|Fuzz: I've been listening to the new album, it's real interesting.
It's still very definitely a Van Halen album, but at the
same time it's very different to anything you've done
EVH: Yeah, well, I like to compare the band to an oak tree, you
know, it started out as a little acorn, and it grew, and now it's
Fuzz: How did you get involved with Mike Post, your
EVH: He's a golfing buddy of mine - I play golf sometimes, just to
relax, that's how we met - and of course he expected me to
be more like a rock star or something, but after we played he
came over to me and gave me a big hug and says, "Man,
you're the most normal person I've ever met!" And I said,
"Well what did you expect, Prince, or what?" Or the artist
formerly known as Human Being, you know what I mean?
Well, you never know, you hear stories, and some are true,
some are not, but I'm just a normal guy, I make a living
making music, that's what I do, I'm not a rock star, that just
comes along with the territory.
But anyway, we just got along great, and at the time we were
kind of, not interviewing or auditioning, but we had a couple of
producers come by, we played them some of the new stuff,
and they didn't quite understand what the new band is about,
you know, it kinda went over their heads, and whenever
something sounded similar to old Van Halen, they'd say, "Oh,
I like that, I like that!" Well underline *old*, this is a new band,
when you change members, the whole dynamic changes.
So anyway, after I did this little ditty with Mike Post, on a rainy
Monday afternoon, he left, and we were still sitting around
going "Who can we get to produce?", and Glenn Ballard, who
helped produce the couple of tunes we did with Roth on the
"Best Of" album, he said, "Ed, why don't you just produce and
engineer yourself?" And, well, I basically did, it's just that I
prefer to have an outside objective ear - and it was actually
Gary's idea, he's going "Why don't you ask Mike Post, he'll do
it." Because it's such a broad term, so to speak - "producer" -
in the record business. Some producers consider it their
record, some of them even write and play the instruments,
you know what I'm saying? And, well, we're not really that kind
of band, we just need an outside objective ear, cause
sometimes you get too close to your own thing, and you lose
your objectivity, you know?
So I kind of - I didn't mean to, but I asked him if he would, and
at first he says - "Wow. I'll have to think about that." And I kept
kind of drilling him, you know, and because we're such good
friends, that it's better, you know, than somebody who's a
great musician... In America, a lot of people laughed at first,
you know, they're going, "This guy writes TV jingles", you
know, that's *all* he does? - he does music for TV movies,
but, years ago, he won his first Grammy for producing a song
called "Classical Gas", with Mason Williams - he produced it
and arranged it and everything - he also played guitar on all
the Sonny and Cher records. So anyway, he basically was at
the top of his field, so to speak, in being a studio session guy,
but he just kind of - he didn't like the music business. And
neither do I, you know. I'm not in the music business, I'm in the
business of making music. There's a big difference.
So anyway, he chose his own path, which was TV. (Credits
include the "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law" themes, among
many others. Author's note.) Nobody questions him, he does
what he wants, and that's it. But it was kind of I think on his
part sort of an unfulfilled dream, that he always wanted to rock
and roll. So finally, a couple of weeks later, we played him
some stuff, and he was going, "Wow! This is some great
stuff!", he had no idea, you know, his preconceived idea of
Van Halen is like everybody else, you know, America's
premiere party band - "Jump", "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love", you
know what I mean? And, well, there's much more to me than
that - I was classically trained, and even songs like, say "Right
Now", I wrote that back in '83, before I wrote "Jump" - it didn't
come out until about '92, '93 or something like that, cause
nobody wanted anything to do with it. Well, this record, there
are no more people that - the circle is complete, Gary is...
It all depends what you enter this arena for, so to speak, this
business. or whatever you want to call it, but I'm a musician,
not a rock star, and rock stars burn out, you know. Musicians
make music till the day they drop. So that's what I do, all I do
is make music. So we played the stuff for (Mike) , actually a
lot more stuff than was on the record, we had so many songs
written, at one point in time we were actually thinking of
putting out a double CD, but we got talked out of it by "the
business" people, because they just didn't think it was
financially feasible, so to speak... But it didn't matter to me,
anyway, the songs are written and ready to go for the next
It wasn't until later that Mike Post said, "You know, you're
pretty good at manipulating me to get me to do it!" It was just
a wonderful experience, because he - I don't know, he - very
much like Glenn Ballard was wonderful to work with - just an
outside ear, you know, not heavy-handed, just - you know,
sometimes I wouldn't see him for a week at a time, he'd just
say, call me if you need me. And I'd work up the songs, and
then call him, and he'd come by, and he'd go "That's great",
or, he'd say -"Hmmm. Why don't you try this here?" And we'd
try it, and sometimes it would work, and sometimes what I
had was fine. But he did play piano, on Newworld, because
we wanted the vibe of two guys sitting in a room playing, so I
played acoustic guitar and he played piano - it was just one
take, and we did it live, you know, so it's just got that kind of
vibe. I don't know, he was just very encouraging, and very
supportive, and he wasn't the type of producer that goes "We
need a Top 40 hit!" For one, we're not that kind of band.
