Van Halen

If anyone tours next year, I’ll be surprised. If any incarnation of Van Halen tours, I’ll be doubly surprised. But here’s hoping!!

Sammy Hagar: ‘Van Halen will probably be on tour next year’

Sammy Hagar ain’t talkin’ ’bout love, but he might be talkin’ about a reunion.

The one-time frontman of Van Halen, who hasn’t played with the legendary rockers since 2004, was quizzed this week by Rolling Stone about the band’s possible future following original singer David Lee Roth’s pronouncement that the group is “finished.”

“Van Halen will probably be on tour next year,” Hagar said.

Reports surfaced in 2019 that co-founder and lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen had been battling throat cancer for a number of years, but Hagar says his former bandmate is doing better.

“Eddie had a lot of health issues, but I heard he got it together,” says Hagar. “I pray for the guy and I love the guy.”

Hagar joined the band in 1986 with 5150 after Roth departed for a solo career that never took off. He continued with the group throughout the rest of the ’80s and into the ’90s completing three other studio albums as part of Van Halen — OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and Balance. He departed in 1996 after Eddie recruited Roth for a track on the band’s first Greatest Hits package before reuniting with group in 2004 for a reunion tour.

Roth returned to the band in 2007, but original bassist Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang.

Last year in a Talkin’ Rock With Meltdown podcast with Detroit’s WRIF, Roth said he was focused on his upcoming Las Vegas residency. “Van Halen isn’t gonna be coming back in the fashion that you know. And that being said, Eddie’s (Van Halen) got his own story to tell. (It’s) not mine to tell it.”

In 2018, Anthony revealed that he had spoken to Van Halen’s manager about a reunion trek that never took place. “They were gonna try to plan a thing for this summer [of 2019],” he said. “The next thing I knew, the plug got pulled on it.”

Still, Hagar thinks the band still has more to prove as a live act when touring can resume.

“Until Ed or Alex Van Halen die, they’re not finished,” he says. “Those are two great musicians that can friggin’ do as good as most people at half-mast. As a drummer and as a guitarist and creative person, Eddie, I can’t see them ever being finished. I wish they were more active, but I think Van Halen will never be finished.”

If and when the band resumes, Hagar thinks Van Halen should honour both his era with the band and Roth’s.

“My dream tour is the Sam and Dave tour with Ed, Al and Mike,” Hagar tells RS. “Let Wolfie put his band together and open. I have a son, Andrew Hagar, who makes great music. Let Andrew open, let Wolfie play with his band in the middle and then have the Sam and Dave tour where we do an hour each. An hour with Dave songs and an hour with me.”

He continues, “I foresee it happening. I’m not trying to plant a seed like I know something is happening. I know nothing. I just know what I know in my heart and my head, which is that it has to happen. Whether it’s Sam and Dave or not, I don’t know that either. But I know that Eddie and I are not done. If enough water goes under the bridge before we die, it’ll happen. It has to. God is going to slap us both around if he has to.”

Van Halen

Get well soon, Eddie!! Here’s to a long life!!!

Eddie Van Halen is suffering from throat cancer

One of the founders of classic rock band Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen is battling throat cancer. The information is from the TMZ website. Without attracting press attention, the guitarist has been performing the treatment for at least five years.

According to the site, sources close to the singer claim that the habit of placing metal picks in the mouth is the main cause of the disease. Van Halen is a smoker, but friends say this is not the cause of the disease.

The website said: “Seems Eddie would cradle the pick in his mouth, and he’s been told that could well have been the source of the cancer, despite the fact he was a heavy smoker. Back in 2000, shortly after he was diagnosed, doctors removed around 1/3 of his tongue.”

“Our sources say … Eddie has flown to Germany for 5 years to get radiation treatment, and for the most part it’s worked to keep the disease in check.”

“As for his current condition … there are lots of rumors, but people who know him say he’s seems to be doing okay — at least on the surface.”

A recently released photo of Eddie Van Halen has raised many speculations about the state of his health. In the picture, Eddie appears almost unrecognizable. At age 64, the musician appears quite swollen and apparently bald in the image, with a look similar to that of a person undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

By 2000, the guitarist had already been diagnosed with cancer and had to remove 1/3 of his tongue. Now the cancer cells have spread to the throat, and to combat the spread of the disease, the musician conducts radiotherapy sessions.

