by Ross CAT

by Ross CAT

Concert Preview: CHICKENFOOT
                                Toronto Sound Academy
                                Wednesday August 5th

     STRUTINí THEIR STUFFÖ. With a mini Club trek & European tour under their belt HAGAR, SATRIANI, SMITH & ANTHONY better known as CHICKENFOOT are ready to stomp there way across the U.S.A. through the end of September.
     The veteran Rock Ďní Roll outfit is set to take flight with tour dates beginning this week including a visit to our neighbors to the North in Toronto.  The bands  live performances to date have been an unprecedented success not to mention the talk of the summer tour circuit.
     The bands self-titled debut album had people flocking to their music outlets of choice seeding CHICKENFOOT at number 4 on the Billboard Charts right out of the gate.  Quite a feat for a group of old school Road Warriors with well over a century in the Rock Ďní Roll trenches.
Rock Rapport had the good fortune once again to speak with Hall of Fame frontman SAMMY HAGAR in between CHICKENFOOT tour legs.

     Ross CAT - Hello SAMMY from the Rock Rapport in Buffalo, NY, as always itís a pleasure to speak with you, how are things in the henhouse following the tour abroad.

     SAMMY - Iím good brother really good as you can imagine.  Hey itís not snowing up there in Buffalo is it (laughter)?

     Ross CAT - No snow, but it hasnít stopped raining in weeks, believe it or not weíve even had a few hail storms this summer.

     SAMMY - Iím just pulling your leg, the reason I ask is I was watching the Food Network last night because you know I love to cook, I saw ANTHONY BOURDAIN cruising all the restaurants around Buffalo during a blizzard.  I thought to myself OH BOY Iím glad weíre hitting the Northeast during the summer months. I Love the people up north but I can do without the cold & snow.

     Ross CAT - Congratulations on the overwhelming critical & commercial success CHICKENFOOT is enjoying with the debut record; not to mention the fact that the tour is selling out every venue on the schedule.
     You took a little criticism early on about some comments & comparisons you made about the bands new music, seems you knew this thing had legs before anyone else did.

     SAMMY - You know I did take a little flak about some things I said; I assure you it was out of pure excitement about this group of guys Iím playing with and the music weíre making.
     It is truly awesome the response weíve gotten all over the world.  My hopes were that this band would be accepted by the public but you just never know.  Itís a strange and difficult time in the music industry and weíre playing a somewhat unique style of music, so at this point in our careers the success is a bonus.

     Ross CAT - Itís been a whirlwind summer thus far as the CHICKENFOOT tour is set to stomp across North America.

     SAMMY - Honestly Iím having the time of my life itís out of sight the places weíve been playing.  Man Iíll play anywhere with this band we donít even ask how big the venues are itís about jamming and sharing the energy with the folks in front of us.

     Ross CAT - Iím sure you couldnít help but take notice when you stepped on stage in Montreux for the Jazz Festival in front of 50,000 people, tell us about that incredible show?

     SAMMY - Yeah that was an amazing festival to be a part of sharing the bill with STEELY DAN & DAVE MATTHEWS BAND.  I said to DAVE MATTHEWS, ďwhat the hell are we doing taking the stage after a DMB setĒ.  He had a good chuckle over that, after our set I asked him if he wanted to open for us on the U.S tour.  Heís a lot of fun and funny as shit, we had a few cocktails that day.

     Ross CAT - That had to be quite the 4th of July, Iím sure the Swiss will never be the same.
     That show almost didnít happen as drummer CHAD SMITH spent a little time on the chopping block during the tour as he clipped a wing, but he managed to muscle through it.
     Howís CHAD holding up as CHICKENFOOT prepares to hit the road for the second leg of the tour?

     SAMMY - Yeah he over did it a little, he literally ripped the muscle of his shoulder, he only took a few days off and finished the tour.
     Personally Iíve never played with anyone who plays as hard as CHAD does.  He absolutely exhausts every song that we play, at the end of each song itís like WHEW lets catch our breath.  Because of the way CHAD plays we take every song to itís limit, its all about keeping up with SMITH.
  I was talking to the longtime respected Bay area critic Joel Selvin after our show at the Fillmore, he told me the only guy heís ever heard play as hard & loud as CHAD was KEITH MOON.

     Ross CAT - Another cool date coming up on the summer tour is a free show at the Rock Ďní Roll Hall of Fame on August 15th.
     Tell us what special meaning that gig will have for yourself & MICHAEL ANTHONY being forever enshrined in
Cleveland for your contributions with VAN HALEN.

     SAMMY - Yeah that is pretty awesome, I Love the fact that we get to go back, not just to play but to support the Hall.  Itís no secret how proud MIKE & I are to be members, in my humbled opinion youíd think our other band mates would be in there as well for what theyíve accomplished in their careers.

     Ross CAT - The Sound Academy show this week will be your second visit to Toronto.  I was one of the fortunate 500 folks to see the ďRoad Test TourĒ at the Mod Club in May.
     Rumor has it that you and CHAD got tangled up with RUSH guitarist ALEX LIFESON the night before and tore up the town.

