Exclusive: Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone on the new Van Halen record

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March 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm Quote #7333

ron
(9243)

Exclusive: Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone on the new Van Halen record
Inconvenient Truth
By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER | March 7, 2012


AGING WITH THE DEVIL “In your 20s, it’s the hottest time of your career,” says Sammy Hagar of David Lee Roth. “But when you’re 50, 60 years old and you still try to be that person, it’s impossible.”

Last month, after Van Halen dropped A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope) — the rock legends’ first album of all new material with original singer David Lee Roth in almost three decades–fans and detractors alike took to the Internet to vote yea or nay on the comeback gigs. But it wasn’t just fans checking out the new stuff: the group’s two former singers, longtime Roth adversary Sammy Hagar and Boston native Gary Cherone, also weighed in. I tracked them down for their takes on Truth, weeks before Van Halen were due to hit the TD Garden without them.

“He’s gotten sillier,” a jovial Hagar said of Roth over the phone just before Chickenfoot played The Tonight Show last week. “This new stuff, I’m just watching some of the YouTube things, and I saw the video and I’m just goin’, ‘Geez . . . okay, I dunno.’ I guess whenever you’re young, in your 20s, it’s the hottest time of your career. You’re physically strong, you got it all together, and you want it bad, and you become something that works, and it helps you get to where you want to be — and that’s all good. But when you’re 50, 60 years old and you still try to be that person, it’s impossible.”

Roth was long the archetype for the sun-bleached, spandex-clad California beach boy frontman, strutting about like a new wave Mick Jagger throughout the ’80s, doing high-flying splits off Alex Van Halen’s drum riser, and influencing a stream of second-rate imitators. These days, he’s taken to a more vaudeville-style act, complete with a headset and a slide area onstage to shimmy on centered between guitarist Eddie Van Halen and his bass-playing son, Wolfgang.

“The stuff that I’ve seen, the band is on fire,” Cherone says while driving through Boston on his way to watch the Celtics game last week. “When [Eddie's] on, he makes it looks effortless. There’s a reason he inspired the next generation of rockers. I’m not a big fan of [Roth's] headpiece. I’ll give him a nod for trying something new; it looks a little awkward. It’s like, you don’t reinvent the wheel. You know what it reminds me of? It’s a little ‘master of ceremonies.’ I did a little theater, and it’s a little theater for me. Again, he’s a showman, he’s reinventing himself. He’s doing a sort of James Brown soul dancing which is good, I get it, and he can do whatever he wants — he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody.”

Coming out of Extreme in 1996, Cherone had the unenviable task of joining the Van Halen soap opera after Hagar had been fired or quit (depending on whom you ask) after 11 years, and in the middle of a much-hyped Roth return for a two-song greatest hits contribution. To many fans, Cherone’s three-year stint remains a footnote. But Cherone himself appears to have perspective on that episode in his career as well as on the new disc.

“This record, for me, it’s the best thing since Fair Warning,” he says. “[First single] ‘Tattoo’ is the only misstep. You wait 28 years to hear Van Halen, and in the context of the record, it’s not the best song by far. Off the top of my head, I’m thinkin’ of ‘China Town,’ if that was the first thing you heard, or ‘As Is,’ or ‘Honeybabysweetiedoll.’ Any of those three? People would’ve been like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ ”

Hagar claims not to have heard the entire album. “I don’t listen to much new music unless I hear a new song on the radio, and the last bands that did that to me were the Black Keys and Kings of Leon. When I heard ‘Tattoo,’ that single — and I saw the video because everybody kept sending it to me like, ‘My god, have you seen this?’ . . . ‘Oh my god, you must be laughing your ass off!’– it wasn’t a song that made me run out and buy their record. And so I haven’t heard it. I haven’t downloaded it, I haven’t done anything. I heard another one that was kinda goofy too, and then I heard, on the radio, ‘She’s the Woman,’ and I thought that was kinda cool. That one sounds like what I would expect from Van Halen, a little closer to it. The other stuff didn’t sound like what I was expecting, that’s for sure.”

Then there is the matter of today’s Van Halen playing only songs from the Roth catalog while on tour. Hagar says that it must be hard for Eddie and Alex to have to ignore a gaping section of their career. “The difference between Dave and I in that band, besides all the other million things, is that he can’t sing any of the Van Hagar-era songs. Maybe he could do ‘Finish What Ya Started,’ possibly — so that makes it kind of weird for [Alex and Eddie] I think to take 11 years out of that thing.”

