Van Halen is missing more than Michael Anthony’s signature tenor, Sammy Hagar says. They’re missing a very good bass player.
Together now in Chickenfoot, Hagar and Anthony have focused on mixing their vocals higher in the mix than they did during their own time in Van Halen. Just as importantly, Hagar says, they’ve let Anthony inhabit a larger musical role in their sound.
“He’s playing his ass off in this band,” Hagar told Goldmine Magazine. “He never played like this in Van Halen. (Band co-founder) 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.”
Anthony and Hagar formed Chickenfoot with Joe Satriani and Chad Smith in 2009, and have issued two albums — including the new Chickenfoot III. While Smith is on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot is playing live dates with drummer Kenny Aronoff, who had similar praise for Anthony in an interview last week with Something Else! Reviews: “Michael Anthony, in my opinion, is amazing,” Aronoff said. “He’s always in time, great feel. His vocals are flawless. Great vibe, great personality.”
Hagar was frontman for Van Halen from 1985-96, and then again from 2003-05. Anthony played bass with the band from 1974-2003, but saw his involvement dramatically lessen in recent years. He only played on three cuts on his final full-length original project with Van Halen, 1996′s Van Halen III.
“I remember recording in Van Halen,” Hagar added, “Eddie was always saying (to Anthony), ‘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.”
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Chickenfoot, and Van Halen. Click through the titles for more …
SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: CHICKENFOOT’S KENNY ARONOFF: When superstar drummer Kenny Aronoff — on tour now with Chickenfoot — starts recalling his sideman projects, they spill out with no rhyme or reason. He’s, almost literally, played them all. Of course, today it’s Chickenfoot, an all-star rock group featuring vocalist Sammy Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony, late of Van Halen, and sizzling guitar hero Joe Satriani. Aronoff is filling in for Chad Smith, who did the record but is now on tour with his main band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Chickenfoot announced a new U.S. tour this week, after a string of successful European stops in January. Chickenfoot is just the latest stop in a dizzyingly diverse career for one of music’s most in-demand drummers. Aronoff starts listing them off then stops himself, taking it all in: “I mean, are you fucking kidding me?”
AFFABLE MICHAEL ANTHONY SAYS HE WON’T PURSUE ROYALTY CASE OVER NEW VAN HALEN ALBUM: When David Lee Roth confirmed that Van Halen returned to the band’s vaults in search of old pieces of music and existing lyrics for a much-anticipated new album, it brought up the question of royalties for original bassist Michael Anthony. Van Halen had a policy, back then, of crediting all four members equally for each song — meaning Anthony could potentially make a case for a cut of the cash when it comes to A Different Kind of Truth. That won’t happen, though. Anthony, who was ousted from Van Halen along with singer Sammy Hagar in advance of this reunion with original frontman Roth, says he won’t be lawyering up.
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: VAN HALEN: A long-waited reunion with original lead singer David Lee Roth has Van Halen back in the news … and us digging through some old albums. Here’s a look back at a few favorite moments with Roth — and yes, Sammy, too — including “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Jamie’s Cryin,’” “Good Enough,” “And the Cradle will Rock” and “Ice Cream Man.” Let’s start shredding!
THE FRIDAY MORNING LISTEN: VAN HALEN – WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST (1980): Maybe the best thing about this Van Halen deal is the reemergence of the great Roth vs. Hagar debates. What cracks me up is when guys (and let’s face it, it’s mostly guys) start plastering the opposition (because face it, they are now “the enemy”) with all sorts of nasty labels. Gees guys, it’s only rock ‘n roll, you know? OK, so I’m not trying to make this sound like I don’t have an opinion on this matter. It’s just that people tend to get “stuck” in the way they think about these things. So while I vastly prefer the original Van Halen lineup to the Sammy years, I tend to think about them as two completely different bands, with the latter being more pop-oriented. In my mind, this makes defending one band over another kind of pointless.