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Interview with Dave... March 2004
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    Feb 2003
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    Nobody gives an interview like David Lee Roth and David Lee Roth never gives interviews like the one printed in the March 2004 issue of Britain's "Classic Rock" magazine. Funny, charming, and entertaining we expect but this kind of focused honesty is a rare treat.

    The Gripes of Roth

    by James Halbert
    "Classic Rock" Magazine

    "What is life?", asked Crowfoot, the 19th century Native American warrior. "It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." For many, it is also the six albums that Van Halen made with frontman David Lee Roth between 1978 and 1984. Exemplars of hard rock Úlan, these are records which still sound daisy-fresh, much of their magic stemming from Roth's preening oomph and Edward Van Halen's innovative, incendiary guitar work.

    But, like all acts, Van Halen were subject to what "Diamond" Dave calls "the friction of time". And the ego clashes that underpinned the band's existence eventually led to the group's implosion. After which guitarist Eddie Van Halen, brother Alex, and bassist Michael Anthony soon brought in Sammy Hagar, formerly of Montrose, to succeed Roth. For many, that was a travesty of frontman pizzazz, and Hagar's initial attempts to ape Roth failed miserably.

    Roth, meanwhile, went solo. Initially he wowed MTV with the cleverly choreographed videos that accomplished his takes on "California Girls" and "Just A Gigolo". Shortly after that he hooked up with Steve Vai-probably the only guitarist fit to try on, let alone fill, Eddie's shoes-and paired him with Billy Sheehan, the bassist who thought he was Paganini. The recorded result were two fabulous Roth solo albums: 1986's "Eat 'Em And Smile" and 1988's "Skyscraper".

    Both Roth's story and that of Van Halen are still unfolding as we speak. These days, however, David and Edward tend to cross swords in the law courts; more of which in due course. For now, though, let's away to the sunny climes of Los Angeles, California. More precisely, we're headed for The Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, just a hop, skip, and jump from where Van Halen's story began at legendary Hollywood clubs such as The Whisky A-Go-Go...

    January 2004. It's early evening and your correspondent is in The Mondrian's candle-lit and very chi-chi Sky Bar; at low tables outside, artfully strewn cushions evoke a posh harem. I hear a familiar sound. It's David Lee Roth's laugh: an infectious, booming thing that comes up from the belly to celebrate life. Every head turns as he and his bodyguard breeze in. He looks fitter and younger than in recent photos. The lank, Jimmy Saville-like hairdo he recently sported has given way to a much shorter, infinitely more flattering one. "I'll have a Jack please, honey," he says to a ravishing waitress who has appeared as if by magic. All omens, it seems, are good.

    Roth's requested drink arrives and I begin by asking him how his gig at the House Of Blues on New Year's Eve went. "James", he says, "I am New Year's Eve. What we sell here are big, fat, Technicolor smiles that go with just about any major holiday and some of the intermittent. People ask, 'Dave, what's the chemistry with the audience? Why so many girls?' Well, I'm certainly old enough to think it's because I'm so handsome...but I'm also old enough to know better. What it is," he continues, "is this: after 2 or 3 of those songs-especially if it's classic Van Halen or 'California Girls'-you feel like squeezin' someone. Probably not me, but definitely someone. And that's what makes what I do permanent. We will be here ten summers on, because that feeling, that impulse, is forever!"

    This is the tone that "Diamond" David Lee Roth begins with, and how our conversation will continue for well over three hours, most of what he says being punctuated by that belly laugh. Frankly, the man is a conversational rocket, "liftoff" seemingly his constant mindset. For Roth, you sense, a sentence without a gag, aphorism, pr some linguistic fireworks is a sentence wasted. And, it probably has as much to do with his low boredom threshold as it does with the urge to entertain. He has chosen this venue, he says, "because it's skinny and young and the waitresses aren't afraid to make eye contact."

    CLASSIC ROCK: It's seven years since you published your autobiography, "Crazy From The Heat". Any plans for a sequel?

