Sammy Hagar Claims New Van Halen Record Is 'All Old Stuff' - Rolling Stone
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Sammy Hagar Claims New Van Halen Record Is ‘All Old Stuff’

‘They have some of the most loyal fans in rock, and they’ve been treated so, so bad these last 20 years’

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Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar perform with Van Halen in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 2004.

Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic

Last week, Van Halen released a picture that proved beyond any doubt that they had signed to Interscope. The photo showed them at an “undisclosed venue” in Los Angeles, but according to the Van Halen News Desk, it was at the Roxy in Los Angeles. They supposedly shot a video there. We’ve been hearing for months that their first LP with David Lee Roth since 1984 is practically finished, but confirming anything when it comes to Van Halen is extraordinarily difficult. Needless to say, none of them are jumping on the phone for interviews. Luckily, we happened to be checking in with Sammy Hagar last week – and he was more than happy to share his thoughts on the situation.

We’re hearing that Van Halen signed to Interscope this week.
What? VH? Van Halen? I don’t think . . . How long has it been since they did a record?  And that last one doesn’t count. You have to go back to 1995. For them to take that long to make a record, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. If it does, it better be good. Oh man. It actually might be. I’m not dogging them. I don’t understand why they couldn’t do something by now. [Laughs] Though I kind of do understand.

This seems legit. I think they actually, for real, signed to Interscope.
I thought they signed to Sony. Hmmm . . . Interesting. I’ll be the first guy waiting in line at the record store, if I could find one anymore. I’ll be really curious. I think they owe the fans that. I would love to see them make a great record. They have some of the most loyal fans in rock, and they’ve been treated so, so bad these last 20 years. I’m a real fan friendly guy.

The fans aren’t too happy that they threw Michael Anthony out of the band.
It didn’t bother me when they threw me out. I’m a solo artist. I can start a new band. But Mike? He’s the most loyal guy, and the best bass player in the world – and the best background singer on the planet. His vocal sound is as much a part of Van Halen as anyone’s. When they threw him out, I just thought “WHY? This is so wrong. This is so damned wrong!” Then to go back to Dave, FINALLY – but they threw Mike out first. Once again, it’s not a fan friendly band. Eddie could have played a solo album with Wolfie. He could have produced it and gone on tour and played theaters with him.  He could have done so many different things. He did not have to make Wolfie the bass player in Van Halen.

I find it interesting that David Lee Roth has barely made a peep in public since he rejoined the band. Before that, he wasn’t exactly a press shy guy.
Yeah, this isn’t very Dave-like. Obviously, he’s trying to make it work. Look, I’ve been there. It’s not an easy camp. It’s gotten crazier and wackier, every day. I think that Dave has just learned that if he wants to make it work, he needs to shut up and hang in there and do what he can, and do what they say. It’s a very strange situation.

Look, back in the day, Dave was the boss. He was running the damn show. When I came in, I was the boss. I was running the show, but I didn’t want that job. It was always, “Well, what do you guys want to do?” They’d be like, “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” Then all of a sudden, it became this wicked, freaking dictatorship – and nothing has happened since. 

I think nothing would be more fascinating than a Some Kind of Monster-style documentary about the making of this new record. Can you even imagine?
I’d be curious to be a fly on that wall. I heard this record is old outtakes from the old days. I mean, stuff from before I even joined the band. I heard this five years ago though. Michael Anthony was curious if his background vocals would wind up on the album. I don’t think it’s a bad idea. It’s kind of interesting. Bob Seger did it, and so did the Rolling Stones. I think it’s an interesting thing to do in your old age if you can’t come up with fresh, good stuff – or you can’t get along. Because from what I heard, they aren’t working with new material. Ed and Dave didn’t actually write new songs. They took old stuff from previous sessions, and then maybe Dave had to go in and add vocals because they just had scat vocals, or even no vocal part at all. 

That’s bizarre, because in the few interviews that he does, Ed is always talking about how many great new guitar parts he’s written.
Ed talks really weird about all that stuff recently. He goes, “I have all this music! So much music . . . ” Well, they really aren’t songs [laughs]. They’re really not. It was always easy for me to write songs with Ed. He had all these parts, and I had these ideas. I’d be like, “Oh, go to B over there for a bridge – write a bridge, Ed.” He’d do it, and it would be some bad ass shit. But it wasn’t like he wrote instrumentals and I just had to write lyrics over them, like I do now with Joe Satriani. Joe writes friggin’ instrumentals. Ed doesn’t have any songs. I’m sorry. I love the guy’s guitar stuff, but play me a song, will you?

Photos: Van Halen Through the Years
Excerpt: Sammy Hagar’s Memoir ‘Red’


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