Sammy Hagar interview in Fireworks magazine

sammyhagarFrom issue #40 of Fireworks magazine:

“I’m gonna make a statement, and you’ll probably think I’m crazy…”

Sammy Hagar discusses Chickenfoot live, their “averagely brilliant” new DVD, Michael Anthony and Van Halen, Chad Smith being crazy, Joe Satriani being from another dimension, and why Sammy in a Smart Car is just a joke.

BUZZING!

By James Gaden

Fireworks Magazine Online - Issue 40Last year a brand new band exploded onto the scene known as Chickenfoot, sparking a lot of hype due to each individual member of the band being a star in their own right – ex-Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony, ex-Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar, guitar hero Joe Satriani and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. Back in issue 36, James Gaden went to London to interview Joe Satriani in support of the album. Shortly after that, he attended the sole UK show at Shepherds Bush which was excellent. Chickenfoot’s live reputation impressed virtually all who had seen it, so a decision was taken to capture the band on tour for a live DVD and Blu-ray. ‘Get Your Buzz On’ is the result, a full live Chickenfoot show, backed with an hour long documentary of the band on the road. When offered the chance to talk to the legendary Sammy Hagar about it, James Gaden jumped at the opportunity to phone the enthusiatic Red Rocker to hear his thoughts on the latest product…

Hi Sammy, it’s James from Fireworks Magazine in the UK.

How are you doing Jim? Wow, we’ve got a great connection here, I thought with all the volcano in Iceland going off and stuff, I was expecting a little fuzz!

I know, I’m just delighted everything has gone through and I’ve got the chance to talk to you. I’m a huge fan, this is a thrill for me.

Well great, what can I tell you man?

I want to talk about the new DVD ‘Get Your Buzz On’ first. I got the promo and I was blown away, I really enjoyed it.

Did you see the whole show, or is the promo just part of it?

No, it’s the whole show and it has the documentary on it as well.

Oh yeah? (laughs) That to me is the real Chickenfoot. The concert – that’s a show. (laughs) The documentary is so natural, the four of us when we get together, we have so much fun, and there’s such natural chemistry, unpretentious, funny without trying to be funny, it has it’s own quirky personality about it. I just love it. I think they should show that in theatres. The concert should be the bonus! (laughs)

I really enjoyed it – I thought Chad wandering the streets asking people if they had heard of the band was very funny! One of the things that made me laugh the most though, because it was so unexpected, was seeing you driving around in a Smart Car!

Well, two years ago my wife, who is much greener than me, wanted an electric car. I said that there was no way I was getting an electric car, I can’t do it. I can’t ride around in one of them! (laughs) So for Christmas, I didn’t know what else to get her, so at the last minute I ran down to the Smart Car dealership close to where I live and bought her a Smart Car for Christmas, all wrapped in a bow. I drove it down the driveway on Christmas morning. She loved it, but I only drive it as a joke! We use it in our videos and stuff because to me, it’s like a Pink Panther kind of a thing! (laughs)

Exactly! The last DVD I saw you on was the ‘Long Road To Cabo’ documentary and you showed the viewers your garage and you had all these souped up sports cars, and I thought “the Red Rocker, the man who can’t drive 55, in a Smart Car?” (laughs)

That’s because you can’t do 55 in a Smart Car! (laughs) One more time, I do not drive that car except for a joke, or a funny situation like you saw, like going to Bob Weir’s house! He lives close to me, but to get there you have to go down these really narrow windy roads and his driveway is horrible, it’s the worst driveway in the world. I would never take one of my Ferraris down his driveway, you couldn’t do it. It’s too steep, it would bottom out and rip my front spoiler off. So, bring out the Smart Car!

Like you say, it made for a very amusing image!

It adds to the humour pal, no question about that! (Laughs)

I thought the whole package was great and very entertaining. When Chickenfoot first started, I interviewed Joe Satriani, and he was as genuinely enthusiastic about the project as you all appeared to be on the documentary. None of it seemed forced, it was like you were almost starting from scratch as you had all been there and done that in terms of success in your own right, and it seemed like you all approached this as a chance to start again.

It’s true. The great thing about Chickenfoot is everybody has been there and done that. Nobody is trying to struggle for fame and fortune here. It made it so much more honest than anything I’ve ever done. When I joined Van Halen way back, that was almost a supergroup in it’s own way when I joined, because I had a back catalogue so my coming in made it like a mini supergroup, if you know what I mean? We were so determined for me to replace the old singer and for it to be more successful than it was, we were really striving and trying and pushing. Van Halen was a natural band when I joined but Chickenfoot is one step beyond that, if you believe that’s possible.

I don’t think there’s anything else I could do that will cap off my career better than Chickenfoot. I feel so happy about it, and the fact that is has been successful in this market today, in this day and age… people don’t look at us like some hot new young thing, that’s for sure, but we competed with those bands and held our own. I’m just really proud of it and it couldn’t ever have been… if we had gotten together ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been this. If we’d done it twenty years ago, it would’ve been great, but it wouldn’t have been this. We spent every penny on this project. We didn’t care about how much we were making, we didn’t care about a budget. We decided to make the best record we could make, with the best people in the best studio, and do everything the best. Even down to the production of the DVD, the lights for the shows – we were playing in theatres, sort of two to five thousand seat venues. For a band of our nature, we were flying privately in my plane and all that stuff, it’s expensive, but we didn’t consider that, we didn’t consider making money from this. We had the biggest production we could fit into the damn buildings, we had the best people running the shows… at the end of the tour, we got our cheques and we all went “Oh…” (laughs). I called Joe and asked him if he got what I got, he asked what I got, I told him and he said “I’m afraid so!” (Laughs). It was so funny -  as a solo artist, I could make in a week what I made in the whole year with Chickenfoot! (laughs).

We just spent it all – not foolishly, we spent it back on the project. It shows that we did it for love, and when we do it again, we’ll do the same thing.