    DAVID LEE ROTH: Everything you read in that book was reportage and for real. As regards to a sequel, I'm currently trying to live page 80 [laughs]. I'm not a work of fiction; you have to participate. Consequently I feel that it will be another four or five summers before the next book has been lived, or until the allegations have been explained away sufficiently that I can do the promotion properly.

    CR: Do you still follow a strict fitness regime?

    DLR: Oh yes [stubs out a cigarette]. But, as you can see, it's a study in contrasts. I'm not an athlete. I'm a rock star. I'm interested in trying everything on the menu-let's visit here; let's take a plunge there. So in that sense, I'll do a few press-ups, watch what I eat or don't eat. It's all designed so that I can stay up way past my bedtime on a school night, and so that I look good naked. Hey, even a dog gets a warm piece of the sidewalk after the show, Jim!

    CR: You'll be 50 in October....

    DLR: God willing and the creek don't rise.

    CR: Any sense of diminishing time?

    DLR: Well, there never seems to be enough time to share with one community. I'm lucky enough to belong to three or four completely different ones, and one or two generations other than my own. My home is in three different places; Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles. But, diminishing time? Not really, because I'm doing the things I want to do. I'm obsessed with being an artist, but I'm not a workaholic. I have no problem with cheeseburger and fries for breakfast. With Guinness. For weeks on end. And if there's sunlight and bikinis involved it could turn into a fiscal year. My inner child has to be dealt with every morning, so in that respect I suppose I'm balanced. I'm lucky enough to still be playing football at my age, let's look at it like that.

    CR: Your current album, 'Diamond Dave'-why are there so many covers on it?

    DLR: Classic rock in the USA is a fixed playlist. They set them in stone maybe seven years ago. When I was doing my guest DJ gig here in Los Angeles I was sliding in Macy Gray, The Bangles, and it caused havoc in the front office. I got kicked out for playing 'Walk Like An Egyptian! So I consciously did a new album that was classic, otherwise how would I get airplay? At any given time I'm reflecting the music that's around and what's popular. I mean, we're not reflecting Beyonce's new single...

    CR: Except maybe in the way you shake your ass...

    DLR: [Laughing] Yes, but who's the student and who's the teacher here? Sit down, Beyonce! Sit Down, Britney! Let me show you how it's done.

    CR: Where do you think your sense of humor comes from?

    DLR: Groucho Marx is in there. There's an edge to it. There's a belligerent enthusiasm to my humor that equates more with the New York dinner table than it does with the Los Angeles soiree. That's why I knew it was impossible for the girls on 'Sex And The City' to be depicting their real lives: when one of them left the room the others only said nice things about her. That's neither real nor funny. For me, humor is the way of summarizing and enjoying life's harsh realities; it's a way of summarizing the pain of having to wait. We wait for the plane. We wait for our drinks. We're professional waiters. I laugh to win. It keeps you young and it's a way of finding enthusiasm in the most miserable of circumstances. The Spanish have a word for it: 'ajuantadora'. It means 'those who endure'. My being Jewish has obviously been a part of that. Especially my generation which was shown all the movies of WWII. Then there's the creation of Israel. I don't know if it was created or taken, and it's not a good time to bring that up [laughs].

    CR: Why have you never married?

    DLR: Who would you rather be, James: Bill Gates or Hugh Hefner?

    CR: What about children, though? Wouldn't you like some of your own?

    DLR: I don't know that I'd want a traditional family. My whole family is like this. My Uncle David didn't have his sons until he was 56. Uncle Manny was kinda the same. I don't know if it was the classic American dysfunctional family, or what. I've been in love maybe four times. I love romance in the classic, cinematic style. I suppose I live in a fantasy world, but at least they know me there. I'm a bit of a crackpot. Most of what I do is because of girls. If girls didn't exist I wouldn't have this job. I wouldn't bother with music. I wouldn't even bother with music. There's also the issue of closure here. When I was 30 years old I left Van Halen. There's never been closure on that, and that's a huge issue for me. It's not like leaving Warrant [laughs]. To this day, the classic Van Halen band could be a stadium act. And rather like all those folks who spent time at law or med school, it wasn't something we got right away. It had to be whittled away and worked at. It's a perishable skill, for Chrissakes. And I refuse to accept that, because of the whim of one of our four musketeers, we're all gonna tear up the diploma. We all went to the college of musical knowledge together. It's why the pretty girls smile at me. It's why my voice is in that jukebox somewhere.

