Sammy Hagar Takes a ‘Rock & Roll Road Trip’ on AXS TV: Exclusive Interview
Subscribe to Ultimate Classic Rock on
When you’ve been rocking as long as Sammy Hagar has, you make a few friends along the way. So the Montrose, Van Halen and Chickenfoot vocalist decided to ring some of them up for his new AXS TV show Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar.
The first season, which premieres Sunday (Jan. 24) at 9PM, finds the speed limit scofflaw and spirits purveyor exploring different cities with help from rockers who call those places home.
The six episodes include a tour of L.A. with Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, an excursion in Seattle with Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains and Nancy Wilson of Heart and his own beloved Bay Area with Bob Weir and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. The show combines music, food, rock history, sightseeing, interviews, and Hagar’s natural good humor. (Van Halen, Chickenfoot and the Circle bassist Michael Anthony rides shotgun in the first episode.)
We recently sat down with Hagar, fresh from a vacation in Cabo, to get the details on the show.
So did you come up with the concept or did AXS TV come to you?
I decided I wanted to do a TV show and [co-founder of AXS TV] Mark Cuban has been kind of a friend forever so I put word out to his guy and said, “Can you guys let me do a show?” And they said, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “I just want to go around and visit with my friends.” It was the easiest way to do it. And my idea was, at the end of the show, to play an acoustic guitar with them, one of their songs, one of my songs. Like, Bob Seger, I’ll sing “Night Moves” with you, you sing “Plain Jane” with me.
Cool! Is Seger going to be on the show?
I hope so. I dug at him real hard and he wasn’t around when we were filming these shows. Bob’s an old friend but he doesn’t like TV. I don’t either. But I want [Bruce] Springsteen, I want all the guys. So I went to my closest friends and got the six shows we needed and it kind of morphed. Every one of them is a little different now. I don’t think we have a specific format. The format is Sammy Hagar goes to their home or wherever they choose to do it — meet ‘em at a bar somewhere, I don’t care — and we talk. And then I sit and reflect on what they were like afterwards, and before we finish all that we play music whether it’s with a band or acoustically. Jerry Cantrell and Nancy Wilson and I on the Seattle scene, we all just played acoustically and we all played each other a new song we’re kind of working on, so it’s really artsy-fartsy and all that too. [Laughs] What I think the hook is is that I know these people and if you’re a fan or you’re just a journalist and you’re going to sit down and interview Jerry Cantrell, he’s not going to tell you certain things.
That was the first thing I thought when I watched the pilot with Tommy Lee. You really got him to open up. All that stuff about his youthful love of Pat Travers and Donny Osmond, who knew?
I know, exactly! Could you believe that? And then there’s things I know about these guys because I have been around them forever so I can bring it up to really jar them up a little bit. Like with Alice [Cooper], there were things I knew that jarred him up. So I think it’s a good interview for their fans. I don’t know how good it’s going to be for the general public, if they’re going to be that interested in Sammy Hagar talking to his buddies. [Laughs]
The first episode features you and Tommy cooking in his kitchen, will that be a regular feature?
That’s what he wanted to do. I asked people, “What do you want to do?” They said, “What’s the show about?” I said, “What do you want it to be about? It’s about you, who you are. It’s not about Motley Crue.” We all know about Motley Crue, we’ve read the books and seen the concerts, what is Tommy really like? And he said, “I’m really into cooking.” And I said, “Me too, let’s cook, f— it.”
So Michael Anthony is in the first episode, is he your sidekick throughout?
Michael is my sidekick in life. [Laughs] So yeah, I think he’s in another one.
As far as songs go, you and Tommy play “Rock Candy” and that’s just what he wanted to do and if he wanted to play something else you would have?
Yeah, if I knew it. [Laughs] But yeah it’s true. Bob Weir, every time I jam with the Dead we do “Loose Lucy,” so it was perfect. Mickey Hart, you go to outer space and we did. [Laughs]
Have you seen Live From Daryl’s House? The structure is somewhat similar but a little more regimented.
Yeah, I did one. They came to Cabo. I love that show. I wanted a looser format, as much as I love that show. I want the chemistry between me and that person not to be neutralized. Like he does it in the same place and he wanted me to do it and I said, “Come to Cabo, I don’t want to go to that barn in your house because then it will be just like all the other shows.” I’m a nut like that. I can’t stand to do the same thing twice. So when I interview someone in their environment it’s going to take the show on this trip. And I want to get some twisted people too, I don’t want to just keep doing rock stars.
Who is your dream person?
Well I’m pissed off because Dan Rather already got him, I want [Quentin] Tarantino and make him make me act or something. “You’ve got three minutes, direct me!” It’s got to be successful first but then I’m going to go for that.
Die-hard Red Rocker fans from Montrose on will obviously be interested, but do you expect people who think “Sammy Hagar: ‘I Can’t Drive 55’ and Van Halen” will see you in a new way with this show?
That’s why I’m doing it. I want to just be myself. I want to shed my rock star guy. I love it but I’m not a rock star anymore. I’m just not. I’m a singer, I’m a musician, I’m everything I’ve ever been but I just don’t get dressed up and go do the funny things. [Laughs] Stupid things.
Will there be another cookbook?
Not another cookbook but another book, I’ve got another one in me.
Fiction? More memoir?
It’s going to be more memoir but it’s going to be about spiritual things and psychedelic experiences — not drug, but drug too! But just mainly about my belief in aliens and ghosts and my spirituality. I have beliefs that I think could help other people. I can tell you how to be happier in life. The “Three Lock Box” to living.
Mind, body, spirit?
That’s right. That’s it, have fun, live life. That’s what the book is going to be about. Look, I’ve got goosebumps so you know I’m going to do it!
Where are you at with any of your various musical groups in terms of recording and touring?
Well recording is a tough thing because there really isn’t a recording business anymore, I don’t care what anybody says. I record to write new songs so I can go out and play them. But the Circle, [Hagar’s project with Anthony, Jason Bonham, and Vic Johnson] is my favorite band in the world right now. It’s a greatest hits live band and we’ve got the pot of gold because Jason adds the Led Zeppelin in there besides my stuff with Van Halen and all that. But I don’t know if I want to make a record with that band because of the expectations, because how are we going to top our set list? You put a new song in the middle of “Whole Lotta Love” and “I Can’t Drive 55” and it’s going to go in the toilet. [Laughs] So I think we’re just going to be playing shows. And Chickenfoot just recorded a new song. I just want to keep playing music my whole life.
Will there be a second season of Road Trip if this one does well?
Absolutely. I have to do it. I’ll stick ‘em up! I’ll pay ‘em off!
Mark Cuban has a lot of money, he should be paying you.
He is! [Laughs]
See Sammy Hagar and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Rock Albums of the ’90s