Steve Vai Compares David Lee Roth’s Artistic Freedom To His
Steve Vai is set to release his highly-anticipated new album, ‘Vai/Gash,’ he recorded in 1991 with the late singer Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto. The album promises to be a tour-de-force of Vai’s signature guitar wizardry, blending it with his old friend’s musical genius to create a truly unique and unforgettable listening experience. In a recent interview with Total Rock, Vai compared working with David Lee Roth and Gash regarding artistic freedom while sharing his thoughts about flying solo in his upcoming record.
“You can obviously hear so much of the influence from various types of bands like Steppenwolf, even Led Zeppelin,” the guitarist said when asked about his inspirations for the new album. “There’s a little bit in there. But it’s more like Van Halen because of just the way the guitars are laid out and that period. But the thing that’s so different is… The stuff I was doing with Roth was more like ‘West Coast California.’”
Vai continued, “Roth is more of a California kind of energy. And the music was more like ‘Happy California metal.’ Gash is… man, he’s from New York, and he’s a tough biker, Italian. And you hear that; it’s a whole different energy. It’s an east coast energy compared to California. And you can hear that, although there are similarities. And also, one of the biggest differences in this project from any of those rock bands I was in is that I was a great collaborator in those bands.”
He went on to talk about how being a lone wolf felt, explaining, “But everything went through a committee, everything that we did. ‘Do you like this song? Do you like this bridge? Do you like [that]? Well, let’s talk to the producer. What about this guitar tone? I don’t think that note is quite right. What’s that squeak? Can you take that out? Well, let’s see what it sounds like. Let’s see what the label thinks of these songs.’ There was none of that. Nothing.”
The musician seemed to enjoy the process as he said, “I woke up, and I went down into my studio. The door was locked, and nobody was allowed in. And I just ripped this record out. I even engineered it all myself. The only thing I didn’t do was sing. I sang a little bit in the background and played the drums. So, I had no committee that required approval of anything I did.”
David Lee Roth and Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto had different styles as distinct as the stars in the night sky. Roth, the charismatic frontman of Van Halen, commands the stage with his powerful and flamboyant vocal delivery, his voice an instrument of raw energy, and his range is as wide as the horizon.
On the other hand, the late singer Johnny Sombrotto’s approach was an improvisational and free-form journey, where elements of noise, dissonance, and spoken word intertwined to create a truly unique and unforgettable listening experience.
Roth’s vocalizing is a showcase of showmanship, energy, and flamboyancy, while Sombrotto’s was an artistic expression of experimentation and innovation. Both vocalists were masters of their craft but hailed from entirely different musical universes. For this album, we will dive into Gash’s universe.