Fuzz: Gary Cherone seems to fit in very well...
EVH: Yeah, he's like my long-lost brother... If you think about it, he
actually looks more like Alex than I do!
Fuzz: He has some very unusual phrasing sometimes...
EVH: That's more me, more the way I wrote them - one of the most
important things that I have to stress about this record is the
fact that even if this is our twelfth studio record, this is the first
time ever in my *life* - and I've been making music since I
was six years old, when we lived in Holland - and, well, never
ever have lyrics inspired me to write music. My theory had
always been, you know, what do you put over (sings
Beethoven's Fifth) "Da-da-da-dum..." - what lyrics would you
put on it, and what countermelody would you put to it. So I was
never really - it's like if you listen to our records, if you remove
the singing, the music still holds up on its own. But anyway,
this record, more than half the songs were inspired by Gary
handing me lyrics. The very first song was "How Many Say I",
which is the last song on the record, and I ended up singing it,
too! They forced me... And after that came "From Afar", and
"Josephina", and "Dirty Water Dog", and on and on, you
know, for more than half the record. It's just his lyrics just - tell
a story. I'm not knocking the past, there's a twenty year history
here, you know, you can't deny that... We had a lot of good
times with Dave and with Sammy, but they both quit, they
went their own way, but you know, Gary's lyrics, they tell a
story, they're not just about female body parts, so to speak...
You know what I'm saying? And, well, I'm serious, you know,
like I said, I'm not knocking the old stuff, because there's a
time and a place for everything. It's just that - here we go back
to my tree analogy, we're branching out and doing other
things. But, just listen to "Ballot Or The Bullet", "Fire In The
Hole" and "Without You" - there's plenty of heavy... I think
"Ballot Or The Bullet" is one of the heaviest songs I've ever
Fuzz: I'll second that. There's some quite heavy "social
commentary" in the lyrics, too.
EVH: Everything on the record is based on personal experience or
on something that - you know, based on reality. There were
no contrived - *anything* - on this record, not a damn *note*
on this record is contrived, not a lyric, not anything. People
might think that that's pretentious, or whatever, but they're
quite mistaken, because we are totally incapable of sitting
down and writing a song about something we know nothing
about. You know what I mean? And if we're not inspired... I
can't do what Barry Manilow does, I can't write jingles, I can't
say, you know, if someone says, "Hey, have a MacDonald's
commercial music ready for me by Monday" - hey, I don't
know how to do that. I have to be inspired, and since Gary's
been in the band, and I've been... I cut out the booze, you
know, almost four years ago and I'm a lot clearer. I used to
think that I had to drink in order to *write*! Well, boy, was I
mistaken! I realised that the drinking was actually blocking the
ideas instead of adding - and I think there's a lot more depth
on this record, but not in a pretentious way. This is like the
most *real* record we've ever made - until the next one...
Fuzz: How much input do Alex and Michael have on
songwriting and arranging?
EVH: Well, it's a strange phenomenon, you know - I write
everything, and Gary writes the lyrics, and he would just hand
me lyrics, and I would write the music and the melodies and
actually sing them, and he would resing them. But, bottom line
. everything's a group effort, it's not about *credit*, it's about
the end result, and it's a strange phenomenon, because you
walk in the studio with an idea, and they just kinda go with it.
It's a strange thing, but it snowballs, you know, and everyone
gets excited, and "Hey! How about this? How about that?" So
whoever the sparkplug is is irrelevant, you know what I mean?
When you really think about it, where do ideas come from?
You know? I mean, the man upstairs has been very good to
me, so to speak, because - once you start thinking you're
responsible... forget it. If you start thinking that *you're* the
reason, I mean... where do ideas come from, they're given to
you, you know? And I just do my best to keep my chops up so
I can execute what's given to the best of my ability. And - I
don't know - it's just amazing that - I can actually listen back to
this record, and go - "Wow! I don't even remember doing
that." People say - cause you know, I was also producing
along with Mike Post, so I was looking more at the big picture
than just playing guitar and coming up with riffs and this and
that. And when I started doing interviews a while ago, people
were going, "Wow, man, there's some amazing guitar stuff",
and I'm going, "Man, I don't even remember playing guitar!"
