In late 1997, we heard that Steve Vai would be coming to First Avenue in Minneapolis. So, we tried and were successful in booking an interview with him. We decided to have Glen do the interview, just as he had done with Weird Al Yankovic about a month previous. We didn't know what we were going to end up with, in more ways then one!
Glen was aware of Vai, of course, since he was still following the music biz and guitarists especially. Though he didn't think too much of his music it seemed - he remarked that Steve was "just playing scales" and it wasn't all that special to him. But he was keen to do the interview. They had more than guitars to talk about after all - they had both worked with Frank Zappa.
Jim, Dave and I were supposed to meet up with Glen at the Happy Chef parking lot in Owatonna, and then go from there to First Avenue. Well, the time came and went, but there was no Glen. We gave him as much time as we could, but the rest of us had to go on.
We got to First Avenue, and met up with Conrad, who coordinated everything backstage. We got our equipment up to a room upstairs to shoot the interview, and then met Steve Vai. He was a very approachable and humble dude.. Dave was just about ready to start asking questions in place of Glen - but then, guess who walked in the door! (I'll save the story of why he was late for another time perhaps....)
Glen introduced himself to Steve... and then surprisingly, Steve was completely blown away! Turns out he was a major fan of the Alice Cooper Group. We started rolling tape as soon as possible to try and capture some of this exchange. (Most of it made it to the show.) I don't remember why we had a CD of Love it to Death with us, but if you watch the video, you will see how Steve absolutely gushes over this album, and Glen's guitar work in it. Needless to say, this definitely brightened up Glen's evening. "So, I kinda taught you how to play then," he says. "You certainly were a big part of it!" Steve replies. Watch the interview to see how Steve incorporated the Ballad of Dwight Fry into his schoolwork...
After that, we had some leftover pasta and shrimp from the caterers, to the displeasure of Conrad (though the caterer himself told us to go ahead, because it would have gone to waste!), then went outside to shoot Glen's intro in front of the building. This is a good example of his stream-of-consciousness approach. I think all we suggested was "say that we're here in Minneapolis to interview Steve Vai", and look what we got. (It's at the very beginning of the show.) As we watched Steve and his band perform onstage, Glen was no longer thinking he could "play scales" just as easily, but was instead enjoying himself greatly and saying things like "that's my boy out there!" It was great.
Also appearing in the January 1997 episode of just testing... was the Kat Blü band from Albert Lea. These guys were great, and appeared a couple of times on our shows. We even commisioned them for an "official" just testing... theme song a bit later on. Kat Blü kept on rocking until very recently.
I used to like to add little goofy things at the end of our credit rolls, like bloopers and such. For this show I took a little piece of the Crossroads movie (not the Britney Spears comedy, but the Ralph Macchio/Joe Seneca film from 1986) featuring Vai. Don't know why, but I thought it was a hilarious way to end the show. We used it many more times.