VAN HALEN vocalist David Lee Roth recently discussed his upcoming Las Vegas residency with John and Lern of the St. Louis radio station KSHE 95. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On what to expect from the residency:
David: "VAN HALEN is a billion-dollar franchise just in terms of making the music, and it comes from my point of view. I'm the son of a doctor — I'm not about me, me, me... I've been in three car accidents, and my first reaction was, 'How are you?' That's what we always brought to the show. In terms of the music, I start where the record starts. We do not sound like VAN HALEN live. You have not heard this. VAN HALEN live is lead [guitar], bass, drums, sing. Here, we start with three, four guitars, and we bring it with an unforgiving attitude. We're not up here strumming with the devil. This is not some tribute band... When we go to shows, the fellas and I, when I go myself, I'm a crybaby, whiny-ass, unflinching, unforgiving little, wavy... I want it exactly like that record, and I want it packed with way more emotional content. I want the sound perfect and I want the lights booming. I can tell the difference... I got these guys in their mid-'20s. They love it. We named the band — it's a private name, and we named it after the sound. Think of VAN HALEN music. The name of my band is HORSES OF GOD. That is the way it sounds — the way it sounds in your pickup truck to work. That's the way it sounded when you celebrated your first kid being born and listened to this music. That's the way it sounded when you graduated law school or cop school. That's the way it sounded when you joined the Marines."
On whether he sought permission from the Van Halen brothers before pursuing the residency:
David: "No. I wrote the songs. I wrote every word you heard, every syllable, every melody. I structured out even the guitar solos on that first album. Why do you think the solos [later] changed so radically? I sang the solos for 'Jamie's Cryin'' and 'Runnin' With The Devil'... I structured those songs. I designed the backgrounds on the stage. I came up with the album covers. I thought of the stripes on the guitar. I'm the one who said, 'Call it VAN HALEN.'"
On being David Lee Roth:
David: "A lot of characters in my job description will create a whole lot of diversified hobbies [and] avocations designed simply like merit badges to attract attention. I've kind of been a bit of a wanderer. I never really was a one-job-for-my-whole-life kind of fellow, perhaps kind of in the spirit of Mark Twain. Any of the things that I pursued required a lot, a lot of time to train and work with, and in fact, it is cross-training for what we do as artists. How many times as an artist have I wandered by a building, a shop, a store, a theater, a hospital and wondered, 'What goes on in there? I wonder who that person is? What did he or she eat for breakfast? What does that person have for a pet? What would that pet's name be?' And it's very different when you're Upper East Side than when you're in the 47th precinct... In terms of being a poet and wanting to take a look and see what's really going on, people like me usually get wrapped up in Elvis-like tin foil [and] you never see real life again. I got a chance to sort of revisit things. Once you sell a million records in the United States, you'll never have a normal conversation with anybody again, ever."
On the current state of rock music:
David: "VAN HALEN took five years – five 45-minute sets a night – before we made our first record. We did our 10,000 hours before we even sang our first note to you, and that kind of a balance, that's why we're on the same station as QUEEN, THE WHO, [LED] ZEPPELIN, [THE ROLLING] STONES... Classic rock came out of clubs and music halls where you had to work thousands and thousands of hours playing chart tunes or pop tunes, Top 40. When you wrote your songs, whether you were Jim Croce or LED ZEPPELIN, the material became timeless... Today, you don't have those clubs and bars and experiences where the musicians are putting in their hours and then bringing those tools to writing. They're listening to music at home and assimilating it. It's sort of like learning Japanese at home from some really good videos and tutorials on the Internet versus, 'Go live in Japan for two years.' See the difference?"
On his future plans:
David: "Once we get this up and rolling, then, of course, we're going to start to take this out on the road. I think I'm the face of VAN HALEN from this point on, and we take it as seriously as all you listening to it. Yeah, there's a lot of smile and style to it, but there's a lot of, 'We really, really have to mean it in the notes and what we do in the subtext of the lyrics.' It's the sound of several generations on one big prison break... We're up there on stage to work it."
Roth's residency at the House Of Blues at Las Vegas's Mandalay Bay kicks off on January 8.