Quite right, I think that’s why it was received the way it was. You played one show in the UK, in Shepherds Bush, and I was lucky enough to be there. It’s the first chance I’ve had to see you live because when you were with Van Halen you didn’t do much in terms of coming to the UK. I enjoyed the gig and it was so full of energy. When I watched the DVD, the thing that struck me was, apart from how well shot it was, it came across as a bunch of cameras pointed at you and that’s it. It didn’t seem slick, polished, touched up, it seemed simply like a great live band captured.

Well that’s what we tried to do. We spent a lot of time and effort and money on it. We actually shot two shows, and one of them we threw out, because it didn’t look that way. It looked too hi-def, the camera operators and the guys working on it tried to make it look too modern. It had this black background and everything looked stark. We thought “man, this is not what our show looks like”. That wasn’t what people were seeing from the audience. So we tried to make the DVD represent what the audience sees, plus a bit more – like here’s a great close up of Joe’s hand! (laughs) So we spent a lot of time and energy getting it right.

I think it shows, it doesn’t need to look modern, I think it captures the experience I had in Shepherds Bush very well.

I just gotta say on Shepherds Bush, I thought that was a fantastic show, but I was ill that whole time in Europe. I couldn’t sing very well, and I’m not making excuses here. If I’ve got no voice, I’ll stand up there with confidence and scream my guts out, trying to hit the notes. At that show, I had a bad chest infection and I didn’t know it. I got sick and just got sicker and sicker and by the time I made it to Switzerland for Montreux, I had a fever of 105, horrible sweats and the doctor takes a look and says I basically had walking pneumonia, and if I’d spent another week doing it, I’d have been in hospital. He hit me with all these antibiotics and stuff, and I ended up singing absolutely perfect… on the last two shows! I was so pissed! (laughs) Because I didn’t feel at my best in Europe, and a lot of people like you, they haven’t had chance to see me.
In Van Halen, we wouldn’t go to Europe, we had this fame and fortune thing of “Oh, we can’t sell out that arena, or do this, or do that, and we’re only going to get this much money?” So between that attitude and our management, we just didn’t do it, because it wasn’t profitable enough. It wasn’t prestigious – how stupid was that? We thought we were hot shit!

I enjoyed the Shepherds Bush show immensely, and if you hadn’t mentioned anything, I’d never have known you weren’t well.

I was cheating – the band was that good, I knew nobody would notice what notes I was or wasn’t hitting because we were so fucking good that night! (laughs) Nobody was listening to what I was hitting, people were just wrapped up in the show, watching the other guys thinking they were amazing. Chad… Chad Smith is the craziest, wildest frigging drummer on the planet. I mean, I think he’s the closest thing to Keith Moon ever. When he destroys his drums at the end of the show, he’s not copying Keith Moon. He’s just fucking crazy!

I remember at the Shepherd Bush gig, he leapt onto his drumstool, lost his footing, fell down behind his kit cutting his elbow, and then popped back up laughing like a deranged jack in a box, and you just said ‘He’s a crazy motherfucker’. (laughs)

He’s always doing stuff that crazy. He’ll fall off the drum kit, something always happens. It’s exciting though, it adds an edge to it. The guy, his body is all scarred up, it’s like he’s been in a frigging motorcycle accident! And he doesn’t do that in the Chili Peppers. That’s what I love, we brought out his crazy wild rock side. The Peppers are crazy and quirky and I love that band, but he’s much more subdued there. It was Chad unleashed on tour!

I wanted to call the band the Chad Smith Project originally, that was one of the first names I threw out. He wouldn’t go for it, he was too bashful. He thought it would make him sound pretentious, but I thought it was funny. I thought it showed no ego, if we called the band after just one of us. We haven’t found our egos yet amongst each other. I’m waiting for it to happen, because it’s got to. Everyone has an ego, and especially those at this level of musicianship. But so far, we haven’t had any of that, it’s so weird. Everyone can just do whatever they want in this band and nobody is saying “Hey, you can’t do that!”. The others would just laugh at them if they did! (laughs)

When I interviewed Joe, I only had the album as an online stream at the time, so I didn’t know who had done what on it. I’d asked him if you’d played much guitar on the record, and he said that he was constantly asking you to and you were shying away from it, which shows no ego from either of you. I could understand you saying “hey, we’ve got Joe Satriani, what do I need to play for?” but on the flip side you had Joe doing the exact opposite of most guitar heroes, and that’s encouraging you to play alongside him.

I didn’t play guitar because I had my hands full! Y’know, trying to sing properly in this band, it was a lot like Van Halen in the sense the music was too complicated for me to play properly and sing properly. I felt my job was to provide the best melody, set out the best lyrics with the most rhythmical power that I could… it’s very difficult with a band at this level of musicianship. With all the jamming we did, to find words that actually say something but also have rhythmical power, that kicks the song in the ass and makes the groove strong, and add melody on top of that, hell – I didn’t have no time or no ability to be playing guitar as well! I was happy that, live, we pulled off a couple at the end like ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ where I picked up my guitar. It made me look like a hero. (laughs) We waited so long, when I did finally strap my guitar on, I’d get a big roar from the crowd, and I’m looking at Joe every night, smiling at him like “Look who is getting all the guitar love over here!” (laughs) We had a good laugh about it. Joe is just the most amazing guitar player. He can speak any language on guitar.

With the band being so vibrant and impressive live, did you decide to do a DVD early on in the tour, or was it a case of once you were out there and saw how well the band were playing, you thought “Whoa, we need to capture this?”

That’s exactly it. We didn’t have any intention when we went out. We had no goal except to make a great record. We did that, and then we said, and Chad Smith’s first quote about us was “We’re not a band until we’ve done some shows”. We all jumped on it, we said we wanted to be a band, not a supergroup. We just wanna be a great, traditional rock band. So Chad said “We ain’t a band until we’ve done some shows”, I said absolutely, so we booked what we called the Road Test Tour. We played nine cities, doing small clubs that had maybe eight, nine hundred seats. We really lost money on that! (laughs) We’re flying in on a private jet and picking up $5000 at the end of it! It was so funny, we were the only club band in the world that flies privately and stays in the Four Seasons hotel! (laughs) We had a good hoot at that, but the shows, everyone who saw them, management, everyone, they just said wow! They wanted to start filming immediately. Every night we got better.

