DAVID LAUSER / DRUMS
Though he´s descended from Amish forefathers, it´s hard to imagine
anyone less likely to ride a horse-driven buggy than WaboRitas drummer
David Lauser. After relocating to San Bernadino CA, as a teen,
the Reading, PA, native took up the drums at age 15. One of his first
bands, the Mobile Home Blues Band, went on to play a key role in his
life when a young Sammy Hagar sat in on a rehearsal, eventually joining
as a lead singer. The band played the local nightclub circuit for a
time, eventually moving to San Francisco. After a few years, Sammy met
Ronnie Montrose, a pairing that led to stardom for Hagar.
In 1980, Sammy auditioned David, and the two were teamed once again for
Sammy´s solo Geffen LP:s.
David remained with Sammy until he joined Van Halen. From there, David
enjoyed many exciting career highlights including founding the band
Alliance, which also featured Gary Pihl and Alan Fitzgerald
(Nightranger), and Robert Berry. In 1990, he joined Icon, which
recorded for Megaforce/Atlantic. During Sammy´s Van Halen years, David
never failed to accompany his friend and VH´s Michael Anthony in Tres
Gusanos (the three worms), the legendary ad hoc rock trio which
performed once a year at Sammy´s birthday bash in Cabo. David also
played for Sammy on the singer´s contributions to the soundtracks of
Footloose, Heavy Metal and Fast Times At Ridgemont High, as well as on
Sammy´s 1994 greatest hits release, Unboxed, which, although it spanned
the many years of Sammy´s career, featured only one drummer throughout:
After Hagar left Van Halen, he once again called on David Lauser, who
rejoined his friend in time for the heralded Marching to Mars tour of
1997-1998. As for Sammy´s upcoming album Red Voodoo, David waxes
enthusiastic. "The new album has more energy and focus", he says.
"It´s happier, simpler hard rock sound". David is endorsed by Mapex
Drums, Paiste cymbals, Gibralter hardware, Remo heads, and DW pedals.
MONA GNADER / BASS
Mona makes her home in Willits, CA, along the rugged northern coast and
maybe some of the region´s hardy spirit rubbed off on her. That´s
because she´s gone on to be one of the best rock bassists in a world
notoriously dominated by men. She started out playing guitar in High
School, later taking up the bass violin before switching to Fender bass
Mona played with the Mendocino College Jazz band and other local cover
bands, before joining Tommy Tutone ("867-5309/Jenny), with whom she
stayed for 4 years.
Mona then began working with a variety of artists, including Gene
Parsons (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) and cult favorite Wayne
Perkins, through whom she met David Lauser. The drummer told her that
Sammy Hagar had been looking for a new bassist. Within minutes of her
audition, Mona landed the job, and soon was off on Sammy´s Marching to
Mars world tour of 1997. Throughout her career, Mona has earned respect
and admiration for her playing, rarely finding her gender an obstacle.
"Most people I've worked with have been really encouraging and
accepting", she says. "Everyone thinks of Sammy as this testosterone
rush, but his fans have been great, totally into having me on board.
I´ve always been an aggressive player, and I think people respond to
that" As for Sammy´s upcoming MCA album Red Voodoo, Mona offers this
preview. "The new album is totally killer", she says. "The fans will
dig it, and we´ll attract a lot of new fans with it as well"
VICTOR JOHNSON / GUITAR
As a teen growing up near Colorado Springs, Vic Johnson liked to think
of himself as his town´s own Jimi Hendrix. "Jimi turned me on to
guitar," he says. "I soon picked up guitar and tried to learn all the
Hendrix licks." Once bitten by the rock 'n' roll bug, Johnson never got
over it. He played in bands throughout high school and beyond before
moving to LA to seek entry into the thriving Hollywood music scene. He
didn´t have to wait long. In 1980, he auditioned for and joined a
fledging all-African-American rock/soul band called the Busboys, and
for the next eight years, he took a long ride on the back of a hurri-
cane. The band appeared in the film "48 hours", performed on "Saturday
night live", and recorded several albums for Arista Records, all to the
approval of their legion of fans around the world.
Vic enjoyed taking on side projects, such Sound Barriers, an all-black
heavy metal band signed to MCA in the mid-80s. He also started his own
metal band, Total Eclipse, which recorded for Taboo/A&M Records. Once
the Busboys had run their course, Vic became a much-in-demand session
player. But in the spring of '97, Vic's life changed yet again. He
auditioned for Sammy Hagar's new band. He and Sam right away found many
common interests, from mountain bikes and running to rock 'n' roll.
"We started jamming," remembers Vic, "and Sam hired me on the spot."
The newly formed WaboRitas toured most of 1997 on the Marching to Mars
world tour, which was a total joy for Vic. Now, he´s most excited about
the band's upcoming album, Red Voodoo. "This record is a departure from
the last record," says Vic, "It´s very funky in spots, very upbeat,
party music. It´s about fun, fun, fun." As for the temperament of the
band itself, Vic couldn´t be more pleased. "Everyone has input," he
notes. "It´s always about 'we' and 'us'. I´m really inspired by Sammy.
To stand and play next to him is a very special thing for me."
JESSE HARMS / KEYBOARDS
WaboRitas keyboardist Jesse Harms knows a thing or two about the music
of Sammy Hagar, having been the Red Rocker's friend and colleague since
1982. He is also at the helm, co-producing Sammy's new album,
Red Voodoo, with Sammy. Jesse's rock roots go way back before that,
however. The Berkeley native first began classical piano studies at
the age of eight, but switched to rock 'n' roll at sixteen. His heroes
were organ players like Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, Keith Emerson, and
classical bands like the Beatles, the Who, and Cream. After getting his
chops down playing with a string of local Bay Area bands, Jesse moved
to LA to make an album with acclaimed bass player Alphonso Johnson.
Soon after, he toured and recorded with such artists as John Hiatt, Ry
Cooder, and the Hughes-Thrall band. In the early '80s, Jesse hooked up
with Sammy Hagar, who had by then launched his meteoric solo career. He
co-write, recorded, and toured with Sammy until he joined Van Halen.
After that, Jesse switched his emphasis to songwriting, enjoying great
success writing hits for Eddie Money (the Top 10 "Walk on water"),
Patty Smyth, Bad English, Heart, Johnny Van Zant, Michael Schenker,MSG,
R.E.O Speedwagon, and many others. Jesse also co-produced an R.E.O
Jesse reteamed with his old friend Sammy during the writing and recording
of Marching to Mars. Says Jesse, "Sam's an incredibly talented guy
with an amazing amount of energy. He´s a big picture guy, and he really
cares about his fans." As for the newly constituted WaboRitas, Jesse
Has nothing but praise for his colleagues. "This is a fun band to be
in" he says. "Everyone gets along really well. And we can be who we
are. We´re still having fun, still partying."