DLR – LA Times Interview

JANUARY 27, 2012  – From the LA Times:

When David Lee Roth talks, it’s ‘A Different Kind of Truth’

The Van Halen frontman discusses the band’s new tour, new album (his first with the group in 28 years), Eddie Van Halen and almost everything else.

by Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times

It’s an old joke, but when David Lee Roth delivers the punch line it sounds more like a mission statement: “How many lead singers does it take to put in a lightbulb? One. You hold the bulb and wait for the world to revolve around you.”

Missing from the joke is how the singer is left standing there in the dark waiting for his proper wattage.

On Feb. 7, Interscope Records will release “A Different Kind of Truth” and, as the world turns, it will represent the first Van Halen studio album featuring Roth as lead singer since “1984? — which was released 28 years ago this month, right before Ronald Reagan announced plans to run for a second term.

Time flies — or does it drag? Earlier this month, on a crisp, sunny morning in Pasadena, Roth, now 57, welcomed a visitor to his 20-room, Italianate mansion to talk about Van Halen past, present and future.

Roth actually rejoined the band “five summers and a million years ago” for the 2007-08 reunion tour, but it’s taken this long for the still-volatile collective to finish an album that satisfies all of their agendas. The amazing thing is that they finished at all; like the Beach Boys, Eagles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses and Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen is part of the Southern California history of world-class soap operas disguised as platinum-selling bands.

Van Halen’s brawny brand of music has sold more than 80 million albums, but offstage the group has been a fragile alliance that has fallen apart again and again because of creative clashes, drug torpor, grudges and, more recently, health issues.

“We accused each other of betrayal and thievery and lies and treachery,” said the upbeat and chatty Roth. “And it was all true. We were all guilty. Dig up the past, and it’s going to get all over everybody. And, man, do we have a past…”

The history traces back to 1972, when the Van Halen brothers, guitarist Eddie and drummer Alex — a pair of classically trained teen musicians born in the Netherlands but raised in Pasadena — auditioned singers for a planned band. Roth didn’t make much of an impression at his tryout, but the brothers wanted to use his sound system and letting him in the band was better than renting the gear.

Fame and fortune would follow, but again and again it was the brothers Van Halen deciding who should hold the microphone. They could do that because of the stature of Eddie Van Halen, who is revered by rock fans as a sort of mad-genius guitar god, the heir of Jimi Hendrix. He might also be viewed as the Elizabeth Taylor of rock considering the way he divorces lead singers, including Sammy Hagar — and, if so, Roth is forever his Richard Burton. Roth, meanwhile, passed time touring with an Eddie Van Halen soundalike and at one point did a double bill with his rival Hagar to pique attention.

The reunited frenemies are a source of fascination, and fans are eager to see them share a spotlight when the reconstituted band (with Eddie’s son, 20-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen, who replaced longtime member Michael Anthony on bass) starts a 46-date arena tour in Louisville, Ky., on Feb. 18. The music industry, meanwhile, is watching the whole enterprise and wondering if the wheels will fly off; more than squabbles, the worry is also about the state of Eddie Van Halen, a rehab veteran who has also lost a third of his tongue to cancer and undergone hip replacement. There were postponed shows on the last tour (2007-08), which were explained only by vague promoter statements about medical procedures.

“He’s doing really well,” Roth said. “He’s lucid, he’s sober, he’s playing. You know, I don’t know if Ed has ever feltgood. There’s a thin line between rage and great work. He really never enjoyed his fame or success, and that might be part of what compels him.”

(All Van Halen family members, through their representatives, declined to be interviewed for this story.) Despite all the squealing guitar thunder, Eddie Van Halen seems like a man surrounded by his own silence.

A holistic talker

Roth, meanwhile, hides behind the sound of his own voice; the man never stops talking, but most of it is a jibber-jabber jive, a Cartoon Network version of classic-rock kung fu and spitball metaphysics.

In a relentless two-hour synaptic strobe display, Roth cited the deep meanings he sees in Motown, matzo, state fairs, Roy Lichtenstein, Airedale terriers, reggaeton, Neil Young, clambakes, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Plato, Johnny Mercer and the unchanging nature of the sea anemone.

The most consistent message amid the barrage was the magical legacy of Van Halen and the urgent need to live up to it with the new album and tour.

