March 17th, 2006
Andrew from MelodicRock.com provides
BURRN! Magazine is the #1 hard rock / metal music magazine in the world.
Published in Japan, the magazine is famous for their worldwide exclusive
Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony was interviewed in February 2006 for the
April issue, which is out now. Anthony was interviewed by the magazine's
US correspondent John "Shooter" Harrell for their exclusive story.
Unfortunately, the magazine is only printed in Japanese, but I am pleased
to bring just a few highlights from the interview — translated from
Japanese for me.
Michael Anthony talks openly and from the heart here and is clearly
someone that loves what he does and loves the interaction with fans. He
lives for being on the road and for the music he has spent a lifetime
I'm sure you will all agree that the below extracts highlight just why he
has earnt that all-round good-guy tag.
Michael Anthony commenting on -
The Van Halen 2004 reunion tour:
"Well in general the reunion tour was great because it had been since 1998
that we played as Van Halen anywhere and it doesn't take very long for me
after we finish a tour, it only takes a matter of weeks before I'm ready
to get up and play in front of people again. So in that respect it was
great getting out there and playing again and you know it's like when
everybody got back together again, from outward appearances everything
seemed fine but we had a few bumps because old things came back up again
from time to time on the road between Sammy and Eddie so it was a little
bit shaky. Actually the tour didn't end with as much fanfare as I would
have liked it to or hoped it would but we got through it."
On the new business arrangements within the band for the 2004 re-union:
"I was not going to just sit home and do nothing and that kind of upset
the Van Halen brothers for whatever reason I can't understand myself. But
basically when this whole reunion thing started Ed really didn't want me
to be part of it. I don't know how he was going to call it a reunion
(laughs) but I basically had to work out a deal with Irving Azoff's
management company in order to be part of this thing.
I kind of sucked it up a bit and I made less money but the way I looked at
it was, if this possibly was the last tour that Van Halen would ever do
then I'd be kicking myself because I wasn't a part of it and I want to be
a part of it, even more so than the money so I sucked it all up and came
on and did it. I did it for the fans."
On being nicknamed 'Cannonmouth' for his distinct backing vocals:
"They use to call me that in the early days. Basically Eddie's and my
voice were actually I think pretty much as signature as Eddie's playing or
anything else as far as the sound we had and it's kind of been that way
all the way up through the years. Unfortunately though when we did the Van
Halen 3 record with Gary Cherone, Ed wanted to sing more and so he sang a
lot more of the backgrounds with Gary and I sang a lot less and there was
a lot of negative feedback about that."
On making the re-union happen and attempts previously with David Lee Roth:
"I used to needle Sam a bit and say hey, it'd be great (getting back
together). We tried to make this thing work with Roth three times and each
time it was even worse than the time before. We tried to do a new album
with him and his ego just wouldn't let it happen and the third time that
we tried to do it with him was more like, let's see if we can just play
some dates and just get along with him and he still for some reason
couldn't humble himself enough to just being one of the guys again here.
Sammy was out here at a relative's wedding I think staying down at the
beach and he actually called Al. So Al went down and met with him and they
hung out for the whole day and got along great and at that point then it
was just kind of like well, let's see what we can do as far as putting Sam
and Ed back together.
I knew that Al wanted to get out and play again too because he basically
had done nothing because the only person that he plays with is Ed. He
doesn't get out and jam with anybody else. So one thing led to another and
then (laughs) there was my involvement. You know, I'm the guy who kind of
helped put this thing together and then Ed didn't even want me to be a
part of it (laughs). I thought it was kind of funny."
And on the 2004 tour and tensions within the band:
"We got along great. Obviously there was tension between the brothers,
basically Ed and Sammy's tequila thing because he was never happy about
that, the whole Cabo Wabo thing. And a lot of these arenas that we were
playing in sold Cabo Wabo and even though that really had nothing to do
with Sammy because he sells to people and then the buildings, the venues
buys the stuff and Sammy doesn't sell to them. So I think Ed would get a
little put off when he'd see a lot of Cabo Wabo banners up around the
arenas and sometimes that would even create some tension onstage and
offstage. There were nights where you know you have that after the show
flight on the jet and things would sometimes be a little tense on that
plane and without getting into any great detail there came a point to
where we actually split it up and we traveled on two different jets; Eddie
and Al would fly on one jet and Sammy and I would fly on another. This was
only to keep the peace and that sucks just like anything else that even
turns into a big business you know, sports or anything. A lot of times you
almost lose the reason in the first place of why you got into doing it you
know, making music and getting laid (laughs) and it all turns into big
It got to the point to where I couldn't even see this thing going on much
longer without either somebody blowing up on somebody or whatever. So
Sammy finally said, I'm not doing any more dates because this is just not
When we first started out I was fully ready to do it because I thought we
were going to go to Japan, Europe, South America, you know, do the thing
that we should have done, like, big band reunites but unfortunately that
wasn't going to be.