In 2012, Van Halen was voted the best guitarist of all time by a vote sponsored by Guitar World magazine.

Van Halen

I miss Van Halen AND Van Hagar!!!

How Sammy Hagar’s ‘Unboxed’ LP Led to Van Halen’s Split

On March 15, 1994, then-Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar released Unboxed, a greatest-hits collection focusing on his ’80s solo career.

Though he says his bandmates understood and agreed with his reasons for adding two new songs to this contractually-obligated album at the time, in the coming years Unboxed would be the cause of much dispute for this lineup of the famous group. In fact, looking back, Hagar believes the project is where “all the bad blood started” that ultimately led to his 1996 departure from Van Halen.

In order for Hagar to leave his platinum-plus solo career behind to join Van Halen in 1985, he had to promise to deliver one more full-length solo album to his record label, Geffen. With new bandmate Eddie Van Halen on bass duty, Hagar dutifully released I Never Said Goodbye in 1987, hot on the heels of his Van Halen debut, 5150.

However, the contract also allowed Geffen to release a best-of album from Hagar’s time with the label. He wasn’t obligated to contribute any new music for this collection, but he was offered enough extra money to do so to neatly resolve a messy personal financial situation. “By including two new songs for the Unboxed project, I got Geffen to pay me exactly the amount of money I owed my wife for our divorce settlement.” Hagar explained to Guitar World magazine in 1997. “I paid her off with all the money I received for that album and didn’t make a dime off it.”

Hagar says he got approval from all of his bandmates for this plan. But a couple of years later, when Hagar objected to Van Halen’s plan to release their own hits compilation — declaring it a move only bands who are at the end of a stage in their career, not riding a hot streak of four straight No. 1 albums, should do — he says the Van Halen brothers accused him of being a hypocrite. The disagreements escalated as the pair allegedly pressured Hagar into recording a new song for that collection, as well as the song “Human Beings” for the Twister soundtrack, during what had been planned to be time off for the group.

Ultimately, in an angry phone call on Father’s Day 1996, Hagar quit or was fired from Van Halen, depending on which side you believe. Which meant Unboxed wasn’t the solo career-capping statement he had intended it to be. “I’m telling you this as an honest man,” Hagar states. “If I would have ever dreamed that I wouldn’t be in Van Halen anymore and was going to have resume my solo career again, I would have never contributed anything towards my own greatest hits package, even for the money.” Hagar vented much of his frustration from this situation quite clearly on his first post-Van Halen solo album, 1997’s Marching to Mars.

So was Unboxed worth all this trouble? Well, that’s not really fair to ask, since it was coming out whether or not Hagar had contributed the two new songs (“High Hopes” and “Buying My Way Into Heaven,” both catchy but hardly legacy-enhancing). But apart from the intentional and somewhat perverse exclusion of Hagar’s highest-charting hit to date, 1982’s “Your Love is Driving Me Crazy,” it’s a great collection of highlights from his time with Geffen, full of strong, hooky anthems like “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” “I Can’t Drive 55″ and “Heavy Metal.”

Van Halen

Is anyone actually surprised by this?

Eddie Van Halen named greatest guitarist of all time by Guitar World magazine

Eddie Van Halen has been named as the greatest guitarist of all time by Guitar World magazine.

The rocker, who formed the band Van Halen in 1972 and released the group’s 12th studio album ‘A Different Kind Of Truth’ in February of this year, came out on top in a contest voted for by readers of the publication to beat the likes of Brian May and Jimi Hendrix to the number one spot.

The Queen guitarist came second in the ‘100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time’ competition, which was decided by a knock-out tournament in which musicians were pitted against each other in a round-by-round basis, with Rush’s Alex Lifeon coming third and Jimi Hendrix in fourth place.

Other names to feature in the top 10 included Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and Steve Vai, while other entrants in the final 50 included The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards (40), Eric Clapton (28), The Beatles’ George Harrison (25), and former Guns N’ Roses’ member Slash. You can read the full list at

In August of this year, Eddie Van Halen underwent emergency surgery for Diverticulitis, a digestive disorder which involves an inflammation and infection of the colon, and it was speculated that the disease could keep him out of action for up to six months.

