Van Halen To Play Many David Lee Roth Era Songs On Summer Tour

Van Halen is hitting the road this summer for the first time in eight years, and drummer Alex Van Halen and vocalist Sammy Hagar promise it will be well worth the wait. “This set we’re playing right now is better than any set we ever played before,” Hagar said during a teleconference today (May 27). “I used to be a little sensitive to the old material, but I’m not now. We have a whole different outlook on everything. Let’s make this the greatest songs the Van Halen fans have ever heard. The set list will kill you!”

Although neither artist would reveal specifics, the show will find Hagar singing many more songs from Van Halen’s David Lee Roth era than he did during his first stint in the band. “I’m really digging ‘Jump’ right now,” he said. “In the old days I never got off on singing that song. I would pull a guy out of the audience to sing it. Now, I want to sing this song better than it has ever been sung. I’m tearing it up!” He also insisted “there’s a couple of surprises in [the set], one in particular that is completely oddball.”

The group will issue its first new material since 1998’s “Van Halen III” on the upcoming “Best of Both Worlds” retrospective, due July 20 via Warner Bros. Hagar boasted that “there were 10 other songs we could have worked on. If there’d been time, we’d love to have done a whole record.”

“[Alex and guitarist Eddie Van Halen had been] jamming in the studio for years putting ideas down,” he continued. “I’d say, ‘that song’s great, let’s work on that.’ But then they’d say, ‘listen to this.’ It was never-ending. There’s so much material that needs to be finished for sure. It became a heavy workload on me as soon as we started getting into it. We had to kind of pick and choose. I took about two hours of stuff home with me and used to work out to it every day. That’s really how it got defined.”

Both artists said any ill will they may have harbored following Hagar’s rancorous 1996 exit from Van Halen is now water under the bridge, but Hagar admitted that before last fall, he hadn’t even spoken to Eddie Van Halen in at least six-and-a-half years. “Not even one conversation,” he said. “The first one, I was a little nervous. It was kind of like a little uncomfortable. It actually got heavy fast.”

“[But] when you see a person you truly have a deep relationship with, all the sudden you realize after time that, hey, forget it. We decided rather than go to therapy, no, no, we’re going to pretend like it never happened. We’re going to rise above it.”

The tour will be documented for potential release on DVD or a live album. “We’re very particular about how our music is presented,” Van Halen said. “When we do it, we do want control over it. But these days with all the different technologies, we might just join the bandwagon and do our own bootlegs.” Either way, Hagar stressed the impact of experiencing the show first hand: “the only way you’re gonna get fulfilled is to sit right there in that front row and just get your face bashed in.”


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