You have quite a classic rock pedigree, but is it fair to say there's quite a big pop influence in your own music?
Yes, I grew up listening to a lot of Hendrix, but I was also a big Savage Garden fan! But the blues was the thing that really influenced me, and it comes through even in the more soft rock and pop things I play. Playing with Michael, for example, on something like Beat It, I was still able to put something of my own in there. So I do like that commercial rock sound, but that's not all I'm about; everything I do – even the way I solo – is quite blues based.
You do have quite a distinctive approach to soloing...
Yes, I like them to be songs within a song, I think a lot about their construction. I don't like to think too much when I play live, but in the studio I enjoy giving them structure. Some days that happens really quickly, and other days it doesn't come at all and I have to go away and come back a few days later. Recording the new album in Nashville was great though, the energy was just right.
Is getting that energy right important for musicians at all levels, do you think?
Definitely! I think everything is about energy. If it's not the right mix of people, it can be a mess. It's important that everyone clicks musically and 'gets' each other.
Everyone seems to click on the Alice tour; what's it like playing to those big stadium crowds?
The biggest crowd I've played to was something like 80,000 people. That's very addictive! Having that many people happy and jumping up and down is like a high, you just want to get back to doing it. Once you get on stage and you get that rush, it's highly addictive stuff.
But I imagine your own live shows will be a little different?
Yes, it's just classic rock and roll. The Alice shows are going to be crazy, but I toured Japan with just a guitar player, a bass player and a drummer. It was real stripped-down rock. But there's a new sound to this record so the shows will be a little different; I think it's important to change stuff.
So finally, based on your experiences, what's the secret to a great live performance?
I don't really know! Sometimes you'll be exhausted, you haven't slept in a week, and it'll be your best show; other times you'll be energised and well rested and it's your worst one. You never know what's coming. I'm never completely content with a show, though! I'm always happy, but you're always looking for that perfect show. I guess there has to be something that you're searching for, artistically and performance-wise, that makes you want to reach higher.