with his new albums, as he did with his recently released album, ‘Inviolate.‘