Dave Cobb is best known for his work with country music artists, and that’s how he and Hagar seven years ago, explained in a new interview with Rolling stones.
When Hagar said, “I want to write songs about things around America and farmers and things” that would be “like a John Mellencamp record,” Cobb replied, “Nah. I’ve made lots of them. I want to make the definitive Sammy Hagar record. I grew up with your music and I want to capture what I love about it.”
Cobb explained that he became a fan at the age of 11 when Hagar joined Van Halen. “I remember playing drums along with ‘Dreams’ and just freaking out,” the producer said. “I saw Live without the net every day after school. They really told me what I thought about music. And not just rock ‘n’ roll, but music in general. Sammy has always been a focal point for me. I’ve always just loved his raging voice.”
Hagar began writing lyrics and melodies for the record – with bandmates Michael Anthony, Vic Johnson and Jason Bonham – during his lockdown period. “I started sending them to Dave,” he recalled. “I’d say, ‘What do you think of these songs?’ He said, ‘Dude, love them. Let’s make a record.'”
A key element of Cobb’s vision was to make the most of former Van Halen bassist Anthony. “The first thing I told Michael when we got to the studio was that I wanted him to do the classic Van Halen harmony,” he noted. “He was such a big part of their sound and we really tried to get those classic Van Halen vocal sounds. He’s just such an incredible singer and the way he stacks harmonies is amazing to watch.”
Another “total dream” came true for Cobb when his guitar parts were included on the album. “I’m scared to pick up a guitar around Vic [Johnson] or Michael Anthony or any of those guys,” he admitted. “But I showed them the guitar: ‘Maybe we can try this?’ And they said, ‘Keep the guitar on.’ And then I just kept playing with them.”
Hagar described the resulting record as a concept album “about how I feel about everything that’s been going on since the pandemic started.” Referring to the sleeve illustration of a man on fire riding a bicycle, he added: “Everybody’s looking at the guy on the bike instead of the damn shit happening in the streets. We always gravitate towards the big distraction but damn COVID was the big one distraction. We all took our eye off the ball. The government seemed to be getting away with murder. All of a sudden everyone became sheep because they were so scared. And I think we just lost our liberties during that time.”
Crazy Times released Sept. 30.
The best song from every Sammy Hagar album
Solo or in a group, he proves that there is more than one way to rock.