In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Joe Satriani was asked if he plans to try to replicate Eddie Van Halen‘s guitar tone on the upcoming summer 2024 tour with vocalist Sammy Hagar, bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Jason Bonham that will focus largely on the music of VAN HALEN. He responded: “It’s really interesting. There’s an interesting period with Ed, which he starts with an old Marshall [amp] head and he moves forward into the late 1980s, getting more and more complicated with these Marshall heads. And then at some point it flips and he goes to a Soldano [amp] and he starts developing the 5150 with Peavey, and then he keeps moving forward. And then the new era of the [EVH] 5153 starts up.
“For a guitar player, this is a remarkable set of changes that affords you different ways of pulling things off,” Joe explained. “And one doesn’t work for the other. Using one of the brand new amps to represent something from the first album, it’s very difficult. And it’s difficult playing later songs with the earlier setup. So in the last week, my idea is the setup he was using in 1986 on ‘Live Without A Net’. He was still using Marshalls, but it was really complicated.
“If you’ve ever seen pictures of the rig, how he was using the amps, he wasn’t just plugging in and turning them up. They were going into Power Soaks. They were going into effects loops, and sophisticated effects processors, and then going into power amps. It was a complicated setup, but at the heart of it was his incredible touch. He just had a beautiful touch on the guitar. He played with such intensity. I don’t want to generalize and say that he made everything sound good, but he did. [Laughs] You notice that when you have one of his guitars and his setup or his model, he just can’t be replaced.
“But in direct answer to your question, I’m going to try to get close to the sound of each of those eras,” Satriani added. “Primarily, it’ll be for me. It’ll help me get in the mood to play the parts the way he did. And he played them one way on the album, and then every night he played them live. As far as I can tell, he changed them every night. He just could not be contained. That was what was so beautiful about his enthusiasm about playing guitar and being a musician. He just kept reinventing the parts and the chords and how he would embellish it and how he would solo over it. If you’ve been tasked with the job of imitating him, it’s like, ‘Well, which moment?'”
Hagar and Anthony previously worked with Satriani in the supergroup CHICKENFOOT. They recorded two albums between 2009 and 2011 and toured across America but never performed any VAN HALEN material. More recently, Hagar and Anthony have played some of the VAN HALEN catalog with guitarist Vic Johnson and Bonham in SAMMY HAGAR AND THE CIRCLE.
Hagar mended his relationship with Eddie Van Halen months prior to the legendary VAN HALEN guitarist’s October 2020 passing.
Sammy, Eddie, Alex Van Halen and Michael last teamed up in 2004 for a U.S. summer tour. In exchange for taking part in the tour, Anthony reportedly had to agree to take a pay cut and sign away his rights to the band name and logo.
Produced by Live Nation, the 28-date “The Best Of All Worlds” tour will commence on July 13 in West Palm Beach, Florida and will conclude on August 31 in St. Louis, Missouri.
“We’re gonna go deep into the VAN HALEN catalog,” Hagar told “The Howard Stern Show”. “If you’re gonna go deep into the VAN HALEN catalog, you need Joe Satriani.”
Although Hagar and Anthony normally play five or six VAN HALEN songs” on the road with THE CIRCLE, Sammy told Stern they are planning to only play “five or six of my songs” alongside VAN HALEN classics and deep cuts.
“When we go out next year in July, it will be almost exactly 20 years since Mike and I did a reunion with Ed and Al in ’04,” Hagar said. “Mike and I just said, ‘We can’t wait another 20 years. How long can I even sing these songs? How long can I do this stuff? I just thought it’s time to serve the fans.”
“There’s stuff we’re going to do on this next tour that we haven’t played since that tour in 2004,” Anthony added.
Regarding the challenge of learning legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen‘s parts, Satriani said: “There are things that are so iconic, you have to nail it. But if you go deep with what he did live, he never played the same thing twice. He kept evolving; he kept pushing. He’d do the recorded version a little bit, but then he moved on.
“It’s a daunting task when you do the deep dive into what he did,” he continued. “But it’s good to start at the beginning, and then you just learn all his little improvs and you get the idea of what he was trying to do. It’s thrilling; it’s fun.”
Eddie died in October 2020 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. The iconic VAN HALEN axeman passed away from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.