It was not the first time that Van Halen, 57, has experienced health problems. He had a hip replacement in 1999 and was treated for tongue cancer the following year, resulting in surgery which removed a third of his tongue. He was declared cancer-free in 2002.

The Top 10 greatest guitarists of all time, as voted by the readers of Guitar World magazine, are as follows:

1. Eddie Van Halen
2. Brian May
3. Alex Lifeson
4. Jimi Hendrix
5. Joe Satriani
6. Jimmy Page
7. Tony Iommi
8. Steve Ray Vaughan
9. Dimebag Darrell Abbott
10. Steve Vai

Van Halen

Get well soon, Eddie!!

Eddie Van Halen has surgery for digestive disease

NEW YORK (AP) — Eddie Van Halen has undergone emergency surgery for a digestive disease and is canceling his tour in Japan to recover.

His representative said Thursday that the guitarist had a “severe bout of diverticulitis,” a painful condition that involves the formation of pouches on the outside of the colon. He is expected to recover in four to six months.

The rep added that the 57-year-old will not require more surgeries to treat the disease.

The musician had plans to tour Japan in November and will reschedule the dates for next year.

Van Halen is best known for hits including “Jump,” ”Why Can’t This Be Love” and “When It’s Love.” The group released a new album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” in February.

Van Halen

That would rock!!!

Is Van Halen set for the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show?

It’s important to note that not one member of Van Halen has even uttered the words “Super Bowl” — at least not in reference to January’s upcoming XLVII game. But, a comment made by Eddie Van Halen has fans wondering if the recently reunited classic rockers will be playing the halftime show.

In a recent interview with USA Today, the legendary guitarist talked about the band’s tour, which will be cut short after a June 26th performance in New Orleans.

“We bit off more than we could chew,” says Van Halen, who also assures readers that the hiatus has nothing to do with any friction between him and lead singer David Lee Roth. “This record took a lot out of us. And we went on tour earlier than we wanted to so we could play Madison Square Garden (in March, before a renovation), and that threw the schedule out of whack.”

But, he adds that they will be back in action this fall and into 2013.

“So in November, we’ll hit Japan, and in the new year, we’ll possibly do something special, but I can’t talk about it.”

What do you think? Was Eddie hinting at a Super Bowl gig? Let’s hope so!!

Van Halen

This is called putting a positive spin on a story!!

Van Halen Getting Along Fine, Taking a Break, And Planning to Extend Tour

Just when we all were beginning to think we were going to get a killer Van Halen album and an entire tour without any drama whatsoever, look what happens!

Yesterday, Van Halen POSTPONED (not canceled!) most of their Summer tour dates with no reason given. Immediately, speculation ran wild. Fans wondered if there were health issues. Rolling Stone quotes a mysterious “source with knowledge of the tour” who supposedly said the band members “hate each other” and are “arguing like mad.”

The Van Halen News Desk now has some answers form our trusted and proven sources. Other than those Summer dates having to be moved, it’s actually good news.

First off, no one in the band is sick. No health problems.

Second, we knew right away that Rolling Stone’s “source” is completely wrong, and can not possibly be a person with actual inside knowledge of the tour, because all four band members have been getting along splendidly throughout the entire tour. Roth and the Van Halen’s talk every day, and they are all smiles on stage. Everyone who’s seen the tour or even youtube videos can confirm that.

In fact, the band is on such a high from playing together this year and they were really taken aback by the Rolling Stone quote. They’re older and wiser and haven’t had any issues with one another.

Why were these dates postponed? The band has been working tirelessly for the last 18 months – writing and recording “A Different Kind Of Truth”, filming the “Tattoo” video, rehearsing, putting together the show themselves (lighting, the videos, the stage, routing the tour, and lots of behind the scenes stuff that most people don’t even know about). The band wants the second leg to be as awesome as the first. And for that to happen they want to put more time into the planning of it. Not just continue on with the same show.
Van Halen is very enthusiastic about the rest of the tour and wants be on the road for a long time. Just how long remains to be seen, but we’ll say that the tour will probably continue into next year. They are now considering touring Australia and Japan in the near future.

