Anthony was known as the ‘nice guy’ in Van Halen. While Eddie
Van Halen and David Lee Roth feuded, Mike was smiling all the
way, never causing any trouble. When Eddie and Sammy Hagar had
their moments, Mike played the middle ground well, never causing
any issues of his own. Somewhere along the line, Eddie tired of
Mike and decided Van Halen would be a better band if another
namesake, this time his son Wolfgang, were in the band, instead
of Anthony. Mike had committed a sin and gone out on the road
as The Other Half with Sammy. He even dared to be on the same
tour bill as Diamond Dave. For this, the Van Halen’s could not
forgive Michael. It seems Van Halen is becoming a bit like La
Cosa Nostra, if you are not in the family, then you are
banished. Worse yet, if you don’t play by their rules, you
could get whacked.
Oh, wait a
minute…It seems Eddie is telling RollingStone.com that Anthony
quit Van Halen and was never fired. How convenient for Edwardo.
Mikey walks away and Wolfie comes walking in. Apparently, Sammy
quit as well. Edward has never fired anyone, according to him.
Hmm, doesn’t the Mafia deny hits as well? After all, these were
emotional hits for Van Halen. Now, Sammy was one thing, hell,
we knew these two were not getting along for years. But
whacking Mike? That was just not cool by most people’s
standards. Luckily, for Eddie, Van Halen fans were yearning to
hear Roth era VH songs, sung by Dave and played by Eddie and
Alex, that the sacking, while not justified, was forgiven. We
simply looked the other way.
think that being friends with your bands ex-singer, and getting
sacked for it, might piss one off. Anthony, however, is beyond
the Van Halen situation. In fact, he is tired of putting up
with Eddie and defending other band member’s actions. Part of
the reason he has been able to move on is because he has landed
on his feet in a band that has the potential to be the shot in
the arm needed for classic hard rock to remain viable in the
world of music. The oddly named, Chickenfoot, featuring
Anthony, Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani and Chad Smith, is a super
group of massive proportions. Tickets are selling fast, and as
soon as the album is released, expectations are for a Platinum
Record Award to be hanging on the wall in each of their homes.
Perhaps aligning oneself with good friends, and a great band,
makes up for your legacy being raked through the muck. Even if
it does not make up for it, Michael Anthony is moving forward,
interview we discuss the Van Halen saga, as well as why
Chickenfoot is not allowed to wear socks. We also learn that,
according to Anthony, everyone in Chickenfoot has a huge penis,
although we are not sure if that is a coincidence, or a
You tried a super group a few years ago, with Sammy Hagar,
called Planet Us, but it fizzled out. What happened to that
one, and how is this different?
The Van Halen 2004 Reunion Tour happened. Joe [Satriani] was
actually going to be a part of that band. We did a Westwood One
thing in San Francisco and invited Joe to come and play with
us. He was in Planet Us for about 45-minutes. This time
around, the schedules and what everyone is doing, lined up. We
are at a point in our lives where we can afford to do it, and
just have fun making music. The chemistry and the magic just
clicked. You never really know if that is going to happen. The
last time it happened for me, was when Sammy [Hagar] joined Van
and Sam are good friends, so it is no secret how you two ended
up in a band. How did you get Joe and Chad [Smith] to join?
have known Chad for a number of years. I met him down at Cabo
San Lucas; he has a house there. Chad, Sammy and I jammed at
the club a number of times. In fact, that is where the name
Chickenfoot actually came from. We called it ‘Chickenfoot’
because there are three talons on a chicken’s foot and there are
three of us. I knew Joe from jamming with him from before. I
have always been a fan of his.
year and a half ago, on Super Bowl weekend, Sammy’s band was
playing in Las Vegas. Sammy wanted to do something different
for the encore, so he called Joe, Chad and myself up on stage.
Sammy figured Chickenfoot needed a proper guitar player, so that
is why he called Joe. We all went to Vegas and we played “Mr.
Fantasy” by Traffic and an old standard titled “Going Down.”
After we were done, Chad was yelling to the audience, “You want
to hear more?” So we ended up playing some Led Zeppelin. At
that point, we knew the chemistry was there. It was so much
fun, and the instant gratification from the audience was great.
We decided to take the next step and see what we could do. It
was just too much fun to pass up.
Jeb: It is
hard to hold on to a creative spark. Sammy and Joe were working
constantly last year. How were able to just turn on the magic
just knew, when we jammed together, that this could be something
really special. If our schedules were not going to allow us to
do this full time, then we would just do it around each other’s
schedules. Sammy and Joe got together for a few afternoons
because they both live in the Bay Area. They bounced ideas off
each other to see where each other’s mindset was. Joe sent
Chad, and me, five to seven song ideas, and we said, “Wow.”
Joe was on
the road all year, but during his breaks we went to Sammy’s
place in California and recorded demos. When Joe was finished
touring, we went to Skywalker Ranch and recorded full time. It
sounded great, and we were having so much fun playing together
that we knew we would somehow make this work.
tends to get over excited about things. He did compare
Chickenfoot to Led Zeppelin . . .
think that was a tequila-fueled interview.
are known as the more down to earth sort of guy. Just how good
is Chickenfoot? Are you really THAT good?