Another sticking point for Hagar has been that about half the material on A Different Kind of Truth comes from old demos, several from before the first Van Halen record was released in 1978. But Cherone, who in addition to fronting Hurtsmile and a reignited Extreme — ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pornograffiti with a tour of Japan and Russia, and possibly the States, later this year — looks at it differently.

“The starting point [for A Different Kind of Truth] was the old demos,” Cherone says, “but to me, a riff’s a riff. Eddie’s added new things to it — this stuff is on fire. Of course you miss [ousted bassist Michael Anthony]; he was one of the four food groups. But Wolfie’s no slouch. Alex is a machine, and Eddie is playing better than he’s ever played. I love the record. It’s kind of inspiring, it’s like the king just took back his crown.”

Meanwhile, the Hagar-led Chickenfoot are preparing to embark on a spring tour, with a date in Los Angeles bookended by a pair of Van Halen shows, something that initially had him pissed at the promoters.

“First I said, ‘What the fuck are you doing putting us the same time as Van Halen?’ ” Hagar says now. “It’s just gonna cause a needless competition between the fans, and I don’t like that. I want the fans to feel like they can love Van Halen and that they can love Chickenfoot totally the same. I don’t have any way of competing with those guys; you can’t compete with Van Halen. I’m part of that legacy, how could I go out and compete with something I’m part of? I don’t look at us like that, but I know some people do. You want to go see Van Halen one night and see us the next and compare us, you want to do that? Roll up your sleeves and come on. I welcome it, because I think this band is smokin’.”

By comparison, Cherone, wants a competition, but not with Van Halen. He wants to roll with Chickenfoot, and he’s called out Hagar to take Extreme on the road with them this year for a tour that would make perfect sense. “I love Gary,” says Hagar. “He’s a nice guy. I like Extreme. It would probably be a good package. . . . I could see it working.”

The only question is whether Roth and the Van Halens would be hitting up YouTube to see those tour highlights.

VAN HALEN + KOOL AND THE GANG | TD GARDEN, 100 Legends Way, Boston | March 11 @ 7:30 pm | $47-$147


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March 8, 2012 at 4:16 am Quote #7338

evhua
(1539)

” I don’t have any way of competing with those guys; you can’t compete with Van Halen. ”

Bravo Sammy ! :-)


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March 8, 2012 at 7:33 am Quote #7345

sickman
(2374)

Bravo Gary

Fuck You Sammy


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March 8, 2012 at 7:36 am Quote #7346

evhua
(1539)

Bravo Gary too :-)


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March 8, 2012 at 7:57 am Quote #7347

kaloway
(1894)

After all this time, just let it go. You are not part of VH anymore and the band has moved on. I’m waiting for “I just don’t care for the shirt that Ed wears on stage. It doesn’t suit him.”

Sam, ya sound like a whining kid on this one. Gary, great job!

Bookending between VH shows is not competition for the fans. CF is not playing VH songs so why would it matter?


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March 8, 2012 at 8:50 am Quote #7352

JasonA
(1021)

Interesting story, thanks for posting Ron.

:waits for VAiN to chime in on Hagar’s bullshit:


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March 8, 2012 at 10:00 am Quote #7356

wjamflan
(978)

The only thing I’ll say about this is related to the following:

Hagar says that it must be hard for Eddie and Alex to have to ignore a gaping section of their career. “The difference between Dave and I in that band, besides all the other million things, is that he can’t sing any of the Van Hagar-era songs. Maybe he could do ‘Finish What Ya Started,’ possibly — so that makes it kind of weird for [Alex and Eddie] I think to take 11 years out of that thing.”

This is very hypocritical of Sammy, since he refused to sing most of the CVH songs when he was in the band, thereby forcing Eddie and Alex (as well as Mike) to ignore 6 records worth of material. As I remember it, this was one reason people were actually excited that they picked Gary, b/c he was willing to sing everything. Look how that turned out…


“This hamburger don’t need no helper.” – DLR 5/17/15


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March 8, 2012 at 10:28 am Quote #7357

sickman
(2374)

This quote from Gary says a lot.

“This record, for me, it’s the best thing since Fair Warning,” he says. “[First single] ‘Tattoo’ is the only misstep. You wait 28 years to hear Van Halen, and in the context of the record, it’s not the best song by far. Off the top of my head, I’m thinkin’ of ‘China Town,’ if that was the first thing you heard, or ‘As Is,’ or ‘Honeybabysweetiedoll.’ Any of those three? People would’ve been like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ ”

Yup, waited 28 years to hear Van Halen – not Van Hagar

Sam should talk when he refers to Roth as “silly” He is after all the king of silly.