We started with a set that was fifty five minutes long. We added ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ to try and get an hour. We went to the clubs saying “this is just going to be like a test”. We just wanted to play in front of some people, so it was a cheap ticket price, or some were given away to competition winners from radio stations, y’know? So we aimed to play an hour, and the first night we played about an hour and five minutes. The second night it was an hour fifteen. The next night was an hour thirty, the next and hour forty, and by the time the nine shows were done, our set, of just playing the album, ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ and Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ as the encores, we got to two hours. We played a two hour show with a fifty minutes of music. Everybody saw that, and management, agents and so forth decided they needed to start filming because every night we were different. We agreed, we weren’t going to play the same show… it would be the same songs, but every night was going to be an event. Every night was different.

This DVD, as great as it is… I’m gonna make a statement and you’ll probably think I’m crazy! That was a mediocre night. The first time we filmed, it was less than mediocre. It was still great, but we didn’t like how it looked and the pressure of having all those cameras around fucked us up. We decided to try it again, so the next time we did it we had thirty five cameras again and we’re sitting there – when the camera is there, you’ll feel different, you can’t help it. That was a good show, I don’t think we were ever bad, but I thought it was… a mediocre greatness show! (laughs) Mediocre… mediocrely great? What could I say there? You British are good at this, can you come up with some fucking phrase that says it?

It was averagely brilliant? (laughs)

(Laughs) Yeah, mediocrely great, the greatest form of mediocrity? Whatever, you understand what I mean! I watch it and I’m happy with the show and I think wow, that’s a great band, but I can’t help but think “Jeez, I wish we’d filmed Dallas, or Chicago”. But y’know, I think I’d always think that. Often the greatest shows never get filmed. We got some B-roll from a lot of the other shows, a lot of the backstage antics were filmed at different shows from the one we play on the DVD.

Like you say, it’s a great band and I think each one of you has raised their game within it. You said you were concentrating on being the best possible lyricist and vocalist for the band, and Chad is showing off his rock chops that most people didn’t know he had, Joe plays like a band member rather than a self indulgent lead guitarist that happens in bands sometimes, but Michael Anthony – I think after the way he was treated by Van Halen he’s really come into his own, he’s just perfect for this band.

You’re so right. There wasn’t even a question who the bass player was going to be in this band. When Joe and I first talked about doing this, Chad, Mikey and I had been playing for five years together at my Cabo Wabo, as the early incarnation of Chickenfoot. The three of us just jammed, we didn’t really have any songs. We didn’t do my songs, we did a little Led Zeppelin, we did anything, jammed blues, rock, riffs, whatever. I asked Joe to be in the band, and we started talking. Joe had never met Mike and had never met Chad, so I told him Chad is the greatest rock drummer that he’ll ever play with and Joe was like “The Peppers aren’t really that hard rock…” and I just said wait until you hear Chad! (laughs)

And Mike, when Joe heard Mike play, he couldn’t believe it. In Van Halen, Mike was always restricted to just playing “boom boom boom boom boom” – y’know? C’mon, Mike’s so much better than that. Eddie wanted his guitar melodies, and he was so busy with the guitar, Mike had to really hold it down to just playing the root, because Eddie had a lot of notes going on in there. Eddie is a noodler, that’s the word I like to use, he noodles on the guitar. He never just plays a simple “Ba-baaaah!”, right? When the others heard Mike in this band… I knew what he was capable of, but Joe was the most impressed. He was like “I had no idea he had this many chops!” This sucker can play anything Joe can play. Mike and Joe worked out all these bass lines… Mike is the fastest learner as a musician that I’ve ever met. If anyone, be it Eddie, or Joe, they could play the most complex riff, going ‘do do do da da do da do do da do da daaa’, Mikey will go once, the the second time he’s got it. And he’ll never make a mistake on it. Unless he’s fucking trashed, which is possible, that has happened! (laughs) But he’s such a good learner, he’s very capable, he’s a good singer… for him to be thrown out of Van Halen is the biggest joke ever. To me, I can’t even respect that band anymore. Come on. Throw me out, yeah, sure, I’m unreasonable sometimes, but Mikey? He never even argues with you! Mike’s the first guy there, he knows his parts, and he’s the last guy to leave. He’s the most dedicated band member I’ve ever worked with in my life, and the most consistent.

Like I said, first guy there, has his shit together, never, ever says “I forgot my part”… he’s like a machine, and he’s fun and he’s soulful. Why you wouldn’t want him in a band, man, I don’t know.

Van Halen’s loss is Chickenfoot’s gain I’d say.

(Laughs) Oh yeah – I said that Chickenfoot didn’t want to be an opening act for another band, unless it was on a festival, but if we got the opportunity, I’d open for Van Halen! (laughs) Any day… I’d do it for free, I’d pay the whole tour out of my own pocket!

Have you started work on the second album yet?

Yeah, we actually have. We went in the studio for a week, around the end of March to Easter, and we wrote four fantastic songs. We demoed them – I can’t say that they’re the takes… the drum tracks could be, but the problem is the Chili Peppers are in the studio now and Chad is taken. The Peppers took a week off, and he flew up here so we took the week on! We’re looking to finish in September and hopefully it’ll be out next year.

Chickenfoot II – I’ll tell ya, it’s already advanced, with the four songs we’ve done, it’s advanced tremendously. I’m blown away. Joe is one of the greatest musicians you’ll ever work with in your life. All I have to say to Joe, is I give him one seed of inspiration or direction. If I say “Hey, let’s do something like Cream’s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ or ‘I Feel Free’ today” and you give him that, he’ll come back with an idea that’s so original, you’ll go “Wow! That’s not like what I was thinking, but that’s fantastic!” He’s quirky, he hears things from another dimension. He thinks something is similar when to me, it’s nothing like. You could put on a song and say to Joe “Let’s rip this off and do it exactly like that!” and by the time Joe finishes, you’ve got this amazing tune that’s nothing like what you suggested! I can’t explain it very well, he’s so original with his playing, I love writing with him. Like I said, you give him a seed, he comes back with a fucking forest. He inspires me.