[Ed] did not want Sammy doing any promoting of his stuff at all using the
Van Halen name but a lot of that you don't have any control over. I came
out with a hot sauce about the same time we were putting the tour together
and the local radio station here in Los Angeles KLOS, they would talk
about the tour and then they would talk about my hot sauce. Well the
brothers caught wind of that and they thought that I had my people, as
they would say "my people", calling the radio station and telling them to
pump my hot sauce on Van Halen's dime here or whatever and they finally
asked me to have my people "cease and desist", I remember that distinctly.
But I didn't have a damn thing to do with that and I have no control over
what the radio station said. In fact, gee isn't this one of the benefits
that you're supposed to reap from all these years of success, that you can
be able to go off and do something like that and promote something? They
went on and they (the brothers) had their lawyers call every radio station
that we were going to play at in every city and told them specifically
they were not to mention Cabo Tequila or my Mad Anthony's Hot Sauce in the
same sentence with Van Halen!"
On Eddie's son Wolfgang joining the band on tour:
"Oh it was great. I think he has grown up to be a great kid. I think he's
a great player and he jumped up there on the drums a few times during
sound check and shit the kid can play drums too you know!"
On recording/filming the tour for possible CD/DVD release:
Well we did video every night for the screens up onstage but no, there was
no actual film crew or anything brought in.We had always talked about
doing a thing and Sammy did his called The Long Road To Cabo and I was on
a pretty major part of that.
JH: Oh is that the one where they left your ass at the hotel (laughs)?
"Yeah and as much as some people thought that we planned that out, they
left me at the hotel and one of the camera guys just happened to be back
that night because he wasn't going to the show and I called him up and
told him to get his camera and his ass over here to my room, we've got to
video all this because they have fuckin' left me here."
But you know, that would have been great to have something like that
happen with Van Halen you know; have the cameras following us around
onstage, backstage, days off, whatever. Just witnessing the way that Sammy
did it, it could have been huge if we did it because people love to see
that kind of shit. Aerosmith, everybody has done that kind of thing.
On Van Halen's failure to be nominated for the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame:
"I would have thought that we would have been nominated, voted in and
inducted the first year that we were eligible, which would have been like
3 years ago or something like that. But for whatever reasons they have,
maybe a lot of the people that vote you in are looking at the drama that
this band has gone through and figured well, they don't deserve it yet. I
don't know, but that's the only thing that I can come up with. Other than
that it's like I have no idea. But I tell you it would be one damn
interesting show when they ask us to get together and play for the
induction ceremony. I know Dave; he'll be there a week ahead of the show
On the last time he saw David Lee Roth:
"It was when him and Sammy toured together, what is that, four years ago
He would kind of pull his hat down and just walk by me because I tell you
one of the first shows that I did with those guys I forget where we were
at but I had a few drinks and I went into Dave's dressing room after the
show and I just unloaded on him, on what was his problem that we could not
make this reunion work? And all he kept saying was, you're right, you're
right. I told him, look at them out there; when you go out there and this
is the beginning of the tour and he actually impressed me at the beginning
of the tour but as the tour went on boy by the last show they didn't even
do the last show of the tour that I was out there because they couldn't do
it; Dave just started pulling shenanigans left and right.
Most nights Sammy and I would pound on his door and say come on out and
numerous times invited him to come out onstage and do an encore, all three
of us together but it never happened."
On recording a new album with Roth:
"We were going to do videos for the songs [on the Best Of Volume 1] and
everything but Roth was really trying to take control and we finally just
said, let's not even do the videos for these songs because he's going to
kill the whole thing and so it fell apart.
But yeah, before that tour yeah, we tried to make it work. We went into
the studio and it was kind of funny because we first got together in the
studio and we were all in the one room together and we did Hot For
Teacher, Mean Street and a few other songs and it's the weirdest thing
because once we started playing it was like, son of a bitch, there it is,
that's the magic! It was like a big dÈj‡ vu because it was the original
band playing again and it sounded pretty fuckin' good too!
But then of course the longer we spent in the studio, you know we had two
or three different producers in there trying to work with us and Dave
would just come in with tapes of the Chemical Brothers, all different
kinds of weird stuff and say hey, let's do a song like this and Ed was
having a hard time dealing with him, a real hard time dealing with him and
Al was saying, well, let's do a couple of things that Roth likes to do and
then let's just do our thing. I don't know if we had a complete album's
worth of stuff but we were pretty damn close and unfortunately, there you
go with Dave again and we just couldn't finish it and all those old
reasons why he left the band in the first place they started surfacing you
know. He went right back to his old ways.
I mean even if you just wanted to look at it purely look at it from a
money standpoint that guy was hurting for money. And it was like Dave, I
mean he couldn't even put his ego aside if he wanted to go out and make
$50 million and you know you've got a pretty large ego when you're going
to give that all up even just because you don't get your way on something.
I couldn't understand it."
