Sammy Hagar Rates Himself As Guitarist and More
(Gibson) Sammy Hagar has always captured everything that's fun about rock n' roll: the loud guitars and fast cars, the women, the fun in the sun
but more importantly, he's never forgotten that music is best when it's shared. The late-night jams at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Mexico are legendary - heck, they directly led to the formation of his band Chickenfoot with Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith - and it's stuff like this that helps us relate to Sammy even when he's playing arenas or making multibillion dollar tequila deals. After all, we've all jammed with our buddies, we've all blasted out a few covers just for the fun of it, and we're all sharing in this wonderful thing called music. That spirit of collaboration and fun is all over Sammy Hagar & Friends, Sammy's new album. It features appearances by a diverse range of artists: Toby Keith, Mickey Hart, Taj Mahal, Michael Anthony, Nancy Wilson, Neal Schon, Kid Rock, Joe Satriani, Chad Smith, Denny Carmassi, Bill Church and more. We caught up with Sammy to talk about the new record and his love affair with the guitar.
Gibson: You always hear "Sammy had so-and-so over to jam at his club in Cabo," but most of us never get to see that. This album is like that experience being distilled into an album you can throw on in your house.
Hagar: What I wanted this record to be was my life: my lifestyle now. Because in the past when I've went into the studio I've gone in with 15 or 20 songs and I'd record them all and pick the best ones. It was kinda like a business. And this record I wanted to be exactly who and what I am today. So the first thing I thought was, I want to write just lifestyle songs. So I wrote "Father Sun" first, and then "All We Need Is An Island." And then I thought, well, maybe I should call up some of my friends to play on this stuff. And little by little it dawned on me that I was making the record that I really wanted to make but I didn't have a method of doing it. There was no manual to making a record that's who you are. But then I realized what you just said: what I've been doing for the last ten years is going to Cabo San Lucas with different people all the time. I meet Toby down there, I meet the guys from the Grateful Dead down there, I meet Slash, Jerry Cantrell, guys from Metallica. They say "Hey, I'm going to Cabo, are you around?" And I'll say "[Expletive], I'll meet you down there." I have a house, I just go down there and we play this kind of music. This is what we do. Chad Smith and I, we go down there and we play "Going Down." We jam a lot of blues stuff, and this record is exactly who and I what I am. It's what I do.
Gibson: I've always wanted to ask you how you rank yourself as a guitarist. It takes balls to stand up there with Eddie Van Halen or Joe Satriani. I've been lucky to jam with Satriani and Vai, and to a certain point it's intimidating but also at a certain point you've just got to tell yourself "Screw it, this is what I do."
Hagar: I'm a little bit intimidated if we go too long, but in Chickenfoot and Van Halen I just put the guitar on and got a big cheer always, and then I'd burn for a little bit and then take it back off before I ran out of chops, y'know? I rate myself as a guy that can play, and I can express myself extremely well but only in one language. I can only play blues-based guitar. And when a guy like Joe steps up there, he can play. Once he finishes with my repertoire he can go into French, Spanish and Russian on the guitar! He's just so versatile and fluent. Eddie's not as fluent and versatile. Eddie's got a style for himself and he's very much in that pocket but Joe can play anything. He freaks me out. When Joe and I start to write together he'll show me some chords and I'll start singing, then I'll pick up a guitar just mainly to figure a lick out: "What chord is that? What are you playing?" so I can know what notes I have to choose from to sing. Then he'll go "That was a cool lick, what did you play?" and I'll go "[Expletive], I don't know!" I don't get it. I just play. Read the full interview here.
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