According to the unofficial VAN HALEN site Van Halen News Desk, VAN HALEN has tapped producer/songwriter/musician John Shanks (whom Clive Davis calls "the father of that guitar-driven kind of pop sound") to helm the band's upcoming studio album, which the group plans to begin recording in January. "Sources" tell the Van Halen News Desk that the members of VAN HALEN are "very eager to tour, and that they want to tour behind new material. Eddie Van Halen has been very busy during most of 2010 writing music," reads a posting on the site. "Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen often join Eddie in the 5150 studio and the three of them have been hard at work jamming and recording demos. The three Van Halens have been sending the music to David Lee Roth, who's adding the lyrics." Two of the site's "sources" have "heard some of the early versions of the tracks (without vocals) and were very pleased. The music is said to sound like straight ahead rock 'n' roll and 'very VAN HALEN.'" In addition, "the band is re-exploring Eddie's extensive library of unreleased songs and riffs, even reaching back to their early unreleased demos for added inspiration. The band is retooling and tweaking some of this mostly-unheard, incredible music, which have completely new lyrics from Roth. Eddie is even considering developing a song or two from the material that he wrote for 'The Wild Life' movie score in the mid-1980s."Interestingly, VAN HALEN is allegedly planning on recording the next CD at John Shanks' Henson studio as well as the band's 5150 studio, making it the first time VAN HALEN will track an LP outside its own studio since it was built in 1983. Larry Solters, the spokesman for VAN HALEN, recently dismissed as "untrue" a report the MelodicRock.com web site that indicated that work on the first VAN HALEN album in more than 25 years with David Lee Roth on vocals was moving forward. The site reported last month that the band had tapped producer Ross Hogarth (MÖTLEY CRÜE, COAL CHAMBER, FASTER PUSSYCAT, DEVILDRIVER) for the record, which was tentatively due out sometime in 2011. The report also stated that Roth was recording his vocal tracks at a different location than guitarist Eddie Van Halen's "5150" studio, adding that Eddie is "receiving various vocal tracks from the singer, but not always to the guitarist's satisfaction...it's a work in progress between Eddie and Dave."
The report also stated that Eddie had recorded most of the bass parts for the album. The band's touring bassist is his son, Wolfgang, who replaced founding member Michael Anthony.
Solters told MelodicRock.com that there is "no tour on the books" right now and "no new album on the books." He did, however, concede that the guys hung out together "working on stuff," but as of right now — there will be no album or tour in 2011. Music publishing company Warner/Chappell Music announced in August that it had extended its publishing administration contract with guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen, noting that the band "is currently in the studio recording an album with (singer David Lee) Roth that is due for release in 2011." Meanwhile, according to Billboard.com, VAN HALEN manager Irving Azoff, who is also the executive chairman of Live Nation, mentioned on two separate conference calls that VAN HALEN was expected to hit the road next year, presumably in support of a new record. Word of a new VAN HALEN album, the band's first with David Lee Roth on the mic since 1983, first began circulating in late June when MelodicRock.com reported from an unnamed source that the project was halfway completed. VAN HALEN spokesperson Janie Van Halen, Eddie's wife, denied the rumors, telling Rolling Stone, "I don't have any updates at this time." Eddie himself told Rolling Stone last year that he was working on material for a new record, but was waiting for his hand to heal from surgery and for Wolfgang to graduate from high school. A new VAN HALEN record would be the band's first full studio effort since 1998's "Van Halen III", which featured Gary Cherone on lead vocals. VAN HALEN's 2008 reunion tour with Roth grossed more than $93 million and drew nearly one million fans to 74 shows.