“Are there second chances? I don’t know, Mr. Faulkner, I’m tending to agree with you: No. We’ve managed to stretch our adolescence like a Chiclet to the moon and maintained the respectful dignities along the way that got us on that turnpike up in the first place. We love what we do for a living. Even in our wildest, most beer-soaked days we never missed rehearsal.”

In their youth, Roth and the Van Halens were clearly bonded by their love of hard rock, but Roth says they were also connected by the “immigrant energy” of their families, who were “desperate people seeking desperate fortune — with a smile.”

Roth was born in Bloomington, Ind., as the son, grandson and nephew of Jewish doctors, but the north-star figure in his youth turned out to be Manny Roth, the uncle who owned the Café Wha? in New York.

It’s one of the more illustrious dives in Greenwich Village — Bob Dylan played there, so did the Velvet Underground and Lenny Bruce — and despite the peeling paint and low ceilings it was a palace of possibility for young Roth. “I was 7 years old when I decided very specifically what I was going to be, and it was there in that room,” he said.

On Jan. 5, Roth was back in the club; the “secret show” by Van Halen was meant to stir press, rock radio and fan interest, and it did all of the above. The New York Times covered it enthusiastically, with Jon Pareles writing that Van Halen is “still one of the most limber bands in hard rock, with a higher center of gravity than most.” Even better, there was old Manny Roth, now 92, beaming at his nephew from the audience.

During the show the band played a vamping, boogie-propelled song called “She’s the Woman” that will be on the new album. The song has considerable history; a version of it was on the demo record (produced by Gene Simmons of KISS) that landed Van Halen a deal with Warner Bros. in the 1970s.

Throughout the album, the band has gone back and excavated pieces of unrecorded songs, lyrics from old notebooks and half-pursued concepts to build the 13-track collection.

“It’s material that Eddie and I generated, literally, in 1975, 1976 and 1977,” Roth said. “Usually fellas in our weight division will kind of gamely — or ironically, wink, wink — try to hail back to it [but] keep a safe, mature distance from it.”

Instead, Roth said, he and the band have tried to do a sort of collaboration with their past. They can’t be the same people — too much has changed — but Roth said there’s interesting experimentation in the era-spanning synthesis of self.

The process started with Eddie Van Halen and producer John Shanks (Bon Jovi, Keith Urban) sifting through archival material, looking for the nuggets that could be mined.

“Some of it was recorded in Dave’s basement when these guys were kids, and, sitting there next to Eddie, it was pretty cool just to go through that journey,” Shanks said last week by phone from New York. “And then when the sessions started just seeing how Eddie and Alex play together — there’s such a synchronicity in their feel and rhythm and their playing. There were times, honestly, I was just moved by it, not just as a musician but as a human being. The nuances of the way they communicate is staggering.”

The fan reaction to the album’s first single, “Tattoo,” has been mixed, but Roth and company know that the tour (which includes shows in Los Angeles (June 1) and Anaheim (June 12) will be the true proving ground for them.

Roth, who has short hair now and a lean physique earned with decades of martial arts training, displayed a few of the dance moves he’s been working on for the show. In his earth-tone overalls and cap he looked more like a Venice Beach mime than a rock star, but he still has a shark smile. What exactly drives him isn’t easy to glean — does he have the same dark engines as Eddie Van Halen?

“You’re asking for a lot of introspection here,” Roth said. “Nobody well adjusted ever got my job, much less kept it this long. There’s some grasping drive, and it precludes self-satisfaction…. You’re always questioning.”

As for his old friend and rival, Roth smiled and gave the world a bit of fair warning about the reclusive guitar hero. “There’s an old Russian saying: ‘There’s no more lines in that guy’s stomach.’ It means somebody got fat and slow. There are still a lot of lines in Eddie’s stomach.”

The New Van Halen Album!

Track listing:

1. Tattoo
2. She’s The Woman 
3. You and Your Blues 
4. China Town 
5. Blood and Fire 
6. Bullethead 
7. As Is 
8. Honeybabysweetiedoll 
9. The Trouble With Never 
10. Outta Space 
11. Stay Frosty 
12. Big River 
13. Beats Workin’

