Sammy Hagar on Pre-Chickenfoot Supergroup HSAS: ‘Chemistry was missing’
Before Chickenfoot, frontman Sammy Hagar had some previous supergroup experience with his early-‘80s HSAS project, a short-lived group that featured Journey guitarist Neal Schon along with bassist Kenny Aaronson and drummer Michael Shrieve. In a brand new interview, Hagar sheds some light on why HSAS burned out so quickly.
Talking with Classic Rock in an exclusive interview published as part of their special ‘Chickenfoot III’ fan pack, the guts of which contain a fantastic special 13o-page issue featuring everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Chickenfoot and the individual members, Hagar says that the short run of HSAS came down to one simple thing: chemistry or lack thereof.
“It didn’t have the chemistry," Hagar said. "It’s not about who’s better and who’s worse. I love Neal – we’re great friends and he’s a fantastic guitarist and he’s got music flowing out of him like saliva out of your mouth, but the chemistry just wasn’t the same as me and Joe. And Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve – they just didn’t have the chemistry of Mike and Chad.”
Perhaps one of the greatest “one and done” projects, HSAS released one singular album, ‘Through the Fire,’ during their time together. The material was mostly recorded live during two shows at the Warfield in San Francisco that had been recorded during a string of dates at the venue in November of 1983.
Schon had been feeling restless after wrapping up the ‘Frontiers’ album with Journey and found himself talking with Hagar about a possible collaboration. Before the pair could make good on the plans, Schon had to attend to touring commitments with Journey behind ‘Frontiers.’
With that road work out of the way, he was free to pursue some musical leisure time with Hagar and the core of what became HSAS, which grew to include Shrieve, who had played with Schon in Santana, and Aaronson, who had been a part of Rick Derringer’s band.
Once ‘Through the Fire’ was released, the band did a small bit of touring, but eventually, Schon went forward with Journey and Hagar hunkered down to record and release ‘VOA.' That album would go on to yield a monster hit in the form of ‘I Can’t Drive 55.’
Hagar says that his history of working with guitar virtuosos (Schon, Eddie Van Halen, Satriani, etc.) “humbles me every time I pick up a guitar.”
He continues, “Like today, I’m gonna go and play with Joe and when Joe Satriani starts playing, I just think what the f—k would I even want to play guitar for?”
He terms his abilities as “one language” that he can speak very well and says quite modestly, “I can play rock blues and express myself well – but I’m not a virtuoso at all.”
Chickenfoot will be on the road for a short series of ‘Road Test’ tour dates in early November.