Chickenfoot on firm footing
Combines Van Halen, Chili Peppers and Joe SatrianiLONDON -- Some of the biggest names in rock have banded together to form a new supergroup. They call it Chickenfoot, a name they readily admit is "silly."
While the name may not be to everyone's taste, Van Halen veterans Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani rose high in the U.S. charts with their eponymous debut album this month.
"We called ourselves Chickenfoot as a kind of a joke, and people started digging it, and so Chad's going, 'Let's start a real band'," Hagar said during a boisterous interview with the band in London, where they performed during a European tour.
"Joe had a band called the Squares -- all of a sudden Chickenfoot sounded like a really good name," Hagar said.
Hagar and Anthony used to jam together at Hagar's club in Mexico, and when Smith joined them, they gelled. Smith, who still plays for the Chili Peppers, suggested forming a group, and Satriani was invited as the final piece in the jigsaw.
The four members of Chickenfoot have sold tens of millions of records and played thousands of gigs between them over the years, but the childlike enthusiasm for their latest venture comes from starting all over again.
"We're a new band, even though we've got names, we've all been in other bands," Hagar said. "So we have to kind of let the world know who Chickenfoot is, I think."
Bass player Anthony added that he took exception to the term "supergroup."
"For me, when I hear the name supergroup I think of some pre-fab type of thing ... If the chemistry is not there you can be the best musicians, best players there are, it's not going to come out the way I think this came out.
"This was born out of friendship, it was more organic in that sense."
The band has played a series of small gigs in the United States before flying to Europe for a tour, and returns to North America winding up its travels at the end of September.
"We're a new band and when you're a new band you start and play clubs and you play to your fans," said Smith. "We're not playing stuff from Van Halen, or Joe, or Chili Peppers, we're just playing Chickenfoot."
Chickenfoot's debut album, released earlier in June, opened at No. 4 in the U.S. pop chart and No. 1 in the independent music chart. It maintained its position in the main chart the following week before slipping to No. 7 in the latest list.
"It's the first time I've ever been up in that territory, above the clouds," said Satriani, who is embroiled in a copyright infringement suit with British band Coldplay over its hit single "Viva La Vida."
According to band manager Mick Brigden, U.S. album sales totaled around 180,000 in the first three weeks, around one quarter of which were bought digitally, suggesting a younger, technology-savvie audience.
"A lot of times, before a record comes out, there are projections about who your audience is and where you're going to see sales, so that was a great surprise because it means that we are appealing to truly a broad audience," said Smith.
The quartet confirmed that it planned to tour and record together again in the future, although Smith would have to juggle Chickenfoot and Chili Peppers commitments.
"I am in this other group called the Red Hot Chili Peppers, great band, love 'em, nice bunch of fellas', play some good music. So I'm going to go back and do that."