Michael Anthony has revealed that he recently reconnected with VAN HALEN drummer Alex Van Halen after more than a decade of not speaking to each other, but has stopped short of predicting that it will lead to any sort of reunion with his former bandmates.
Anthony, singer Sammy Hagar, Alex and Eddie Van Halen last teamed up in 2004 for a U.S. summer tour. In exchange for taking part in the tour, Anthony reportedly had to agree to take a pay cut and sign away his rights to the band name and logo.
In 2007, the Van Halen brothers, Wolfgang Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth announced they would be hitting the road for a reunion tour. Anthony later told Music Radar that he "found out about that tour like everybody else did — in the press."
During an October 21 appearance on "Trunk Nation", Eddie Trunk's new show on SiriusXM channel Volume (106), Anthony was asked when the last time was that he had any contact with either of the Van Halen brothers. He responded: "You know what? This is pretty interesting. There's a mutual friend of Alex's and mine. His name's Craig DeFalco. And this is a guy who was a tech for me for a while, and he actually was Eddie's tech… I don't know if it was the 2007 tour, but he teched for him one of the tours. And he stays in touch with Alex, basically. I got a relatively new place out there at the beach in Southern California, and this guy Craig, he had never seen my house, so he came out. He was on tour with Lenny Kravitz or someone, doing… teching and had a break. And so we went out on my boat. I'm, like, 'Yeah, we'll cruise you around the bay and you can check the place out.' So, as it goes, I had a couple of cocktails, and next thing you know, we were talking about the band and the good old days and all that stuff. 'Cause he did, I think, at least two or three VAN HALEN tours with me back in the '80s. So we're talking, and next thing you know, I've got him holding his iPhone up and I'm shooting a video going, 'Hey, Alex, man…', just talking about the good times and everything that's going on now. All these heroes of ours, people I grew up listening to, they're, like, starting to drop left and right now. It's, like, 'Oh, my God!' And so later on, we were at my house, my buddy and myself, Craig, and his phone rings, and it was Alex. And he's, all, 'Hey, tell Mike I said hi.' Next thing I know, [Craig] is handing me the phone and goes, 'Here, Al wants to talk to you.' And I'm, like, 'What?' And this was this past May. And I hadn't spoken to Alex in, like, ten years, I think — ten or eleven years."
Anthony explained that "nothing heavy" was discussed during his conversation with Alex because the bassist "didn't wanna get into anything about the band." Michael added: "But it was just great to talk to him. We talked for about twenty minutes, and had a great conversation — just about life in general and getting older and what's going on around us in the music industry. And it was actually really great talking to him."
Rumors that VAN HALEN's original singer David Lee Roth could possibly once again be succeeded by Hagar have become more persistent during the band's current hiatus.
Hagar sent a tweet to Eddie Van Halen in January wishing him a happy birthday — and got a cordial response — despite the bad blood that has existed between the two of them since 2004. Hagar later said that part of the reason he did it was because of the recent deaths of rock legends Glenn Frey and David Bowie.
But Anthony now says that Eddie may not have personally responded to Hagar's tweet at all. The bassist told Trunk: "Well, I do have kind of a little personal spin on that one. I don't know if I should tell you about it, 'cause I don't wanna kill anybody's hopes or anything. 'Cause, actually, before Sammy did that, he told me… We were on his jet, flying somewhere to a gig, and he goes, 'Damn it! I'm gonna wish Eddie a happy birthday.' And I said, 'Go ahead, man. C'mon…' And so he did. And then I guess Eddie responded back. [Sammy] said, 'I hope you're doing well.' And [Eddie] said, 'Yeah, Sammy, I hope you're doing well also.' Well, see, the only thing that I was thinking that seemed kind of odd, in all the years that Sammy was in VAN HALEN, and that I'd been around him and Eddie, Eddie never calls him 'Sammy' — he always called him 'Sam.' You know, Eddie's wife is a publicist, and I don't know… That's one thing I don't know. But you know what? But it was a nice, friendly gesture."
Despite all the mudslinging and negativity between VAN HALEN's current and former members, Anthony does still hope that Hagar could rekindle his friendship with the Van Halen brothers. "Sammy has said… I'm sure you've seen, there's been a couple of other interviews that he's done where he says, 'I'm sorry. I apologize to the Van Halen brothers,' and whatever," Michael told Trunk. "Because all this lashing out and whatever… and Sammy… I mean, I love Sam to death, but sometimes he puts his foot in his mouth, especially when it comes to rebuttals to stuff that people say or accuse him of, or VAN HALEN stuff. The worst thing Sammy can ever do is read shit that people say about him and VAN HALEN, because it does get him fired up. But Sammy has taken a turn now, and he does realize… He goes, 'Hey, you know what? Even if I never play in a band with these guys again, friendship, and as human beings and whatever is more important to me than that.' He says he doesn't wanna go to the grave with any enemies, so I don't know."
Asked if he still thinks there is "unfinished business" between him and VAN HALEN and if he believes there is a chance that he will reunite with his former bandmates one day, Anthony told Trunk: "You know what? In some ways, I'm kind of over it, only because you can only hold your breath for so long. But it's kind of interesting that you say 'any unfinished business,' VAN HALEN being one of the biggest bands there ever was, it's kind of sad to see how everything kind of dwindled down like it did, kind of with a whimper. Which, this band, if we were gonna go out, we should have gone out killing it all over the world. And, you know, I'm always a never-say-never guy. If the circumstances were right, I have no problem… I love going out and playing the music. And if we did it, though, it would have to be none of this four separate planes and four separate this and that, and you only see them on stage. It's gotta be kind of like… I don't know if it can ever be a brotherhood like it was before."
He continued: "When Sam was in the band, we used to call ourselves the four-headed monster. But if everybody could get along great… I think it'd just be great to do it for the fans. And as far as Dave [Lee Roth] goes, I don't know if… Obviously, it would have been great to be on stage with Dave again, because I always liked his silliness on stage anyway. [Laughs] In a way, it's kind of comical, you know, but it always made for an interesting show."
Last year, Anthony was at the receiving end of some scathing, hurtful comments from Eddie Van Halen, who slammed both Michael's bass playing and singing abilities. "Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play," Eddie told Billboard. "Before we'd go on tour, he'd come over with a video camera and I'd have to show him how to play all the parts," Van Halen said, adding that Anthony's background vocals were "like a piccolo trumpet."
Hagar quickly came to Anthony's defense, saying in a video message: "For Eddie to say he had to show him what to play and then teach him all those songs, that's the biggest line of bullshit in my life. I was in that band for eleven years, there was never a video camera involved of Eddie showing [Anthony] what to play…. Michael Anthony is a bad motherfucker. Fuck you, Eddie Van Halen, for saying that about Mikey. You're a liar."