In conjunction with a recent OC Weekly feature, rock legend Sammy Hagar (VAN HALEN, THE CIRCLE, CHICKENFOOT) spoke at length about his career with writer Clay Marshall. Some select interview "outtakes" follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On THE CIRCLE:
Sammy: "[It's] my favorite band ever — a band that can play everything I've ever done in my life, and play it so well that I'm happy. It's not, like, 'Well, we've got to play a few of those songs, but it's not going to be as good as the original.' With THE CIRCLE, we play 'Rock Candy' better than MONTROSE. We play the VAN HALEN songs as good as VAN HALEN ever played them, and I mean that. It's just such a magical band. The chemistry... Jason [Bonham, drums] just sent me a live YouTube thing from Wolf Trap [a venue in Vienna, Virginia], and some guy in the audience was just holding the camera up the whole damn show almost, and I'm watching and going, 'Look how good we were.' I know we're just up there doing it, but man, when you hear it and see it back, you go, 'This band...' We love each other, and we love playing together, and that's the difference when you're playing the song — not just playing the parts, but playing with the other people. That's the difference in this band — we're playing with each other. It's very loose, but the level of musicianship is so high in this band that we can take it out a little bit and not step on it. It's really, really cool. I love this band."
On how the inner dynamics of THE CIRCLE differ from those of VAN HALEN:
Sammy: "Being in a band is a full-time job. It's just like a marriage — it really is. It's even worse, because in a marriage, you can go to work and come back home, but in a band, you go to work with your partners and try to create together. It's so deep. It's really hard to say, but if you don't get along, it's stressful, and it makes the work harder. VAN HALEN, we got along great for so many years — it's just was toward the end where it became like, 'I want black.' 'No, I want white.' 'Okay, I'll go for white now.' 'No, I think I want black now just because you want white.' It was so much of that that it was really stressing me out. I didn't realize it at the time — I just thought, 'It's just another band. This is what bands do.' After I left VAN HALEN, I said, 'I'll never play with people that I don't really love to play with again — that I don't like personally. If you're not getting along personally, I'm not going to play music with those kind of people, even if I have to take lesser musicians.' The WABO[RITAS] years was all great — I just started having fun and created a lifestyle around my music that really made me happy. I love living the hell out of life. Get the most that you can. My philosophy is, 'Live each day like it's your first and live each night like it's your last, if you can, without hurting yourself.' [Laughs] You've got to have a little discipline to live that way, which I do. But I'm really so happy with THE CIRCLE. Now I have a band that the musicianship is like VAN HALEN — it's on that level — and we like to do the same things. We don't have to go out and play 150 shows a year. We just play as many as we want. It's just a perfect life."
On THE CIRCLE's latest album, "Space Between":
Sammy: "It's a dream come true for me at this stage of my life to have had that kind of success with a brand new band. I'm thrilled; I'm excited; I'm happy. I wanted it. People say, 'What do you want?' I wanted to have a successful record. At this stage of my life, classic rock bands do not have successful records. I wanted one, and I got it. I just can't believe it. But we made a great record. The fact that I'm still alive, I've still got passion, I've still got desires for things, and music is the strongest one. I went in there and I just closed the door behind me, and I don't think I opened that door back up for two or three months. I went home at night, but I was still in that room writing and singing and playing and creating that record. People say, 'What else is there for you?' I want that record to last. I want that record to get recognized by the industry, to get validated by the Grammy association or some award. It's because it deserves it, and because I worked so hard on it, I feel like I deserve it [laughs] — I'm going, 'Listen, you guys. You've got to pay attention here. I did something great for this stage in my life.' I feel real good about it... Being accepted in the fabric of that is kind of like all that I can ever ask for, the last thing in my life, in my career. I've had it all — I've sold 60 million records, blah blah blah, had a bunch of number ones, all that stuff — but the validation from the industry itself, honestly, it humbles me. I go, 'You know what? That makes me happy. That makes me feel good about myself.' I don't mind sharing that. I know guys who probably wouldn't show up if they get a Grammy award or [inducted into] the [Rock And Roll] Hall Of Fame. I'm going, 'What? Are you kidding me? I'll be there.'"
In addition to Hagar and Bonham, THE CIRCLE features bassist Michael Anthony and guitarist Vic Johnson.