    CR: Back to the ladies, though. With regard to previous partners, rather than 'acquaintances', was there one that got away?

    DLR: A couple of them, actually. A woman who wanted a more traditional life. A woman who wanted kids. I take kids seriously. I mean, how many tragic cases are there of 'Oh, daddy was never home'? I'm not someone who could have kids and then just forget about them. Had there been more closure on the Van Halen issue, it's possible that I might've followed a more traditional tack. But [brightening], I'm gonna level with you, James. I'm going to a titty bar after this and you're more than welcome to join me [laughs]. In the blink of an eye we can solve this choice-fatigue!

    CR: Speaking of flesh, at Van Halen's peak and beyond were there any sexual fantasies you had that you didn't get to live out?

    DLR: My fantasies were always the girl next door. We started to see evidence of the professional groupie in the early 80's. Alarmingly, these girls bore a striking resemblance to Motley Crue. For me, the best groupies were the homecoming queens who were out on a lark; the preacher's daughters out for a wild night. But I'm here to tell you I left no stone unturned. What's curious is that I still remain in touch with half these women. A number of them are married, or have been married and are now divorced.

    CR: Having lived out your fantasies, didn't normal life become boring?

    DLR: Of course. You begin to pursue your own paradigm, to create your own world. And the only thing that compares is the world of the best comedians. Think of Laurel & Hardy or Monty Python. They lived in their own little world with their own language and their own customs. And so long as you're a fan first, that exists in rock n' roll as long as you want it to. If you enjoy the travel and the interaction, you can keep going until they carry you off on your shield. Only when you lose your enthusiasm for the sport do you lose your cachet. As far as how people party now compared to back when, no comparison. Today is way off the hook! Anybody who has been in the middle of the Pacha dance floor in Ibeza, anybody who's wandered through Manumission [a club in Ibiza] on a good night, can tell you that there's just no comparison. Everybody's partying like a rock star now. Like Sly & The Family Stone said, 'Everybody is a star!' What were once specialized habits of trained professionals are now commonplace. Frankly, I wish I had two dicks to keep up with it all.

    CR: Let's talk about the records you did with Van Halen. The eponymous first album is a classic. Did you realize how good it was going to be while you were making it?

    DLR: I knew it was great, but I also knew that we couldn't look back. I realized that we had to make as many consecutive records as possible as quickly as we could. We were really living it together. And, as I tell young musicians now, when all those ingredients are present and correct, and everybody's healthy and vertical, make hay and plenty of it; get after it. As an avid reader of music magazines, I know that greatness seems to revolve around a six to seven year phase. Zeppelin: six to seven years. The Beatles: ditto. And the same with Van Halen. After that, something else comes into play, namely what the Prussian general Carl Von Clausewitz called 'the friction of time'. Ted Templeman used to say that Van Halen was performance theater. There is no one song or one album that accounts for its failure or success, it had to be taken as a whole.

    CR: "VAN HALEN" went gold within 3 weeks, and platinum within 5.

    DLR: I believe so, I was in Aberdeen at the time, and I discovered Glenmorangie [Highland single-malt whiskey]. We were supporting Black Sabbath. It was winter and it was within the first six weeks of the album's release. But we were trained to ignore the signposts. A gold record was only division finals. Because we weren't on the singles chart, we had no real way to calibrate our success.

    CR: Presumably you had a much bigger budget for "VAN HALEN II"?

    DLR: No, smaller. Van Halen was always considered the bastard son of the Warner Brothers stable. We made $1.50 royalty per record that we split four ways. And this was when everybody was getting $2.50-$3.00! We toured for ten and a-half months straight, and owed the record company one million dollars. To this day I only make .30 per record. The Van Halens and the bass player make $1.00 each per old record. That's what the recent lawsuit was about. They got a royalty increase...I don't know, maybe eight or nine years ago. I didn't know about it until this summer. But the first record was considered a fluke, an aberration. And when "VAN HALEN II" was recorded and ready to go, everybody at Warners thought it was a failure. I love that record. Songs like "Dance The Night Away". which are deceptively simple in their construction, are positively combustible on the live stage. Thanks to songs like that, Van Halen are remembered and Diamond Dave is still recognized as the quarterback, It transcended the genre; it really wasn't hard rock.