Tattoo, Tattoo

I got elvis on my elbow
And when I flex elvis talks
I got hula girls on the back of my leg
And she hulas when I walkSpeak in cherry red
Screaming electric green
Purple mountain’s majesty really talk to me
Talk to me babeSwap-meet sally
Tramp-stamp cat
Mousewife to momshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo
Tattoo-tattoo(Tattoo, tattoo)
Show me your dragon magic
(Tattoo, tattoo)
So autobiographic!Best believe that need will hurt you
Best deceive these true colors that follow one of your false virtuesHere’s a secret to make you think
Why is the crazy stuff we never said poetry in ink
Speak in day-glow red
Explodo paint
Purple mountain’s majesty show me you, I’ll show you me
Swap-meet sally
Trampstamp cat
Mousewife to momshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo,
(Tattoo, tattoo)
Sexy dragon magic
(Tattoo, tattoo)
So very autobiographic!
(Tattoo, tattoo)
Got a hold on me
(Tattoo, tattoo)
You put a spell on meee!Uncle danny had a coal tattoo
He fought for the unions
Some of us still do
On my shoulder is a number of the chapter he was in
That number is forever like the struggle here to winEverybody!
Swap-meet sally
Trampstamp cat
Mousewife to momshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo,
Ta-too!(Tattoo, tattoo)
Sexy dragon magic
(Tattoo, tattoo)
So very autobiographic!
(Tattoo, tattoo)
You got a hold on me
(Tattoo, tattoo)
You put a spell on me
(Tattoo, tattoo)
I’m in love with you
(Tattoo, tattoo)
Show me, show me your
(Tattoo, tattoo)
Look at me, look at you!
(Tattoo, tattoo)

Cant Wait 🙂

Guess Who’s Back In Circulation!

WAIT! Could it be ? The Van Halen reunion is REALLY HAPPENING! We’ll I really hope so! There have been 2 false starts in the past for this wild original Van Halen line up with David Lee Roth! First the greatest hits fiasco, then last years announcement shortly followed by Eddie Van Halen going into rehab 🙁 I got tickets for the first week of October in Philly to see them and am getting the old gang back to see the show! I am excited to see the almost original line up minus Michael Anthony because I have never seen Van Halen live with Dave! I read an article about a rehearsal show in LA and it does sound like it is going to be an amazing night!

VH Article about the show!

David Lee Roth: Lowdown Reports High Anxiety

David Lee Roth: Lowdown Reports High Anxiety: “David Lee Roth: Lowdown Reports High Anxiety – Jan. 25, 2006 By Chuck Taylor

It may be free, but it sounds anything but easy.

The New York Daily News is reporting in Lloyd Grove?s ?Lowdown? column that David Lee Roth is behaving like a first-class diva at his home base, CBS Radio talk WFNY (Free FM) New York.

The rocker, who has already weathered a storm of bad reviews as the eastern region morning show successor to Howard Stern, ?is impossible to work with, a real arrogant, self-righteous ass,? said an anonymous Free FM staffer.

The source told Grove that Roth fails to prep for his show and ?is out the door 5 minutes after the show, unless he is forced to record a commercial or re-record ones he made errors on. All the execs know they made the two biggest errors in radio history: letting Stern go to Sirius and hiring this moron Roth.?

The report goes on to say that Roth insisted that WFNY GM Tom Chiusano extensively remodel Stern?s former studio, but now he refuses to use it, claiming that it is infested with asbestos. ‘He swears he is allergic to dust and smoke, but smells like an ashtray,’ the source said.

The staffer claims that Roth and his manager Matt Sencio ?are totally out of control and out of their league when it comes to producing a radio show.?

In addition, said the source, Roth ‘hates Tom and is vocal about that to almost everyone he talks at. It’s almost like he wants to get fired, and take the money and run.’

CBS Radio had no comment on the report.

David Lee Roth @ 6am

The Official David Lee Roth Website

So it’s REALLY OFFICIAL Howard is out and David is in! I dunno if I can take David Lee Roth on a daily basis. I mean yeah I grew up loving the guy and loving Van Halen and think he is great as a guest, but can he hold down the fort for 4 hours a day 7 days a week all year long? Well if his debut show is any indication, NO! Ok i was intrigued for about 15 mins but after that i am zoning out 🙁 He just went off at 9:57 with defiantly no fireworks! He did have his uncle on, Manny Roth who did many monumental things in NYC and he was a little bit interesting, but as a whole it was pretty boring. i missed the first 2 hours but it appears that he does have a bunch of people in the studio, although he barely went to them. I did hear them laugh and make some noises, but that was about it. He also mentioned that he probably won’t have any guests for the first 2 weeks! What the hell! After David’s show they had these other 2 guys on that were 10 times WORSE! With these 2 less then stellar shows, I am looking forward to Howard even MORE now! I am guessing they just sold another Million or so Sirius Radios 🙂 O well, goodbye KRock 🙁

Van Halen Live 6/23/04 with MSG :) It’s About Time!

vhnd.net – VH News Desk – Great New Photos!

