Sammy Hagar‘s focus right now is on promoting his new “lifestyle cookbook” Are We Having Fun Yet?, but he’s already beginning to sketch out his musical plans for 2016. Things are still in flux, but he hopes to hit the road with Chickenfoot and the Circle at the same time. Each band would play about 50 minutes with a brief intermission between the two. “Then we’d have two drums out and everyone would come out and we’d play another ‘Van Hagar’ tune, another Zeppelin tune and another Sammy tune for the encores,” he says. “What more could the fans want?”
Hagar formed the Circle last year with Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, guitarist Vic Johnson and drummer Jason Bonham. Their set is centered around tunes by Van Halen, Montrose, Led Zeppelin and Hagar’s solo career. Chickenfoot features Hagar and Anthony alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and guitarist Joe Satriani. They’ve released two albums and only play original material onstage. “I love Chickenfoot as much as the Circle,” says Hagar. “But I get horny when I’m in Chickenfoot because I want to play some of my other songs.”
Chickenfoot have been largely inactive since 2012 when they toured with Kenny Aronoff on drums due to Chad Smith’s busy schedule with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Joe really keeps Chickenfoot’s foot on the fire,” says Hagar. “He really wants the band to stay together, and we have definitely not broken up.”
Their 2011 LP Chickenfoot III was a commercial disappointment and Hagar has no interest in recording another one, but the group did come together recently to cut a new tune. The process began when Smith had an opening in his schedule and Satriani sent around some music he had put together. “I wrote the lyrics while on an airplane to Cabo,” says Hagar. “It’s a dark tune, but it’s fucking cool. I’m thinking about calling it ‘Divine Termination.’ It’s a really raw production and a giant step for the ‘Foot.” Hagar hopes to get the song to fans sometime next year, possibly by giving it away alongside a new Circle track when fans buy tickets for the proposed tour.
The Circle are essentially a classic rock band without any of their own studio records. “We can’t compete with the best of Van Halen, the best of Montrose, the best of Sammy solo, the best of Led Zeppelin,” he says. “Nobody can. We have the best setlist in the world and I don’t want to compete with that. I just want to put one new song in the middle. I want it to be a heavy rock version of the Band. I’m going to write lyrics about life and America and make it very rootsy with big fat drums and acoustic music, like what Zeppelin did on Led Zeppelin III.”
Still, no definite tour plans have been set. “We’re talking to promoters to see if they want it,” Hagar says. “If they don’t want to pay for us to do it right so we can go out with our people and our big ass crew, I guess we can’t do it. But we can all fit on my plane, so we’ve got transportation down.”
Despite his best efforts, big festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza haven’t booked the Circle during any of their past tours. “I feel a little dissed,” Hagar says. “But I’ve been dissed my while life. I spent five years trying to prove to Ronnie Montrose, god bless his soul, that he fucked up throwing me out of the band. I spent a good five years trying to prove to the Van Halen brothers that they screwed up throwing me out of their band. All that’s been proven by now.”
Hagar says the feeling of disrespect from the industry actually fuels him. “Without that, what the fuck man, I’d be sitting around jerking off,” he says. “If you don’t have something pissing you off, it makes you lethargic. I like rolling up my sleeves and saying, ‘Oh yeah?’ I’m a fighter. I fucking love it.”