As it stands now, the 31 postponed US shows are due to be rescheduled. There should be some sort of official announcement forthcoming.

Van Halen

I’m glad that I had the chance to see them this week before the tour imploded!!

Van Halen Postpone Summer Tour Dates

Van Halen have abruptly postponed all tour dates after their June 26th show in New Orleans with no explanation.

The band yanked more than 30 long-planned dates, including shows in Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Salt Lake City and El Paso. Local promoters United Concerts and AEG issued statements regarding some postponed shows to local media, including the Salt Lake Tribune and Las Cruces Sun-News, but no details have been offered yet about rescheduled dates or refunds.

Nearly all of the tour is promoted by Live Nation, whose reps wouldn’t comment. The band’s rep also had no comment. A source with knowledge of the tour tells Rolling Stone that Van Halen’s members “hate each other.” Adds the source, “The band is arguing like mad. They are fighting.”

News of the postponed tour dates surprised several arena reps, who are featuring upcoming Van Halen shows prominently on their websites. “You want to know the absolute fuckin’ truth? I have no fuckin’ idea,” another concert-business source with knowledge of the tour tells Rolling Stone.

“It’s selling pretty good – I don’t know why they would say it’s being canceled,” says a source at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, where the band was supposed to perform on July 7th.

Several of the non-canceled dates have nearly sold out, including this Saturday’s show in Minneapolis and June 20th in Dallas. “We’re selling really well,” says Jack Larson, vice president and general manager of the Xcel Energy Center. “We’re looking forward to it.”

After decades of touring with Sammy Hagar (and, for a brief period in the late 1990s, Gary Cherone), Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth for a 2007 tour and hit the road again with him in February. The band released its first new album with Roth, “A Different Kind of Truth,” earlier that month. It sold 187,000 copies in its debut week and hit Number Two.

Van Halen

Rock on, boys!!

More Van Halen For You

Ever since Van Halen announced its 2012 tour plans earlier this year, fans have been eyeing that last date on the schedule, praying that the band would extend its tour past the June 26 gig in New Orleans.
Today those prayers were answered with the addition of 18 more shows in support of the band’s new album, A Different Kind Of Truth, beginning July 7 in Uncasville, Conn., and running through Aug. 12 in Cincinnati.

Here’s the new stretch. Hopefully, your town is on it..the one I live in is not!

July 7 – Uncasville, Conn., Mohegan Sun Arena
July 9 – Hampton, Va., Hampton Coliseum
July 11 – Philadelphia, Pa., Wells Fargo Center
July 13 – E. Rutherford, N.J., Izod Center
July 15 – Baltimore, Md., 1st Mariner Arena
July 17 – Rochester, N.Y., Blue Cross Arena
July 19 – Detroit, Mich., Joe Louis Arena
July 21 – London, Ontario, John Labatt Centre
July 24 – Toledo, Ohio, Huntington Center
July 26 – Grand Rapids, Mich., Van Andel Arena
July 28 – Cleveland, Ohio, Quicken Loans Arena
July 31 – Fort Wayne, Ind., Allen Co. War Memorial Coliseum
Aug. 2 – Columbus, Ohio, Schottenstein Center
Aug. 4 – Knoxville, Tenn., Thompson-Boling Arena
Aug. 6 – Memphis, Tenn., FedEx Forum
Aug. 8 – Birmingham, Ala., BJCC Arena
Aug. 10 – Greenville, S.C., Bi-Lo Center
Aug. 12 – Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. Bank Arena

Van Halen

Remember him?!?

Gary Cherone Reflects on his Three-Year Stint In Van Halen

‘I was one of the three singers in the mighty Van Halen. You can’t take that away from me’!!

On the off chance you haven’t heard, Van Halen released a new album this week. The only problem is they don’t seem to be up for doing much press. We spoke to Sammy Hagar recently, so we figured it was time to get late-1990s frontman Gary Cherone on the phone to hear about his brief tenure in the band. During the course of a long interview, the Extreme singer told us how he hooked up with the group, what it was like to write a new album and tour the world with his heroes, and how it ended around the time that Eddie’s drinking started to become a problem. We also talked about his dream of a Chickenfoot/Extreme tour, and his side project Hurtsmile.

