Earlier this month, Van Halen delivered a bravura performance for music journalists and industry movers and shakers at the Cafe Wha? in New York City. The 11-song, hit-filled set was a brisk, loose and punchy rejoinder to critics who doubted whether the reconstituted band still had the goods.
Since that time, the group has been strangely silent, visible only in the video for the song Tattoo and a series of teaser clips (like the one above) of tracks from the forthcoming album, A Different Kind Of Truth, which will be released on 7 February.
Recently, however, singer David Lee Roth spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the state of the union that is Van Halen and how the new album came about. Here are a few of his observations:
On the band's volatile past: "We accused each other of betrayal and thievery and lies and treachery. And it was all true. We were all guilty. Dig up the past, and it's going to get all over everybody. And, man, do we have a past…"
On Eddie Van Halen: "He's doing really well. He's lucid, he's sober, he's playing. You know, I don't know if Ed has ever felt good. There's a thin line between rage and great work. He really never enjoyed his fame or success, and that might be part of what compels him."
On himself: "Nobody well adjusted ever got my job, much less kept it this long. There's some grasping drive, and it precludes self-satisfaction... You're always questioning."
On the new album measuring up to past works: "Are there second chances? I don't know, Mr. Faulkner, I'm tending to agree with you: No. We've managed to stretch our adolescence like a Chiclet to the moon and maintained the respectful dignities along the way that got us on that turnpike up in the first place. We love what we do for a living. Even in our wildest, most beer-soaked days we never missed rehearsal."
On mining old demos for new songs: "It's material that Eddie and I generated, literally, in 1975, 1976 and 1977. Usually fellas in our weight division will kind of gamely - or ironically, wink, wink - try to hail back to it [but] keep a safe, mature distance from it."