You may not have heard of Chickenfoot yet, but with past and current members of Van Halen and the Red Hot Chili Peppers front and center, it commands some serious name recognition.
Chickenfoot, which includes Sammy Hagar on vocals, Joe Satriani on electric guitar, Michael Anthony on bass and Chad Smith on drums, has more than a century of combined rock experience.
"I think what's kept us together is just this great explosion of shared roots that was unexpected," Satriani told Lake Tahoe Action.
Chickenfoot first took the stage in 2008 as a celebrity group jam at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
"Sammy had invited us up there to have a little celebrity jam. He called me the day before and said, 'Grab your guitar, we're gonna do some songs.'" Satriani said. "It was really well-received. When people are screaming at you in a positive way, you tend to think things are going great."
The group jam made a strong impression - not only on the audience, but the musicians as well.
"As soon as we played that performance, we walked offstage and everyone was wide-eyed," the guitarist said. "You know, 'Wow, that was more than some celebrity jam in Vegas; that was some sort of cosmic gathering.'"
Intrigued by the experience, the four decided to experiment further.
"We thought it had to happen away from the audience for it to be real." Satriani recalled. "Subsequent get-togethers with Sam and I, and then all four of us, were artistic and productive. We'd get together for an hour and a half, and a song would be done, arranged and recorded. We'd go, 'Well, let's do another one.'
"Something that surprised us was it didn't sound like Van Halen meets Chili Peppers. It was this other kind of music that no one expected. We liked it, and said let's do what comes naturally."
Shortly before the debut of its self-titled first album in 2009, Chickenfoot hit the road, intent on testing new music on live audiences in Canada and the U.S.
"One of the things we did that I think was really good for us as a band, we did about two or three weeks of touring in the smallest places we could find. It was before the album came out, so no one was familiar with the material," Satriani said. "We said, 'let's see if we can excite people the way we did when we were teenagers.' We felt like there was weight behind the music, and wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it."
"It's almost like we took years of paying our dues and condensed it into a month and a half," He said. "Especially with those guys who have a history of selling multi-platinum and playing arenas and stadiums around the world."
Chickenfoot hit the studio again in early 2011 to record its sophomore release, "Chickenfoot III." The album debuted in September 2011 and earned a 2012 Grammy nomination for "Best Recording Package."
When drummer Smith took a break from the band last year to work with Red Hot Chili Peppers, he personally selected his touring replacement in Kenny Aronoff. The list of artists with whom Aronoff has recorded reads like a veritable Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit, including Bob Dylan, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many other notable acts.
"On so many levels, Kenny's personality and musicianship are fantastic; he's fit right in with us," Satriani said. "No transition time, kind of like finding a long-lost brother."
Chickenfoot's upcoming tour kicks off at Harrah's South Shore Room this Friday and Saturday. With six weeks of tour dates throughout the United States, the Different Devil tour will expand on the group's stage presence.
"In a general sense, this is the biggest show we've ever brought to the fans," Satriani said. "We have video material we've been working on the last few months to make the show bigger than it was before. When we first started it was like, let's see if we can be a four-piece band in front of a crowd and make it rock. This time going out we want video, we want lights, we have more of a show this time around. Again, we're still a new band, so I think bumping up the show is a good idea, spread our message."
Both onstage and in studio, striking the right musical balance is a key component of success for this all-star band.
"Everyone adds something," Satriani said. "All the input is important for making the music sound like Chickenfoot material. That's the exciting part, I know when I write something, even if it's only skeletal, I know that the guys are going to jump on it, and add their own parts."
"But there's definitely been some good shouting matches," He laughed. "No one's afraid to open their mouth and tell you what they think. You can't be shy."瀀