And here we are, at the end of a wild year. I hope you enjoy the picture of a sunset in Montevideo, Uruguay while I ponder what to make of all this.
First of all, I hope that, wherever you are, you’re having a wonderful holiday season in whatever manner you choose to celebrate.
I am celebrating in quiet reflection, grateful for a year of travel and music and unforgettable experiences. And also grateful to finally get my bass and suitcase back after a week of tracking them as they took an unscheduled extended tour of South America. This is the ecstatic look of someone who was just reunited with his baggage on Christmas Eve at LAX.
Aside from a couple of weeks in Asia with Joe Satriani coming up in February 2017, this marks the end of 18 months of near-constant touring in support of Satch’s “Shockwave Supernova” and The Aristocrats’ “Tres Caballeros”. Over 250 shows on five continents. Amazing, exhilarating, exhausting. What a ride. I know I’ve thanked everyone before, but speaking from the heart one last time this cycle: THANK YOU to everyone around the world who made this possible. Because it’s not possible without You.
Working with Joe Satriani has been a real joy these past 4 years. The utmost professionalism of everyone on Team Satch keeps the touring machine humming nicely, and there’s always room for additional musical creativity, which keeps growing and expanding with each new experience. The Satch/Keneally/Minnemann/Beller band played what I thought were some of our best shows ever just last month in South America, over 100 gigs into this album’s touring cycle. That’s a good sign. I’m very grateful to Joe and his entire organization for all the ways I feel welcome in their midst, no matter how many monitor adjustments I asked for and no matter how weird it may have seemed that I travelled with a red pillow everywhere I went. Oh, you didn’t know I do that? See, this is why you subscribe.
Then there’s The Aristocrats. I kind of feel like we’re the dog who caught the car: Somehow, we managed to tour the whole world this time (yes, Florida, we know, we owe you one). I hope it’s not betraying a confidence, but I want to relay a conversation that Steve Vai and I had at the very beginning of the band’s existence. It was a chat about the business end of things, and the challenges we’d face as a new band in the instrumental scene. At some point, he said to me, “You know, you guys are going to have to tour your asses off.” I think we just did that? Yeah, we did.
Some truth: I’m particularly proud of what Guthrie, Marco and I were able to pull off these past 18 months, and I want to immediately accompany that perhaps unseemly, self-congratulatory sentiment by once again thanking everyone in Aristocrats World – booking agents, touring partners and crew, promoters, publicists, and especially the fans – for helping us reach the far corners of the globe with our very unusual and decidedly not-mainstream music. Only because of a massive effort on everyone’s part was it possible to hear a crowd in India sing the melody to “Get It Like That”, or watch a genuine moshpit open up in the end of our Buenos Aires show, or hear the “Smuggler’s Corridor” melody sung around the world, or have people throwing rubber chickens and pigs at us every other night. Sometimes, it didn’t seem like we were playing instrumental music. It just felt like a regular old rock concert. And I mean that in the most affectionate and positive way possible.
If you want to relive or review the whirlwind world tour we just finished, the best place to do it is at The Aristocrats’ Facebook Page, where you can see the whole thing in reverse chronological order, with a ton of pictures and stories throughout. For nostalgia’s sake, I’ve taken the liberty of posting my entire touring schedule of the past 18 months on this special page right here. Perhaps you were at one of these shows. At the risk of repeating myself: Thank you so, so much.
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What now? My road energy is a bit spent (yes, that actually happens), so I’m looking to 2017 to recharge and leave space to spend more time at home and actually take some time off. But also…
…it’s been quite a long time since I put out a solo album, has it not? Perhaps you started following me when The Aristocrats got going, or when Joe Satriani took me on, or for some other reason in the last six years. If so, you might not know that this list was originally created because I put out a couple of solo albums in the aughts (oughts? awwwts? ‘000000s?) and wanted to create an online machine to reach people interested in such a thing.
In that light, here’s something: I essentially have a whole new solo album in my head, documented in various personal shorthands of the modern age. It’s been rattling around between my ears for much of the past three years, building upon itself, refining and revealing itself in pieces over time. All that while, I knew I wanted to make the demos at home. So I imagine I will be spending a good portion of 2017 exploring that exciting road. I’ll surely have a few other things to share – some clinics, some more studio recordings (hint hint, I’m around now), maybe even some limited touring – that I’ll look forward to announcing when the time is right. And while I’m not sure exactly what else 2017 has in store quite yet, I’m looking forward to this new landscape and welcome it with open arms.
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That’s all for this year. This is the sound of me wishing you, once again, the happiest of holidays, and the most positive and peaceful of transitions into the New Year.
Peace and love to all,
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