Sammy Hagar Says ‘Space Between’ Is ‘Where My Heart Is at Now': Exclusive Interview
There's something about getting older that kinda puts life in perspective. Especially for someone like Sammy Hagar.
You can now laugh about splitting your pants onstage or recoil at the memory of reducing a plump fan to tears with questions of pregnancy. You can talk about love and God, your passion for helping the homeless and even about your craving for extra-creamy mashed potatoes. All of which he's done.
To many, Hagar is superhuman, a rock god. From his early years with Montrose to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Van Halen to his current group, the Circle, Hagar has continued to pump out classic songs. And he has no intention of stopping yet.
Hagar and the Circle are hitting the beach with REO Speedwagon, Joe Satriani, Vince Neil and a host of surprise guests for the High Tide Beach Party and Car Show in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Oct. 6. Then he's taking the party to Mexico on Oct. 9 for a three-night sold-out 71st birthday celebration at his Cabo Wabo Cantina.
Hagar is as well-known for throwing epic beach bashes as he is for his robust guitar licks and powerful vocals. But for a guy who's turned partying into a lucrative career, he says he has reached a point in his life when he feels more introspective. “I don’t have the ambitions to be a rock star right now,” Hagar tells UCR. “I am a rock star. I’ve been a rock star half my life.”
In addition to a prodigious discography, Hagar’s empire includes restaurants, liquor brands, an impressive car collection and TV and radio shows. But his upcoming album, Space Between, comes from a place far from where you'd expect. “Where my heart is at now, the things I’m talking about are more worldly,” he says of the songs on Space Between. “Nothing is just jive, and I’m not just making lyrics up. I’m saying something.”
Hagar says the new album, which is expected to come out in early 2019, is about money and greed. “Musically, it will hold up,” Hagar says. “Jason Bonham is the greatest rock drummer in the world and plays just like his dad. So, on this record, we’ve got that Led Zeppelin sound and feel.”
Along with Bonham, son of late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, the Circle features guitarist Vic Johnson of the Bus Boys and bassist Michael Anthony of Van Halen. “He’s as good a rock bass player as anyone ever in the history of rock,” Hagar says of Anthony. “And Vic, when he plays on this record, he’s bringing it all there.”
Hagar and the Circle debuted one of their new songs live for the first time at a recent concert in Florida. Up until the last minute, Hagar wasn't even sure they were going to include it. He calls their current playlist a “Circle-fest” of the greatest songs from Montrose, Van Halen, his solo career, Led Zeppelin and Chickenfoot. “You try to throw a new song in the middle of that, it better be fucking good,” he says.
And it was.
If you can imagine Sammy Hagar as the lead singer of Led Zeppelin with harder bass, you'd have a pretty good idea of what it sounded like. Hagar's pride in Space Between is evident. “You know what I wanna do?” he says. “I wanna go play the whole fucking new record, I’m so happy with it.”
Hagar says he has been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s greatest musicians, like Joe Satriani, who played with Hagar in Chickenfoot. “I can’t keep up with him,” Hagar says. “He’s got so much music in him, and it’s so sophisticated and so good, and it's magic. He picks up a guitar and he writes a piece of music that’s perfect from head to toe.”
But if Hagar had a dream ensemble? “Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards,” he says. “It would be so much easier if they’d just come to Cabo and just jump onstage for a couple of hours and play. It’s gonna happen. I make things happen.”
While Hagar may get a Rolling Stone onstage one day, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get another Van Halen anytime soon. Hagar reached out to David Lee Roth to join him and Anthony at the High Tide Beach Party but says Roth didn't even bother to respond.
“I’m not even concerned about what [Roth and Eddie Van Halen] are doing anymore,” he says. “Obviously, they’re not doing anything. And I hope they’re well. Mikey and I are just tired of sitting around waiting.”
Hagar, on the other hand, has been busy as usual. He and the Circle have been making what Hagar hopes will be a Grammy-winning album. “I’ve been wanting to make a record with this band for so long, but we were afraid . . . of the legacy of the whole band,” he says. “But I think, as my last piece of music, I just really want to do something great. I think I did it, and I hope it’s as good as I think it is.”
By Wendy Rhodes