Alex Van Halen discussed David Lee Roth and the band Van Halen’s “weird relationship” in a recently released interview with Modern Drummer.
Alex Van Halen, the band’s drummer, discussed David Lee Roth’s relationship with the group and contrasted his tenure as frontman with that of Sammy Hagar, who took over for him.
The significance of having a producer in the studio was a question put toward Alex. He responded, “Part of it was the conflict between the band and Dave. One of the things that made everything work was that we came from opposite ends of the spectrum. Dave was vaudeville. … Ed and I were coming from Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath. So having that strange chemistry is what made it work, oddly enough. But you do need a mediator. Otherwise, we would never have gotten anything done.”
He added, “If Dave came in with a song, I would respect how they heard it. And then it’s the old trick, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!’ And that means, ‘Okay, I’ll listen to you, but then I’m gonna make it mine. And by the end of the process it will sound nothing like what you hummed me.'”
He also pointed toward Hagar and said he, “has a great rhythmic sense and of course that voice. Dave was much more of a poet. Dave is creative – 90 percent of it is garbage, but that 10 percent is fucking worth it”
The interview, which was conducted before Eddie Van Halen passed away in October 2020, also discusses the differences between Lee Roth and his successor, Sammy Hagar.