Radio Metal recently conducted an interview with CHICKENFOOT/ex-VAN HALEN singer Sammy Hagar. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Radio Metal: These past years, you and [CHICKENFOOT/ex-VAN HALEN bassist] Michael Anthony have spoken out about how disappointed you were by VAN HALEN and you’ve both been criticizing the band for not putting out new music, at least Michael mentioned it to us. So now that VAN HALEN is officially about to release a new album, what is your feeling?
Hagar: Oh, I’m okay with those guys doing whatever they want to do. What I’ve heard so far, I wasn’t impressed with at all, personally. I think in CHICKENFOOT, we’ve raised the bar a little bit on what a four-piece rock band can do, and I think they chose to take the easy route and take some of their old stuff and and re-record it instead of writing new songs. Who is VAN HALEN today? I don’t know, I don’t think the fans are going to be happy with it. I couldn’t care less if it’s the biggest album of the year; that wouldn’t be important to me. What is important to me is that, as artists, why would you do that? They haven’t released an album since my last album in something like 1991 or ’92, and then they just go back. To me, it makes a strange statement, it kind of says, “We don’t have anything, we’re not a band anymore, we’re not creative.” Isn’t it a strange statement to you?
Radio Metal: Do you think this was intentional? I mean, as a band it’s normal to have some habits, some patterns, some ways of composing that come back, so do you think it really was intentional?
Hagar: I don’t know. To be honest with you, the last time I was around those guys was in 2004 on the reunion. It was a disaster, it was horrible, Eddie [Van Halen] was in a really bad shape, I wrote about it a lot in my book. And I don’t know what they’re thinking, to be honest with you. Because if they were thinking at all, they would certainly have Mikey in there playing bass. So I don’t know what they’re thinking. I believe it was probably intentional, because I don’t think they had any choice. If they had had a choice they would’ve done all new stuff. From today. They would’ve written together like a band.
Radio Metal: So you think they don’t have any inspiration today?
Hagar: I don’t think so. I think there’s zero inspiration and zero creativity. If there was any, they would write new songs. What does the band do? When CHICKENFOOT got together for our first album, we were four new guys and we got together and wrote ten, twelve songs and made an album. When we decided to do our second album, we didn’t go back and take the two songs that were left over from the first album, we wrote all brand new songs. Because we’re new people, we’re inspired. Here’s what we have to say, here’s what we want to play now, here’s who we’ve become since then. And you present yourself to the fans as who you are and what you’ve become. And if you don’t have any idea of who you are or what you are and what you’ve become [laughs], then I guess you have to go back and show them what you used to be. I don’t know. Does that make sense?
Radio Metal: Michael told us that he was totally open to have CHICKENFOOT going on tour or at least making a couple of shows with VAN HALEN. What about you?
Hagar: Hell yes! [laughs] Are you kidding? Right now, for free. They wouldn’t even have to pay me.
Radio Metal: Anyway, does that bother you when you hear people comparing CHICKENFOOT and VAN HALEN?
Hagar: Oh, no, I think it’s fantastic. Really, it’s fantastic. Are you kidding me? If you take Joe [Satriani, CHICKENFOOT guitarist] versus Eddie, you take Dave [Lee Roth, VAN HALEN singer] versus me, Wolfie [Van Halen, VAN HALEN bassist] versus Mikey, Chad [Smith, CHICKENFOOT drummer] or Kenny [Aronoff, CHICKENFOOT‘s touring drummer] versus Al [Alex Van Halen, VAN HALEN drummer]… I mean, come on! You know what I mean? Man for man, who can sing the best? Dave or I, today? Who can play the best? Joe or Eddie, today? Who could play or sing the best? Wolfie or Mikey? I think it’s a joke. Sure, I love the comparison as long as it’s fair. Not because you’re a big Eddie Van Halen fan, you think that he’s God, therefore you think that he’s better than Joe; you have to be bipartisan and just listen and watch both of them play. Listen, I played with them both, I can tell you right now: there is no comparison today. Never mind the innovator that Eddie was. I’m talking about what they can play today.
Radio Metal: So in other words, CHICKENFOOT is way better than VAN HALEN?
Hagar: As individuals, absolutely! I’ve been in both bands, I can tell you right now. Take the new albums and compare them track by track and then tell me.
Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.