“I want to do more than just go play an arena or something again,” the Red Rocker tells Billboard.com. “My fans are amazing; I turn them on to something cool and they go get it, and the reason I win every time is ’cause I’ve never turned them on to some bulls***. That’s the whole key. Back 22 years ago, when I opened the Cabo Wabo (Cantina), I said, ‘Go to Cabo (San Lucas), the coolest little fishing village you’ve ever seen.’ Then I said, drink this (Cabo Wabo) tequila. They do, and they go, ‘Holy s***, he’s right!’ So it’s really easy to just come up with some good s*** and turn them onto it.”
One of the ideas Hagar is considering is what he calls a “four decades of rock” show that will feature a consortium of his band the Wabos, Chickenfoot, a Montrose set with Chickenfoot’s Joe Satriani subbing for the late Ronnie Montrose (as he did at a recent memorial concert) and a “Van Hagar” set with Satriani, Chickenfoot bandmate and original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Montrose drummer Denny Carmassi playing songs from Hagar’s time fronting Van Halen. Hagar is planning a Sept. 1 trial run of the set-up at his Cabo Wabo in Lake Tahoe, and he says, “If it really works and everyone really gets along…we’re gonna take that on the road.
“I’m just looking for the thing that gets me off and is the most exciting, and this is the one I want to do,” Hagar adds.
Also on that to-do list is a third Chickenfoot album to follow 2011’s “Chickenfoot III.” “I can’t see us not doing it,” says Hagar. “The music is really good and we all love playing together. Joe and I are just coming into a songwriting team… and I’m willing to keep exploring that. We can do in any direction we want, which is so cool.” And, he promises, the group will still include drummer Chad Smith, even though he’s sitting out Chickenfoot’s current tour because of Red Hot Chili Peppers commitments, with veteran Kenny Aronoff ( John Mellencamp, Smashing Pumpkins) filling in.
“Kenny’s working out great,” Hagar says. “He’s such a monster when he plays with us; he hits hard and looks good up there, and we have a great time. I love the guy. But Chad’s our drummer. It’s not like we’re looking at (Aronoff) and saying, ‘Yeah, let’s do a record together and f*** Chad.’ There won’t be a Chickenfoot without Chad — without any of the four of us, really.”
While Hagar is juggling his musical ventures, meanwhile, he’s also launching a new endeavor in the spirits world. After selling his Cabo Wabo Tequila to Gruppo Campari for $80 million in 2007, Hagar has launched Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, which is made in Hawaii and which he declares, not surprisingly, “the best rum I’ve ever put in my mouth — the best white liquid, period, like creme brulee in a glass.” It’s currently on sale in California, Nevada and Arizona, and its success in those states has actually slowed its expansion into other markets.
“I had no idea it would take off like it has,” Hagar says. “In two weeks we sold out the first order we got in Nevada. In 10 days we sold our first order in California. We’re putting in huge orders per state — 600, 700 cases per state. It’s slow because we’re making it by hand. We’re backed up; we can’t expand because it blew out the door so hard — which isn’t a bad problem to have.”