     SAMMY - Hey man lets clear that up right hear & now, I blame ALEX for that night; it was my tequila but that boy gave us hometown tour I wonít soon forget, he can throw down with the best of them.

     Ross CAT - Was there any discussion about ALEX taking the stage with CHICKENFOOT that night for a song or two?

     SAMMY - No, weíre really trying to focus on the CHICKENFOOT material on this first tour.  Every place that we played there were world class musicians & friends.  Man we had some of the best shredders on the planet in the house like ALEX, BRIAN MAY & STEVE LUKATHER cominí out to the shows. I told every one of those guys they have an open invitation to come to CABO and jam.

     Ross CAT - Lets talk about the new record; you continue to defy nature  with your throat thrashing vocals, holding nothing back on tracks like ďOh YeahĒ & ďRunnin OutĒ, is there something in that CABO WABO Tequila keeping those pipes polished?

     SAMMY - Donít ask me itís some kind of miracle, I donít smoke cigarettes so that certainly has helped preserve my voice.  Beyond that I think I break every rule there is for a singer.  I drink, I party, I Yell & Scream, I donít warm up properly and more often then not Iím sleep deprived, there isnít much that I donít do thatís for sure.
     Just the other day SATCH & I were talking about changing up the encore a little for this leg of the tour, maybe putting ďHeavy MetalĒ in place of ďBad Motor ScooterĒ.  As JOE was listening to it on the computer I started to sing along with it, he looked over at me and said how the fuck do you still sound the same as you did in 1981.
         So far, knock on wood, I can still hit all the notes, I feel extremely fortunate in that respect.

     Ross CAT - Now that the CHICKENFOOT tour is in full flight did you find the ďRoad TestĒ club rehearsal shows beneficial to both the band and the new songs?

     SAMMY - Iím glad you asked that because it was one of the smartest things Iíve ever done as an artist in my career.  If we would have just jumped into a bigger venue it really could have been difficult.
     The production of this show needed to be built from the ground up, from sound & lights to the performance of the songs.  These smaller gigs afforded everyone involved the opportunity to see what this band is all about and were we wanted to take the songs in a live setting.
    We started playing just the album and a few encores which was about 75 minutes of material in the first few ďRoad TestĒ shows; at the end of those club dates we were clocking in at just under 2 hours with the same amount of material.  Those shows really gave us the chance to get our feet under us allowing us to focus on jamming & stretching out the songs in the right places.

     Ross CAT - Youíve obviously survived some tenacious times through your VAN HALEN years, tell us how this group of accomplished musicians manage the ego friendly environment that is apparent on stage.

     SAMMY - Iím just hoping thatís somewhere I never have to go again.  When I joined VAN HALEN the ego thing wasnít an issue, they had just finished with that shit with the previous singer.
     When I joined the band everyone was happy, it was the polar opposite of what theyíd been dealing with.  It really was a fantastic time in my life & career.  For some reason after a decade of success and what I thought was a lifelong friendship someoneís ego got in the way and it wasnít mine.
     You know Ross, things happen within a band just like any other relationship because your dealing with more then one personality.
      I really donít see that happening with
CHICKENFOOT, the older you get you realize that you have to check your ego at the door if you want to be involved in a band of this caliber.  For me to be able to play with MIKE again at this level and to be welcomed with open arms as a singer/songwriter by guys like JOE SATRIANI & CHAD SMITH is truly something I treasure at this stage of my career.

     Ross CAT - Both yourself and JOE have enjoyed tremendous success in your respective solo careers, talk about what itís like joining forces with someone like SATCH in writing new songs.

     SAMMY - When we started to work on this project we wanted to fuse the strengths that each of us bring to the table as a musician, we tried not to change each others style.
CHICKENFOOT, JOE still writes the same kind of music but he doesnít have to worry about the melody & chorus or the lyrics, I can take that off his plate.  He can come up with the bare bones of each song and I try to fill in the pieces.  Itís a great relationship, after so many years of being solo artists its really a relief to share the process with someone whose had the same experience of being responsible for every single detail that goes into making new music.
     I really love were this thing has taken us, I knew it was something special when he was playing the riff in ďSexy Little ThingĒ and I just started to sing the lyrics.
     As an artist its creative moments like those that are inspirational, to me these new songs have the magic of PLANT/PAGE, JAGGAR/RICHARDS hell even

     Ross CAT - With the CHICKENFOOT shows selling out in every market will the less fortunate fans that didnít get tickets have the opportunity to see these performances on DVD in the future?

     SAMMY - Absolutely, weíve recorded just about every step of the way.  We filmed the Montreux show as well as another great gig at the Fillmore in San Francisco.  I believe thereís a handful of shows set for filming on the rest of the summer tour as well.
     When this thing is done itís going to be really cool were not just recording one show, weíre taking songs from a number of different places to try and bring that
CHICKENFOOT vibe right into your living room.

      FOOT NOTE: As always the Rock Rapport would like to Thank SAMMY HAGAR for his valuable time.  We would also like to Thank Jessica Erskine from Rogers & Cowan for taking care of the Rock Rapport once again.

      Check out CHICKENFOOT tour dates @

*****************PEACE & Harmonies********************

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