Are you approaching things any differently for the second album, or are you that pleased with the way the first one went, you’ll do it the same way?

I think we’ll do it the same way, pretty much because of the way things are. We got together and wrote two songs of the four with all of us together in a room. The other two… I had this great lyric called ‘Come Closer’ and I gave it to Joe with a view to trying an Elton John-Bernie Taupin style, where he would write music to my lyric. He wrote this unbelievable frigging music to this song, and we worked that up and it’s a goosebump song. There was another song I had which was a straight ahead rocker. That was a seed, I had a breakdown verse and chorus. Joe took it, added a bridge, intro and a solo to it and shit, we knocked that out. They’re four great songs, they’re amazing. We’re shocked that we wrote four songs like that in five days. They are written, they are ready to go. Very inspirational – so I think with Chad away, Joe and I will get together and maybe put down another ten songs. Then when we’re all together in September, we’ll blow through them and see which ones work as a band.

The idea was to try and get together more as a band this time is what we wanted to do. On the first one, ‘Future In The Past’ and ‘Down The Drain’, especially ‘Down The Drain’, were just spontaneous jams. That one was just serendipity, we just jammed and made a song out of it. I had to write lyrics to what I was singing and jamming and it was amazing, so fresh. We wanted to do a lot more of that, I’m not sure if we’ll get there because of the schedules, but we’ll see. We wanna try, and we’ve done it with two songs for the new one in the five days we were together, but I think a lot will be Joe and I writing together.

I wanted to ask you, with your last solo album ‘Cosmic Universal Fashion’, when that came out, I remember you being very happy with it and pleased at how eclectic it was. But quite soon after that the first Chickenfoot album came out and I thought it swung the spotlight away from ‘Cosmic Universal Fashion’. You were so enthusiastic about Chickenfoot, I wondered do you see yourself as a solo artist who fronts Chickenfoot on the side, or the other way around?

Well, I’d rather be in a band any day than a solo artist. I only become a solo artist and go back to that if a band burns out. Like what happened in Van Halen – we got sick of each other, didn’t want to be around each other. That’s no fun, I can’t live like that. I can’t do something just for business reasons… I couldn’t stay just because we were making a certain amount of money. I’m not one of those guys who could stick it out. That’s why I say it was okay for Van Halen to throw me out, because I didn’t wanna be around those guys, y’know? (laughs) We weren’t getting along and the creativity just dried up. Look at Van Halen, they haven’t done a record since… fuck, when? Come on, it’s dried up. So I had to go back to being a solo artist, it wasn’t that I really wanted to, I had to.
So I was a solo artist again for what, ten, twelve years, and then I started feeling dried up as a solo artist. I didn’t have inspiration or drive to do anything. I felt I wasn’t growing. That’s why ‘Cosmic Universal Fashion’ was a big step. When I had that track, the title track that the guy sent me the music for from Iraq, it inspired me because it was fresh and cool. I hadn’t felt that motivated for quite some time. So I did that, but then Chickenfoot came out and it did step all over ‘Cosmic Universal Fashion’. The reason was Chad had a bunch of Peppers stuff in front of him and we had a window to make a record and do as many shows as we could, we wanted to tour the world, so we rushed it out so we could go and play with Chad in the band. It killed ‘Cosmic Universal Fashion’, no question about it. I thought ‘Cosmic…’ was an interesting, eclectic record and the title track and ‘Switch On The Light’ were cool and I never got to tour that record. The record company sued me because my contract said I’d support the record for a year and not put anything else out, and Chickenfoot came out and they sued me. It was horrible, but it did kill the record… which is a shame because to me, it’s one of the most adventurous things I’ve ever done. Very eclectic, it pretty much showed every side of me.

That’s what I was wondering, that’s why I asked if you were looking at having parallel careers as a solo artist and as the singer in Chickenfoot, because not only was ‘Cosmic Universal Fashion’ eclectic, but your previous solo record ‘Living It Up’ was more adventurous too, with more country and pop influences, so I wondered if your solo career was an avenue for that and Chickenfoot was somewhere to rock out.

As a solo artist, I don’t wanna say I was tired of being a straight ahead rocker, because I love that more than anything and that’s what I went back to with Chickenfoot, that’s where my strength is. But you can get a little tired of it. I mean I can’t sit there and think “Gee, shall I write another ‘One Way To Rock’ or ‘I Can’t Drive 55’ or ‘Heavy Metal’…” So I wanted to explore some lifestyle songs. I live different now. When I wrote those songs – I’m not like a wannabe rock star, a wannabe famous face like I was when I wrote those old songs, because I’ve done that now. That’s not my goal anymore, I’m there, and I love where I’m at now. So I wanted to explore singing and playing music relative to my real lifestyle now, sort of a grown up rocker. With ‘Living It Up’, that was the epitome of it. I had just moved to Mexico for a year, took my family down there, and I wrote songs on the beach, sat at the cantina drinking tequila, and just living it up!

I wrote music about it and that album is the manual for the way Sammy Hagar lives! (laughs) My lifestyle is laid out for you there, just follow A, B, C, D, E and it’ll take you right down that road! With ‘Cosmic Universal Fashion’, I wanted to get a bit wacky with my music. I had a new studio, and I went in with the Wabos and experimented with every kind of song I could think of.

It’s good to hear artists trying new stuff and I liked the title track of ‘Cosmic…’, I thought it was a good song, it was different and it was a new way for you to work, collaborating with another musician using files sent via the net.