    CR: You recorded part of the second Van Halen album while you were in plaster, after you'd broken your leg doing the jump that's pictured on the back cover.

    DLR: Yes. There was furious ambition in Van Halen. And when you have an obstacle it increases the drive. It's not adventure until the shit pours from the sky. And it goes like this: ask me, "Dave, how was you vacation?"

    CR: Dave, how was your vacation?

    DLR: Oh, it was great, James. The natives were friendly, the food was amazing, and I got along beautifully with the little lady [makes snoring noise]. Now, ask me again.

    CR: Dave, how was your vacation?

    DLR: Oh, My God! The plane almost crashed. Twice. I got hung up for 4 days in customs, and my old lady ran off with the tribal chief! You see, now you're listening, and co-conspiring. You're going, "Shit! What a bitch!" And boy, do you want to see those holiday snaps.

    CR: Each of the albums you made with Van Halen clocks in at just over 30 minutes. Was it a deliberate decision to have them that short?

    DLR: Yes. For 2 reasons. It's a fine line between enough and too much., as anybody who knew the Cadbury's chocolate family can attest. You cross that line. Also, with the earlier albums, when we were still working with vinyl, there was the question of bass response. The further apart the grooves, the less music you can put on the plastic time-wise. It's that simple. The quality of tone was of paramount importance in Van Halen. If your ears can't differentiate between noise and what I call 'girl-friendly' tone, then all is lost. But if you can turn it up blistering loud and nobody wearing high heels covers their ears, it's a win-win situation. Zeppelin had it. The Stones got it. The list is long. But the list of those that don't have it is longer.

    CR: For me, "WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST" is the most underrated Van Halen record-everything's looser, punkier, more spontaneous-sounding.

    DLR: It was always a struggle, with Ed specifically, to not over-refine. And you hear the difference after I left the fold. The Japanese have a great term for the appreciation of something that's imperfect: 'wabi-sabi'.

    CR: Isn't that the green horseradish stuff that comes with sushi?

    DLR: Hell no, James, it's not wasabi, it's wabi-sabi! Nurse! Over here! You see, my job in Van Halen was director. The whole time I was in the band I was the boss. They hate me for it now, but I'm gonna say it upfront. I was domineering. I was demanding. I was exacting. And if things went wrong, I took the fall. One of my biggest obligations as director was to ensure all the best mistakes stayed in the movie. 'Don't sew that up, leave it bleeding! Leave it there and we'll work around it.' A lot of the time I hadn't written my lyrics, but I couldn't admit that to a superstar talent like Ted Templeman. He'd be like, "Are you ready, Dave?" "Well, yes" [laughs]. Useful little word, that. So, on "Everybody Wants Some", when you hear me say 'I like the way the line runs up the back of those stockings', I'm just reporting what I can see of the girl through the glass in the control room. Same with "Hot For Teacher". I was just improvising. Ted goes, "So what do you have planned, Dave? You singing or what?" I say, "No, no. In this one, we're all pretending to be in the classroom". Same thing again on "Loss Of Control"; all that stuff where we're supposedly talking on helicopter radio is because I didn't have any lyrics. I call it 'cold fusion'. Under-dress and you soon come up with a place to hang you hat.

    CR: The "FAIR WARNING" album: was its darker lyrical content a reflection of increased tension within the band?

    DLR: No, it came from somewhere else. I had bought a parrot, a big red Amazonian thing named Ricky. Man, that bird was bad clear through! It made more fuckin' noise than a preacher in a strippers' club on a Sunday morning. At the time I was living in a small apartment in North Hollywood. I would walk past Ricky's cage at 2 meters distance, and he would start up a holy shriek to raise the Devil and his henchmen - talk about anxiety overload! So, when I sat down to write the lyrics for that album, that's what I was dealing with. "FAIR WARNING", the album title, was a call-out to Ricky. The neighbors would routinely complain because they thought it was a woman shrieking in the throes of passion. Not altogether unexpected, I'm sure, but in this instance...and my neighbors' complaining led to "Mean Street", and on and on. Everything was clenched-fist and stiff-upper-lip, until in the end I gave Ricky away.

