May 23, 2007, 15 years ago

steve vai news string theories riff notes

Guitar legend STEVE VAI has unveiled his new band under the moniker STRING THEORIES. The lineup plus comments follow:

"SV: guitar, vox and audience panderer. (not so new member)

Jeremy Colson: drum kit and all sorts of things that you hit. (not so new member either)

Dave Weiner: Rhythm guitar, sitar, acoustic guitar and smile. (The longest member besides Steve)

Bryan Beller: Bass and impossible ears.

Alex DePue: Electric and acoustic violin, keyboards, the new fast fingers.

Ann Marie Calhoun: Electric and acoustic violin, Viola, Banjo and keyboards, confidence personified.

Zack Wiesinger: Solo opening act guitar extravaganza and perhaps a few saxophone honks here and there with the band."

In other news, Vai has issue the following open letter regarding the lineup changes:

"I wanted to give you all an update on the change up in the band for the tour in support of Sound Theories Vol I & II.

I have been tremendously fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest and most appropriate players in the world for my band. Having said that I am always looking for ways to add new colors and approaches to the music and changing up the band is necessary in regard to this.

Although I like to change the band up every 2 or so years, for the last 6 years I worked with THE BREED consisting of Jeremy Colson on Drums, Dave Wiener on guitar, Tony MacAlpine on guitar and keys and Billy Sheehan on bass. This band was a blessing on so many levels. The obvious musical skills they are capable of speaks for itself. But the personal chemistry, touring atmosphere and bond that was formed with this band can only be known by those in the band. In my book the Breed is unbeatable in this realm.

Reflecting on this band dynamic has made it tremendously difficult for me to make the decision to change it up. Actually, my intention was to put the band on hold for a while, as it would be nice to have the option to go back to it at some time in the future.

The new record Sound Theories is an orchestral record with a rock band that was part of the ensemble of the Metropole orchestra that performed the music. Read about the new record here.

Although it’s impossible to perform much of this music live, I wanted to figure out a way of introducing some compositions from this record into a set list that consist of some older favorites and some tracks from the catalog that have not been performed live yet.

I opted to replace the rhythm section and add two violin players. At first I was planning on a complete overhaul but after careful consideration I decided to invite Jeremy Colson (drums) back into the band as I felt his abilities would meld with the new material, plus he knows the older stuff and is as rock solid a drummer as I have ever played with.

I needed a keyboard player that doubles on guitar and during auditions I tried out several but could not find the heaviness of a 7 string that some stuff needed and the delicacy of an acoustic player who could also play wicked keyboards, but fortunately both of the new violin players double on keyboards so all I needed was a rhythm guitarist. I decided to invite Dave Weiner back into the band, as he is a chameleon of the strings. Fortunately for me both of these worthy soldiers accepted my invitation.

That brings us to Tony MacAlpine and Billy Sheehan:

After our last gig Tony informed me that he was taking a gig with Michel Polnareff and was basically out for the rest of the year with both that gig and his own band. It felt like the right time to make a change. Tony’s band consists of Billy Sheehan on bass and Virgil Donati on drums. If you’re looking for serious bang for your buck I would highly recommend seeing them if they play in your area.

In my conversation with Billy on the change up we touched on the idea of hopefully always having the Breed to go back to at some time in the future when schedules, logistics and my own musical aspirations come together to make it a potential reality. I know that if those days come they will be filled with the same joy and ferocity that the Breed is capable of creating.

We held three days of auditions in Los Angeles and after much deliberation I am happy to report that we have found two extraordinary violin players who will stun you with their prowess and bring a new meaning to the idea of three-part string harmony with serious distortion. It’s too early to release their names but keep posted and that info will be published soon.

The band has retained its high-energy escapades but at the same time the overall sound with the two violins adds a different touch.

It’s a heartbreaking tragedy that the Internet can be a den of iniquity for gossip. It’s so easy for anybody to go online and construct and contribute to blogs that relate to our lowest common denominators. Gossip is poison.

I have read outrageous and hurtful things regarding my relationship with Billy. This pains me to no end because it’s not only untrue, but both Billy and I have to answer to these inane and embarrassing e-mails and posts.

I would like to put to rest these insidious rumors.

The Breed and I go back 6 years and when you are with a band for that long, traveling, living and making music together, there are no secrets at sea. You are either going to get to know each other really well and bond or you’re going to realize immediately that it’s not working. I have the luxury of letting go of anyone that is not working out for musical or personal reasons. I’ve done this many times. The fact that the Breed was together for 6 years should give some indication that it was working. And I can attest to the fact that it worked beyond my expectations.

Our respect for each other and our bond was, and still is supreme. But with Bill it goes a little deeper.

Billy was actually the one that was instrumental in getting me the gig with DAVID LEE ROTH. The contribution that the Power Twins (Billy and I) made to a genre that focused on high intensity virtuoso string control is to this day revered. But underneath all the platinum albums and world tours was the attachment we created as friends.

When the break came for me to work with him close to a decade later, not only was it an opportunity for us to join together as the Power Twins with more maturity and freedom in our playing, but it was also an opportunity to join together again and travel the world as friends.

It all worked beautifully. Billy is the consummate professional. He contributed above and beyond the call of duty on many levels.

It’s easy to read a vicious blog that can paint a different picture of what two peoples relationship is. What those Internet drama-craving ner’do-wells don’t see is the personal side of things.

Through the years Billy and I have shared a special connection. Besides the fact that he is the elite of the elite at what he does and is in every sense of the word unique as a player, he is as emotionally solid as they come. There have been many situations where I would be concerned or even depressed about things such as my performance, things that were written in the press, personal issues with family and friends and even myself that he has supported me on with wisdom, patience and compassion. We all looked up to him. He was always the center of strength in the band and there is not a person I know on the face of the Earth that could make us laugh as uncontrollably as he could, and for such long periods that at times it was physically painful to laugh so hard!

You can only comfortably turn to someone who has the ears to listen to your insecurities without prejudice, without judgment and can keep things to themselves while at the same time offer insightful, honest and compassionate advice that can give you the strength to turn your world around. That’s very rare in this world. That’s a true friend. This is the behind the music that you don’t ever see that insidious reality TV will never capture.

It’s impossible for me to quantify the value of having someone like that in my life.

But then I hear that some blog says, 'Vai shit-cans Sheehan'.

Being probably the most criticized guitar player in the world I have lived through years of abuse in the press and have grown pretty thick skin. You just learn to let it go somehow and forge ahead. But this is just plain unfair. For those of you who are doing this, shame on you.

In a nutshell, Billy Sheehan is the most extraordinary and uniquely gifted rock bass player in the world. He is irreplaceable. Above that he is a dear friend. I’m just looking for a combination of different sounds for this tour.

Thanks for reading."

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