Welcome Back, boys!!

Sammy Hagar, Alex Van Halen discuss reunion tour, best-of set
May 27, 2004 06:57 PM – Reinstated Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar and drummer Alex Van Halen talked to reporters on Thursday (5/27) about Hagar’s return to the group, the band’s upcoming summer tour and a forthcoming hits compilation that includes three new cuts.
“The simple answer is: It just felt right,” Alex Van Halen said of the decision to reunite after splitting on bad terms eight years ago. “Sammy and I got together [late last year] and it was like we hadn’t missed a beat. We picked up right where we left off. The moment we hit the studio and started making music–which, for us, is … where it [all] began–that kind of solidified it. That was it. Making music is the center of this band–that, and the friendship. So it was a no-brainer.”
“We just felt like, ‘Wow. The time is right,'” Hagar added. “If we’d have tried it maybe two years ago, it could’ve blown up, or maybe two years from now, it might be too late. Who knows? It just feels right.”
In the months following Hagar’s 1996 departure, both parties fired bitter parting shots at each other in the press, but all of that has been forgotten, according to Hagar.
“The whole point of being older is time going by, water going under the bridge, whatever it is, you kind of forget what happened, or why you were mad to begin with, or what you said,” said Hagar. “All that stuff goes out the window. … We decided that, rather than go to therapy like some of these other bands and dig through the dirt, we said, ‘No, no, here’s what we’re gonna do: we’re gonna pretend like it never happened. We’re gonna, like, rise above it.’ It’s really what we did. I think we elevated, and it hasn’t even come up.”
Hagar recalled his return to Van Halen’s recording studio, 5150, which is located on guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s Southern California estate. The singer said the visit was planned as nothing more than a social encounter, but that a jam session quickly ensued.
“We jammed probably for five or six hours, ’til my voice was completely worn out,” he said. “The chemistry between the four of us is very, very special. Even as long as we did it, you start taking it for granted–you forget about it–and then you come back and you walk in and you go, ‘Oh, wow! This is exactly like it always was.’ And that’s a great, great thing to still have it sitting there waiting for you, and not have to look for it and not have to reinvent it.”
Hagar, the Van Halen brothers and bassist Michael Anthony launch a summer tour in Greensboro, NC, on June 11, and will issue a two-disc hits compilation—originally billed as “The Very Best of Van Halen,” but since renamed “The Best of Both Worlds”–on July 20. The new title–which is also that of a song housed on 1986’s “5150,” the group’s first album with Hagar–is a reference to the compilation’s inclusion of material that the band recorded during Hagar’s tenure, as well as material from its days with original frontman David Lee Roth.
Ironically, it was Hagar’s opposition to releasing a best-of set in 1996 that contributed to his departure from the group. The singer said that the circumstances are much different this time, however.
“I’m not down on doing a greatest-hits record at all this time,” said Hagar. “Last time I was … I didn’t wanna do it at that time in my life, for whatever reasons. But, at this time in my life, it’s the only way we could’ve gotten this tour out this year, and I think the fans need it, and we need it. We want it. It just has to happen.”
The band recorded three new songs with Hagar for the best-of set, one of which–titled “It’s About Time”–hit radio stations on Wednesday (5/26).
“Ed and Al probably had 10 other songs that we could have worked on, and if there’d have been time, we’d have loved to have done a whole record,” Hagar said. “But the idea of, ‘Do you wanna go out on tour this year or next year?’ was like, ‘Let’s go now! Let’s go now!'”
Hagar said the group had been working on a fourth song, but had to abandon the idea of including it on the hits package in order to focus on tour plans.
Alex Van Halen said that the band was not concerned about fans downloading the three new songs from the Internet rather than purchasing the complete hits compilation.
“No concern at all,” he said. “The music is there, and if people figure out a way to get it, more power to ’em. I think the ultimate goal of music is that, once you’ve made it, as many people as possible hear it. That’s basically our feeling about it.”