    CR: Away from Van Halen for a minute. You've mountaineered in the Himalayas and explored the jungles of Papau New Guinea. When and where were you happiest?

    DLR: Probably traveling around the Tahitian Islands in an outboard canoe that I borrowed from a friend. I was with a stripper from Dallas. Once I'd got her to rinse all the hairspray out of her hair and we could smell the local frangipani fruit it was great; for the first eight days Tahiti smelled like a gentlemen's club.

    CR: When and where were you most challenged?

    DLR: Not all my outdoorsmanship is do or die, but I suspect you're questioning the high end of the sport. I was probably most exhilarated and challenged in the Himalayas. I fell several times, all through my own mistakes,. I had 3 buddies of mine climbing with me, and we did maybe six weeks, two of which were vertical. I prepared for that for a year and a-half, and consequently the fear factor was a year and a-half long. But that's what makes pop out of the toaster first thing in the morning.

    CR: Is there anywhere you can go and remain unrecognized?

    DLR: Since the advent of the internet, not really, no. It even happened in the Himalayas. I did escape celebrity in New Guinea. Those guys with a bone through their nose and a gourd on their dick aren't too interested in the finer points of the "Jump" video.

    CR: Five out of the 12 songs on 1982's "DIVER DOWN" were cover versions. Why?

    DLR: Because nobody did covers better than Van Halen. And to take something like [Roy Orbison's] "Pretty Woman" and revitalize it as we did was similar to what they're doing now with sampling. For many people, "You Really Got Me" [From "VAN HALEN", originally by The Kinks] only exists thanks to Van Halen. "DIVER DOWN" was also testimony to how much we enjoyed playing great music, whether we wrote the songs or not. If it was a great song, we played the hell out of it. And there's nowhere to go from there but home base.

    CR: Which brings us to "1984". At the time, did anybody have any misgivings about it being more keyboard-oriented than previous Van Halen albums?

    DLR: We had intentionally stayed away from keyboards, because up 'til then, what instruments you used indicated which neighborhood you were part of; Queen would write things like 'No synthesizers were used on this album'. That's just affectation. But at the time it seemed important. When we moved to work on "1984", though, it was a case of inching up slowly, having previously exhausted other possibilities. I personally had always been a fan of keyboards and brass and female back-up singers and everything else that isn't supposed to be hard rock. The band was at each other's throats more than ever, but I say it with a smile. The best accomplishments are not achieved when everybody is sitting going 'You're great! Do you think I'm great, too? You do? Great!'

    CR: For all the tensions in Van Halen, presumably there were times when the excitement of what you were achieving together enabled you to forget your differences?

    DLR: We were always disagreeing, we were always at each other's throats about what was the appropriate thing to do, but it was that belligerent, confrontational chemistry that created the music you grew up to. When the guys became relaxed and comfortable with Sam Hagar it was lost. But it doesn't need to be lost forever. I actually consider that chemistry to be a positive force, one that could bode well for the future. We could pick up the gauntlet tomorrow. I'm completely up for that; always have been.

    CR: But during the period when Van Halen were at their peak, surely there were times when you at least felt like blood brothers?

    DLR: Not really. Not much. I lived in my own little world, which was informed by a thousand books and ten-thousand magazines, and the Van Halens occupied another world entirely. To this day I don't think Eddie Van Halen has enjoyed more than ten minutes of his success. He's chased, he's not chasing. He's chased by something. But I never lamented it, because it's precisely that contrast that makes the best art. And when all are comfortable, then you're stuck with songs like "Why Can't This Be Sam?".

    CR: Don't you mean "Why Can't this Be Dave?"

    DLR: No, because Dave would never pose a question like "Why Can't This Be Love?". Dave would assume his love bases were covered.

