From Best of WNY.com:
Interview: Michael Anthony of Chickenfoot
TROUBLE IN THE HENHOUSE…..The wait is finally over for the highly anticipated debut release of CHICKENFOOT.
The Ego friendly group of veteran musicians just finished up the Club Circuit “Road Test” tour to rave reviews as they prepare to take the show on the road over seas through mid-July.
The Rock Rapport had the great fortune to witness the band strut their stuff first hand at the MOD CLUB in Toronto over Memorial Day weekend as they smoked the packed house to perfection with a high energy two hour set.
With really nothing to gain as they’ve all cemented their careers long before this venture, the Happy half of VAN HALEN, HAGAR & ANTHONY, along with CHILI PEPPERS’ drummer CHAD SMITH & guitar virtuoso JOE SATRIANI played with a sense of pride and purpose showcasing their new tunes.
With over four decades under his belt at the age of 61 HAGAR continues to defy nature with his throat thrashing vocals.
The rhythm section of SMITH & ANTHONY were absolutely bombastic from the first song of the set, pulverizing the album’s first track “Avenida Revolution”.
As for JOE SATRIANI, the unassuming original guitar hero let his fingers do the talking. Grinning the entire set, SATCH was in a zone as he clearly thrived in his new band setting, savoring every note of the new material he helped hatch.
Make no bones about it CHICKENFOOT is all about a group of supreme musicians who’ve been bringing it to the music masses for decades gathering together & spicing up the original Rock ‘n’ Roll Recipe.
The band has just announced the 1st leg of its North American Summer Tour with a couple of stops in nearby Toronto, Cleveland and Pittsburgh beginning in August.
Check out www.chickenfoot.us for dates & ticket information as they take their debut record on the road performing songs from their smokin’ new disc, including a couple of summertime scorchers “Sexy Little Thing” & “Oh Yeah”.
The Rock Rapport had the chance to chat with CHICKENFOOT’S Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame bassist MICHAEL ANTHONY enroute to their gig in Toronto.
Ross CAT – Good morning MIKE great to speak with you again. We really appreciate you taking time out for the Rock Rapport in the middle of the CHICKENFOOT “Road Test” tour.
MICHAEL –Hey Ross before we get started I have a quick question for you.
Ross CAT – Sure shoot.
MICHAEL- You didn’t just get finished talking to CHAD did you?
Ross CAT – No why?
MICHAEL –Good, I’ve I had to follow CHAD on a few interviews today & had to clean up that boys mess every time.
Ross CAT – That’s a perfect segue to one of my first questions, whose going to wind up in the insane asylum after this tour?
MICHAEL –Sounds like you’ve had some interaction with the rest of my bandmates;, it’s a little too early in the tour to tell but I’m putting my money on CHAD.
Ross CAT – As you said it’s early in the tour so I think we should wait and see who’s in the straight jacket by the end of the summer.
MICHAEL – Now that you mention it SATRIANI may end up losing his marbles having to be on the road with the three of us before it’s all said and done.
Ross CAT – Excellent point, lets dive into the new record. Congratulations on the success of this unparalled project thus far; considering it’s only in its embryonic stages do you feel the band is just scratching the surface with this first album?
MICHAEL –Thanks so much and yes I do. This truly is a band in every sense of the word, I know the term “Supergroup” has been bantered around but to me I think that’s a misrepresentation of what we’re all about this isn’t a manufactured one off venture.
We got together as a group of friends to jam for the love of music, the entire process has been organic from the very beginning.
CHAD, SAMMY and I have played together on numerous occasions down in CABO at the Cantina. JOE got sucked into the mix in February 2008 on Super Bowl weekend when SAMMY was playing in Vegas.
We decided to do something a little different for the encore so we got together and played a couple of Rock standards I think it was “Dear Mr. Fantasy” from TRAFFIC and ZEPPELIN’S “Rock ‘n’ Roll”. That was the very first time we had ever taken the stage collectively in front of an audience and the place just absolutely erupted.
Ross CAT – I wanted to touch on the fact that you and SAMMY waited for the proper vehicle before recording any new material. While you’ve played together on various projects since your final departure from VAN HALEN following the 2004 tour you haven’t released any new music until CHICKENFOOT.
Without question you & SAMMY share a rare & distinct vocal chemistry; do you feel the CHICKENFOOT lineup takes any VAN HALEN comparisons out of the equation by assembling a group of established musicians like CHAD & SATCH?
MICHAEL –I really do. It wasn’t like we reacted to what anyone else was saying or doing, it’s just a group of gifted musicians getting together and doing what they love to do. It just so happens that those jam sessions lead us to some creative common ground.
We’re extremely proud of what we’ve done in our pasts musically but for the initial stages of the tour we are consciously staying away from doing any VAN HALEN, CHILI PEPPERS or anything from SATCH’S amazing solo catalog.
This project is all about a new band presenting new songs; what makes it even more exciting is the prospect of playing them live for the fans.
On this little Club Circuit tour, we’ve been tearing through the entire album along with the bonus track “Bitten by the Wolf”.