The guy had four or five other songs that I would’ve liked to explore, but when I worked on them a bit I thought they were a bit too Middle Eastern, it didn’t quite fit, whereas ‘Cosmic…’ it worked with that nice twist. But that’s the only thing I’m interested in musically – if I’m a solo artist I want to explore, and if I’m gonna be in a band, I want a band like Chickenfoot where everyone can play so damn good you just end up so inspired. When Chad kicks off a beat I’m like “Yeah!” Mike comes in on the bass and I’m going “Double yeah!” Here comes Joe on guitar, and I’m going “Shit!” It just makes me wanna sing straight from my heart and soul, nothing else is worthy, if you can’t give everything you’ve got and feel it with goosebumps… that’s what Chickenfoot does to me. That’s awesome, I live for that. Inspiration is all we want. Any artist on the planet, it’s all you need. Otherwise, you’re just doing exercises. You can play scales all day long… “do ra me fa so la te do”. Right? Or you can go “da da da daaa da da daaa!” Y’know, that’s inspiration, and every artist needs that. And Chickenfoot gives it to me.

You can tell. The four of you together is fantastic, I’m so impressed with what you’ve done so far. I’m all out of questions now Sammy, so I’d just like to say thank you very much, I really enjoyed that!

It was a very soulful interview, it was more like a conversation, and I like those.

Thank you! I try to do all my interviews that way, keep it flowing and good humoured and more conversational.

You are gonna get so much more information from an artist by having a conversation with them than by just asking them a bunch of stupid questions. So… congratulations! (laughs)

FIREWORKS magazine  issue #40 out now:

96 page full colour issue containing interviews with:  Sammy Hagar, Y&T, FM, Francis Rossi, Masterplan, Asia, Nazareth, RATT, Michael Monroe, Fozzy, Coheed & Cambria, Reckless Love, Crash Diet, Jim Kerr, Newman, Freedom Call, Karnataka, Kasim Sulton, Jon Oliva, Chris Laney, Griffen, On the Rise, Sacred Heart, Taking Dawn, Serpentine, Destine and many more!!

Free CD containing full tracks by:  Y&T, FM, Shining Line, Crazy Lixx, Chris Laney, Mass, Bangalore Choir, Reckless Love, Wild Side and much more!!

The issue is available to order from Rocktopia.co.uk:

  • Fat Cat

    Serious question here!

    I listen to the Chickenfoot cd and I listen to the Van Halen greatest hit cd along with Van Halen 1. Can anyone explain to me how Mike wasn’t utilized in Van Halen?

    His bass playing is solid on ALL songs for both bands.

    He doesn’t play anything more spectacular or ground breaking in Chickenfoot than Van Halen.

    I think his harmonies stand out more in Van Halen than Chickenfoot (because you had more harmonies in Van Halen Ed,Dave,Mike and Ted).

    I’d put his groove from Mean Street up against anything he did on the Chickenfoot cd and say it flat out KICKS ASS!!!

    I just don’t get it!!

  • evhua

    ..respect for Sammy, Mike, Gary, all the past shit…

    frankly, the only thing we really need
    is a new VAN HALEN record.

    We deserve a kick ass mofo record!

    We really deserve it. Period.

    VAN HALEN ROCKS

  • Bo Sox

    I miss ” Gary4life”. Where are you man!

  • jeff adams

    I’m with you Fat Cat. MA’s bass playing & vocals in VH are far more visable. Mean Streets, Runn’in w/ the Devil, Little Dreamer, I could go on and on. Listen, Sammy’s cool, but Dave is cooler, Joe is good, but Ed is better, and Chad doesn’t hold a candle to Alex. We just need Mike back in VH and everything would be back to normal. It ain’t gonna happen, but it should.

  • http://vhnd Jimmy

    Without Van Halen, Sammy wouldn’t have the fame he has. All he would be known for is I can’t drive 55…You can drive right the fuck out of Van Halen.

    Joe is awesome, but Eddie is way more unique.Even if they don’t ever make a record again. The material you have already proves this.

    Van Halen made Sammy, he joined one of the biggest bands in the mid-80s. I’m sick of him knocking them. I don’t see them saying anything about him anywhere. They don’t care. Nobody really knows what happened. Something sure did. The other 1/2 of VH, nobody talks about that cruise ship tour.

    good thing CF has these sites to get their pub. More people talk about them here then on their own site.
    I will always have a love in my heart for Van Halen. They are special…Sammy doesn’t need VH or to talk about them anywhere. Chad is not Keith Moon. SOrry! Joe is awesome but he is a educated instructed well taught guitar player. Eddie is just straight up gifted, hands down. Way more unique.

    Laters

  • Big Ed

    Like I have been tryin to tell everybody, vh is dried up. You nailed it Sammy. vh will never let Chickenfoot open up for them because the Foot would wipe the stage with them. DRIED UPPPPPP

  • vnhalen8

    Jeff Adams

    Chad can’t hold a candle to Alex…your nutz buddy. I can tell you have never seen him play live, he’s extremely gifted and very physical reminds me of Moon. Dude’s a monster!

  • http://VHND HIKER MAN

    HEY TEMPLE 5150, SOMEONE ELSE OFFERS YOU MORE MONEY TO WORK SOME WHERE ELSE YOUR NOT GONNA TAKE, YEA RIGHT,SAMMY WAS READY TO MAKE THE BIG MOVE WITH VAN HALEN

  • bsc

    The chicken foot thing is cool, if that’s what you wanna listen to. Me personally, not really my thing. The lyrics are beyond mediocre and the guitar work isn’t that jaw dropping. But again if you like it, great. But whether you are a chickenfoot guru or a Van Halen fanatic or hater of either or both, we have no room to bash EVH. If it weren’t for him there would be no Chickenfoot, no New rock period. So IMHO we should all just say thank you. Expect nothing more but be glad at what we were given. And, if something else does come out of 5150 listen to it like you did when you first heard Eruption and scratched that 1st record to hell and back, playing it over and over again. Even VH III had a ton of killer guitar in it. You just gotta listen for it. One thing you can count on is ff Eddie Van Halen is playing it, you better hold onto your ass so it don’t get rocked off!! I can’t really think of but a handful of musicians I can say that about and Eddie is 2nd to none. IMO

  • Roth Zealot 78

    I find it laughable that Sammy says he left Van Halen because it was “all about big business”…..and yet Chickenfoot is ramming crappy albums and DVDs down our throats every year? Let’s not forget that Hagar pitches his cantinas and tequila every time he makes an interview and even onstage when he’s supposed to be singing.

