Kim: Who would you say is your biggest musical influence that is not a guitarist?
Joe Well, probably my high school music theory teacher. He was the one that was able to reach me as a teenager and show me that there were mysteries out there that could be explained about music. That every musician that walked the planet before me started out equally ignorant and was taught by somebody, or a few people, about what all the musicians before them had done. I learned not only music history, but music theory and was enlightened by biographies of great musicians from the classical world, the pop world and the jazz world. All those things put together really help you sort things out. When you're a young kid and you've got music in your head, you really want to try to get it out, but you don't know how it fits together. So he was a big influence on me that way. He sort of helped me figure out what it was to be a musician. How you're supposed to go about your life. It can be very difficult. The way that all of the humans have progressed in civilization is to label things. You know, not only objects but feelings, inclinations, ideas. In the case of music, they call it music theory and make it sound more important than it really is. Basically, when you get a sound in your head, and you want to remember it, you've got to call it something. If you get a sound in your head, and you want someone else in the room to understand what it is, you've got to call it something. Whatever you call it, if that other person is familiar with that lexicon or that language, then they'll know what that sound in your head is. Imagine before there was measurement and somebody had to describe length to somebody. In music it's the same way. I can look at a musician and say "I need a minor 6th there and I need it in a triplet eighth note" and that's the language that we use and then I can communicate the sound in my head to that musician so they understand it. There's just this huge vocabulary that you have to learn in order to interpret what's going on inside of you and can understand and translate all the music coming at you from other musicians. A lot of starting out as a musician is learning that language. You learn a lot about the music that's in your head when you get that language together. It's a great experience.
Kim: I know that you're the driving force behind G3. Do you have any guitarists that you have your eye on for future shows?
Joe We spend about a year to about a year and a half prior to hitting the road and the nature of the business is that you have to really work on a couple of different scenarios at once until one of them looks like it's truly gonna take off. I've gone after the obvious choices. I've been calling Eddie Van Halen and Jeff Beck for many years consistently trying to get them to come out. I've asked Kirk Hammett, from Metallica, to come out. You know, some of these guys don't like leaving their bands to come out and go solo, even if it's just for six weeks of shows. So that's been difficult. Some of the other guys, maybe, are uncomfortable standing on stage with other guitarists. They really prefer to go out on their own tours and not have that scene where they have to mix it up with other players. Generally though, I've always found that if I can get them to do one G3 show, it always changes their mind. They realize that it's not a competition, it's a very musical and friendly event and the audience doesn't see it as a competition at all, so they really have nothing to worry about. It's just getting them to that first show that's the tough part. (laughs)
Kim: Speaking of the G3 shows, is there ever any "friendly rivalry" between you guys on a show by show basis? Do you ever feel like you had an "off night" and were kind of one-upped, and if so, does that inspire you to bring it to the next level for the next show?
Joe I think every player gets on board because they realize that it's going to be good for their playing because of the participants and I think that they gravitate towards that. They want that stimulus every night. Certainly, everybody is operating on some unknown force, as we all do in life, so some of us do play better one night versus the other. But the vibe that I've tried to create on the tour is not one of competition and is one where there is a lot of latitude so people can play anywhere they want night to night. They don't have to try to be the loudest or the fastest or anything like that. They can just try to explore their own unique style. I don't think we've ever had a situation where someone felt like they were somehow getting left in the dust or something because they've all been really great players. When you get to that level, there is really no competing, because they're all so different.