Michael Anthony on Van Halen’s Partying Reputation: ‘The Music Was Always Number One’
Our favorite rock stars tend to make the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle look like one big party, but the best musicians never lose sight of their art. Take Van Halen, for example: in spite of what it might have seemed like from the outside, former bassist Michael Anthony says the band’s glory years were never as wild and crazy as they appeared.
“Obviously what the fans saw and what the public saw is like what you said, the excesses,” Anthony told Metal Exiles during a recent interview. “But the music was always number one. When we were in the studio working stuff out and even when we were on stage, the music was a priority. You can only go with the excesses to a certain point — it wasn’t always the Jack Daniels bottle. We weren’t just a bunch of sloppy musicians on stage drinking; we would critique every show.”
Anthony was at the NAMM Show 2014 to promote his next two releases: a new line of Peavey amps, and a signature Yamaha bass. Of the former, he says, “I have wanted to build an amp to my specs for years and they were coming out with some stuff that they wanted me to check out. One thing led to another and I ended up taking some amps out on the road, and with that, they approached me and asked if I wanted to do a signature model … they wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it.”
Calling his new bass “two years in the making” and promising “all the way down to the neck, it’s everything that’s me,” Anthony further explained, “I think it’s everything I want in a bass rolled into one. It has pickups that were wound just for me because I want a passive sound that lets the amp do what its supposed to do. I used to switch off basses, but with this one I don’t have to do that anymore.”
The release everyone wants to know about, though, is a new Chickenfoot record, and Anthony says we might have to wait awhile. Shrugging off a question about a follow-up to 2011’s ‘Chickenfoot III’ by saying “there probably will be” one, he explained that the current hold-up is drummer Chad Smith‘s “daytime gig” with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Added Anthony, “We really do not want to start without him.”