    Sammy is basically a businessman who decided that music was going to be his vehicle for making money. His artistic integrity was always dubious at best, and his current “lifestyle” appears to be a total ripoff of Jimmy Buffett in order to drive customers to his chain of cantinas.

    Hey Sammy…..you’re a kettle….stop calling the pot black.

  • aarxn82

    sammy is cool and all and im sure he makes alot of cash but man, im so sick of hearing how amazing CF is from his own mouth! he makes it sound more like a circle jerk than a band ughh

  • http://VHND HIKER MAN

    SAMMY ROCKS

  • http://melodicrock.com treehousemusic

    LOL, LOL……..Sammy was bashing VH? lol. you people read into things sooo much. Sam says these things becasue he knows you VH dorks are gonna see them and read into them in all kinds of kinds of imaginary ways…then laughs. Everything he said there is true and accurate. And I am not even a big Red Rocker fan. But WOW ! you guys are somethin…….

  • mjc

    Sam speaks the truth and keeps on rockin.Ed’s the reason why vh is an unproductive,poorly marketed mess.

  • Towers McQuestion

    Some interesting points in this article:

    - I, too, think kicking Mike from VH was a stupid move. Wolfgang was ‘okay’ on tour, but as far as stage presence, he makes Mike look like friggin Liberace. He FITS VH (or pretty much any other band he’s in), pulls his weight and is the PERFECT utility player for a band with huge egos and interpersonal clashes. The only reasons he’s gone are because he toured with Sam (while VH did NOTHING) and because he wants to give Wolfgang some exposure, no matter what kind of entertainment black hole he is on stage.

    - Sam’s voice was shot with flu on tour, huh? I saw them on July 1st last year in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The band was AMAZING, but Sam sounded bad… I posted in the VH usenet group that I thought he had a cold back then. He did NOT sound good. Chickenfoot, the power trio, however, rocked hard.

  • RREDM

    Thanks to Sammy for keep on rockin’. Its great to get new albums after all these years. VH was great, Hagar solo is great and now Chickenfoot is great!! I can’t wait for the next album.

    A VH / Chickenfoot tour would be wicked!!

    Sammy = class act

  • Brian T. Garlow

    The orginal Van Halen was like my generations’ Beatles to me. Sammy’s work with Montrose made me want to be a rock star. I wanted to beat Gary Cerone with his mike stand… Four times live with Dave and Dave was great one of them… Ten times live with Sammy and He was “ON” everytime.
    It’s just funny how personal and fresh the breakup wounds still are…

  • Nat

    Hagar was always jealous of Roth-era Van Halen….and he’s angry that VH fans are giving less and less respect to Van Hagar era as the years pass on.

    I’d say it’s Eddie that’s giving less and less respect to the Hagar years, not the fans. The fans typically either love it or hate it anyway, they don’t “switch teams” very often.

    Eddie, on the other hand, apparently wants to pretend those years never happened and all the music he helped write doesn’t exist. Even though he repeatedly said it was far better than the early stuff in interviews over the Hagar years.

    And the whole thing about Photoshopping Wolfie onto the early album covers back when the reunion with Dave was announced? Somehow I don’t see Sammy ever considering that a good idea.

    And Gary Cherone? Who the hell is that? Certainly not the guy that was “like a brother” to Eddie back in the VH3 days.

    Sam might be bitter, or wish he was still in VH, or whatever, but at least he acknowledges the body of work they did together, and how great a guitar player Eddie is.

    Eddie seems to want to forget all about any previous incarnation of the band whenever there’s a change.

  • anythingleftinthatbottle

    Go and listen to those junk magazine interviews circa 1986 right around the time he and VH got together…You back? Same dribble nonsense! “there are no egos in this band”,”We just get together and jam and don’t have an agenda>” Blah, Blah Blah. And don’t tell me he wasn’t a part of the same voices that didn’t want to play Europe cause of the size of the venues, the pay, and the prestige. How man times did he talk about money in that interview? Oh, and Mikes a real stand up guy.

  • brian

    Sammy is just very insecure about himself now vs. VH and himself WITH van halen compared to DLR.

  • Diamond Dean

    Yr right BRIAN absolutely , SAMMY is always trying to prove him self .

    VANHALEN4 yr right , sammy has only got a great voice , LYRICS!!! gees yes a second grader cld do better , seriously there are too many to mention , but black n blue terrible , even if hagar is writing about a deep n meaningfull subject he still makes it simple , VH wld of done better to have a lyricist write them , ROTH wrote about partying but least he had wit n some depth , who said WHEN ITS LOVE , i cant tell ya but it last forever , come on!!

    Listen to ROTHS YOUR FILTHY LITTLE MOUTH n see how great he is , trully brilliant when it came to lyrics , hagar has never even come close

  • Ryan

    I like Van Halen and Sammy Hagar both very much. As a result of this, I think it’s ironic how Van Halen’s most reliable news site is composed of 99% fighting and little discussion over the music. By the way, Michael Anthony is one of my favorite bass players because he keeps a minimalist approach. If he was doing some melodic shit behind Eddie on Runnin’ With the Devil, it would sound gay.

  • Cam Winston

    LOL….I’ll wait….’til your love comes down. Or, maybe I’ll jump.

    [rolling eyes]

    I find it laughable that Sammy says he left Van Halen because it was “all about big business”

    Actually, he said he didn’t mind them throwing him out because they were no longer getting along. That VH is all about the biz now….is that even debatable? Is anyone actually saying that Eddie is “fan friendly”?

    But whether you are a chickenfoot guru or a Van Halen fanatic or hater of either or both, we have no room to bash EVH.

    I’m not out to bash the guy, heck I admire the heck outta him for his prowess. It’s not bashing someone to point out some obvious errors of judgment. I’d say the same thing about golf hero Tiger Woods or basketball hero Kobe Bryant; that they’re great in their profession doesn’t mean I’m supposed to only worship at the alter of their greatness without saying “hey, those guys don’t seem like very good MEN in their personal lives. Just ask their wives”.

