Steve Vai Opens Up About Frank Zappa’s Influence On Him

Steve Vai talked about the current events in his life and his music career during an interview with Alicia Atout. The guitarist mentioned how he was affected by Frank Zappa while working with his band as well.

Throughout his long music career, Steve Vai had a chance to work with many impactful musicians such as David Lee Roth, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, and Alcatrazz. Vai, who has gotten attention with his guitar playing capabilities, improved himself in this instrument in his earlier life working with Frank Zappa.

Vai was studying at Berklee College of Music when he sent a transcription of ‘The Black Page’ and a record he made with his college band to Zappa. Frank wanted Vai as the transcriptionist after he realized how talented he was. From that on, the future rock star toured and played with one of the most innovative musicians of his generation.

In a previous interview, Steve stated that Zappa influenced him about guitars in many ways, such as when he began to modify them as Zappa did. Since then, Steve learned lots of information about playing guitar and continued using them in his music career.

In a recent interview, when Steve Vai was asked about his experience working with Zappa, he stated that it was unbelievable. Vai explained that he could not believe he talked, worked, and performed with Zappa. The guitarist also added that he felt a lot of tension while responding to Frank because he did not want to disagree with him. Although he was very nervous around the musician, he could show his talent to the utmost whenever playing guitar, as Vai stated.

Steve Vai explained the experience of working with Zappa in his words:

“It was kind of surreal. I was a huge fan, and the next thing you know, I’m in Frank’s studio, and I’m recording. Frank was such an ominous presence. A lot of that it’s in my mind because I revered him. I always felt a little intimidated and awkward because he was Frank Zappa, and it would still be incredible to me to even just see him in the same room.

More or less be on stage every now and then go ‘What’s going on here. There’s Frank Zappa.’ I’d watch him walk across the studio; I’d just be sitting and listening to him, talking, and I’d be like, ‘I’m sitting here talking to Frank.’ I know it’s kind of a crazy thing, but I was twenty years old.

If there was a little bit of difficulty in responding because I was intimidated and nervous about anything, you don’t want to piss somebody off; you don’t want to disagree. That’s the mentality I had at the time. But when it came time to deliver on the guitar, I was like, ‘You watch! I’m not intimidated one bit because I got this.’ That was what it took to be a Zappa musician. You couldn’t be intimidated that way. You had to be bulletproof.”

You can watch the whole interview below.