According to Joe Satriani, there’s one modern guitar player who’s unlike anyone else he’s ever heard. The man in question is Charles Caswell, better known for his work in a duo called Berried Alive.
Satch brought Charles up during a recent interview with Ultimate Guitar as a part of their Rapidfire segment. When asked which are some of the modern guitarists that he listens to, Joe replied:
“There’s a guitar player, Charles Caswell. He’s got a duo with his wife called Berried Alive. He plays the craziest kind of guitar I think I’ve ever [heard]. His style of playing — he can play as fast as the fastest player that I’ve ever heard.”
“It’s so unlike everybody else”
Berried Alive is a duo featuring Charles and his wife, Kaylie Caswell. It may be a little tricky to fully explain the genre that they fit in. On their website, they state that their style is something like “EDM-pop with elements of trap, hard rock, metal, hip-hop, and avant-garde.”
Satriani also made an interesting comparison, adding:
“It’s as complicated as Tosin Abasi or something like that. But what he chooses to do, how he composes it — it’s so unlike everybody else.”
Discussing the matter, Joe also reflected on the current guitar scene and young musicians. As the guitar legend explained, he’s more than thrilled to see people today deciding to go down this path.
“Young people alive today — this world was challenging them,” Satriani said. “Life is challenging, so they’re showing us what it’s like to be a young person alive today with a guitar in their hands. You can’t argue with that. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Additionally, he’s both happy and impressed to see young musicians showcasing their technical prowess through social media.
“And if I didn’t hear those guitar players at all, I’d be really upset,” Satriani said with a laugh. “If I went to Instagram and I didn’t see anybody shredding in front of their phone, I’d be like, ‘What’s wrong?’ So every time I see somebody play something I can’t play, I go ‘Yaay!’ [Claps] Someone’s moving it forward, you know?”
“That’s the way I would do it”
Furthermore, Joe was also asked to share a piece of advice with young musicians. He offered:
“If you find yourself at the Ultimate Guitar site, learn everything. That’s the way I would do it. Dive into it for a day or a week and see what it’s like. And I think you learn about yourself and your own playing by trying to play other people’s music.”
Satriani is gearing up for a very busy 2024. But apart from the original G3 lineup going on the road and his shows with Steve Vai, the biggest challenge for Joe is arguably the Best of All Worlds tour. Featuring Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, and Jason Bonham, this newly formed lineup will be doing Van Halen-heavy sets this summer.
Playing Van Halen
In a recent interview, Joe talked about playing Eddie Van Halen’s parts, pointing out that one shouldn’t be striving to learn that material note-for-note. As he explained:
“What surprises me about guitar playing — and a couple of times, it’s come up in my career — has to do with trying to copy somebody or learn something note-for-note. Every once in a while, you come up against these players who it doesn’t matter if you learn it note for note, it’s still not even close.”
“Certainly with Eddie Van Halen. It’s the truth because he had this magic. He was just magical. And every time he played something, he played it differently, and he just added to the magic that he already created.”
“Every little eight-year-old can play that thing now”
Obviously, “Eruption” is one of the most popular pieces for guitar players to learn and challenge themselves. So much so that even some of the youngest guitarists today are performing it with incredible precision. However, as Joe added, no matter how precise you get, there’ll always be something missing. He continued:
“And part of what I think makes it really unique and difficult to copy is that, when you think about, let’s say, Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ — every little eight-year-old can play that thing now. They’ve studied it to death, and you can see them play it on YouTube, but it never sounds as good.”
“Now, it’s because everyone studies the one version that’s on the album because it’s so brilliant. It’s beautiful.”
“Eddie, of course, knew how to play that 10,000 different ways,” Joe added. “And every time that he played it, that amount of variety that was right there, just milliseconds away from him, changed direction added to that energy, that life, that spontaneity to it.”
“When we play it, all we’re doing is memorizing — ‘Do this, and then you do this.’ [Laughs] And then we’re just thinking about the one way, but he’s just going, ‘I could play this a million different ways. It’s still my thing.'”
Photos: Joe Satriani/ Eduardo Peña Dolhun