    Just because Eddie is the man on the guitar doesn’t mean I’m obligated to, seemingly, join the original-VH-lemmings in “let’s all wish we could $*ck Eddie’s @#$% together”. He’s a human, prone to frailties, as am I, as are everyone. If the dude fires someone for questionable reasons, it’s not above criticism because he wrote Eruption back when I was in middle school.

    With all due respect (I mean that).

  • SCAR

    Get stoned, get laid, get drunk and enjoy the high life!!! Some of you cats are really uptight!!!! Why so serious?????? Fuck it, ride hard or stay the fuck home!!!!!!

  • Vanicionado

    Love all the arm chair Psychologist’s and Psychic’s here who can read Sam’s intentions…

    Tell me all you would-be Swami’s… When’s Ed going to get his shit together and when should we expect the new Van Halen album? And while you’re at it, how’s Dave doing? What’s he been up to?

    Sheesh!

  • Bluesbro

    DD, that post is bashing lyrical eloquence … wow

  • Dooley

    I’ve said this before, SCAR has the right attitude.
    I’m right there with ya’ bro.

  • jeff adams

    VH8
    I have seen Chad live, and I’m not say’in he’s not a gifted drummer. I was compering him to Alex. When you hear Alex you know it’s him. Alex has a sound that sets him apart from other drummers.

  • Fred

    When I think of a new VH album I think it’ll be more along the lines of Chinese Democracy than Sgt Peppers. Too little, too late.

  • Def B. Loud

    I’m not taking sides in this dog fight..but I am puzzled why Sammy would complain about leaving Van Halen because they were all about big business. As of late, Sammy’s all about corporation. Hell, just look at the picture above. Well displayed bottles of Cabo Wabo tequila, highly visible chickenfoot logos and last but not least, the very visible Cabo Wabo Cantina tattoo prominently displayed. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with marketing your product, but don’t accuse others of being sellouts while Your hocking Your shit at the same time.

  • Adrian

    “Ed is a noodler?” What a fucking loser…..I’d say the way he talks about mikey is more insulting then just getting the cold shoulder from Van Halen, Sammy talks about Mikey like he’s some 5 year old retarded kid in a wheel chair thats just doing the best he can! o its so cute look at him go!

    Fuck that Sammy is a pompous jackass.

  • Steve

    I can’t stand how Sammy keeps taking jabs at Van Halen. He should have just let it be. And the mention about paying to open for them was ego. It is because he thinks he can embarrass them. Not good at all.

  • Ryan

    Hahaha, I love Van Halen, but Ed is a noodler. Did you hear Catherine? (from Van Halen’s most recent album, “We are Has-Been Losers Who Sell More Than Play).

  • Ryan

    Eddie Van Halen has been doing that same Mean Street intro for 2000 years now. And then Cathedral. And then Eruption. Insert dive bomb. Insert smile. Insert Little Guitars. The guy has run out of ideas. At least Sammy is trying to party a little and write some stuff.

  • hogie

    the only van halen album that chickenfoot comes close to is vh3 with cherone. satch knows all the notes but is far from a song writer. for sammy to ever put him in the same sentence as eddie is a joke. guitar,keyboards,piano,bass,vocals drums etc …and most importantly writing songs eddie does it all light years beyond satch. maybe one song off cfoot would have made it on a vh album. and chad smith holy crap alex could play all his stuff with one arm and one leg.

  • mjc

    Eddie said years ago that he’s a noodler.Steve what is so embarrasing about the foot opening for vh.Are you worried vh will get blown off the stage.I’d like to see that tour happen so i could decide for myself,but it won’t.

  • Herb

    Love the band…all incarnations. Doesn’t matter to me. The common thread: it’s Van Halen.

    But, I have to admit that after reading some of the ridiculous crap that some of the haters spew, I think from now on I’m simply going to revel in your misery. “Sam did this, Sam said that, he must be this. Ed, where’s the blah, blah, blah.” “You owe the fans.”

    You Roth lovers are the absolute worst parasites. It must eat you up (which I now LOVE) that Sam continues to have success and your left with distant memories and nothing to enjoy in the present. Glad it bothers the hell out you losers.

    I hope and think something will happen, to which I look forward to. Until then, enjoy displaying your stupidity. I will continue to eat it like cake. Mmm, cake.

    Oh yeah….Adrian and Diamond Dean….you are soooo stupid. I think you might be the dumbest idiots that have ever posted. Thank you very, very much for the entertainment.

  • Ryan

    Whoah Whoah Whoah, hogie…

    Let’s not compare Chad Smith and Alex Van Halen. Alex Van Halen plays the same beats over and over again. Chad Smith can play many different styles.

    I met EVH and Sammy back in ’95, guess which one took the time to talk to me? EVH left in a limo, Sammy talked to me for at least a half an hour. The guy cares about his fans so to all the people talking crap, stop it.

  • Tom

    People will talk shit until they die.Period.Van Halen has nothing to prove,nothing to say,and will not announce that they are doing anything until its about to happen.Eddie doesnt bring up the Van Hagar years or Gary Cherone because it is the past.If they call each other and catch up on life,will you really give a fuck?Is it news worthy?I am sure Van Halen are working on music and recording,but they have lives,family,friends,etc.Dave included.I dont need a press conference from them to tell me that.So go live your lives like they are and stop pissing and moaning about he said this and Van Halen are dried up,etc.

  • bosephus

    Surprised that Hagar has ego? So does every other big time artist. Hey, Sammy is still pissed off at the VH boys because they kicked him out and then kicked out his bro, MA. Not surprising, then, that he’s “trashing” them, as some have suggested. Human nature gentlemen. Sammy feels good about what he’s done with his career and he’s talking about it. Big deal. Get over it. You can’t argue with the results. Saturday night, Hagar takes the stage at the MGM grand Las Vegas ahead of the mighty Aerosmith. Sadly, Eddie and Alex will be picking their asses at home.

