In a brand new interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, legendary guitarist Steve Vai was asked what it was that convinced him to join David Lee Roth and WHITESNAKE when his solo material is so different from the music that those artists churn out. He responded: "I was a teenager in the '70s, so I was really into the rock music of the '70s — LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, QUEEN, KISS, ALICE COOPER. That music just lit me up. And I also was composing at the time. I was listening to fusion, and [Al Di] Meola and [John] McLaughlin, Carlos [Santana] and jazz — I was listening to a lot of different kinds of music. But the energy of rock music has always been at the center of what I do."
He continued: "When the opportunity came up to join, like, Dave Roth's band, it was the perfect gig for me, because I had enough authenticity in my guitar playing — rock authenticity — that it worked. But it was quirky enough that it was still me. And Roth is kind of quirky in a sense — I say that not in a negative way, but he does funny little things sometimes. So we were a perfect match. I thought it was a great gig. And then when WHITESNAKE came along — I mean, I liked the music of WHITESNAKE. That record that they released ['Whitesnake'] — [with] 'Still Of The Night' and all that — that was huge. It sounded great, and David Coverdale's an incredible singer.
"So, maybe a part of me questioned it, you know? 'Should I go and do my solo music now?' But I didn't, because I wanted to be in these rock bands. And I wrote music with Dave, and I was just expressing a particular side. All through it, I knew that it was fleeting. And as far as what other musicians choose to do, I would be very surprised if anybody I know were offered those gigs and turned them down! [Laughs]"
Asked if he has ever considered going back to a situation like that, a la Joe Satriani joining CHICKENFOOT a few years ago, Vai said: "No. I've done it. And I get offers all the time to form supergroups… And I'm not opposed to doing something if I think all the moving parts are in place. But I'm not interested in trying to re-live the glory days of yore. Because that's what a lot of people wanna do. They do one style and they get a taste of rock stardom and it becomes addictive. I wouldn't be opposed to doing something with a supergroup if I thought that everybody was on the same page, with a desire to do something completely different, uncommercial yet very accessible, and just really intense and musical and different somehow. But it's really hard to find guys like that. So I don't look for it. I'm happy building the music that I do now. I went through all that stuff. It's not impossible to assume that I might do a legacy tour or something with one of those bands, just to get a ya-ya out, but we'll have to see."
Vai's "Modern Primitive / Passion And Warfare 25th Anniversary Edition", a celebratory 2CD collection of classic tracks and previously unreleased music, was made available in June via Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment. The set includes the first-ever release of Vai's "Modern Primitive" songs and recordings. Based on song sketches and works-in-progress penned and recorded by Vai following the release of "Flex-Able", his debut album, in January 1984, the music on "Modern Primitive" was completed by Vai for release as a full album disc and the second CD is the bonus remastering of the "Passion And Warfare 25th Anniversary Edition"