Steve Vai Recalls Frank Zappa Piece That Became a ‘Recurring Nightmare’: ‘I Had to Keep All These Things Under My Fingers’

Steve Vai looked back on the origins of Frank Zappa’s song “Alien Orifice” and how it became a “recurring nightmare” for the then-aspiring guitarist.

Given his extensive education and talent, Steve Vai proved to be a guitarist that could tackle anything thrown at him at a very young age, and because of that earned the title of Zappa’s “stunt guitarist.” However, working with the famously demanding avant-garde genius would often push even Vai to his limits, as was the case with “Alien Orifice” from the 1985 LP “Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention”.

Looking back at the origins of that intriguing piece of music during a recent interview with Chanan Hanspal, Steve Vai began by explaining how Zappa went about writing music (transcription via Killer Guitar Rigs):

“Frank was constantly composing various kinds of compositions. Sometimes he would go on the ground for a little while and compose orchestra scores. I know that he loved composing for his bands and based on the instrumentation of the band he had at a particular time, [it] would dictate the kind of score he wrote for the band.

“But with Frank was any means necessary. He would sometimes come in with a complete score for the band, and then at times he would, in rehearsals, teach us things, show us things, and create a piece of music that could ostensibly sound as though every note was composed.”



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