So I was in that mode of being very hungry to rehearse and to learn, and that's really what you needed in a situation with Frank. Because with Frank you have to be on--I mean, it's a big boy's game--when Frank walks in, you just have to be on.
I remember my audition because he asked me to come down and learn all these songs--and obviously when I got there we didn't play any of the songs that he told me to learn, but I got through--but then he says to me, "Okay, play this," and he picks up his guitar and kind of cryptically plays a line--because Frank had a particular style and it wasn't of the virtuoso-type nature, you know what I mean? It was more visceral.
So he plays through something and says, "Now play it at this tempo," and snaps his fingers. And I'm watching closely because you got to get it right like that or you're out of there, and I say "Okay" and play it--and there's all these guys around and everything, and I'm 20 years old, and he says, "Now add this note here," and he plays a note, so I say "Okay" and I thought about it and I add the note, and he says "Now play it in 7/8," so I say "Okay" and play it in 7/8, and he says, "Now play it in 7/8 reggae," and I thought for a minute and I say "Okay" and I play it in 7/8 reggae! And it's this ridiculous line that should never be played on a guitar, and then he goes, "Now add this note," and he plays a note, and I thought for a minute and I look up at him and say, "It's impossible"--because it was! Nobody could do it, you know? And he puts his hands on his hips and goes, "Well, I hear Linda Ronstadt is looking for a guitar player...."
To watch this clip, go to Steve Vai Audition with Frank Zappa