STEVE VAI Talks New Track "Candle Power", Reveals Plans For Acoustic Album

July 24, 2020, 18 days ago

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STEVE VAI Talks New Track "Candle Power", Reveals Plans For Acoustic Album

Guitar legend Steve Vai is featured in a new interview with discussing life as an artist in lockdown. Following is an excerpt from the chat.

Q: Have you shifted your focus to some other recording projects that were maybe on the back burner, things you can do at home?

Vai: "Absolutely. I’ve started working on some other things… it’s difficult for me to talk about them because my plans change. Once I let something out that I’m doing, people expect it right away. So I should preface this with, I don’t know what’s going to happen. My original plan was to record three trio-based instrumental guitar records that have no overdubs. One record was going to be all clean guitar tones. The second one was going to be my normal dirty tone. The third one was going to be this tuned-down eight-string stuff, like the heaviest of stuff I could possibly dream of. That was one project and I laid it all out, but then other things got in the way.

I recorded one track, 'Candle Power', and that’s for the clean records. It’s on YouTube. It’s got this cool technique I was fooling around with that I call 'joint shifting.' It’s where you bend notes in different directions while you’re pulling off and fretting other notes. I discovered the only way to really do it accurately is to use the tip of your finger and then bend the joint at the tip, as opposed to conventional bending. I looked at it and thought, 'This is like joint shifting.' There are some pretty bizarre things in that piece. I wanted to challenge myself for my 60th birthday. I used a Strat-style guitar, which is not what I usually play. It’s a clean tone with no whammy – that’s like removing one of my limbs – and no pick.

I never developed my finger picking, but I thought, 'OK, let me try it. Something will come out of it.' It was an idea that I had in the back of my mind for this weird bending thing. It sounds almost like country bending. I did Alien Guitar Secrets Episode Eight, and that’s about an hour and a half where I play the video and I also explain the whole approach to the song.

I had never seen this technique being used quite this way, but I assumed it was done before by perhaps many players. After the track came out, some people had mentioned that Jerry Donahue did things like this, so I checked him out, and yes, he was doing similar-type things decades ago, although it was new for me.

There’s also the Real Illusions trilogy – I’ve already released two records, so I decided that I should do the third one. I’ve started to pull that together. On one of my Alien Guitar Secrets, I did an acoustic and vocal version for a song, 'The Moon And I'. The response was so great that I thought, 'You know what? I’m going to make an acoustic record.' Just solo acoustic guitar and vocals. But as mentioned, who knows how it will all turn out? That’s the surprise and delight.”

Read more here.

"Candle Power" is a new track Vai composed in celebration of his 60th birthday (on June 6th). He explains:

"I wanted to challenge myself for my 60th birthday and decided to record a simple trio track. I gave myself some parameters to work within. I told myself I would use a Strat style guitar (tougher for me to play then a Jem), use a very clean tone (not conventional for me), no whammy bar (that’s like losing a body part for me), and no pick, just fingers (way out of my comfort zone).

I also had this idea for a particular type of riff that can only really be played on a guitar with no whammy bar. It’s a technique that I call 'joint shifting'. This is where you bend a note while fretting another, but I wanted to do this technique with a combination of double and triple stop single note bends while fretting other notes and releasing bends. After considerable experimenting, I discovered it created a unique sounding passage. You can hear this technique on a few sections of the song. I certainly hope other ambitious guitar player see the potential in this technique and take it to the moon!

We shot this quick little video of me performing the track at my Harmony Hut studio.

During this period, the world is slowly starting to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people are still facing challenges and are eager to find entertainment on the internet. I have seen the best come out in many people during this challenging time. When people join together with a common positive intention, the power surge they create within the collective is the healing element that is most needed. Like many little candles coming together to burn as bright as a star.

I needed a title for the song, and with the above in mind, and the fact that it’s my 60th, I choose the title 'Candle Power'. We are even issuing a limited edition commemorative 'Candle Power' candle in the new merch store that also comes with a high-quality download of the song:


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