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March 8, 2012 at 10:37 am Quote #7359

King Edward
(1808)

I want to like you Sammy….I really do but you are making it so difficult. Just be complimentary, keep an arms length and let it go. Gary is the example, a class act all the way. And that 1998 tour was pretty darn good too by the way…..


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March 8, 2012 at 10:40 am Quote #7360

fletch
(657)

someone still has sour grapes! he knows the money VH is making and he is no part of it….as far as using old demos..every dave album is from old demos..what do you expect? thank GOD for those demos!! I love the demos! and there are many songs left for a few more demos/new tunes mix albums to go!! bring it on sammy, sounds like youve been hitting the jug again!


Why settle for a can? When you can drink straight from the bottle….
By the Bottle….
BTB Productions


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March 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm Quote #7375

eruption1962
(1363)

There are so many pros and cons to this I don’t know where to begin! I share everyone’s feelings about Gary’s bravado…even though I hated the fact that he was in VH. Second, if I didn’t think Sammy was a douche before, I sure do now…so that makes him a double douche! 1/2 the songs on 5150 and FUCK already had instruments laid down as early as FW…they shoulda been Dave’s songs. Sammy’s lucky he got to be in the band! He says Dave is silly…and that is true! But that’s where Dave’s been heading for awhile…regardless, this is where he belongs. WTF is that shit about Ed’s wardrobe… Fatty, er, I mean, Sammy, can’t even move around the stage without his gut falling out! I think his next gig will be with Blues Traveller! Anyway, Dave just needs to shitcan the headset once and for all…and sing within his register…I think he’s destroyed Dance The Night Away so far…but as it’s his song…he can do what the fuck he wants with it! We’re NEVER gonna get back the 28 years that fell into the R’n'R black hole…but we can sure enjoy the opportunity to take in what tthese guys maybe doing for the last time! BTW…I said it about a month ago…glad Gary agrees…ADKOT is the BEST VH album since FW! You guys in your 30s and younger did not know the anguish us old school VH fans felt when Diver and 1984 were released! But, ADKOT has truly redeemed them…now, if only they’d lose The Trouble With Never…and throw Blood and Fire or Honeybabysweetiedoll! into the mix…and drop YRGM and PW from the setlist…to make room for some true classics. I’d like to see Cradle… back in the mix. Also On Fire and/or LUTS! Rock on!


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March 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm Quote #7384

ron
(9243)

Sammy Hagar on Eddie Van Halen: “I Don’t Hate the Guy, I Love the Guy. I Hate What He Did to Me”
By LA Weekly Thu., Mar. 8 2012 at 5:33 AM
By Michael Christopher

Last week, Sammy Hagar was in the green room at The Tonight Show, preparing to musical guest with Chickenfoot, his band that dropped its critically acclaimed second album (cheekily titled Chickenfoot III) in September. Host Jay Leno popped in to say hello, and seeing the Red Rocker in the midst of an interview, started squawking. “It’s all lies! Don’t believe a word!” Given Hagar’s former mates in Van Halen have released a bombastic new album with David Lee Roth at the helm titled A Different Kind of Truth, it’s an interesting course of joking.

To a fault, Hagar has long been a straight shooter. His 2011 book, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, was a no-holds-barred look at professional and personal highs and lows. This spring his tour with Chickenfoot wraps up at the Greek June 10. Candid as ever, Hagar talked about Eddie Van Halen, wanting to be a ’70s rock band and those cool jumpsuits he wore in the ’80s.

You took a lot of flak for some of the things you put in your book. Were you ever worried that you were being too honest?
There were a lot of times where I said, “I really shouldn’t say this.” But I felt that my fans, who’ve been with me all this time, deserved the real story; they need to hear why and understand why I am who I am and why I’ve become what I’ve become and how I did it and what I went through for it. I just figured at this stage of my life I’m just gonna tell the whole story. A lot of it had to do with Van Halen; there was always a controversy of who said what and “He did this and he did that,” and I wanted to tell the truth about all that.

You told me you haven’t heard the new record yet but they are out on tour.
The fact that they’re out right now, that’s so great; I’m so happy that they’re out doing it — but look how long it took. It’s so dysfunctional and who knows how long it will last like this and I just can’t be part of something like that.

I don’t think I ever slowed down and stopped trying to prove something in that damn band ’til the reunion in ’04, but by then it was too late. Eddie was shot at that point, though I heard he’s great now, and I’m really happy that he’s supposedly sober and playing great and doing good. People think, “Oh you hate the guy.” I don’t hate the guy, I love the guy. I hate what he did in ’04 to me on the reunion tour, but other than that I still love the guy.

