Orianthi is Alice Cooper’s new guitarist, and she’s good !
Having played along side her idol Steve Vai in one of her videos, she definitely has the chops to hold her own. No strumming and crooning here. I have played guitar myself for many years, studied Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Bach, Jim Hall, Joe Pass, Dream Theater (yes everything). I respect this lady’s playing. (Be sure to check out Jennifer Batten someday as well while you are poking around the internet).
Here is an article from GuitarPlanet interviewing Orianthi:
With her EP ‘Fire’ out now, a new record next year and a tour with Alice Cooper terrifying a venue near you soon, guitar heroine Orianthi is a busy lady. But not too busy to have a little chat with Guitar Planet.
Australian-born Orianthi has packed a lot into her 24 years. Jamming with Steve Vai at 14,
touring her home country a few years later, meeting and playing with Santana before she could legally have a beer with him…it’s been, as she puts it, “a pretty crazy journey”. And now, the lady who played with Michael Jackson is about to put out her own album – but not before she wields the axe (probably both kinds) for Alice Cooper on his latest tour. She took some time out to talk blood, playing live and finding the right energy…
So what when you rehearse with Alice Cooper, do they hand you your leathers and bucket of blood as you walk in?
Yup! We get blood poured over us, you know…no, being the new one into this big touring family is odd, but they’ve been very welcoming.
What first got you into playing guitar? Your dad was a musician, so do you think all this was inevitable?
I think so, with having guitars all over the house and my Dad looking really cool when he played. When I first picked up a guitar I knew it was what I wanted to do. My Dad taught me to strum and he had a great record collection, from Jimi through to Santana, so I’d listen to all those records, like a real hippy!
Does playing become just a job, or is it still a hobby?
It’s both. I love playing, but there are some days when you’re just exhausted, or when you play a song over and over again, and that’s when it becomes work; like when I was on a press tour for my single and I’d be half-asleep, I couldn’t even say my name but I was playing. That’s a little weird, but when I’m jamming and performing with people, I love it.
What’s the thrill of performing, for you?
It’s when the adrenaline hits you. You don’t want to think when you’re performing, you just want to fly; every night’s different. Plus there’s the energy you get from the crowd, I love that. And you know, you’re bringing happiness to people for a few hours. That feels really good.
Away from the arenas, your own record is out now. How do you go about writing songs?
I like writing by myself, I work at home on the piano a lot. I really love co-writing too, but it depends on the person: if you walk into a room with someone and the energy’s great, it can be really inspiring, but if it’s not right you feel like you never want to write another song. But I haven’t had too many of those!
You have quite a classic rock pedigree, but is it fair to say there’s quite a big pop influence in your own music?
Yes, I grew up listening to a lot of Hendrix, but I was also a big Savage Garden fan! But the blues was the thing that really influenced me, and it comes through even in the more soft rock and pop things I play. Playing with Michael, for example, on something like Beat It, I was still able to put something of my own in there. So I do like that commercial rock sound, but that’s not all I’m about; everything I do – even the way I solo – is quite blues based.
You do have quite a distinctive approach to soloing…
Yes, I like them to be songs within a song, I think a lot about their construction. I don’t like to think too much when I play live, but in the studio I enjoy giving them structure. Some days that happens really quickly, and other days it doesn’t come at all and I have to go away and come back a few days later. Recording the new album in Nashville was great though, the energy was just right.
Is getting that energy right important for musicians at all levels, do you think?
Definitely! I think everything is about energy. If it’s not the right mix of people, it can be a mess. It’s important that everyone clicks musically and ‘gets’ each other.
Everyone seems to click on the Alice tour; what’s it like playing to those big stadium crowds?
The biggest crowd I’ve played to was something like 80,000 people. That’s very addictive! Having that many people happy and jumping up and down is like a high, you just want to get back to doing it. Once you get on stage and you get that rush, it’s highly addictive stuff.
But I imagine your own live shows will be a little different?
Yes, it’s just classic rock and roll. The Alice shows are going to be crazy, but I toured Japan with just a guitar player, a bass player and a drummer. It was real stripped-down rock. But there’s a new sound to this record so the shows will be a little different; I think it’s important to change stuff.
So finally, based on your experiences, what’s the secret to a great live performance?
I don’t really know! Sometimes you’ll be exhausted, you haven’t slept in a week, and it’ll be your best show; other times you’ll be energised and well rested and it’s your worst one. You never know what’s coming. I’m never completely content with a show, though! I’m always happy, but you’re always looking for that perfect show. I guess there has to be something that you’re searching for, artistically and performance-wise, that makes you want to reach higher.