Fuzz: That proves it was very spontaneous, then.
EVH: Oh, yeah, yeah... It was just given, you know - and it's like,
Gary and I are just, I don't know, musical soulmates, it took
me over twenty-something years to find him, or for him to find
me, or whatever, but there's a reason for everything, and I
probably wasn't ready before.
Fuzz: It's a very interesting development in the sound of Van
EVH: Yeah, it's just a natural evolution, so to speak - we don't plan
anything, it's just given, and it comes, and we do what comes.
I'm incapable of doing what some bands do, which is make
the same record over and over. But a lot of people - a
majority of people - are afraid of change, don't like change,
but, hey, you know, I just turned 43 years old, and I'm sorry, I
can't help but change. I welcome it with open arms, otherwise
you get in a rut, you know, and you get stale. It's like the circle
is complete now, everybody's reading the same book, we're
on the same page, there's no arguing, there's no "my way or
no way" kind of bullshit going on, you know what I mean?
Gary, he's such a great guy - he lives here with me, he lives in
the guesthouse - I could yell at him from here...
Fuzz: The first track is real pretty, what sort of acoustic are
you playing there?
EVH: It's called a Musser, M-U-S-S-E-R... I have two guitars made
by the same guy, I don't know what his first name is, but
somebody turned me on to it, and I tried it, and I liked it, and I
bought it! (Laughs)
Fuzz: You're using a lot of very unusual rhythmic things on
this album, like on "Fire In The Hole" - where did those
ideas come from?
EVH: Well, I'm actually more of a rhythmic player than a soloist, if
you really listen to what I'm doing.
Fuzz: I always enjoyed your rhythm playing.
EVH: Yeah, well, really guitar was not my choice of instrument - Alex
took my drums, and got better - and so I said, "OK, fuck you,
you've taken the drums, I'll play your damn guitar." And my
first instrument is really piano.
Fuzz: Is that you playing the piano on "How Many Say I"?
EVH: Uhuh, yeah, I've been playing piano since I was six years old.
I started playing piano when I was five, but then when I
was nine I got my hands on a guitar and I never played
piano again after that. I'm sorry about that, to tell the
Yeah, and I'm glad I picked it back up, because it's a
wonderful instrument. You have an orchestra at your
fingertips, you can do whatever you want with it. I quit too,
when I started playing guitar - or when I started playing drums,
actually - the main reason behind was because - yes, I love
classical music, but, you know, nobody allowed me to
improvise, or do my own thing. It's like that movie "Shine",
that's how I was raised, you know, it was all strict - practise
the song for a whole damn year, and then go down to the City
College, and they'd put you in a little room, and they'd judge
you - I actually won three years in a row, but it just didn't - I just
had it with it, you know, this is not what I want to do with my
life. I don't mean to sound pompous, but when I started
playing guitar, because Al fit better on the drums, the first
thing my Mom did was buy me a Mel Bay book of how to play
guitar, and you opened the book, and the first page was like,
"Here's how you hold the guitar pick" well, I couldn't hold it that
way, I hold it with my middle finger and my thumb. And my
Mom goes. "You're doing it wrong", and I'm going, "...Wait a
minute, it's called music *theory*, not music *fact* - there are
no rules, so don't tell me I'm doing it wrong." And she always
used to say to me - I don't mean to make fun of my Mom, but
she always used to say, "Why do you always have to make
that high crying noise?" And I'm going, you know, "Well, it
bought you a house, didn't it?" It's so funny, cause my Dad,
you know, he was the musician, and he never pushed us,
forced us, or anything.
Fuzz: Music is something very special.
EVH: Oh, yeah. It's like my son, I don't force him, anything, I just - his
environment is music, and he loves it, He's six years old, and
he's already plinking on the piano, coming up with his own
little ditties. You've got twelve notes, you know, do whatever
you want with them, and if it sounds good to you it is good,
don't let anyone tell you different.
Fuzz: You still use that dropped D tuning a lot, don't you?
EVH: Yeah, I developed a thing for the Floyd Rose, it's just this little
sleeve that goes over it, and you pull it out and it drops the E
down to a D, without having to unclamp the nut.
Fuzz: That's a nice gadget.
EVH: Yeah, actually the whole Floyd Rose idea was more my
design than it was his.
EVH: Yeah, I mean the whole fine tuner thing was mine, not his.
