Polyphia Guitarist Explains Why Black Sabbath Is ’So Easy,’ Reveals How Steve Vai Reacted When They Asked for Collab

In late September, guitar-centric prog rock champions Polyphia have released a song titled “Ego Death,” featuring Steve Vai as a guest. In a recent interview with Guitar.com, Polyphia guitarist Tim Henson recalled how this collaboration came to be in the first place. Although this piece came out in 2022, it all goes back to 2020 and the NAMM show. Henson explains:

“In 2020, Steve asked us to open for him at his NAMM show. Afterwards we went to the DiMarzio party and got drunk and asked him, ‘Okay, would you be down to feature on one of our songs?’ And he was like, ‘Of course!’ A couple of years later, we had the song and sent him an email. And here it is.”

Not long after the song’s release, Steve Vai also reacted to the finished product, explaining how he was surprised that the band edited his part to make it fit the song the way they wanted to. Of course, Vai liked it but was worried that the guys from Polyphia weren’t happy about it, thus the editing.

Polyphia - Ego Death feat. Steve Vai (Official Music Video)

Going further into the chat, Tim Henson looked back at growing and starting his musical journey when he was a kid. Son to a Chinese mother and American father, he discussed what the whole process looked like in the beginning, offering:

“Talk to literally any Asian mum and they’ll tell you that they got their kid to start tap dancing at the age of two. A lot of immigrants view the United States as the land of opportunity, so you have the opportunity to start on something young and bust your ass at it.

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He adds:

“I fucking hated the violin growing up. I had fairly abusive teachers. If I fucked up, I got my hand slapped with the fucking bow. And I can’t say that my mum was super-chill about forcing me to practise either.

“You can imagine, as a child, you’d just fucking hate it. But it taught me discipline and I’m very grateful for the experience because it made me fall in love with guitar.”

Speaking of starting out on the guitar, Henson also recalled how his dad was a fan of classic rock, ultimately showing him Black Sabbath as a great way to start. He offered:

“Black Sabbath is so easy to learn by ear. Everything is pentatonic E minor.

The aforementioned song “Ego Death” which features Steve Vai is just one of the 12 pieces on the group’s upcoming album “Remember That You Will Die.” The record is set to be released on October 28 through Rise Records.

Photo: Delusion23 (Polyphia – Manchester, UK – 6 February 2019), Guy Evans (Tony Iommi HomeofMetal Fox 0659)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.