Wow. I can’t believe I almost forgot to hip our readers to Chickenfoot — a new “supergroup” comprising Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Antony and Will Ferrell Chad Smith.
Before we get to the good stuff, here’s some more info to get you up to speed on the band members. Hagar, whose musical crimes against humanity are legion, is essentially the cheese-metal version of Jimmy Buffet. This right-wing clown is responsible for the second-worst music to be released under the Van Halen imprimatur (the prize goes to Gary Cherone, who briefly fronted the group after the Red Rocker split to hock tequila).
Joe Satriani can play real fast, but the dude can’t write a riff to save his fucking life. Recently, he attempted to sue Coldplay for ripping off one of his uninspired melodies. Hate to break it to ya Satch, but Chris Martin can come up with his own uninspired melodies!
Michael Antony was replaced in the band he’s been in since the ’70s by a 16 year old kid. Famous for his mindless eighth notes and Jack Daniels-shaped bass guitar, Antony is to music what instant mashed potatoes are to fine dining.
Chad Smith “plays drums” for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That should be enough for you.
A few months back, I stumbled upon some inane blathering from Hagar about how his new band, Chickenfoot, was “better than Led Zeppelin.” As a connoisseur of horrible music, I filed this little nugget away for later.
I’d almost forgotten all about this Chickenfoot business when I was sent their press release via a listserv I’m on. The whole enchilada is below the fold (For the full experience, I suggest you read it in its entirety before going to the Chickenfoot website to hear their AMAZINGLY WRETCHED TUNES):
CHICKENFOOT, the new rock supergroup comprised of drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), bassist Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen), guitarist Joe Satriani and vocalist Sammy Hagar (ex-VanHalen), has announced the global release of its self-titled debut album. The CD will be made available by earMUSIC in Germany on Friday, June 5 and in the U.K. on Monday. June 8. The album will be released by Best Buy in the U.S. on Sunday, June 7.
“Chickenfoot” will be packaged in heat-sensitive artwork, which means when you put your hand on the CD inlay, photos of the band members will be revealed behind the CHICKENFOOT band logo.
“Chickenfoot” track listing:
01. Avenida Revolution
02. Soap on a Rope
03. Sexy Little Thing
04. Oh Yeah
05. Runnin’ Out
06. Get It Up
07. Down the Drain
08. My Kinda Girl
09. Learning to Fall
10. Turnin’ Left
11. Future in the Past
Hagar wasn’t looking to form a new group in his post-VAN HALEN career. “I really wasn’t looking to have a real band, but when I got involved with these guys, only a fool would say, ‘No, I’m not going to do this.’ The minute we started jamming it was obvious, like, ‘This is something that needs to be heard.’”
A great band is nothing without a great rhythm section, and CHICKENFOOT has one of the best in the two-man team of bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Chad Smith.
As a founding member (and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer) of VAN HALEN, Anthony laid the bedrock for which guitar genius Eddie Van Halen could fly. More than that, he provided a signature style of background vocal that became an intrinsic part of that band. “A total fluke,” the good-natured bassist humbly asserts. “I was just doing what came naturally.”
Hagar sees Anthony’s abilities differently. “Michael keeps the band going,” he says. “Listen, he’s never going to get the kind of credit he deserves — he played next to Eddie Van Halen. Hell, Jack Bruce didn’t get much credit compared to Eric Clapton — that’s just the nature of things. Mikey held down the fort, and he still does.”
Aiding Anthony in holding down the fort is Chad Smith, drummer for the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, who have, since Smith joined the group in the late Eighties, gone from cult faves to a worldwide force. Heretofore thought of as a “funk/alternative” drummer, Smith gets to rock hard with CHICKENFOOT, and the percussion explosion he creates might come as a surprise to those who only know of his work from tracks like “Under The Bridge”.
“The guy’s from Detroit, for God’s sake!” says Hagar. “He can play the hell out of funk, but he’s a rocker. He plays hard, man. You could put one mic in a room with Chad, and you can hear all the parts of his kit — he’s hard, but he’s balanced. The band wouldn’t exist without his groove.”
The members of CHICKENFOOT admit that the band came together almost by accident, a result of jams held at Hagar’s club, Cabo Wabo Cantina, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“We were just having fun,” recalls Michael Anthony. “After Sammy and I left VAN HALEN, we’d get together with musicians, and certain people seemed to really gel. Chad came down and we got on well with him. Gradually, we started talking about doing something more serious, but we needed a guitarist. Somebody smokin’ — somebody who could take us to the Promised Land.”
Enter Satch, who hooked up with Hagar, Anthony and Smith and felt “an immediate connection unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.” To Satriani, who had almost abandoned his lifelong dream of being a part of a “big-time rock band,” here was his chance, and here were his bandmates. “After just a few songs, it became stunningly obvious that we shared an overall musical agenda,” he says. “The only question was could we make a great album?”
The band answered that question last fall when they hunkered down with the illustrious producer Andy Johns at George Lucas‘ Skywalker Studios and knocked out a batch of songs that sets a new standard for rock music in the new millennium.
From the thunderous, ominous opening strains of “Avenida Revolution” (detailing the bloody drug wars in Tijuana, in which Hagar makes his feelings come through his skin) to the album closer, the shimmering rock ballad “Future’s in the Past”, “Chickenfoot” is a firebomb of a record, the likes of which we haven’t heard in ages.
The band kicks and snorts their way through a passel of take-no-prisoners rockers like “Soap on a Rope”, “Sexy Little Thing”, “Oh Yeah” and “My Kind of Girl”.
“These are the kinds of songs I could never do on my own,” says Satriani. “I needed a band like this to make those songs come alive.”
The band explores mature themes on songs such as “Runnin’ Out”, about a world stretched to the breaking point to “Learning to Fall”, perhaps the most poignant love song Hagar has ever written lyrics for. As both a vocalist and songwriter, Hagar’s intensity and forcefulness are on vivid display on “Chickenfoot”.
“I write what comes to mind,” the singer says. “I’m not bound by anything subject-wise. I’m inspired by the music. When I heard the music Joe was going for, it made me reach, it made me stretch. I think it made me sing in a way that I normally wouldn’t have done. We seem to have that kind of effect on each other.”
Satriani agrees. “People have this idea of what this band is about, or what Sammy Hagar is about as a lyricist and a vocalist,” he says. “The thing is that we manage to get each guy to up his game in a non-confrontational way. When I play with CHICKENFOOT, I find myself wanting to give them more all the time. I don’t hold anything back. I think the rest of the guys feel the same way.”
That Satriani unleashes sheets of shred magna is, of course, a given, but what’s interesting is, as individualistic and recognizable as his talents are — and this is true of all the players — they transform in a strange and beautiful way on “Chickenfoot”.
Likewise, Anthony and Smith, channel past heroes. For Anthony it’s ELECTRIC FLAG bassist Harvey Brooks. For Smith it’s ZEPPELIN’s John Bonham. Together, they perform something of an astonishing balancing act, dispending performances that meet at the intersection of Heavy and Nimble. This is what a rhythm section does, drives the band in forceful, creative ways. Listen to CHICKENFOOT and you’ll hear what a true rhythm section sounds like.
“Chickenfoot”, which is already being hailed as the most intense rock ‘n’ roll album since LED ZEPPELIN’s classic efforts, coincides with a European tour that will consist of outdoor festivals, including Montreaux, Switzerland, and Bospop, Holland, plus various intimate indoor rock shows, including the London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on June 25.
Tickets for the London 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire concert go on sale at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, March 27. This will be CHICKENFOOT’s only UK date on the European tour.