Fuzz: Oh yeah, cause the first ones, when they came out, I
looked at them and I said, hey, how the hell are you
going to tune this guitar?
EVH: Yes! And he claims that I had nothing to do with it. He's a
multi... Well, whatever, I don't care about that, it's not about
the money, or the credit... the man upstairs knows, you know,
and in his heart, he knows.
Fuzz: Is that a Coral sitar on "Primary"?
Fuzz: How did you have that tuned?
EVH: It's tuned the same way as "Ballot Or The Bullet" - Oh God, I
don't know, I just do it by ear... Well, I'm using a bass A string
for a bottom on the guitar and the sitar, so it's an A tuning, but
I don't know what the notes are.
Fuzz: It's straight across like a normal guitar then, except that
the outside strings are A's?
EVH: Yes. Instead of the low string being in E it's a bass string A.
Fuzz: You're playing on the sympathetic strings there in
places, aren't you?
EVH: Yes, yes, I tuned those to sound like a doorbell, "Bing-bong,
bing-bong" (laughs). It just came as an afterthought, really, I
was sitting in the studio and I thought, "This song could use
an intro", so I just plugged in, took one pass at it, played it for
the guys and they liked it, so... We're in rehearsal now, and I
had a stand made for it, because I can't play two guitars at
once, and that thing is on a stand. I play the intro on that, and
as that thing's sitting there feeding back in front of my amp,
so I go into "Ballot Or The Bullet" with the other guitar that I
have around my neck.
Fuzz: There's been a hell of a lot of talk on the Net (which I
suspect is mostly bullshit) as to why you changed from
Ernie Ball to Peavey, what's the truth, from the horse's
EVH: The truth is, that I thought that since I designed the guitar, that
I owned it. Like the Peavey, the Wolfgang, they make it for
me, but I own it. I can go to any other company if I want to. I
mean Peavey is a very family-oriented place, and God forbid
we should ever butt heads, but if I should want to, I could
leave, and take the guitar with me. Because I own it, it's
patented, and they just make it for me. And I thought the same
thing with Music Man, and well, I was sadly mistaken... And
when I found that out, that Music Man also registered the
trademark "5150" for string use... I mean come on, you know,
the world pretty much knows the 5150 and the stripes is pretty
much my thing. And they registered the trademark, so I just
said, you know, fuck you guys. And the guitar was never really
finished for me. The next guitar I wanted to build would have
been the Wolfgang anyway. I wanted an archtop, and I wanted
to experiment some more. I figured they were a small shop,
but they couldn't keep up with the orders, you know, and even
Peavey's having a tough time. They're so back-ordered it's
ridiculous, and they haven't even done an ad for it.
Fuzz: I took a look at a couple in the local music store, they
looked like pretty good instruments.
EVH: Well, you know, I'm not in the business of making guitars, or
of making amps either, even though I do - but it's just - well,
that's what I need to do my thing, and if anyone else wants
one, they can buy one. But that's not why I do it, I've always
putzed with the guitars, it's just a fun thing to do - you know
what I mean? It's not like I do it for the money, I really don't. I
don't care what Music Man says, it's not about the money, I
don't even know what I make on a guitar, it just doesn't matter
Fuzz: I heard that you personally set up the first 100 Peaveys,
is this true?
EVH: Actually I don't know if it was a hundred, I think it was about 50
or 75. It might have been 100, I don't remember, cause that
was what, four - I don't know how many years ago. I held the
guitar back a year - they showed it at a NAMM show, and I
said, "Hey, it ain't ready..." So a lot of people got ticked off,
you know, dudes that they put in their orders, and they didn't
get the guitar till a year later. But, Hartley Peavey's a man of
his word, you know, and I told him, hey, this guitar's not going
out until I say it's ready, and he kept his word.
Fuzz: An Internet buddy of mine says he tried one of the ones
you set up, he thought you did a great job.
EVH: What I don't understand is, when I first started playing guitar,
the cheaper the guitar, the harder it is to play. But it's such
B.S., because - I have a piece of shit Harmony guitar, with the
kind of bridge, it's just a piece of wood which kinda slides
around - I can make any guitar play easy. It's all in the setup!
All it is is a piece of wood with strings on it. And what people
don't pay attention to is, you know how many kids get turned
off, who want to play the guitar, but they pick up a guitar, and
it hurts their fingers? So they go, fuck this. And it's so damn
easy - you know, make sure the neck is straight, lower it till it
buzzes, and back off a bit. Make it as easy as possible, you
Fuzz: Do you still like basswood in the body?
