Heart of Steel: Interviews

David Lauser Interview
Sammy Hagar's Red Rockin' Drummer
Interviewed by Keith McDonald

Sammy Hagar has made quite a name for himself over the years. Having been in the outfit Montrose and as a solo artist, Sammy reached legendary status as he replaced David Lee Roth in Van Halen. As the story goes, after being tossed out of VH, Sammy easily landed back into his solo career.

Most of the people do not know who backs up Sammy when he's on tour. So I figured it would be a great opportunity to get some insight on who's backing the red rocker. Drummer David Lauser has been behind the kit for Sammy for some time now. I recently had the opportunity to speak with David who filled me in on the Sammy & Dave tour and how he started in the music business. You can check out his website at www.Davidlauser.com.


How and when did you start drumming?

Long story...I was fifteen when I got my first kit. Before that my best friend (Jamey Brzezinski) and I would jam together. He actually had a real guitar...I had a plastic bucket/trashcans and fireplace shovel...really!


I see you incorporate many styles into your playing. How did that come about?

I grew up listening to a lot of music...R&B, Jazz, Pop and of course Rock. I have even played on a couple C&W CD's in the past few years...don't let Sammy know about that! (Just kidding) I guess I'm like any other musician, i.e., my influences come through when I'm involved in the creative process.


How did you land the Sammy Hagar gig?

I auditioned in late 1980, after he parted ways with his drummer. We were in touch as friends, however he still wanted to see if I clicked with his band. The second time around, 1996 (post VH), we were jamming a lot in Cabo (Los Tres Gusanos - Me, Sammy and Michael Anthony). I also had already recorded on several of Sammy's solo projects while he was still in VH. I guess I was lucky to have remained friends and musically active with Sam...he asked me to be in his band...we're still going strong and having a ball!


How is it working with him?

We met when I was 15 or 16...most of the time; it's as if we're still hungry kids wanting to play music for the pure joy of it. He's a great friend, soul, artist and boss.


How is the current tour going?

Great...we've had a few technical difficulties, but over all the shows have been great. I was curious how mixed the audiences would be...both DLR's and our band get along great. I think the double bill has got to be a trip to see.


Is Sammy planning on releasing a new studio album anytime soon?

Possibly at the end of this summer.


How are Dave and Sammy getting along so far?

Honestly, very well...I think the press likes to make it look like more of a grudge match than it really is...it's not like they're drinking buddies...I guess you could say they respect each other's successes.


Who are your influences?

Initially, Benny Benjamin (Motown) Charlie Watts (Stones), Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, Jim Capaldi (Traffic) and Al Jackson.


Who else have you played with besides Sammy?

I've been in a few splinter groups, e.g., Alliance (members of Boston, Night Ranger, Keith Emerson). I guy named Wayne Perkins (Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. He also played on the Stones' Black and Blue Album and Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark...Icon/Megaforce-Atlantic. Also on the Remo website (click on Artists/David Lauser) there's a little story of my playing behind the legendary Chuck Berry.


What drum equipment do you use/endorse?

Mapex, Paiste, Gibraltar, Vic Firth, Remo Heads and DW Pedals.


Do you have any good Sammy stories that people don't know about?

I'll have to get clearance on that one...


Do you have any advice for an up and coming drummer?

Protect your ears, buy, borrow or steal a metronome. Don't be afraid to experiment or take chances...LISTEN TO THE OTHER PLAYERS!


Anything you'd like to plug/promote?

Soon to come... www.Davidlauser.com.


What lies ahead for you?

Right now I'm very busy with Sammy...Oh, I'm getting married in October!