Steve Vai spoke to The Press-Enterprise about his years as the guitarist in David Lee Roth's post-VAN HALEN solo band, alongside former TALAS bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Gregg Bissonette.
"When I heard Roth was looking for a guitarist, I just knew it was going to be me," Steve said. "Billy Sheehan had recommended him to me, and I coveted the position. In my early days, I would wonder if I could get a gig. I figured I would go for it and tried out with Alice Cooper, KISS and others. But for some reason, I just knew this would be my gig and I would just have to wait for it. Sure enough, I got the call."
Even though Steve knew his technique would be compared to that of Eddie Van Halen, he never let the pressure get to him.
"You don't compete with Eddie Van Halen," he said. "He was a monolith and brought so much inspiration for me. He's a genius."
Sheehan recently confirmed that there are plans for Roth and the band for his debut solo album, "Eat 'Em And Smile", to reunite following the cancelation of their November 2015 reunion attempt at the Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood.
Roth's "Eat 'Em And Smile" reunion at the Lucky Strike Live was called off at the last minute by the fire marshal. The show would have marked the first time in 30 years that Roth joined Vai, Sheehan, Bissonette and keyboardist Brett Tuggle to perform some of the hits from the classic LP.
Vai explained to the Examiner.com that he didn't expect the "Eat 'Em And Smile" band to come together when they first hooked up over thirty years ago. He said: "Dave got the best musicians he could, who he thought was the best. And I thought it was a hell of a band… It was one of my favorite times in my whole musical career, because we were rock stars, you know? And touring with somebody like Dave, you can't even imagine what it was like. It was just glorious, man. And I knew it was fleeting, and I knew it was something that I wasn't going to be doing my whole life, because my brand of music in my own head is very different."
"Eat 'Em And Smile" was the first of two Roth albums to feature the duo of Vai and Sheehan on guitar and bass. Throughout the LP, the two would often sync complicated bass lines together with the lead guitar parts, as on tracks such as "Shyboy" and "Elephant Gun".