    CR: But didn't "5150" out-sell previous Van Halen albums? It was certainly very successful.

    DLR: I think our sales out-sold Sammy's three to one. We had several twelve-million sellers, and everything else went double or triple-platinum. None of it was as popular at any given time as "Finding Nemo" is today. And Jane Fonda's workout tape outsold everybody-including you, Mr. Plant! So what are digging here for, professor? I think we're digging for content [laughs]. Sam comes from a whole other background, so consequently, both lyrically and musically, it's going to be a whole different tone and tenor. Still, even if the quality isn't there I listen for the ambition. And I think that changed when I left the band. When I was the boss we were adults acting like kids, but when Sam got in the band it became like kids trying to act like adults.

    CR: Sammy Hagar also seemed to try and co-opt your sense of humor here and there. Which, incidentally, didn't work.

    DLR: It's like writing the book: you have to live it first. And that doesn't mean you have to go to Algiers and become a heroin addict-although there's a book or two in that, too, of course. Sam is...a singer. I'm David Lee Roth, the singer. As a wrangler of words, sire, you see the vast yawning difference before us. Are you a writer or the writer? I rest my case.

    CR: Does it sadden you that what many would cite as the key creative partnership of your career- i.e., that with Edward Van Halen-is in such a sad state of repair?

    DLR: The strata that we achieved is to be relished. If you can write one great song that will be remembered, far less 20, that's amazing. It's a pride of mine. I consider it miraculous.

    CR: Yes, but does the mutual estrangement of you and Edward sadden you?

    DLR: It's a catastrophic waste. We haven't done enough. If somebody passed away, well, alright. If somebody lost an arm, alright. But, we're all still here and healthy. And that makes it a serious mis-step.

    CR: Despite everything-the lawsuits, the insults you have periodically exchanged-you were presumably still worried when Edward had cancer?

    DLR: Well, do it like a professional sportsperson, for Chrissakes. Self-medicate, and I'll see you tomorrow. I frankly don't care about your health or the family or any of it. Play ball. You're lucky enough to be able to bend it like Beckham. Get out there! Get behind the mule and go! Eddie himself did not take those illnesses so seriously. He partied all the way through them. So my sympathies are limited. At best. But beyond that, what better time to make music than at a time of severe strife? Use it!

    CR: In 2000 Van Halen's record company reissued the six Van Halen albums you sang on. Conspicuously, there were no bonus tracks or outtakes added. Are there any unreleased tracks in the vaults?

    DLR: You haven't heard or seen anything but one-half of an ill-conceived greatest hits. In the 18 years or so since I left the band, there should've been box sets, videos...all kinds of stuff! Just that radio interviews alone are up there with "Absolutely Fabulous"! Believe me, there is a tremendous wealth of unreleased Van Halen material. But the Van Halens have lost their way. Eddie is...how should I put this...I think the Van Halens forgot why they originally wanted to do this. At this point, to have all that missing stuff released is almost a responsibility. But the fellas got caught up with a couple of managers in the last few years who have had other agendas. One of them was attempting to foist Sam Hagar upon us. So their agenda is not at all what Van Halen's audience-or myself-has. It all reminds me of that scene at the end of the movie "Chicago": one girl turns to the other and says, "So let's continue". The other says, "But I hate you." The first replies, "So what? This is showbiz!"

    CR: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards don't seem close nowadays but they can still get it together for business. Why can't you and Edward?

    DLR: There's an emotional rift [he says this with absolute candor] that I think is mainly caused by drugs and alcohol. It's been there for many years. Ed's adrift right now. He's not really accomplishing anything. And for one who professes so much love for "the music"...well, how do you go 5 years without doing any? So, alright, we've got 30 great songs stored away in our private attic studio in Malibu, Axl, and we're all gonna change the face of popular music permanently and forever. But if the public doesn't get to hear it, what does it mean? It's sad, because like I said, we hit that strata. We created something that people desperately wanted to hear, and still do. In my mind that's something you are duty-bound to answer to. But there's been no closure in Van Halen for years and years. I think it's Ed's struggle with who's the boss. If you want to be leader you have to be accountable and all those other Boy Scout words. I don't think Ed is ready to deal with that yet.

