An interview with Michael Anthony

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February 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm Quote #33091


Michael Anthony is synonymous with hard rock. When you think of one of the biggest rock bands ever in Van Halen and its solid bottom end, it must be Michael Anthony. Michael was at the NAMM Show 2014 to promote a new line of amps with Peavey as well as his new Yamaha release when Metal Exiles was given a chance to sit down with him and talk about these massive releases.

An interview with Michael Anthony
By Jeffrey Easton

Metal Exiles: You are always here at the NAMM show. What keeps bringing you back year after year?

Michael Anthony: I have never considered myself a rock star, more like a working musician so I like to come to NAMM and talk to the people who create the products that I use. I have a good time here but in the early days I had a better time because I could walk around here and check out everything out but after you attain some success that is over with. I have to go where I am supposed be and that is pretty much it now. They should have a day where that’s specified for artists to come and walk around to check everything out.

Metal Exiles: What are you featuring at Peavey this year?

Michael: I have my new signature amp, the VB MA 3 that I am debuting this year. I was first introduced to Peavey when we did the first Chickenfoot album back in 2009 with Joe Satriani. I have wanted to build an amp to my specs for years and they were coming out with some stuff that they wanted me to check out. One thing led to another and I ended up taking some amps out on the road and with that they approached me and asked if I wanted to do a signature model and they wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it. Normally when companies want to do a signature they will do it your way as long as you do it their way. It is a great amp and I am very proud of it.

Metal Exiles: You are legendary for your sound so what was missing from amps in the past that you used?

Michael: I do not think there was anything missing per se. You find someone with a signature sound like Eddie Van Halen or Joe Satriani and they can plug into anything and sound like themselves but for me there were just certain refinements that I did not have before. When I tried the Peavey model I took on the road it had a dedicated distortion channel so when I put my model together we did a blend so you can blend the sound and have control over the gain and the tone of it.

Metal Exiles: Are you plugging directly into the amp or using pedals?

Michael: Sometimes I use pedals and sometimes I go direct to the amp but if the amp doesn’t sound good you can use all of the pedals you want and it will do nothing for you. When I first tried the amp out it sounded great but I added a few more touches to it and it was ready to go.

Metal Exiles: What drew you into Peavey in the first place?

Michael: I came to Peavey years ago to check out their basses years ago but it did not work out but when we went into the studio to do the first Chickenfoot record Satriani was using Peavey and it sounded amazing. I am always out there looking for what sounds good.

Metal Exiles: What else are you featuring this year at the NAMM show?

Michael: I have a new signature bass, the BB2024MA, with Yamaha that I am debuting this year. It is two years in the making and it is everything I have ever played in a Yamaha and honed it down to exactly what I play. They let me do what I want all the way down to the neck, it is everything that’s me.

Metal Exiles: Why did it take you two years? You seem like a simple person.

Michael: I am a simple person but the companies aren’t. (laughter) Every time I had a question it had to go through Japan or the diplomatic channels. With me endorsing something whether it’s the bass, amp or whatever, it’s not about the money, I don’t need the money, I just want a quality product to use and make it affordable for other musicians. I just don’t want to see other signed artists using it; I want to see bands playing the clubs to use it to. I can put out a $3,000 bass and it’s really nice to play but that struggling musician that’s playing the clubs five nights a week will never play it because he can’t afford it. We try to make the price point as low as possible while still making a great product.

Metal Exiles: What are some of the features about the bass that you are debuting?

Michael: I think it’s everything I want in a bass rolled into one. It has pickups that were wound just for me because I want a passive sound that lets the amp do what its supposed to do. I used to switch off basses but with this one I do not have to do that anymore.

Metal Exiles: One of your other endeavors are the sauces, the Mad Anthony Sauces. How did you get into that?

Michael: After being on tour for years the fans know I love hot food so they started bringing me chili peppers and their own hot sauces to the shows. Someone eventually said I should make my own hot sauce and I think that was right around the time that Joe Perry came out with his Boneyard Brew hot sauce. Someone came to one of my NAMM signings and they were good friends with Mike and Diane’s Gourmet Kitchen and now they do my sauces. The thing I like about it is that it’s not like I slap my name on it and they call it mine, I was in with it from the ground up. I helped develop the taste whether it needed more salt or needed to be hotter, I was there and it turned out really good.

Metal Exiles: To tap into Van Halen for a moment, you guys were always known for the excesses like the drinking, drugs, partying ect so what is something about your time in the band that you want the fans to know about?

Michael: Obviously what the fans saw and what the public saw is like what you said, the excesses but the music was always number one. When we were in the studio working stuff out and even when we were on stage, the music was a priority. You can only go with the excesses to a certain point, it wasn’t always the Jack Daniels bottle. We weren’t just a bunch of sloppy musicians on stage drinking, we would critique every show.

Metal Exiles: What do you think was one of your highlights with Van Halen? Mine was Fair Warning as you could not have gotten closer to perfection than that. That was just a dark, mean album.

Michael: Fair Warning was my favorite from the David Lee era, I just thought it was a great rock album. With Sammy, it was For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. We got to work with Andy Johns and he wanted my bass big and beefy, he was fun to work with.

Metal Exiles: To close this out, will there be another Chickenfoot record?

Michael: There probably will be but we are still waiting for Chad and his daytime gig with the RHCP as they have been busy. We really do not want to start without him.

Metal Exiles: Last Words, what would you tell your fans to make them want to buy your Peavey Signature Model?

Michael: It’s the first and last amp you will ever need. We will be doing some more combo amps and some smaller ones as well that would be great for practicing at home.

Whether its designing an amp to blow fans away on stage or creating a sauce to burn your taste buds, Michael Anthony is a busy human and incredibly down to earth. Check out his Peavey and Yamaha releases as they were some of the top “must see” items from this year’s show.


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