Sammy Hagar has been making a habit of slamming the new Van Halen album, something the Red Rocker did for months before the record was even out.
Now that he's heard some of it, Sammy still thinks the band missed the mark.
"I don't listen to much new music unless I hear a new song on the radio, and the last bands that did that to me were The Black Keys and Kings Of Leon," Hagar tells the Boston Phoenix. "When I heard 'Tattoo', that single - and I saw the video because everybody kept sending it to me like, 'My god, have you seen this?' ... 'Oh my god, you must be laughing your a-s off!' - it wasn't a song that made me run out and buy their record. And so I haven't heard it. I haven't downloaded it, I haven't done anything."
Hagar didn't discuss why he's had a change of plans on this in recent months: he told Rolling Stone last fall, "I'll be the first guy waiting in line at the record store, if I could find one anymore. I'll be really curious [to hear the new VH]."
"I heard another one that was kinda goofy too," Sammy continues, "and then I heard, on the radio, 'She's The Woman', and I thought that was kinda cool. That one sounds like what I would expect from Van Halen, a little closer to it. The other stuff didn't sound like what I was expecting, that's for sure."
As for the matter of today's Van Halen playing only songs from the David Lee Roth catalog while on tour, Hagar says that it must be hard for Eddie and Alex to have to ignore a gaping section of their career. "The difference between Dave and I in that band, besides all the other million things," says Sammy, "is that he can't sing any of the Van Hagar-era songs. Maybe he could do 'Finish What Ya Started', possibly - so that makes it kind of weird for [Alex and Eddie] I think to take 11 years out of that thing."
Hagar's experiencing a convenient memory lapse here: during his tenure with VH, he would regularly agree to perform only four (4) songs from the entire Roth era (and one of those was a Kinks cover) the one that made the band a household name before his arrival. In other words, Sammy did his best to ignore a dozen years of VH history himself.
Now that the Hagar-led Chickenfoot are preparing to embark on a spring tour more than six months after the release of "Chickenfoot III" he discovered the band has a date in Los Angeles bookended by a pair of Van Halen shows, something that initially had him pissed at the promoters.
"First I said, 'What the f--k are you doing putting us the same time as Van Halen?'" Hagar says now. "It's just gonna cause a needless competition between the fans, and I don't like that. I want the fans to feel like they can love Van Halen and that they can love Chickenfoot totally the same. I don't have any way of competing with those guys; you can't compete with Van Halen. I'm part of that legacy, how could I go out and compete with something I'm part of? I don't look at us like that, but I know some people do. You want to go see Van Halen one night and see us the next and compare us, you want to do that? Roll up your sleeves and come on. I welcome it, because I think this band is smokin'."
Now with Chickenfoot, Sammy Hagar has been slamming every aspect of the group's efforts to move forward without him, seemingly still reeling and angered over his 1996 and 2004 splits with the Van Halen brothers.
At the other end of the spectrum is Gary Cherone, another former VH singer, of both Extreme and Hurtsmile, who recorded 1998's "Van Halen III" with the group and performed on tour with them.
"This record, for me, it's the best thing since 'Fair Warning'," Cherone tells the Boston Phoenix. "[First single] 'Tattoo' is the only misstep. You wait 28 years to hear Van Halen, and in the context of the record, it's not the best song by far. Off the top of my head, I'm thinkin' of 'China Town', if that was the first thing you heard, or 'As Is', or 'Honeybabysweetiedoll'. Any of those three? People would've been like, 'Are you f--king kidding me?'"
"The starting point [for 'A Different Kind Of Truth'] was the old demos," says Gary, "but to me, a riff's a riff. Eddie's added new things to it - this stuff is on fire. Of course you miss [ousted bassist Michael Anthony]; he was one of the four food groups. But Wolfie's no slouch. Alex is a machine, and Eddie is playing better than he's ever played. I love the record. It's kind of inspiring, it's like the king just took back his crown."
Thanks for the report to HenneMusic.com.