–Tell me how you first heard about the opportunity to possibly be in Van Halen?
Oh wow, you’re going back. It was in the summer of ’96. I remember Pat, the bass player in Extreme, calling me and saying “Turn on MTV. Dave’s coming back!” There was some story about them, and they were playing the theme to Welcome Back Kotter. That summer, my manager Ray Danniels – who also managed Van Halen at the time – calls me up. Extreme was breaking up and he goes, “What do you think about auditioning for Van Halen?”

At the time I thought that Extreme was going to get back together. I thought that Nuno [Bettencourt] was going to do a solo project and then the band was going to reunite. I said, “Yeah, sure. I’ll go out for the weekend, sing ‘Jump,’ come back and have a good story to tell.” And that was truly, truly how much I thought about it. I got on the phone with Eddie a few times and we wrote a song over the telephone. I flew out for the weekend and we just hit it off. Eddie and I, at the time, had the same temperament. We started writing the moment I got off the plane and he actually asked me to join the second day I was there. I said to him, “Maybe you should ask the other guys.”

–I’ve heard that this happened before they appeared with David Lee Roth at the MTV Video Music Awards that year.
Oh yeah, yeah. That is true. The commercial I saw was just coincidental. I didn’t know what was going on with that. But when I came down they were putting out a greatest hits things and doing the VMAs. I remember one morning getting up to go to the studio and no one told me all this press was interviewing the Van Halen guys because of the VMAs and all this stuff. They told me, “Gary, no one knows you’re in the band.” I remember bumping into a photographer from Japan and he knew me from Extreme. He goes, “What are you doing here?” I go, “Nothing.”

–Wait . . . they ask you to join the band, and they go do the VMAs with David Lee Roth? Did you worry that you were already out and Dave was back?
No. Maybe Dave thought that, but . . . and maybe he didn’t. I don’t know. Me and Eddie were writing at the time. I remember him calling me that night saying that he got into a fight with the press or something. He was very protective. I didn’t feel threatened. But the three years I was in the band, every day I woke up not knowing what the day was going to bring. Sometimes it was great, other times it was a little dysfunctional – especially at the end. But as far as how those guys treated me, they treated me like brothers.

–Tell me more about that first jam session with the whole band.
That was the first day. I got off the plane in the afternoon and I remember Mike Anthony came out. I’d met him over the years at some Extreme shows. I said, “Mike, hey man, you’re my only ally here.” He goes, “Don’t worry about it.” And Alex and Eddie came out and shook my hand. I’m holding my suitcase, my overnight bag – and Ed goes, “You ready to sing?” I go, “Yeah. Can I go to the bathroom first?” Then we literally went into “5150,” three other songs from the Hagar catalog and “Jump” and “Panama” from the Dave era.

I remember whispering into Mike’s ear, “Hey man, help me with the high notes.” But for some reason, my voice opened up. The Dave stuff was easy. Sammy stuff . . . I thought I’d have a hard time with that, but it was good. I think we sang about four songs and Eddie went to the bathroom, came back out and said, “Let’s write a song.” It was a good day.

–Are you freaking out at this point? It’s every kid’s fantasy to sing with Van Halen.
It was surreal. Even when I was in the band, Nuno and Pat [Badger] would call and go, “I can’t believe you’re in my favorite band.” It was surreal. You’re growing up with Aerosmith and Van Halen posters on your wall. Obviously I’m younger than Hagar, and when Sammy joined the band, he was a contemporary of Van Halen, So it was different for me.

–How quickly did you guys start working on the album after that first session?
Actually, right from the get-go we were writing songs. Even though Eddie was real enthusiastic and he embraced me and the band embraced me, I was skeptical. I was thinking, “I’ll take it day to day, week to week, let’s write another song, let’s write another song.” I remember calling back home and everyone saying, “Are you in the band? You’re in the band, right?” And I would go, “Yeah, I guess.” I never bet too high because I didn’t know how long it would last. But I think when we finished the record and put it out and the tour started, I finally realized, “Ah, okay. This is my comfort zone. Being on tour.” That’s when I felt good.

