What’s your favorite song to play live and why?
For Chickenfoot I think “Sexy Little Thing” is still one of my favorite songs to play with the band. I don’t know what it is. I guess because it feels less derivative of where each of us came from in our other gigs. It doesn’t sound like a Joe Satriani song. It doesn’t sound like a Chili Peppers song. It doesn’t sound like anything that Mike and Sammy did with Van Halen. That one just seems like it fell together for all the right reasons. And when we recorded it, it was a live recording, loose and it captured some of the greatest things about the band.
It’s really hard to come up with a good answer about my own show and playing that stuff live. That’s a difficult one to think about. Somewhere in the 3rd or 4th song that’s where you get comfortable with where you are, what’s happening on stage, and you get a handle on the show. The first song is just an explosion of energy. And you’re taking in the sound of the place and everyone’s dealing with their equipment and checking out how the audience is coming off those first few minutes. And then of course toward the end of the set, there’s a bit of elation that sort of works into it, which is confusing the issue. You’re just spent from just giving everything you’ve got and so who knows if you’re playing good or not at that point. It becomes like a psychedelic experience for me.
I can say sometimes when I’m getting to the end of “Summer Song,” I’m thinking “This is the greatest.” I guess for introspection on this last tour, there’s a new song from the new record called “I’ll Put a Stone on Your Cairn” and that’s the one of the deepest, most emotionally gut-wrenching for me to get through because I want to play it so right. I want to put out the totality of the feeling that went into writing it and recording it. But at the same time, when I finish that last note there’s a big sigh of relief that I didn’t mess it up. I take it personally if I mess it up. Even the songs that are just fun, like “Satch Boogie,” without the benefits of lyrics I can’t just talk to people. In other words, every song has to be played in a very specific way to maintain and support the true meaning of the song because it’s instrumental. I’m not just there to solo or show technique or step on pedals. I’m actually playing these melodies and they represent feelings and stories and emotions, and I know that my audience that has stayed with me all decades they’re connected with those songs. They’ve gone through life listening to these things. I’m very careful to play each song very specifically. So that means each song is a sort of roller coaster ride.
Who was the last guitar player you heard or saw that blew you away?
Ron Wood the last time I saw The Rolling Stones. It was one of those nights where he was on fire and it was all working. I talked to him briefly before this show and once again I thought, “Wow. This guy is just so…up.” There’s always a lot of tension backstage with performers, especially a big show like that, but Ron Wood always just seems to be having the greatest time. He was totally straight and would look you right in the eye. So I remember going out to watch them and thinking “This is going to be a cool night.” And I was totally blown away because he sounded great and played all the right stuff. He was a fantastic compliment to The Rolling Stones. I remember walking away thinking, “Wow, he is one of the greats.” He’s just a natural musician. That’s what’s so wonderful about him. And boy, just when you think you’ve heard everything he’s done, he just pulls out a new catalog of stuff.