Steve Vai en Favored Nations/ Mascot Label Group hebben de release aangekondigd van “Vai/Gash”, uit op CD en digitaal op 27 januari 2023. Vinyl volgt op 24 februari. Vandaag brengt Vai de eerste nieuwe track “In The Wind” uit. Vai over de nieuwe track, “’In The Wind’ was the first track that was recorded for this record. It captures the spirit of the open road freedom we felt while riding our Harley’s on bike rallys and interstate road trips. The track has the exhilaration of having that kind of power under you while kissing the wind”

Vai deelt, “This record was written and recorded in somewhat of a stream of consciousness in 1991 within perhaps a 2-week period as an answer to my desire to have a particular kind of music to listen to when I was riding my Harley Davison Motorcycle with my friends. It’s reminiscent of a certain type of rock music I enjoyed as a teenager in the 1970’s. These recordings sat on the shelf for over 30 years and are being released now in 2023. Here’s the story…”

Een verkorte samenvatting van de anekdotische geschiedenis en dierbare herinneringen zoals verwoord door Vai in de liner notes, bieden details over zanger Gash en zijn diepe band met Vai. Vanaf zijn tienerjaren op Long Island tot vandaag heeft hij openlijk zijn liefde voor motorfietsen gedeeld. Gash deelde die passie.

Vai blikt terug, “Around 1990, I was overcome with a desire to rip out what I thought would be a straight-ahead type of rock record that contained the kind of music I wish I had to listen to when I was that teenager ensconced in the biker culture. And then I met Johnny “Gash” Sombrotto.”

John werd geboren in Queens, New York en was in zijn jeugd een fervent motorliefhebber. In 1977 kreeg hij op 21-jarige leeftijd een ernstig ongeluk waarbij zijn lichaam vlam vatte en hij vanaf 10 meter in een hek van prikkeldraad stortte. Vai schreef in de liner notes, “The doctors told his family that he had third degree burns over 60% of his body, and that if he even survived, there was a strong possibility that he would lose his right arm and left leg. While in the Burn Unit, he endured excruciating pain, especially when given the intense daily cycle of hot baths for his burns. He soldiered on, and after a month he was finally discharged from the hospital. Luckily, no limbs were amputated. He was, however, left with a partial left ear and layers of skin grafts over his neck, arms, legs, and entire chest. The stories he told about his recovery and the excruciating pain involved were crushingly gut wrenching. But he survived, and eventually thrived again. He made his way out to Los Angeles in 1982 and got right back up on his motorcycle.”

Vai ontmoette John via een wederzijdse vriend, Mark Cimino. Ze hadden een band met de motorcultuur en hij koos de naam “Gash” als bijnaam. Vai schreef, “…I’ve observed many people interacting with him on our numerous motorcycle road trips and other adventures. At first sight, many people could be taken by his bald head, scarred neck and burnt-off ear. Looking as he did and riding a Harley it was easy to assume he was perhaps a tough, menacing biker with a nefarious attitude, but after engaging with him for even a minute, his charm and magnetic charisma had them laughing in their shoes and completely enjoying his uplifting presence. He endeared people with his wit, warmth, and sparkle. John hit it off instantly with the most unlikely of people of every age, color, size, political or sexual persuasions. He was non superficial and never judged people. This allowed his engaging personality and intoxicating charm to draw you in. Under all those scars was a bold and fearlessly warm heart that can be seen in his disarming and big soft blue eyes.”

Hij vervolgt, “…something in me wanted to get him in the studio and see how he would belt over these biker type songs I had demoed, but nothing could have prepared me for the voice that came out of his mouth. I had to think, off course he sounds like that because that’s him, confident, authentic, fearless but with a lighthearted intention. This was the voice I wanted to hear wailing over these slamming rock tracks. I was stunned. Around that timeframe I was also starting to launch work on ‘Sex and Religion’ and was hoping to eventually record more than the 8 songs I had laid down with John for an alternative project, but that was proven impossible. On September 7th, 1998, two days after my father had passed away, the phone rang, and it was John’s beloved girlfriend Nancy. Her voice was quaking, and I somehow knew what she was going to tell me. ‘John was in a bike accident and was killed’.”

Na drie decennia heeft Steve Vai eindelijk de stem van Gash gedeeld met de wereld. Naar zijn mening, “He would have absolutely been the greatest rock lead singer you would ever want to know. All the elements were in place, but he was gone. Disheartened, I put the entire project on the shelf, and would listen to it at least once a year for the past 30 years, especially around the anniversary of his passing. Then recently something compelled me to want to put it out now.  I wish you would have had a chance to get to know John. I believe you would have loved him just as we all did. For now, he is ‘In the Wind’.”

11 november 2022
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