Earlier this week, Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited conducted an interview with former VAN HALEN and current CHICKENFOOT bassist Michael Anthony. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Classic Rock Revisited: How much do personalities have to do with a band like CHICKENFOOT?
Michael: It has a lot to do with it. On stage is one thing, but off stage is another. It is kind of interesting, because sometimes you wonder how these four personalities are going to mesh. I have partied enough times with Chad [Smith, drums] down in Cabo to know what he is like. We are saying now, that we should have called this band "ONE GENIUS & A BUNCH OF IDIOTS." Joe [Satriani] balances the rest of us out. Joe Satriani is a methodical, and structured, kind of guy — thank God for that. Every day, he came to the studio with his staff paper while the rest of us were saying that we should put up a blackboard and scribble down what we needed to work on. Joe would say, "No, we are not going to do that." You really need someone like that in the studio. Of course, we had Andy Johns [producer] in to do this thing with us. He is a great engineer and a great producer. He really was like the fifth member of the band. He was out in the studio with us, making suggestions and everything. He knew when we had a take. He would say, "Play it as many times as you want, but that is the one right there." He would go outside and have a cigarette and say, "Let me know when you guys are through goofing around because this is the take we are using." We just went out on a little nine-show thing and everyone got along great. I was wondering if Chad was going to make us wear socks on our dicks. I told him that he should leave his socks at home.
Classic Rock Revisited: Does being around great guitar players and great producers even phase you anymore?
Michael: No, it really doesn't. Playing with Eddie [Van Halen], and now playing with Joe, where there is not another guitar player . . . Sammy didn't even put on a guitar while we were doing this. When we are live, he plays a little bit here and there. My position is to really anchor the thing down. CREAM was one of the only bands that when [Eric] Clapton went into a solo, it was almost like there were three different solos going on. They would, somehow, come right back into the song. You can lose your perspective and wonder where the song is going, and even, what song it is, but Chad and I click so well together that we can play anything and know where we are. We play so well together, that when Joe plays a solo, it doesn't sound like anything drops out. That shows that everyone knows what they need to do in a band like this. It shows that everyone knows how to make it sound good.
Classic Rock Revisited: Eddie Van Halen told RollingStone.com that Michael quit VAN HALEN and was not fired.
Michael: I am so far past that… I wish that he would be too. Unfortunately, he is a bitter guy. At my age, at this point in my life, I don't want to be bitter. I want to hang around positive people, and I could not find three more positive guys than the guys I am playing with now. Why keep rehashing the past? They were asking Eddie questions that had nothing to do with that. They said, "Have you heard CHICKENFOOT?" And he goes, "Yeah, but by the way, Michael Anthony wasn't fired; he quit." It had nothing to do with anything. I never quit the band. At one point, I was forced to make a decision to sit on my hands, at home, and do nothing for a number of years, or go out and play some shows on a tour with Sammy and Dave [Lee Roth]. What would you do? I felt that I was doing those guys a service by going out and flying the VAN HALEN flag and letting people know that VAN HALEN is still here. My last name is not "Van Halen." People tend to forget you. I didn't want people to go, "That is that guy that used to play in VAN HALEN. What's his name again?" The fans wanted to hear that music. I was kind of forced into a situation like that. I never quit the band. When we did the 2004 reunion, Eddie didn't even want me to be a part of that because he was so torqued up that I was buddies with Sammy. Why can't I be buddies with Sammy and still play with VAN HALEN? With those guys, it was a cut-and-dried situation. You are in or you are out. You are with us or you are not. He still keeps bringing this stuff up. I talked to Joe Bosso [of MusicRadar.com] yesterday about it, because Rolling Stone was on his back for a response. I wanted the fans to know that I never left the band. For whatever happened, I am not a bitter person about it. I loved VAN HALEN; I loved everything we did. Hell, I was one of the only two guys who showed up for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. I love the legacy of the band but I am moving on. I am in a great place with CHICKENFOOT. Ed needs to do that too. [Eddie says he's] got a studio right there at [his] house, and [he says] that [he has] a million songs written. Well, go ahead and record some, and go out and have fun. Let's look back fondly at VAN HALEN and what it was. How was that? I am not a guy who gets mad. A lot of people are looking at my response and going, "Oh my God, Mike grew a set of balls." I didn't grow a set of balls. I just got tired of rehashing this shit. I am tired of it. I would always skate around the subject, but this is the way it is. I have gotten on with it and they need to get on with it too. They need to go out and remember why they are in this business.
Read the entire interview from Classic Rock Revisited.