In a new exclusive interview with Steve Baltin from Rolling Stone
, legendary VAN HALEN singer David Lee Roth talks about the past, present and future of the band and his own career:
Roth on the possibility of new Van Halen material…
"I would certainly look forward to working with Ed on some new material, but we have yet to do that. Almost all of the music that you hear on our most recent album was written and demoed before the first album. And I would certainly look forward to writing a whole list of songs with Ed, but we haven't found the time to do that [laughs]. You hear the tone. I'm not sure what's in Ed's mind at this point. I'm gonna guess that his plans are to write with his son, and I'm not sure where that actually leads. But truth be told, Edward and I haven't written a new song in 20 years."
Roth on tour dates past Japan…
"There's nothing on the ticket as far as travel, and that's a disappointment, frankly. How long have I been back with the gang? Maybe six years, we'll say and we have yet to travel to Europe, South America, Japan, anywhere outside of those basic 50 cities in the United States. And again that's been a disappointment. We have an audience and we have a potential future in many, many places, but our story is one of a whole lotta Shakespeare going on. And I don't know where the Van Halen future lies aside from the States. We'll always be able to play our hits – and keep in mind we have more hits than Beethoven, we have more hits than Tony Soprano – so getting onstage and playing that is glorious, and certainly getting onstage with the brothers will always be an excitement for me. But in terms of taking the music past where we found it, I'm not sure where that's going to go.
And in the interim I've written and recorded an entire album of material with a fellow named John 5. It's called Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bar & Grill, and it was designed as a jukebox musical after seeing what the South Park fellows did. Those fellows are ardent Van Halen fans – they're been to Vegas and L.A. variously on the last tour. I saw the play (Book Of Mormon) and went home and we started putting together what I guess is called a jukebox musical, but it's not particular to Van Halen. Indeed we can create Van Halen material as the interstitials, but we have 15 songs ready to go, and it's my story. Indiana kid goes to the big city, sells his soul to the devil. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets Dave. It's knockout stuff.
The "Jump" remix is part of an approach I wanted to take of, "What if we take a specific song and update it both in terms of time period and neighborhood, and you use that throughout the play?" The way "Jump" sounds originally is very different than the way it sounds on this latest version. You can turn it country, you can make it a very sad song. I was also thinking to take this material to one of our finer filmmakers and see if the whole package might be used. That being said, it's not heavy metal, and no, it's not dance music. It's R&B-based, a lot of B3 [organ] and a lot of girl-friendly . . . It's rock, but think early Rod Stewart, perhaps, arguably the best years, [or] "Tumbling Dice" if you're thinking in terms of classic. So who knows where that's gonna go.
But Ed has his own vision, I'm assuming. We haven't really been able to speak about it and it's a disappointment, just as not having a chance for a reunion of the original band. Clearly, vocals are every bit as much a component of success as a rhythm section or a guitar solo, and there's an old expression saying, "They don't go home singing the lighting show, they don't go home singing the production." You're right, they sing my words and my melodies. And what we have at our fingertips is arguably one of the greatest high tenor voices ever – that was in Michael Anthony. In our tiny little corner of the universe, that voice is as identifiable as the high voice in Earth, Wind & Fire, as identifiable as the high voice in the Beach Boys. Van Halen is an indelicate house blend of both – that's intentionally. So I would always look forward to that reunion, and I would always look forward to writing a whole variety of material. I've offered the fellows, come on out here to the land of the gods. And if you don't want to make it that far we'll make it halfway – Konishiki [his friend and former champion sumo wrestler] has said he'll lend me his house in Hawaii, Let's go woodshed. But so far there hasn't been any response, so hope and faith are not actual tactics and strategies – they're strippers from Albuquerque."
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