–I’ve read over the years that Michael Anthony didn’t play much bass on the album. Is that true?
No, he did. There were a few things that Eddie played bass on. Trying to think . . . Eddie might have had a scratch drum track on one song, but I don’t think that made the record. No, Michael played. Looking back, it’s tough to listen to the record. I didn’t think the production was great. I think there was some great songs on the record, but I didn’t think the record was great. I think the songs developed once we played them live. The stuff we wrote later was more developed. But looking back, Michael Anthony’s vocals weren’t on enough of that record.

–And that’s such a huge part of the Van Halen sound.
Yeah, Michael Anthony’s voice is as identifiable as Alex’s drums or Eddie’s guitar. You hear those harmonies. That’s Van Halen.

–Their new album seems to be largely built around old material. Did they dip into the vault for any of the songs on Van Halen III, or did they write all new songs?
Van Halen III was pretty much all new. Some of the stuff we worked on later got into the old stuff. I’ve heard samples of the new record, which sounds great, but a lot of that stuff I didn’t hear. I would have loved to hear it, but I didn’t hear it. There’s one track they released as an instrumental that I wrote too. I don’t know what the name of the song is.

–During this time were you worried that the fans were going to be unhappy that you were the new singer? The brief reunion with David seems to have certainly confused a lot of fans, and it certainly got their hopes up.
Yeah, that didn’t help. Because, listen . . . I was excited that summer when Pat called and told me there was a commercial on saying that Roth’s getting back with Van Halen. I was excited, and so here I am in the position of replacing Sammy. The thing that got me through that time was that the fans are so loyal to the band. I was in the band for a minute compared to the era of Dave and the era of Sammy, so the loyalty for them, I get it. They are going to hate anybody up there.

–It was a pretty crazy move to come out with Roth at the VMAs when they had no intention of bringing him back
Yeah, I wasn’t part of that little think tank. I think they were putting out a greatest hits, so it makes sense from that standpoint. I think they were renegotiating royalties. There was a lot going on before I came in. Who knows? I think I was the second or third person to try out for the band. I definitely know of one other person.

–How was Ed during this time? In Sammy’s book he’s described as a complete drunken mess, but that was a few years later.
Ed was good. Towards the end he got a little dysfunctional. 2004, the time period that Sammy writes about, was the lowest point. During my three years, Eddie was lucid. Everybody has their idiosyncrasies. How I explain it is, if he puts on his guitar, he can fluently talk to you. When he takes off the guitar, he can be a little ADD. But Eddie was fine for three years. Towards the end he started drinking, but he was no way close to how he was in 2004.

–Did they treat Michael like an equal, or was there already a distance between them?
I have no reference point as to how close anybody was during the Sammy era or during the Dave era. But during my period, I think the cue was Eddie. If Eddie is happy, then the camp is happy. Alex is happy . . . Michael has been the one constant throughout all the eras. I think the rift between Michael and the brothers came when Michael joined Sammy. The brothers are pretty territorial. “You’re either with us, or against us.” When I was in the band, Eddie was playing his ass off and I was in the dressing room with Michael everyday.

–Tell me about planning the tour.
During rehearsals, I remember Alex coming up to me and assuming that I was going to do the four food groups. For whatever reason, Sammy only did four songs from the Dave era. I get it. He was a contemporary of Dave’s. I get it. But for me coming in as a third singer, I said, “Listen, I got to do everything that I can to get into the good graces of these fans here.” I remember telling Alex, “Look, I’ll do whatever you guys want.” I wanted to do an equal balance of both of those eras.

Vocally, the Sammy stuff was very challenging. He is a great singer and has a higher range than me. When we were writing Van Halen III we were writing songs that seemed like they were in the Sammy key. So I was reaching for notes I would have never done with Extreme. I think it made me a better singer.

–How was the first show? It must have been surreal to walk onstage with them for the first time.
It was surreal. Every first with Van Halen was surreal. We were in New Zealand and they were going to broadcast one of the first shows live. I got into a fight with the manager. I said, “You’re going to put this on video and I’ve only done three shows with this band? Let’s do a video at the end of the tour so I can feel comfortable.” I remember being stressed out, but I felt comfortable. For me, all during the making of the record I couldn’t wait to go on tour because that was my comfort zone. I was dying to get out there and play some new songs, play some old songs. Of course you’re going to get the die-hard fans who are never going to like you no matter what you do. But most of the time, 90% of the audience was thrilled that I was singing the old shit. Two thirds of the set, if not more, were songs Van Halen fans hadn’t heard in a very long time.

