With his new album – Inviolate – in the can, Steve Vai recently appeared on the cover of our sibling magazine in the U.K., Guitarist. In this year's March issue, Vai explores the electric guitars that define not only his new record but the whole span of his dazzling career.
And while we love to gain such insights about gear, it is also important to the development of any musician to understand why it is they do what they do.
Who hasn’t asked themselves, what is the meaning of success? Am I enjoying playing the guitar? How do I connect with the world creatively?
The answers to such fundamental questions often elude us.
In Vai’s self-penned introduction as Honorary Editor of Guitarist issue 482, he eloquently offers some pearls of wisdom we may all benefit from, regardless of where we are in our musical lives…
“The most important thing about playing the guitar is that you are enjoying what you’re playing and that it’s something meaningful to you.
“You’d be surprised at how many people do not allow themselves to do this because of conditioned thoughts they were taught by the world, believing they should be doing something different.
“My advice is to abandon all dreams of the future. Forget about it completely. Forget about the fantasies of wild success – because they might happen and they might not.
“I can tell you if they don’t happen, you’ll blame yourself, or somebody else, or the world in general, or the music business, or your parents.
“I can also tell you that if you do get there and you do have that success, it’s not going to be enough for you, because if what you’re doing right now is not enough for you to feel fulfilled, it’s not going to be enough later.
“No matter how successful you become.
“Now, I know this is an easy thing for Steve Vai to say. And I wish everybody could experience the kind of success that they dream of, so they can discover it’s not it.
“That’s of the greatest value because when you receive a unique inspiration that’s tailor-built for you, throw yourself into it unconditionally with no excuses, NOW.
“Because when you’re enjoying the creative process NOW, you’re living life.
“You say, ‘What about my future?’ Well, guess what happens when you live a happy life now? The future takes care of itself.
“Exercise your creative ideas with no excuses. That means using obstacles to your advantage. That’s a mindset: to see challenges as opportunities.
“Can you see your own worthiness and embrace it? If you can, you will enjoy being yourself.
“When you enjoy being yourself, you really enjoy all the creative things that you do.”
Pick up a copy of Steve Vai’s latest studio album – Inviolate – here.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.