On those new tunes:
"For the most part it was actually pretty good. I don't think Ed would
ever let it out though. I've got some demo stuff at home, they didn't even
really want me to take any stuff home but I ended up with some stuff at
home anyway. I'd never do anything behind the other guys' backs with any
of it so it'll just sit in my box in the archives and maybe one of my
grandkids or grandkid's boyfriends will put something out one day (laughs)
or steal it (laughs)."
On the Best Of Both Worlds Compilation and those 3 new songs:
"You know when we did the Best Of Both Worlds we had problems with Roth
because of what he wanted and didn't want on the CD, how much he wanted to
get paid and so on. So there was a point to where we were just going to
say okay Dave, if that's the way you want it, we had some live versions of
some of the old Van Halen songs and we were just going to tell Dave, okay
if that's the way you want it we won't even put you on this record, you
won't make a dime off it! I mean he was being difficult on that thing and
what we wanted to do was the one disc with Sammy and the other disc with
Dave plus the three new songs and Dave was even making that difficult but
in the end he folded. I think he was just trying to pull a power play. Bad
I knew that we weren't going to do a whole new album with Sammy on this
reunion thing. The time that it was taking in the studio to do these three
songs it would have taken us a couple of years to do an entire album. And
like I said, once it started to get put together Irving Azoff really
pushed it, speeded us along to get us out there and so it just turned out
to be well, let's just do these three songs. And to tell you the truth and
I'll say this for the record: I didn't play bass on any of those three
songs on there. I wasn't even in the band yet when those three songs were
I came aboard and I sang backgrounds on them but the music was already
done and I wasn't even back in the band as far as the reunion part of it
yet when the music was done. So that was kind of tough for me but it's
like hey, it is what it is and I don't think Ed really talked about it
much but if anybody asks me I'm not embarrassed to say that I didn't play
bass on them because I wasn't part of the band at that point."
On the difference between Roth and Hagar:
"There was magic with both of them. Once Hagar joined the band he brought
a new level of musicianship to the band and like Eddie always use to say,
he could play anything that he wanted now because Sammy could sing
anything. He (Sammy) definitely had a better range. When Sammy joined the
band that's when I really had to start working on the backgrounds; the
background vocals were a little bit more, uh, not tougher but with Dave
there was never any problem singing backgrounds because he didn't have a
huge range like Sammy did.
I think and there was still magic with Dave too because I mean a lot that
we did back then was really cutting edge from Ed's guitar playing to all
these little clones that Dave spawned...they were all there because all
these guys wanted to be him."
On the new side-band The Other Half:
"This stems from the fact that the Van Halen brothers, namely Ed, do not
want to go out and play Van Halen right now or anytime soon. Sammy and I
last year on his birthday decided one night that we were going to play
because normally it's Sammy's band that plays and I get up there and jam
with him and we do some Van Halen stuff and it's all fine. But last year
we decided one night that the whole show will be nothing but Van Halen;
I'm going to get up there, Sammy and his guitarist Vic Johnson and drummer
Dave Lauser and we're going to do a Van Halen set. And somehow we came up
with this thing calling us The Other Half and the show came off, I mean
people loved it!
And it came off so great that we started thinking well God, and I go on
the Internet everyday and I'm checking out what fans are saying and try to
keep in touch with what's going on as much as I can with our fan base and
people do want to hear the music. There were a lot of great comments that
came from us doing that thing down there and we were like, hey you know,
we want to go out and we want to play the stuff and the fans want to hear
it. So we're going to go out this summer, we're putting together the thing
that we're calling The Other Half and we're going to play Van Halen and do
it right, do a nice production and not me just jamming with his band; you
know, we're going to go and play it and the only reason is because the
brothers aren't wanting to go out and play it for the fans. Now if they
want to come out and play, they're invited! If they want to come out and
do it and do Van Halen and do it the right way and have fun, let's go,
let's do it, I'm ready right now. But the interest is really there and
Sammy and I want to go out and we want to play these songs.
The Wabos will open the show and we're going to put together a good
production, the lights, sound, everything will all be put together really
nice and we will play all Van Halen material. Right now we're actually
talking about me opening up the set with my solo and if we do that then
we'll probably have to go into Runnin' With The Devil or something and
I'll sing that. So we'll do a little bit more classic Van Halen, I'm
digging right now to see if we can pull a couple of more obscure ones out
of the hat and I'm going to sing them so I'll be doing more lead vocals,
which is great."
On the current status of Van Halen:
"Well never say never but we're currently in a state of limbo. After the
reunion tour ended so abruptly we all went into our own corners and
truthfully Ed doesn't want to tour right now or maybe ever again. I don't
know what he's thinking at this point. So I would say that we're on a
temporary hiatus that possibly could become permanent, you never know.
With that said I realize that's not much of an answer but that's really
where things are right now and tomorrow it could all change again."
BURRN! can be found online and purchased (if you can follow Japanese!)
Michael Anthony can be found online at: www.madanthonycafe.com
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