–How did you handle all the spoken-word parts in the middle of the Dave songs? It’s sort of hard for anyone else to get away with saying that stuff.
That was my only concern out of the catalog. I give you a nod for bringing that up. I said, “Guys I can’t do that. That is so identifiable with Dave that anyone else who does it . . .” And you know, I’m not a rock talker anyways. It worked out because either I would sing the parts in “Unchained” or “Panama”and I’d let the audience do it, and the audience got a kick out of doing it. I would start it but I would let them finish it.

–Was there a point on the tour when you started to fear that things weren’t working out?
Not on the tour. The tour went great. We came back to L.A. afterwards and I was living in the guesthouse at Eddie’s house for a while. It was time to move out. And Eddie was like, “Why you wanna move out? You unhappy?” I go, “No Ed. I want to give you and your family privacy.”

–Some markets were soft on the tour. Did the band freak out?
No, cause they sold well enough. Every once in a while they’d cut an arena down in size. But no. With Van Halen, it doesn’t matter who the singer is. They’re always going to garner an audience.

–What happened when the tour ended?
We came back in ’99 and we were writing stuff. Umm . . . to keep things general, things started to get a little dysfunctional. I think that some in the camp sensed my frustration. I knew the end was near. Looking back, I don’t feel any regret. I do wish I had made another record with those guys though. Once we were on tour, we became a band.

The new songs we wrote after the tour were better. We were working with Patrick Leonard and did a couple of songs with him. It was really good stuff. With Van Halen III, a lot of people say it was an Eddie solo record. I didn’t think that. Mike Post produced it, but it was really Eddie’s baby and maybe we needed a little more guidance on the album. So by coming home and doing other stuff, it felt more like a band.

–How far along did you get on the next album before everything stopped?
We made a couple of demos. Everything from guitar/vocal scratch tracks to a couple that were more produced. All of them were cut at 5150 Studios. All we had to do was turn on the mics and we had a pretty good demo.

–You said that things got “dysfunctional.” Is that between you and Ed? What happened?
Well, not dysfunctional among personalities. Cause me and Ed got along. I think Eddie started drinking a bit. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t going in the right direction. Also, I wasn’t in a great place mentally. I had some things going on in my personal life that affected me. When we broke up, it was mutual.

–How did it end? What happened exactly?
We went through a couple of people that were working with us. The hours got more crazy, a little bit more manic. Not everyone would be around. I’d be hanging out with a producer and he’d say, “Write to this.” And Eddie would be on some crazy hours.

I remember going home for a couple of weeks and coming back and we had a meeting. I don’t know if Dave was on their mind. They were making a move and they were just getting rid of the manager, and I was part of that. But we sat down, me and Alex. He was like, “We sense that you’re unhappy and a little bit frustrated.” I was playing the diplomat. It wasn’t crazy dysfunction because we all could talk, but there was an unhappiness and they wanted to move in a different direction. And I was cool with it. I really was.

I spent another couple of months at Ed’s house with the band broken up. If I had a lyric, I’d show it to him. Me and Eddie were like, “Yeah, can we still write?” I was like, “Yeah, great!” At the time I was hoping that Extreme were going to get back together, but that took another five years. Extreme ended too soon for me. Even though I spent three years with Van Halen and loved it, my heart and soul has always been with Extreme.

–I’ve heard stories about them jamming with David Lee Roth around 2001. Is that anything you knew about at the time?
I was gone by then. I heard the same rumors. I head everything from him jamming with Ozzy to Chris Cornell. I don’t know if any of that’s true.

–It’s interesting that right after you left the band slid into this crazy period of dysfunction where nothing seemed to get done. It took them fourteen years to release a follow-up to Van Halen III. What caused that? Ed’s drinking?
Yeah. It started there. It obviously got worse and worse after I left. I was talking to him a bit here and there for a little while after I left, but as time went on it got sparser and sparser.

–When was the last time you spoke to him?
Probably 2000. Maybe there was one other time . . . You see, the Van Halen camp is a very small circle. Eddie’s the boy in the plastic bubble, and the brothers are very protective. So if you’re not in that circle, you’re not going to get information. I guess the circle got real small. Looking at photos of Eddie now, he looks healthy. I think he’s not even smoking. He’s put on some weight and he’s playing his ass off. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.