For the encore we’ve been kicking around a couple of oldies that we thought people might like to hear, “Highway Star” by DEEP PURPLE and “Bad Motor Scooter”. While the latter is a tune SAMMY wrote with MONTROSE it’s the perfect song for him to strap on the guitar and slug it out a little with SATCH on stage, it’s been an absolute riot.
Ross CAT – For SAMMY and you working together is like cracking open a bottle of JD or CABO WABO, almost second nature.
What differences have you recognized in SAMMY as a singer/songwriter in this collaborative coop called CHICKEN.
MICHAEL –Working with SAM for as long as I have and playing with his band the WABORITA’S that music comes from a different place. His music with the WABO’S is about a South of the Border life style, a party vibe so to speak.
There’s a time and place for that type of music; the past year or so we’ve had discussions about wanting to get back to the Roots of Rock and CHICKENFOOT presented us with that opportunity.
I really dig the lyrics that SAMMY wrote on this record its some of the best songs he’s written in a long time, for instance the song “Learning To Fall” you can tell SAMMY’S really digging deep. JOE came in with the music for that song and SAMMY just ran with the lyrics.
Trust me when I tell you that SAMMY is taking this project very seriously, I can tell because you know how long it’s been since I’ve seen that guy put on a pair of long pants for anything.
Ross CAT – Speaking of digging deep, one of the many stand out contributions to the record is the return of your hulking harmonies that have been sorely missed. How did it feel to let loose vocally again on this new collection of songs?
MICHAEL –Thanks man, its one of the things that I really miss about my time with VAN HALEN. Even when GARY CHERONE stepped into the band I barely did any background vocals at all on that record and there are some really solid songs that got overlooked.
SAMMY and I made a conscious effort to bring the harmonies to the forefront with CHICKENFOOT. We’re well aware that we have a very strong identity between our voices from our days in VAN HALEN and we’re having a blast tapping into that again.
Ross CAT – Lets talk about SATCH, he’s had numerous opportunities over his illustrious solo career to join other groups including replacing RITCHIE BLACKMORE in DEEP PURPLE, what finally swayed him into making a commitment to CHICKENFOOT?
MICHAEL –Let’s put it this way would you rather join a band and have to play RITCHIE BLACKMORE songs or would you want to be in a band with free artistic reign as a guitarist.
I really think JOE is having a great time with this despite the pressure that this project brings being a revolutionary instrumentalist.
I think the VAN HALEN fans that are going to come to these shows will witness & come to appreciate a unique kind of playing style from JOE SATRIANI.
Ross CAT – Lets touch on CHAD SMITH who’s been the pulse of the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS since 1988.
Who would have ever guessed that the RED ROCKER & MICHAEL ANTHONY would take a back seat on the crazy train in any band?
MICHAEL –Ah yes Mr. SMITH is quite the character. This man is just a kick ass in your face Detroit Rocker from way back. He brings that CHILI PEPPER funk to the party; as a bass player looking back at him smilin’ like a crazy man just fires me up even more on stage.
CHAD & SATCH are two weapons that aren’t so secret in the CHICKENFOOT arsenal, they’re just gonna blow people away on the tour this summer.
Ross CAT – Legendary producer ANDY JOHNS is behind the glass for the debut CHICKENFOOT record.
Was he a natural choice having worked with him on the VAN HALEN “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” album; not to mention his background working with heavyweight Rockers the likes of LED ZEPPELIN & the ROLLING STONES?
MICHAEL –Man I love that guy to death, I had such a great time personally and professionally on that VAN HALEN record; I’m probably a little biased because he’s a bass guy too.
He’s a great hands on type of producer; ANDY’S not afraid to mix it up inside the recording session, he’s in the thick of things getting his hands dirty, he’s literally the fifth member of the band.
We couldn’t be happier with how the songs all turned out; I think he really captured what we were striving for musically as a group. He had his hands full but at the end of the day he roped us in when he thought we may have taken something a little too far. He has a knack for knowing when a song has peaked and when it’s time to walk away.
Ross CAT – Reports from the “Road Test” tour have SAMMY saying ANDY was hospitalized not too long after the record was done, what the Hell did you guys do to the poor guy?
MICHAEL –Well we’d like to think that it wasn’t us but who’s to say. ANDY had an ulcer situation which really didn’t come out until he had to work with JOE. As it stands ANDY is doin just fine and SATCH is the one who put him in the hospital that’s what where goin with in the CHICKENFOOT camp.
Ross CAT – Poor JOE, he’s the low key down to earth kinda guy, how’s he surviving all the CHICKENFOOT chaos so far?
MICHAEL – You know what they say about the quiet ones. We’re trying top keep JOE away from all the bad influences like the CABO WABO Tequila, you just never know he might be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
Due to overwhelming demand the debut release date was pushed up by four days, the “Foot” dropped this past Friday globally, highlighted with a Best Buy in store appearance by the band in Los Angeles.
The Rock Rapport as always would like to Thank our friend Jessica Erskine from Rogers & Cowan.
Special shout out to Gus Griesinger from www.backstageaxxcess.com for the live shots from the MOD CLUB show in Toronto.