Andy Greene of RollingStone.com recently conducted an interview with VAN HALEN‘s late-1990s frontman Gary Cherone about Gary‘s brief tenure in the band. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
RollingStone.com: [VAN HALEN‘s] new album seems to be largely built around old material. Did they dip into the vault for any of the songs on “Van Halen III”, or did they write all new songs?
Gary: “Van Halen III” was pretty much all new. Some of the stuff we worked on later got into the old stuff. I’ve heard samples of the new record, which sounds great, but a lot of that stuff I didn’t hear. I would have loved to hear it, but I didn’t hear it. There’s one track they released as an instrumental that I wrote too. I don’t know what the name of the song is.
RollingStone.com: It’s interesting that so many songs on the new album appear to be built around old material. It’s sort of an acknowledgment that the band can’t write in the same way they used to.
Gary: In defense of Ed, there was always way more material than I could even get through. I remember going to the garage part of 5150 and there would be what seemed like hundreds of two inch tapes. They were filled of jams and riffs. I don’t know whose idea it was to make the album the way they did, but they wanted to recapture the starting point of the band. It made sense to go back to the demos from before the first album and use them as a starting point. But knowing Eddie, he’s probably revamped all those leads. From what I’ve heard, he’s on fire.
RollingStone.com: Any thoughts on the new VAN HALEN material?
Gary: I wouldn’t come to the conclusion that those guys can’t write anymore. It think they went back to the material from that initial explosion of VAN HALEN. Eddie became a different songwriter during the Hagar years. He became more of a craftsman. Man, I wish I heard those riffs when I was in the band. That stuff is pure Eddie Van Halen . . . I do think that releasing “Tattoo” first was a misstep. I think it was a good song, but it was more from the pop side of VAN HALEN. I heard a rumor they picked it as the first single by just picking a title out of a hat.
Read the entire interview at RollingStone.com.