    CR: What about your work with guitarist Steve Vai-did you approach those projects knowing that your writing partnership with him might be difficult to sustain?

    DLR: No, I approached it like a dog does: everything is forever; you take me back home, I'm gonna look at you at the back gate and go, "But I thought we were going to walk forever?"

    CR: So what happened? At the time, working with Vai and bassist Billy Sheehan seemed like such a masterstroke. You trumped everyone.

    DLR: It ran into the dead end that is rock-fusion jazz-blues something or other, aka "widdley-widdley". When the guitarist starts going "widdley-widdley" it's a symptom. When I made those records with Steve it was an effort to get him to go under the bar; consolidate; give your guitar solo a beginning, middle, and end. What is the development of the character here? Is this guitar solo the same guy we met in the last three songs? Perhaps one is never so much oneself as when wearing the mask. And Steve's mask is that there is something greater than writing songs and simple emotional content.

    CR: Which there isn't, of course.

    DLR: Well, if there is, I ain't seen it, Sarge.

    CR: Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

    DLR: Yes, I know there is a place for me in what is happening right now, but I'm still working out what it is. Okay, if the Van Halens wake up and Eddie Van Winkle sees the daylight and we do a reunion, great. If it's not that, Las Vegas has been offering me millions of dollars to reprise "California Girls" and "Just A Gigolo" for the stage. I wrote and directed those videos. Those are Burlesque. Those are Vaudeville. I learned it from watching shows back in the 60's, and from going to the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris in the 70's. If not that, then maybe it'll be spoken word. I love radio. The idea of being a DJ, whether playing tunes on the wheels of steel in the midnight hour or free-thinking on talk radio, appeals to me. I use all of that as a compelling factor in my life to keep on learning, to continue reading more than I wrote.

    CR: A bit premature, this, but what would your epitaph be?

    DLR: Well, one of my favorite Japanese poems is, "Go/Climb the treasure mountain and do not return empty-handed/where are you now?" I also have a haiku of my own-a haiku being a poem that has five syllables, then seven, then five more. I call my haiku "Tiny Moth". It goes like this: [counting syllables on his fingers], "Tiny moth/seeking warmth in candle's flame/[pauses a beat]Fucking idiot!".

    There's an old Jerry Herman song from the musical "Hello, Dolly" which goes: "Before the parade passes by/I've gotta go and taste Saturday's high life". It's not a song one could imagine David Lee Roth singing. Largely, because he'd be the guy leading the parade-to the top of the Treasure Mountain, with three Playboy Bunnies for sherpas. I'm at the top of my game. I don't know I'll ever be any better. What I can do onstage now, no amount of production can transcend. And it is these very elements that bands like The Darkness are feeding upon. The fact that I'm still here, 25 summers later, making seven figures American, is testament to just how much this whole tribal ritual still has value. To keep up with me, you must be fast. To sing like me, you must be great. To beat me? You must be kidding?
    Who da fuck are you??
    --sean van halen

  2. #2
    Bop bada, shoobe doo wah
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    What a great interview!! It is really a shame that Van Halen and Dave can't put differences aside and make music.

  3. #3
    Mr Mod Extraordinare
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Chicago area
    I always thought he didn't want keyboards in Van Halen
    LIGHT 'EM UP!!
    Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

    siN / DDLR Moderator

  4. #4
    Keep Rocking!!
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Flyover country USA
    That was an awesome interview! Dave hit it right on the head, "do you want to be a writer or the writer?" There is no comparison between him and Sammy. Again with the "Van Halens and the bass player" line...has he forgotten Michael Anthony's name?? Really, there must be some serious animosity on Eddie's part not to have gotten back together for a reunion after all these years. It can't be professional jealousy either, because they are both incredible talents in their own right. Whatever it is, I wish Edward would get it off his chest so we can get the real Van Halen reunion one of these years...
    Why don't you have some cake? - Rev. Moore, Footloose

  5. #5
    No cheer******s allowed!
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    I told you guys it was a great interview! Roth is the only singer for Van Halen, case closed.