When we were making it . . . It wasn’t until some time later
that I could actually sit down and listen to it. For me, it was
when we were mixing it down. We knew we had some great
material. The guys I am playing with drop my jaw all the time.
I have Chad behind me, Joe next to me, and Sammy in front of
me. These guys are just incredible musicians. When I sat back
and finally listened to it, I had to say, “Wow, shit. Sammy,
maybe you’re right [about Led Zeppelin].” I am just kidding
[laughter]. To me, Chickenfoot has the same intensity, and
fire, as an early Led Zeppelin, or early Van Halen.
Jeb: I was
just giving you shit, you know.
Oh, I know. Right after Sammy said that in that interview, he
was kind of like [makes crashing sound]. He actually had been
drinking tequila with that guy who did the interview. The
reason Sammy said that is because he was so excited about this
project. When we were mixing, I was able to sit back and listen
to these tunes—everything was done and we were really completing
the whole ball of wax—and I was thinking, “This shit is good.”
It is really good; it is unlike anything I have done in Van
Halen, or with anybody else.
latest thing Sammy has been saying . . .
Let me see if I can straighten you out . . .
is saying this is a band. It is not just a super group.
Because we are friends, and we have jammed with these guys
before, it made a difference. It wasn’t a money-driven thing
where we said, “Let’s grab Satriani and let’s get Smith from the
Chili Peppers.” We sound like a band; we don’t just sound like
four guys who just threw a bunch of songs together. There is
heart and soul that we put into this, with the intention of it
not being a one-off thing.
last time I interviewed Hagar, he told me that you kept showing
up places, so he had to let you get on stage and play.
had us joined at the hip.
have been the fish out of water.
is really interesting, because I knew I was not going to
continue on like this forever. I didn’t want to go out there
and join Sammy and just play the Van Halen and Hagar era songs.
I needed to do something different. It was just great that
this, all of the sudden, came to be, and came about like it
much do personalities have to do with a band like Chickenfoot?
has a lot to do with it. On stage is one thing, but off stage
is another. It is kind of interesting, because sometimes you
wonder how these four personalities are going to mesh. I have
partied enough times with Chad, down in Cabo, to know what he is
like. We are saying now, that we should have called this band
‘One Genius & a Bunch of Idiots.’ Joe balances the rest of us
Satriani, is a methodical, and structured, kind of guy—thank God
for that. Every day, he came to the studio with his staff
paper, while the rest of us were saying that we should put up a
blackboard and scribble down what we needed to work on. Joe
would say, “No, we are not going to do that.” You really need
someone like that in the studio. Of course, we had Andy Johns
in to do this thing with us. He is a great engineer and a great
producer. He really was like the fifth member of the band. He
was out in the studio with us, making suggestions and
everything. He knew when we had a take. He would say, “Play it
as many times as you want, but that is the one right there.” He
would go outside and have a cigarette and say, “Let me know when
you guys are through goofing around because this is the take we
went out on a little nine-show thing and everyone got along
great. I was wondering if Chad was going to make us wear socks
on our dicks. I told him that he should leave his socks at
need to make the Chili Peppers feel bad.
Hell no. Chad was doing an interview the other day and the guy
was saying, “How do the other Chili Peppers feel about you
playing with these guys?” He goes, “Anthony [Kiedis] is okay
with it and [John] Frusciante is off doing his own thing right
now.” Flea just wanted to know what it was like playing with
Michael Anthony.” Chad told me that he said, “You know, he has a
big cock too.” I felt kind of proud. It was a great compliment
that I was paid.
many times, successful musicians are put together by management,
or they get together for the wrong reasons. It shows that you
guys are really enjoying each other.
You can put four great musicians together, where you would think
that it would be the band to end all bands, and nothing comes
out of it. It is not because they are bad players, it is just
because the chemistry, the fire, the magic, or whatever you want
to call it, did not take off. With us four, it did. We would
be in the studio playing and it was like we had been in this
band for ten years already.
Jeb: A good
example of what you are saying are the new songs Van Halen did
for the Best of album. They didn’t have the same
You want to keep that spark, but like a marriage, or anything
else . . . All of a sudden, the band gets corporate, and you
have four managers and four chefs. When every person in the
band has a manager, and a-this-and-a-that, then you lose your
perspective on why you got into the business in the first
place. The fun part of it, sometimes, almost goes away. Now, I
feel like I am in the first band that I was ever in.
