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Classic Rock News And Views
May 30, 2012
Photos and Story by Scott Smith
Van Halen seemingly are stuck in a ditch with their recent tour derailment, but Chickenfoot is strutting and kicking.
Former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony couldn’t have looked happier – or healthier – than they did during Chickenfoot’s headlining, unbelievably great set on May 27th at the Rocklahoma music festival, near Pryor, Okla. Hagar’s voice was exceptional, while Anthony provided the best back-up singing in all of rock-and-roll land and put down rich, impressive bass lines.
Chickenfoot guitarist Joe Satriani’s guitar playing and tone were every bit as fantastic as they are on his studio work. Sporting a shaved head and black sunglasses, Satriani pulled an endless stream of notes, sounds and aural emotions from his guitars while the group pounded out peppy takes of “Lighten Up,” “Last Temptation,” “Sexy Little Thing,” “Soap on a Rope,” “Down the Drain” and Montrose’s “Rock Candy.”
Anyone who previously predicted that Chickenfoot would tumble without original drummer Chad Smith found the opposite true via the presence of skin-hitter Kenny Aronoff (John Cougar, Smashing Pumpkins). With Smith back with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aronoff backed Chickenfoot with the same intense firepower of a young Keith Moon while retaining the otherworldly precision of drum masters Bill Bruford and Neil Peart. The grinning Aronoff just didn’t hit his drum heads and cymbals; he playfully grimaced, striking his set ferociously as if Rocklahoma were his last-ever gig.
Chickenfoot’s on-stage chemistry was as terrific as their chops. I can’t remember ever seeing a concert where every single member laughed, joked with each other and tried to make each other giggle during instrumental passages. The quartet’s inner-group warmth was contagious.
“When I was a 4-year-old boy, I knew I wanted to make music,” said Hagar near the end of the group’s set. “That’s the reason to make music. I want to still feel like that 4-year-old boy, loving music. I have that same passion now, and that’s what Chickenfoot is all about. We’re about making music for fun – playing with that passion.”
Other acts at Rocklahoma also making big, positive noise where Slash, Megadeth, Rob Zombie, Queensryche and Christian rockers Red and P.O.D., as well as the original lineup of Creed. Slash and Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy fronted Slash’s band, whipping out tasteful takes of Slash’s solo material and Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City” on May 25th. Slash ignored the evening’s unforgiving heat and humidity – sweat was dripping from his wrists and elbows by the end of his second song – and played flawlessly on his Les Pauls.
Queensryche also took to the stage with fire and professionalism, infusing new grit and purpose into “Jet City Woman” and “Eyes of a Stranger.” When “Silent Lucidity” arrived, the 20,000-plus crowd cheered before singing along with vocalist Geoff Tate in massive, echoey unison.
One of Rocklahoma’s biggest surprises were Creed, who wisely kept their set in heavy-rock mode while following Slash’s hard-hitting session. Creed’s instrumental play was fast and punchy, with singer Scott Stapp barking and hissing many of their lyrics in an appealing voice. Creed’s effort, like Rocklahoma itself, was a winner.
September 9, 2010
Recent comments from Red Rocker Sammy Hagar cast doubt on the future of the young “super group” Chickenfoot. Once hailed by Hagar as a group “that could rival Zep,” — a comment he later back away from — it appears that the group’s members may be too busy with other endeavors and may not have enough time left to do much with Chickenfoot for a while.
Tomorrow night Chickenfoot is set to appear at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Hagar told the Press-Enterprise that the show will be one of only two that the group will put on for the rest of the year. In fact, he went on to say, “This is so special. Anyone that didn’t get to see Chickenfoot or anyone that saw Chickenfoot and loved it–this is it. I don’t know when we’re ever going to get to play again.”
Between drummer Chad Smith’s commitment to working on a new album with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joe Satriani planning to perform in Europe and Hagar’s musical and non-musical activities, it seems to be getting more difficult for the group to work out time that will allow them to perform live or record.
At the beginning of the month, Hagar told Billboard that, “Chad’s never going to be able to get a break. If he does, he’ll get a couple weeks here, a couple days there, which is not really enough to devote to Chickenfoot. And when they’re done with (the album) they’re gonna go on the road for a year and a half. So we either have to get a new drummer or wait for Chad … which is unfair to Chickenfoot. It’s too good a band.”
Hagar sounds like he’s in favor of holding the group together and perhaps his “I don’t know when we’re ever going to get to play again” statement could mean that he thinks they may end up having to replace Smith as opposed to a hint that Chickenfoot will come to an end.
Whatever happens with Chickenfoot, it sounds as if it will take a while to play itself out.
September 1, 2009
Gibson, maker of some of the most-recognized guitars in the world of rock, recently interviewed Chickenfoot frontman Sammy Hagar. In addition to the guitar talk that would be expected, Hagar was asked some questions about his thoughts in the differences between his experience with Van Halen and his experience with Chickenfoot.
Hagar has gained himself a reputation as someone who does not hold back when it comes to his opinions, and this interview was no different. Regarding his motivation to start up a new band, the most influential factor seems to be that he wanted to “to play with the best players in the business.” He then goes on to refer to each other individual member of Chickenfoot as “the best” at what they do.
Those kinds of comments are somewhat reminiscent of his infamous statement made during the lead up to the group’s public debut when he said they could “rival Zep.” A statement Hagar later blamed on the consumption of a little to much tequila.