  • Paulie D

    I don’t think Sammy was bashing VH here, he said they didn’t get along any more at that time.
    They started to hate each other. The only jab was, “When was the last time they made a record?” Well…. what the hell! I’m a diehard VH fan, nothing since 1998????? I never thought in a million years it would take a million years for a new album.
    The Foot opening for Van Halen… just goes to show you, Sam is not the egomaniac here.

  • Diamond Dean

    Gees herb,

    Thats being a bit harsh now , your still hurting from the last time i pointed out you just criticise posts without backing it up???(was that bout 6 months ago???) did it hurt your little feelings?? so you have to criticise all the fans who have an opinion to make yourself feel superior,surely by now you would of got some self esteem ?? now go on and start picking on peoples gramar you absolute genius , god bless ya

  • Panama Red

    This was the best interview I’ve read in a while.
    I don’t think Sammy was trashing, slamming, dogging, slagging, ragging, or talking shit about VH or Eddie in this interview. He is only being Honest in answering questions from a good interviewer. He has EVERY right to give his honest and frank answers in these matters since he was the lead singer in VH for so long. Of course he is always going to have something to say about VH if someone asks him, it was the band he toured with countless times, wrote music for, jammed with, and loved for many years. I for one don’t want to read a boring, censored interview. When you hear or read an interview like this that is honest and straightforward with someone who’s not afraid to speak his mind it makes for an interesting interview. I would hope Sammy wouldn’t say “Oh I can’t or don’t want to talk about Van Halen” or worse take a page out of Eddie’s way of thinking and just pretend that that era of Van Halen never happened.(according the the VH discography on the official site)
    I think Sammy’s thoughts about Van Halen in this interview have been shared by a vast majority of VH fans. It doesn’t mean we still don’t love VH and the guys in VH. I still want them to come back and kick ass again with a new album. But there comes a point where you say – What the Hell is going on!!

    It got all fucked up and messy towards the end the first time around with Sam and with the rest of VH and also the second time as well when he reunited with VH. So fuck yeah he’s gonna have some strong feelings and things to say about his former band that he loved so much and enjoyed being in and doing his part to entertain the crap out of millions of people.
    I don’t understand how some people think he should just plead the fifth or walk on egg shells every time he is asked about his former band and not have his own opinion and viewpoint about what happened with one of the biggest rock bands ever.
    I guarantee if we were all in either Sammy’s or Mike’s shoes a lot of us would have a helluva lot more things to say about what went down. As far as I’m concerned, all of the stuff I’ve read Sammy and Mike say about VH since they both were kicked out has been for the most part extremely restrained and tame. I believe if I were in Mike or Sammy’s shoes, in all probabilty, I don’t think I could be quite as subdued and restrained when talking about what all went down.
    Anyone who has paid attention to what has gone in Van Halen would know that Eddie has been the most unstable, unreliable, unpredictable, strange acting element in VH in recent years. That doesn’t take away from his genius and what he has contributed to the world, but it’s obvious to me who was most responsible for the VH plane crash. Eddie has been in the pilot seat and has forced it down and it has been out of commission since then for the most part, especially in regards to creating new music and staying alive as a relevant vibrant band. I love Eddie but I try to keep my logic and objective reasoning abilities when trying to understand the events surrounding the VH camp.

    As far as Sammy talking about his own new band Chickenfoot…it’s called doing interviews and promoting your band. He is asked to do interviews from different media outlets so he does them. I along with lots of other people appreciate that. He is obviously Extremely happy and excited about his new band so he is naturally going to have good things to say about it. Sometimes people’s criticisms just don’t make any damn sense to me at all.
    They just come across as bitter, hateful comments without any decent amount of thought behind them.

    I’m sure this will never happen but…Chickenfoot opening for Van Halen – Holy Shit that would be the biggest tour EVER!! And Sammy said “opening” for Van Halen. He obviously understands where Van Halen stands in the hierarchy of rock and roll. He isn’t delusional about the status of Chickenfoot, just excited. He knows that Eddie is a genius and a legend. He also knows the fans would go apeshit for something like that!
    I think Sammy has just gotten fed up and frustrated with how VH has fallen apart(more than once), much like a lot of us have felt about VH, which is very understandable.

    I thought it was pretty funny and cool that Sammy said he wanted to name the band The Chad Smith Project. It doesn’t exactly draw you in or catch your eye but from the first time I heard about Chickenfoot I thought one of the coolest things about it, and one of the things’s that was gonna help keep that project interesting was Chad Smith. I definitely want Chad Smith to be the permanent drummer for the ‘Foot. But if they had to replace him temporarily I would love to see and hear Vinnie Paul fill the spot ‘till Chad can get back. That would KICK ASS!

  • bosephus

    Panama: dig your enthusiasm, but your comment is longer than the interview.

  • Panama Red

    Hahahaha!! Anything to avoid getting something productive done. LOL!
    It’s Lots of caffeine and a rambling A.D.D. brain, man.
    Btw way dude, no disrespect intended but it’s bocephus with a C. I’m still waiting for my brain to come down, waiting for the sleeping pills to work their magic so I noticed that slight error ‘cause I’m a Hank Jr. fan.

  • http://vhnd.com 51yr old fan

    HEY PANAMA, DO YOU HEAR THE JAWS DROP? EXCELLENT POST. IF THAT DOESN’T WEED OUT THE HATERS THERE IS NO GETTING THROUGH TO THEM.

  • Panama Red

    Hey thanks 51yr old fan. That was just my overly verbose 75 cents as usual. That’s just the way it see it. We all have different eyes with different perceptions. But like you, the hateful and negative comments grind on me after awhile.

    I tried to point out a grammatical error for “Bosephus” here and then I said – btw way.
    I feel like Michael Scott from the T.V. show “The Office” – “A.S.A.P. as possible…stat.”
    LOL!

  • Panama Red

    The way *I* see it. Damn, did it again. I’m shaky and all hopped up from the giant pot of coffee.

  • http://VHND HIKER MAN

    THE DRUMMER FROM REO SPEEDWAGON,DON HENELY,PETER CRISS, AND CHAD SMITH ARE ALL GREAT DRUMMERS