Chickenfoot, you are getting to play a lot more than you did in
Joe brought several great ideas to the band, and we also wrote
three songs, together, as a band, in the studio. The next time
we go into the studio, to do the next CD, we are going to go
into the studio with that intention. Obviously, if somebody has
ideas, then they will bring them to the table, but we want to go
in, as a band. Joe had ideas and it wasn’t like, “You play this
and then you play that.” Nobody once said to anybody something
like that, unless it was Andy making a suggestion. Everybody
was allowed free reign to do what they wanted to do. Being the
professionals that we are, we knew when to step up, and when to
step back. All four of us got to really be who we are on this
album without any type of restrictions.
being around great guitar players and great producers even phase
No, it really doesn’t. Playing with Eddie, and now playing with
Joe, where there is not another guitar player . . . Sammy didn’t
even put on a guitar while we were doing this. When we are
live, he plays a little bit here and there. My position is to
really anchor the thing down. Cream was one of the only bands
that when [Eric] Clapton went into a solo, it was almost like
there were three different solos going on. They would, somehow,
come right back into the song. You can lose your perspective
and wonder where the song is going, and even, what song it is,
but Chad and I click so well together that we can play anything
and know where we are. We play so well together, that when Joe
plays a solo, it doesn’t sound like anything drops out. That
shows that everyone knows what they need to do in a band like
this. It shows that everyone knows how to make it sound
Van Halen told Rolling Stone.com that Michael quit Van Halen and
was not fired.
am so far past that…I wish that he would be too. Unfortunately,
he is a bitter guy. At my age, at this point in my life, I
don’t want to be bitter. I want to hang around positive people,
and I could not find three more positive guys than the guys I am
playing with now.
rehashing the past? They were asking Eddie questions that had
nothing to do with that. They said, “Have you heard Chickenfoot?”
And he goes, “Yeah, but by the way, Michael Anthony wasn’t
fired; he quit.” It had nothing to do with anything. I never
quit the band. At one point, I was forced to make a decision to
sit on my hands, at home, and do nothing for a number of years,
or go out and play some shows on a tour with Sammy and Dave
[David Lee Roth]. What would you do? I felt that I was doing
those guys a service by going out and flying the Van Halen flag
and letting people know that Van Halen is still here.
name is not ‘Van Halen.’ People tend to forget you. I didn’t
want people to go, “That is that guy that used to play in Van
Halen. What’s his name again?” The fans wanted to hear that
music. I was kind of forced into a situation like that. I never
quit the band.
When we did
the 2004 reunion, Eddie didn’t even want me to be a part of that
because he was so torqued up that I was buddies with Sammy. Why
can’t I be buddies with Sammy and still play with Van Halen?
With those guys, it was a cut and dried situation. You are in
or you are out. You are with us or you are not. He still keeps
bringing this stuff up.
I talked to
Joe Bosso yesterday about it, because Rolling Stone was on his
back for a response. I wanted the fans to know that I never
left the band. For whatever happened, I am not a bitter person
about it. I loved Van Halen; I loved everything we did. Hell,
I was one of the only two guys who showed up for the Rock n’
Roll Hall of Fame Induction. I love the legacy of the band but
I am moving on. I am in a great place with Chickenfoot. Ed
needs to do that too.
to Eddie Van Halen] “You’ve got a studio right there at your
house, and you say that you have a million songs written. Well,
go ahead and record some, and go out and have fun. Let’s look
back fondly at Van Halen and what it was.”
that? I am not a guy who gets mad. A lot of people are looking
at my response and going, “Oh my God, Mike grew a set of
balls.” I didn’t grow a set of balls. I just got tired of
rehashing this shit. I am tired of it. I would always skate
around the subject, but this is the way it is. I have gotten on
with it and they need to get on with it too. They need to go
out and remember why they are in this business.
Jeb: On a
lighter note, I was on your website and I saw that blue and
white car you own. I have a photo with Sammy in that car. Did
he pose in your car?
Sammy and I both got those in 2005. Ford built them for us;
they are Ford GT’s. Sammy and I are big fans of cars. I have
always loved the GT40. I knew some guys from Ford, and when we
were in Detroit on the 2004 Van Halen tour, we schmoozed them up
really good and got them on the list. We both got the exact
same car. We ordered them together and we got them in 2005.
Sammy was playing a show at the Detroit Theater, and I was
playing with them, and Ford came and presented the cars to us at
the show, which was really cool since we are both car nuts.
Chad and you have to have a funny story about playing or
recording with Chickenfoot. I am hitting you up with a good
story to close with.
have not really had that much time together to come up with some
you have free tequila . . .
When we were in New York, there was this guy who is doing a book
on tattoos. Joe doesn’t have any, so Sammy, Chad and I said
that we did and that we would show them. They said they were
going to take a picture of our tattoo and then we could say what
it means. I was leaving as Chad was coming in to do his thing.
Chad came in and dropped his pants. I said, “Oh here we go.”
It was not like I was going to stand there and check him out,
but they started low thigh and went upwards.
the gig that night and Sammy proceeds to tell the audience about
what we had been doing. Chad jumps up on his drum stool and
proceeds to pull his pants down so the audience could get a good
visual on what Sammy was talking about. It was one of the most
hilarious moments I have had so far. He had his hand
strategically placed because he didn’t have his sock with him.
leave home without your sock.
told him in Chickenfoot there will be no socks. You can still
be a man and have a big dick—we all have big dicks—but in
Chickenfoot we are going to wear pants.
Listen to Chickenfoot here