Everyone has their preference, but referring to to his band mates as “the best” comes across more like bravado and less like reality. Has Hagar never heard of Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, Geddy Lee, Jack Bruce or Stevie Ray Vaughan? That’s partly a rhetorical question since he actually mentions Jack Bruce and Stevie Ray Vaughan during the interview.
No Hagar interview would be complete without a few words about Eddie Van Halen, whom Hagar refers to as slow compared to guitarist Joe Satriani when it comes to writing. Although he regards both Satriani and Van Halen as “phenomenal” players, in the end he says he thinks Satriani comes out on top when it comes to “a straight-up player, who can play anything, and plays perfect every time.”
You can read part one of the interview at the Gibson website.
Van Halen is in the news again for reasons that may not please them very much – to say nothing of their fans. According to the Wall Street Journal, the group became involved in Ticketmaster’s efforts during 2007 to increase their profits by teaming up with ticket brokers (also known as “scalpers”) . It was also reported to be an effort by Ticketmaster to thwart concert prompter Live Nation’s plans to enter the ticket business.
Ticketmaster’s CEO, Irving Azoff, also happened to be managing Van Halen, which created an opportunity for Ticketmaster to test their new strategy. During the fall of 2007, as many as 500 of the best seats for 20 Van Halen shows were not offered on the Ticketmaster system and were passed on to the brokers for sale to the public.
The brokers were able to keep 30% of the inflated price of the tickets they were allotted while the remaining 70% was shared between Ticketmaster, Van Halen, and their organization. The band reportedly netted at least an extra $1 million as a result. There was nobody available for comment from the Van Halen camp.
Since then Ticketmaster has decided they didn’t care to share a bed with the brokers and have decided to go to war against them instead, using new software that it hopes will make life difficult for them by blocking automated processes that some brokers use to obtain tickets in the highly competitive online grab for tickets the second they are made available for sale.
July 15, 2009
Things appear to be going well for Chickenfoot. Despite some early boasting on the part of frontman Sammy Hagar, the group seems to be shying away from referring to themselves as a “supergroup.” Surely, some fans disagree, and just as certain, there are those that consider the new group anything but “super.”
Like so many other things, whether or not Chickenfoot is a good band is a matter of opinion. Just about every rock fan has his or her own ideas regarding topics such as “best rock band in the world” and the like. There’s no question that the guys in Chickenfoot can play. Whether the stuff they play is good and whether or not they have good chemistry will be decided by those that decide to take a listen.
Speaking of which, I wonder if Eddie Van Halen has had a chance to hear the group yet. Last we heard from EVH was they he doesn’t listen to anything, which seems a little strange, but I suppose you never know.
Opinions aside, the statistics indicate that there may be a bright future for Chickenfoot. Their debut album sits at number 21 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, which isn’t too bad. They are even stronger on the Billboard Indie Albums chart, occupying the number 2 position.
The group is a little over two weeks away from launching their North American tour which they will start with a show at Citadel Hill in Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there they will do one more show in Canada at The Sound Academy in Toronto before heading south for a bunch of dates in the U.S. The tour will wrap on September 27th at The Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
The group’s first tour of smaller venues was reported to have sold out quickly, so it will be interesting to see if this group can fill the seats at some larger venues.
June 19, 2009
Could any interview with any member of the new “supergroup” Chickenfoot be complete without some explanation regarding that crazy name? When the group’s bassist, Michael Anthony, talked with Detroit radio station WRIF recently, that was the first issue that came up, and much to everyone’s surprise, there actually is some logic behind the name choice.
Anthony admits that nobody seems to care for the name, but as he rightly points out, once you hear it you know who it is. It turns out the name was originally chosen when Anthony, Sammy Hagar and Chad Smith were jamming down at Hagar’s club. Since there were three of them, and a chicken’s foot has three prominent toes, the guys –- likely in the midst of a tequila-fueled evening – gave birth to the name that everyone seems to hate.
Anthony admits that they did spend some time researching other names and getting a bit frustrated when they plugged various selections into Google and discovered that another band was already using the name. When Google informed them that there were no results for any bands using the name "Chickenfoot,” Anthony goes ahead and admits that they “were just stupid enough to take it.”
Anthony also explains that the logo that they came up with for the band actually makes sense for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it kind of looks like a chicken foot and secondly, the peace sign, which closely resembles the logo, was referred to as “the footprint of the great American chicken” by some U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam era.
So, it appears that there is a little bit of history behind the choice of the name, although Anthony admits it was recognized only after the name had been chosen.
These days we also expect to hear something about the recent war of words that has been going on between Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen, and this interview did not disappoint. Anthony maintains that he never quit the band, despite Van Halen’s recent comments to Rolling Stone that he did. Don’t expect a lot of vitriol and insults directed towards Eddie however. Anthony doesn’t seem like that kind of guy and sounds like he would just like to move on and stop rehashing the past drama of his years with Van Halen.
Although he does not come right out and say it, Anthony does hint that life in Van Halen was a bit like living under a dictatorship. He seems quite happy with the way things work in his new band, and describes his later years in Van Halen as a more “choked,” indicating that he didn’t have the creative input that he may have liked and was more-or-less told what to play.
According to Anthony, the creative process at work inside Chickenfoot is much more democratic and each member is free to run with his own ideas and freely inject as much creative input as he wants.
There’s a lot more to listen to in this interview, including a little chat that the jocks have after they get off the line with Michael Anthony where they basically side with Anthony over the whole Van Halen thing. Going on my own gut feeling regarding that issue, I’d say that I have to agree with them.
Check out the full audio interview at WRIF.