Former Van Halen and current Chickenfoot bassist Michael Anthony was interviewed by Eddie Trunk last week. Listen to the hour-long interview HERE.
Michael was his usual amiable self—laid back and candid, and shared his disappointments about being estranged from Van Halen—without sounding bitter. It’s a must-listen.
- Michael hasn’t spoken to the Van Halen brothers since the 2004 tour.
- Back in 2002, on the eve of the Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth Tour 2002: Song for Song, the Heavyweight Champs of Rock and Roll tour, Eddie gave Mike an ultimatum and implied that if Michael did that tour, he would be out of Van Halen. Michael was shocked, angry, frustrated, and ended up doing the tour anyway.
- Michael said he was at home recently watching an old live concert video of Van Halen, and was blown away by how wild and crazy the audience was back then with Roth. (What concert was he watching? One that we haven’t yet seen, and will hopefully be released some day?)
- We’ve all heard that in the club days, Eddie would sometimes play “Eruption” with his back to the audience, so that guitar players wouldn’t be able to pick up all his tricks. Mike now says it was David Lee Roth who told Eddie to turn his back against the audience.
- Michael says he hasn’t yet listened to the A Different Kind of Truth all the way through. This is quite surprising.
- Michael is asked to name his favorite albums from the Dave and Sammy eras. He names Fair Warning and 5150.
A transcription of just a few questions is below, courtesy of Blabbermouth.net:
On what caused the rift with the Van Halen brothers that eventually led to his split with VAN HALEN:
Michael Anthony: “I think it was actually when Sammy [Hagar, former VAN HALEN and current CHICKENFOOT singer] asked me to come out and guest at some shows when he did the Hagar-[David Lee] Roth tour [in 2002]. I don’t think that sat too well with some people. [Laughs] And it was really odd, because I thought that I’d be out there… Sammy asked me, ‘Hey, you wanna come out and maybe jam a couple of VAN HALEN tunes?’ whatever. Not do the whole tour, but just do a few shows. And I thought, ‘God, that’ll be great. I’ll go out there and I’ll wave the VH flag high. And I’ll also let people know that I’m not dead, that I’m still around. And, unfortunately, Eddie [Van Halen, VAN HALEN guitarist] didn’t see it that way.
“What actually happened was I hadn’t really decided to do it, and Eddie and Alex [Van Halen, VAN HALEN drummer] knew about it, and Eddie called me. And I really don’t wanna get into that conversation, but to put it in a nutshell, he didn’t want me to be a part of that circus. But then VAN HALEN wasn’t doing anything, and I was just so frustrated because I was tired of sitting home on my hands. My wife wanted me out of the house, ’cause I was driving her nuts also. [Laughs] But I just wanted to get out and play. And I thought, you know, it’s, like… OK, he’s not in the band, but it’s, like… I don’t know… I guess it was more of, like, ‘You’re with us or you’re not. You’re in or you’re out.’ There’s no area… It’s cut and dried. And what happened was [Eddie] actually kind of backed me up against the wall and he gave me an ultimatum: Are you gonna go out and you’re gonna play this or whatever?’ And it really upset me; he pissed me off. And I said, ‘I’m gonna go out and play.’ And that was kind of the end of that conversation. Then I got a call back from Alex about a half hour later saying, ‘Oh, well, you know Ed. You know how Ed is. He’s like that,’ or whatever. And at that point, I was just, like, ‘You know what?! I’m…’ As much as I love those guys and the band and whatever, we had just all of a sudden been through so much, after Sammy was out of the band, and I think all of the drama with Gary [Cherone, former VAN HALEN and current EXTREME singer] and whatever, I wanted to get out and play. So I don’t know if you would call that me quitting the band or just…? I was backed up against the wall. And I wanted to get out and play.”
On whether he had an inkling that Eddie was grooming his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, to one day play bass for VAN HALEN:
Michael Anthony: “Well, you know what, if I would have known that was happening, when he’d be bugging us up at the studio as a little kid, I probably would have slapped him around a little bit more. [Laughs] No, you know what?! Obviously, I knew that Ed was wanting to groom him to be a musican, to play and whatever, and Wolfie‘s got great talent — he plays guitar, bass, drums and whatever else — but I knew that at one point that he’d like his son to play with him in some respect, but I didn’t think it was gonna be like that. [Laughs] And when that whole thing went down [Wolfgang being named VAN HALEN‘s new bassist], I kind of found out with the rest of the public.”
On whether he has had any contact with the Van Halen brothers in recent years:
Michael Anthony: “You know what?! The last time that I actually spoke to either one of ’em was the last show of our 2004 tour. And it’s really sad too. I’ve heard from different people… I know a lot of people that work with them, like the crew guys and stuff like that. So I always hear stuff from them. You know, ‘I talked to Al today,’ or ‘I talked to Eddie,’ and I know that Al would like to still have some kind of relationship or whatever, but I think maybe because of the way Eddie felt that Al didn’t wanna ruffle his feathers by calling me or whatever.”
On whether he has listened to the most recent VAN HALEN album, “A Different Kind Of Truth”, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen on bass:
Michael Anthony: “I’ve heard two or three of the songs; I haven’t actually sat down and listened to the whole thing. You know, pretty much a lot of the stuff that I listened to is stuff that I remember us all recording as demos years ago. And they’re just kind of bent a little which way, or whatever, and Dave came up with some different lyrics. But a lot of it, what I heard, was just really reminiscent of some of the songs [we wrote and demoed years ago]. In fact, I’ve still got some of those demo tapes.”
All photos are from Michael’s Facebook page, Mad Anthony’s Cafe.
Journey Through the History of Rock. 2014. With Jason Bonham, Sammy Hagar and Vic Johnson.
July 2014: Michael, Sammy Hagar, and Jason Bonham hang with Gary Cherone & Pat Badger from Extreme
Michael with the legendary Kevin Dugan