Monday, February 7, 2011

Chickenfoot: recording update from Sammy Hagar

If the new interview with Sammy Hagar doesn’t say it clearly enough, you just aren’t paying attention: the recording sessions for the new Chickenfoot album are in overdrive.

Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith – hit Sammy’s studio, “The Foot Locker,” bang on schedule last month, with a short 5-week window of availability for drummer Smith before he resumes duties with The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Matt Warnock at Guitar International hooked up with the Red Rocker to find out more.

Guitar Int’l: You’ve been recording the new album with Chickenfoot for about a week now. How’s it going so far?

Sammy Hagar:
We started last Saturday–it’s a week today. Seven days and you ain’t gonna believe it, but we’ve got eleven songs. It isn’t like we wrote the songs previously, rehearsed them and then went in and just tried to cut ‘em. We’re writing in the studio on the spot. Joe presents us with some musical ideas, and his ideas are really together, it isn’t this vague idea. He presents you with an intro, a verse, a chorus, a bridge, a solo and an ending.

Then we jam to it. I see if it feels melodically in my repertoire of blues licks that I have in my voice. [Laughs] Then I come up with a good melody and structure, and we work on the arrangement until we all agree. Then my job is to come up with a title before we’re done rehearsing the song. Last but not least, I go out and write the lyrics. Believe it or not, I’ve already written lyrics for five of the songs on the new record. Then we get a take that sounds good and we continue the process. I can’t believe how fast things are going with this record. It’s amazing.

GI: It sounds like you’re just flying through the recording process. Is that going to bump up the release date for the record at all, since things are moving so quickly?

We’re flying through it, but I don’t think that’ll have any bearing on when it gets released. I don’t think we’ll release it until towards the end of the year. It’s happening fast on its own, but we had to cram Chad into this five-week period we have here to get it done. We’re way ahead of that. We expected in the five weeks to get 12 or 13 songs written and lay down the drum tracks. Then Chad could go away for the rest of the year and Joe, Michael and I could finish the record. That’s the way it was planned, but we’re way beyond that.

It’s f**king crazy, the chemistry in this band. We’re even pushing ourselves this time to do some things musically that we know we’re capable of, but that we haven’t touched on yet. I keep telling Joe, “Come up with any idea you want for me. How would you like to hear me sing? Write some music like that and I’ll stretch myself and make my voice and lyric ideas work for that music.” We’ve done this already in a short time, and it seems like with this band everything just comes easy. No matter what we bite off, it comes easy. There’s a real special chemistry that we have with this band.

GI: Speaking of chemistry, you’re recording in this five-week window because of Chad’s schedule with the Chili Peppers. There’s been talk that you might find a sub for Chad so that Chickenfoot can go on the road this year, but where do you stand on that? Are you thinking about finding a different drummer for a tour, or waiting until Chad is free and can go out on the road with you guys together?

It’s hard to say. Just to say that right now, I’m not ready to commit to either one of those things. If I had my way, Chad’s the drummer in this band and there is no other drummer. But, at the same time, that’s what we did for this CD. We talked eight months ago about going into the studio. We can make a record any time we want, I have my own studio, but we chose to wait for Chad. That’s a statement in itself. Promoters are trying to book us for this summer, to go to Europe and play, and do some stuff in the States, but we’ve decided to say no.

We’re not going to book shows until this record’s done. Let’s put this record out and see what happens. If it’s the kind of response that we got last time, we’re probably going to have to go out. If we get a substitute drummer, we’ll get the baddest motherf**ker out there and go out with him, maybe, until Chad can do it again.

Chad’s the drummer in Chickenfoot. It’s not like we’d make the change and say, “Here’s the new drummer.” It’d be like, “Here’s the drummer that’s filling in for Chad until he can come back.” That’s the way it’s got to be for me. Chad is the drummer in Chickenfoot, because it’s all about the chemistry.

There’s more – lots more – check out the full Hagar session at Guitar International here

Chickenfoot – Foxey Lady
Cabo Wabo Cantina – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – April 24, 2010

See also:

Van Halen tops the hennemusic Hot 10
Michael Anthony looking forward to hearing new Van Halen
Sammy Hagar’s charity work featured in new video
Sammy Hagar updates plans for 2011
Sammy Hagar on recording the new Chickenfoot album
Chickenfoot returns to the studio January 29