It’s interesting that so many songs on the new album appear to be built around old material. It’s sort of an acknowledgment that the band can’t write in the same way they used to.
In defense of Ed, there was always way more material than I could even get through. I remember going to the garage part of 5150 and there would be what seemed like hundreds of two inch tapes. They were filled of jams and riffs. I don’t know whose idea it was to make the album the way they did, but they wanted to recapture the starting point of the band. It made sense to go back to the demos from before the first album and use them as a starting point. But knowing Eddie, he’s probably revamped all those leads. From what I’ve heard, he’s on fire.

–Did you see any shows on the reunion tour with Roth?
No, but I almost saw them in 2007, but I was out of town. Pat got to go, and he went backstage and saw Alex and Eddie. Hopefully I’ll see them when they come through Boston this time around.

But I’m putting it out there right now . . . I heard that Sammy wants to tour with Van Halen. That’ll never happen in a million years. But I’m calling Sammy out right now – Extreme/Chickenfoot. That’s the tour. This summer. Please put that in your story.

—That would be awesome. It would be three members of Van Halen on one tour.
Yeah. I have a side project called Hurtsmile with my brother on guitar. We played a gig once with Sammy. Over the years, he’s been great to me. He’s always had nice things to say about me. I talk to him every once in a while.

–Have you ever met Dave?
We met in 1991. Extreme toured with Cinderella. But not since then. I don’t know if I want to meet him. I love what he does onstage, and lyrically, he can turn a great phrase. But he seems a little out there for me.

–I feel like a lot of former singers of big bands are bitter about their experience. That doesn’t seem to be the case with you.
Not at all. Like I said, I’m coming from a different perspective. I’m from a previous generation. I grew up on Aerosmith, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen. So at the end of the day, I’m gonna say, “Hey, I was one of the three singers in the mighty Van Halen.” You can’t take that away from me.

–What’s up with Extreme these days? Do you guys have to schedule your activity around Rihanna’s tour because she snagged your guitarist?
At the moment, yes. She’s been touring for two years. It’s somewhat frustrating for all of us, including Nuno. It’s just such a different world he’s in there, as far as the production and the dancers. You know, it’s the pop world versus the rock world.

–Her tour just wrapped, so what are the plans for the band?
We’re currently writing, but I doubt a record will be out this year. But we are going to put out new music over the Internet to the fans. Right now we are touring. We are actually working on getting a summer gig. I just found out that we were up for a Def Leppard tour, but that fell through. That’s why I’m soliciting in this interview. Sammy, I’m calling on you brother. I think he said he wanted to tour with Van Halen, but that will never happen.

–He told me there’s a 90% chance they’ll play together one day. But I think he burned that bridge to the ground with his book
Yeah, and then he burned the ashes. Strangers things have happened. There was a long time when the brothers weren’t talking with Dave.

–What else are you working on these days?
Last year I put out out a record with my band Hurtsmile and it got some good reviews. We are writing a second record. We toured Japan and we did some U.S. stuff. It’s pretty aggressive stuff, pretty hard, but it’s rock and roll. It’s also got a little punk edge to it. There’s a song called “Just War Theory” that I think you would dig.

–Any thoughts on the new Van Halen material?
I wouldn’t come to the conclusion that those guys can’t write anymore. It think they went back to the material from that initial explosion of Van Halen. Eddie became a different songwriter during the Hagar years. He became more of a craftsman. Man, I wish I heard those riffs when I was in the band. That stuff is pure Eddie Van Halen . . . I do think that releasing “Tattoo” first was a misstep. I think it was a good song, but it was more from the pop side of Van Halen. I heard a rumor they picked it as the first single by just picking a title out of a hat.

–If they invited you back into the band, is that something you’d ever want to do?
As far as songwriting, it’s always at the back of my head. I know me and Eddie could write in the future. I would record songs with them, absolutely. You never know. Stranger things have happened. As far as I’m concerned, this record is inspiring. I’m sending it out to all of the Extreme guys. “Get your rocket helmets on, guys. We need to write a record!”