There should be more smiles, and maybe some raised eyebrows, for fans when they get a chance to dive into the whole of Shapeshifting on April 10. The 15-song set -- recorded with Aronoff, the Revolution's Lisa Coleman, Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction, Alanis Morissette) and, on "Yesterday's Yesterday," Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel) -- is one of Satriani's most diverse, stylistically; A title such as "Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me" might give you some idea of how wide Satriani shot while making it. He calls it "the complete opposite approach" to his usual way of working, but he was happy with the results.
"Usually you find a certain direction... and every song that comes in gets filtered through that," Satriani explains. "This time I took all the songs that were written, which were all very different stylistically, and said, 'I'm going to have the songs and the styles dictation how I play and what I play, not the other way around.' So I had to change and morph with each (song). I had all these musical styles and directions that seemed to contradict each other, but as a whole it seemed like a really interesting artistic journey."
That approach made the album title a no-brainer, too. "I became this changeling of a musician," Satriani says, "someone who has to shape-shift in order to get these songs to be played with the authenticity and truthfulness and heart -- everything you want to put into it."
Satriani is still planning to hit the road at some point to promote Shapeshifting with Aronoff (who played with Satriani in Chickenfoot and on last year's Experience Hendrix Tour), bassist Bryan Beller and keyboardist Rai Thistlethwayte. The tour was supposed to star on April 15 in Europe and then come to North America, but as with so many other things, it's on hold for the time being. If nothing else, it's given him time to prepare for the live shows and get the Shapeshifting material into shape for live audiences.
"It's impossible to do all those guitar parts verbatim from the record," Satriani notes. "The record is its own listening experience; You put on an album and put in your earbuds or whatever and you go about your day. And when you're in front of a band it's a completely different thing. People want to watch the band play, and they expect different things to happen because of the music. So we have to apply ourselves to make it work, face to face, with an audience and provide performances that allow for a whole other thing to take over."