Self Portrait Photo By Rob Fuzesi

What can I say! Van Halen and Sammy for that matter are BACK! I had a great time going with my long time, since birth pal Mike Gilligan! Mike first introduced me to Van Halen in the 8th grade with the album Diver Down and then 1984. I fell in love with the band and they have been one of my favorite bands ever since. It was also Mike, who I went with, 18 Years ago in 1986 (god i am getting old!) to my first REAL concert, at the very same location at the Meadowlands. We saw Van Halen on the 5150 tour! It was an amazing night! Since then, I have seen the band many times as well as seeing David Lee Roth over the years. Well its been 8 years since VH have toured and I really had missed them!

Knowing all this, you can see I was VERY excited to see the band again. I went into the show asking not to know anything at all. The show turned out to be really good and it was great seeing the band again! Sure I was kind of disappointed that, hey they haven’t done anything with Sammy in 8 years and what the hell, its the same show i saw 8 years ago, with the exception of two new songs! Lots of songs were missing and I wished this reunion tour was not so rushed and they did some more classic Roth era songs as well as some classic Sammy songs!

Cool Shot Of Eddie And Wolfgang From LA Rehersal Show

That aside, it was really good seeing the band back together! I look very forward to seeing what the future will hold with VH! A few highlights of the evening was seeing Eddie’s son come out and jam with Eddie during his guitar solo! The kid is talented and hey, he has the best guitar teacher EVER 🙂 Eddie’s solo was awesome! It is great seeing a living legend “Guitar God” perform again on live on stage! Sammy mentioned Chris Rock was in the house! A few songs later, I saw him by the sound board enjoying the show! Later Sammy came closer above the audience and said HEY CHRIS! His cover was blown! Another highlight was seeing all those VH fans in one location! Seeing all the classic VH shirts was GREAT! I found it funny, my fellow VH brothers brought their 8-12 year old sons to the shows, wearing the same shirts I wore in my youth 🙂 All in all it was a great night and a great time spending it with Gilligan, Jay Tames And Al Roth 🙂 all my high school buds! Thanks for the tickets Chris Lee who could not make it 🙁

Cool Shot From Philly The Other Night

Van Halen – Meadowlands – 6/23/04 – Set List – 120 mins

01. You Really Got Me

02. Runaround

03. Humans Being

04. Up For Breakfast (New Song)

05. Mikey’s Solo (with the JD bass)

06. Somebody Get Me A Doctor (with Mike on lead vocals)

07. Poundcake

08. It’s About Time (New Song)

09. Al’s Solo

10. Top Of The World

11. Unchained

12. Why Can’t This Be Love?

13. Eagles Fly

14. Seventh Seal

15. Best Of Both Worlds

16. Eddie’s Solo (With his Son Wolfgang joining in)

17. Dreams

18. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

19. Right Now


20. Jump

21. Panama

22. When It’s Love

Great Shot From Opening Night

The Latest Official Van Halen News

van-halen.com – Latest Van Halen News: “THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

The band’s forthcoming release, titled ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ will hit stores July 20 (July 19 overseas)! The two disc set features the following tracks, including three BRAND NEW tunes (not necessarily in this order):

Eruption, Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love, When It’s Love, Finish What Ya Started,

You Really Got Me, Feels So Good, Jamie’s Cryin’, Black and Blue, Runnin’ With the Devil, Poundcake, Beautiful Girls, Runaround, Dance the Night Away, Right Now, And the Cradle Will Rock…, Top of the World, Everybody Wants Some!!, Can’t Stop Lovin’ You, Unchained, Not Enough, Dancing in the Street, It’s About Time (NEW!), Learning To See (NEW!), Up For Breakfast (NEW!), (Oh) Pretty Woman, Hot For Teacher, Jump, Panama, I’ll Wait, Why Can’t This Be Love, Dreams, Best of Both Worlds, Love Walks In, Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love (Live), Jump (Live), Panama (Live) ”

WOW VH HAS 3 NEW SONGS! Good to see Sammy And The Boys BACK! 🙂

Its gonna be a GREAT SUMMER 🙂