SAMMY HAGAR: EDDIE VAN HALEN Doesn’t Even Realize What A Great Bass Player He Had

Peter Lindblad of Goldmine magazine recently conducted an interview with CHICKENFOOT members Sammy Hagar (vocals), Joe Satriani (guitar) and Michael Anthony(bass). An excerpt from the chat follows below.

Michael, talking about how your vocals and Sammy‘s work together, in VAN HALEN those harmonies were not pushed to the fore, as they are with CHICKENFOOT. Was that a conscious decision?

Michael: Yeah, actually, Sammy and I did make a conscious decision that, in this band, we were really going to bring that out. And there were a couple of songs, like “Turning Left” from the first album, where it’s like a two-part harmony lead vocal part through the song, but we definitely wanted to bring it out more, because it’s pretty signature-sounding. But in VAN HALEN, like you said, the background, my part, was more … not ghosting, but it was a little bit more in the background, where Sammy really wanted to bring it to the front. And on the new album, I think we really took that a lot further.

Sammy: Singing with him, he’s the only guy that I know that could just go above [me]. I don’t care if I’m at the peak of my range; he can get up above me, just squeeze his nuts and get on up there — and right on key, he can mimic my phrasing. He’s just … he’s so fast. That’s the thing that people don’t understand about Mike. He learns faster than anyone I’ve ever met in my life. Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen … guys come up with riffs, and come on, I can’t fucking play them. I’m sitting here with an acoustic guitar around the house still trying to learn these riffs on this record, and I ain’t got ’em down yet … And he’s playing his ass off in this band. He never played like this in VAN HALEN. Eddie [Van Halen] doesn’t even realize what a great bass player he had. I think he never realized it, and that is his complete loss. I remember recording in VAN HALEN, Eddie was always saying, “Just play eighth notes.” And he would play all this stuff, and Mike‘s just going, “boom, boom, boom, boom.” Boy, Mike‘s really capable of playing more than that, and he never found out. So Mike and I, one time, we’re in Cabo San Lucas when we were in VAN HALEN — say probably around ’89, ’88 or ’89, when we were still loving each other, and having a good time — and Mike was in Cabo jamming and doing a live broadcast from the Cabo Wabo for some album network that I think used to be around that would do live broadcasts. And Ed is listening to it on the radio, and we get back and he asked me who was playing bass? He went, “Yeah, yeah, you guys did ‘Crossroads’ by CREAM,” and he goes, “Who was playing fucking bass on that?” I’m saying, “That’s your brother right over here.” That was Michael Anthony on the bass. And Ed goes, “Yeah? Yeah? Yeah? Yeah?” And then he’d smoke a cigarette, take a hit off a beer and go, “Hmmm.” But, he didn’t get it, you know? But Michael has been tearing it up on this record.

Read the entire interview from Goldmine magazine.