Chickenfoot (featuring fellow ex-VH member Michael Anthony, guitar savant Joe Satriani and session drummer Kenny Arnoff filling in for the busy-with-the-Chili-Peppers Chad Smith) seems to have you in such a happier place.
The musicianship in this band is on such a high level, you can’t even compare it to anything, and no ego trip about it, everybody’s so great at what they do on their instruments. In our sleep we could probably play better than a lot of bands out there.

We really get along; there are no direction problems. We all want to be a ’70s frickin’ rock band; we want to be Humble Pie. That’s really where our roots are and we love playing that kind of music in tribute to it and just kind of bring it up to date a little bit. Chickenfoot IV, the third record, I think will blow people out of the water — I just know what we’re capable of now. I think we’re here to stay.

Back in your solo days, all I have are the images of you in the red jumpsuit with the straps on it, the yellow jumpsuit with the red straps on it, now, were those straps functional?
Oh yeah; you could tighten them, loosen them, like if you had a big meal the night before and you had a little gut on you, you could loosen up the gut a little bit — it was great. That was just a big old baggy frickin’ mechanics jumpsuit basically with a bunch of straps all over it, totally strategically put where you could tie it up close around the legs, tighten it up around the hips, you know? It was definitely cool.

Before joining Van Halen, had you been a fan of the band?
I was a fan of the band, yeah, and the music I always dug it. I wasn’t a fan of Roth’s image. If I had never seen him, I could’ve handled his vocal style and his attitude was great; he had a great rock and roll attitude — it fit with the music.

They had such a heaviness but they were really poppy at the same time; I thought that was really cool. But when I would see that guy and the way he was suckin’ his jaws in and his stances and his attitude and raps it was like, oh my god, who is this guy trying to kid here? He was playing the role of a rockstar too much to the bone and I never liked that role too much. I wanted to be more of a musician and an entertainer. He bugged me — that’s all I can say.

Was there a hesitation then after getting the call to potentially take Dave’s place?
When Eddie asked me to join the band, I thought, well, I’m kind of interested, but don’t expect me to put on those clothes and go be that guy. And it was like, “No, no, no man.” And when I got with Ed, Al and Mike, they were so down home and we had such a common family bond; all of us had alcoholic fathers, the Van Halens and me, and we were kind of raised poor and we struggled and we had all those things in common.

Still, it had to be hard stepping into that situation, getting in front of those fans who only knew one Van Halen. Was it daunting at all?
Wow, I’ll tell you, I didn’t even talk about this in my book. It took me awhile. I came out with fire in my belly and frickin … I came out to prove something for a long time.

I think when I joined that band and everybody heard “Why Can’t This Be Love” they just went, “Yeah, this is better than we thought.” We took a giant step; we didn’t just make another Van Halen record, we made a frickin’ new Van Halen with songs like “Love Walks In” and “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Summer Nights” — that was sophisticated music. “Best of Both Worlds?” Get outta here. That song still holds up when I play that with my band and it’s still one of the great moments in our set.

But you still had the specter of the old Van Halen. In the beginning you were only doing a few of the early hits, but as time went on it seemed like you were more open to them.
I didn’t feel comfortable singing those songs and I felt like I always had to prove myself to sing them different, but once I got over that it was like, “No, sing the songs like they are for God’s sake; you didn’t write them, but do them right, do them justice or don’t do them.” It took me awhile to get that much confidence to be able to stand up there and sing a great song like fuckin’ “Jump” or “Panama.” Those songs are kickin’ ass. “Unchained?” Shit, come on, that’s just rockin’.


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March 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm Quote #7385

guitard
(7354)

The fact that they’re out right now, that’s so great; I’m so happy that they’re out doing it — but look how long it took. It’s so dysfunctional and who knows how long it will last like this and I just can’t be part of something like that.

I don’t think you have to worry about being invited back to be a part of it Sam.


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March 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm Quote #7386

King Edward
(1808)

Sammy Hagar: “The fact that they’re out right now, that’s so great; I’m so happy that they’re out doing it — but look how long it took”

Can’t just leave it at how happy you are to see them out…..gotta take a shot at them don’t you Sammy……C’mon man! I want to like you….stop making it so difficult!!


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March 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm Quote #7399

Revo11
(985)

I can’t say that I disagree with much in the first interview with Hagar and Cherone. Dave looks silly in the Tattoo video, the Tattoo song is the worst on the album, the headset looks ridiculous. On the other hand, ADKOT is a great album, Eddie sounds like the old Eddie, it’s too bad MA is gone, etc. Nothing much controversial here to my eyes.


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