  6. #6
    Bop bada, shoobe doo wah
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (unchainedguitars @ April 14 2004,10:37)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">I told you guys it was a great interview&#33; Roth is the only singer for Van Halen, case closed.[/b][/quote]
    Indeed. I love all the Dave-isms&#33;&#33;

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Chicago IL USA
    Eddie just has something stuck up his ass..... Because Van Halen was really Dave's band not Eddie's..... If Roth ain't in the band who really cares...
    Who da fuck are you??
    --sean van halen

  8. #8
    Cathedral =II=
    "Frankly, I wish I had two dicks to keep up with it all."

    This is a great line....He is so on the mark...

    Edward won't reunite because if he does he will NOT be the boss....It's a childish game of "Your not the boss of me" that has made the entire fan base suffer and kept a Legacy that was not finished from reaching completion..

    I liken it to sex that lasts for hours only for her to get up and walk away before either reaches climax...Sure you hate her, but there is nothing that would keep you from getting in there one more time.....except she won't come over anymore...

  9. #9
    No cheer******s allowed!
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Van Halen will always be Edward's band. Roth is the only singer for VH, as far as i'm concerned, but Ed is the musical genius behind those amazing, early songs. Roth was the salesman, in a way. One of the best front guys ever. But, as i stated once before, Eddie will alaways be the heart, soul & balls of that band&#33;

  10. #10
    Cathedral =II=
    The first song Van Hagar ever worked on together - as a band - was "Love Walks In".
    that song alone tells you that Edward WAS NOT the heart and soul of the original band.

    And I'll explain, lol...

    Dave was NOT just a salesman, he was the one who gave the early work its charisma. It was the BOTH OF THEM that comprised what became known as THE MIGHTY VAN HALEN, which ironically is a title they have not held since Dave walked away.
    Dave is the guy who arranged the pieces like a puzzle, he is the one that put the pieces together from a pile of GREAT pieces of music written by Edward on all those lonely nights sitting in his room with numerous 6-packs of beer while Alex was out partying and living the life of a typical kid/teenager.

    Van Halen is no bigger than the sum of its parts, my brother.
    When Dave left and Spam came in they became a different band, the only thing that seperates them from any other band who has replaced a vital member is that they succeeded.
    let's note that if anyone else besides a man like Spam who had established himself in his own right as a marketable name would have joined VH, it would have almost definately NOT been as successful as it was or has been.

    It's easy for us guitar players to assume that Edward was the key, but our opinion is biased on that basis alone.
    Edward was on fire on those first 6 albums and it wasn't because of him, it was because of Dave.
    Point out one Van Hagar song that embodies that fire he had prior to 5150...
    Everything Van Hagar has done has been over-perfected and over-produced to the point where so much energy is lacking there is simply no comparison between the two era's.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not diminishing edwards talent, I mean the man just oozes it, but what he has lacked since "1984" is direction and limits to his arrangement of the material...case and point? "Van Halen III"...

    Van Halen III was full of great guitar work, but as a musician when I listen to that release i find it to be a cluster fuck of things out of place, hence, NO DIRECTION...
    Edward Van Halen is an exceptional song writer, but he has a lot to learn about arranging all the pieces. I won't even go into the Production end of it as that is a whole thread and nightmare on it's own.

    A soul is made up of many parts of who we are, change one thing and the soul is altered in either a good way or a bad way.
    What i'm trying to say is that Van Halen had soul, Van Hagar lacks it.
    Since "1984" Edward Van Halen has been engaged in a game of "Play It Safe" by releasing records that were targeted at the Pop Charts....Roth was not so concerned with that as he was all about playing LIVE....
    The recording end was only a vehicle to propell Van Halen to the Live Stage...

    Spam was not part of that education as a member, his experience came from a whole different view point which brought a different perspective to the music Edward was releasing "Post Roth".
    I'm not saying Van Hagar has no soul completely, Ed still brings his portion of what was a major part of the original line-up...But a band is no bigger than the sum of its parts...change one ingredient and the the meal will not taste the same.
    Ed was 1/4th of the Soul that was THE MIGHTY VAN HALEN...



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