EVH: Yes, it's basswood with a maple top. The basswood gives it
the tone, and the maple gives like kind of a bite to it. And I just
came out with the Wolfgang Special, which is much more
affordable, even though the regular Wolfgang is a better
guitar than a lot of guitars that cost twice as much - well, this
one's much more affordable, I think, "don't quote me", you
know, but I think about 6 to 800 bucks - and it's the identical
guitar except, it's not archtop, and it's just basswood, but it
sounds fat... It's an incredible-sounding guitar.
Fuzz: I like a fat-sounding guitar.
EVH: Well, you'll love the Special, then.
Fuzz: How many springs do you have in your Floyds?
EVH: Uh, just two. It doesn't really matter, see... because my Floyd
is not floating, it's connected to the wood, it doesn't go back.
It only goes down.
Fuzz: You get a much better tone that way.
EVH: Oh yeah, everything needs to be connected. I just use two
springs and set the tension to where when I push it down,
when I let it go back it's flat with the wood again. Also, the
radius of the fingerboard is much flatter than say on a Fender
or a Gibson, that way you can bend the E string way higher
without it fretting out.
Fuzz: Who makes the pickups for the new guitar?
EVH: Peavey. They're just wound to my ear. I mean, I worked with
Steve Blucher at DiMarzio for a year on the pickups for the
Music Man, you know. And he kept sending me pickups, and
I'd say, no, I don't like this, I like 'em weaker, I don't like hot
pickups. I don't like these overdriven - where you hit the
preamp so hard you get nothing but fuzz, you know. And just
like with DiMarzio, I just worked with Peavey until we ended
up with a pickup that pleased my ear.
Fuzz: I see you're endorsing the Buzz Feiten Tuning System,
what can you tell me about it?
EVH: He did one guitar for me... It's just another theory, but the thing
is, you know, the way I jump around and move, I can bend the
neck while I'm playing more than - I can bend it so that you're
almost a quarter step - you know what I'm saying? I mean, it's
wood, it bends, so - I don't know, I guess for some studio
guys it works great, but it doesn't make a bit of difference for
me, because - just moving the nut a few thousandths or
whatever, just moving the neck and there's more movement
than that. You know what I'm saying? And I'm definitely not
bad-rapping his product, you know, cause for acoustic
guitars, it works great. It's just for me personally, for the way I
play, it really doesn't make much difference. It's like the
guitar... is just theoretically built wrong. Because every string -
the intervals are fourths, except for from G to B, which is a
third, and it's always that damn B string that fucks it up. So I
always tune it a little bit flat, and then when I need it in tune, I
just bend it up. Because once it's sharp, you can't make it flat!
Over the years, you know, it's just a feel thing, you develop a
feel for when you hit a certain chord, you know how to
manipulate the string to make it in tune.
Fuzz: Your Peavey 5150 amps have gotten very popular, I
saw Steve Morse using two of them with Deep Purple...
EVH: Oh yeah? Actually I'm coming out with a new one, I'm going to
road test it, it's the 5150 slash 2, which has an incredible
clean sound, because the 5150 has no clean sound - it's a
three-channel amp, so to speak, but it really only does one
thing, you know, it's just balls-to-the-wall. But I need an amp
that also gets a clean sound, and we've been working on it,
and I'm using it in rehearsal right now, and I've got some more
coming and I'm going to take them on the road and thoroughly
road test them for the whole tour, and then they'll come out
Fuzz: Do you use the same amps in the studio too?
EVH: Oh yeah, yeah.
Fuzz: What about effects? Are you still using the system in
that diagram I saw in Guitar Player a few years ago?
EVH: Oh God. I couldn't even make sense out of that. I don't know
who made the diagram, but it didn't make sense to me...
Fuzz: What do you use?
EVH: In the studio - I just use one amp, one cabinet, and two 57
mikes on the cabinet - one straight in, and one angled in from
the side - and dump a lot of bottom end on it, cause 57's will
generally be pretty high-mid-rangey sounding mikes, just add
bottom, and low mid, and that's it... And I use a harmonizer
and an EMS delay. And for "Dirty Water Dog" I used a
prototype Peavey single coil Strat-type guitar, direct into the
board through an MXR DynaComp, and a Whammy pedal or
something like that, just to get a little chorus sound happening
- and that's about it. And on "Fire In The Hole" I used a
prototype Peavey guitar with a Steinberger TransTrem in it...
On "Once" I used a prototype double-neck - I don't think this
one will be for sale, it's just for me to be able to pull it off live -
it's a six-string guitar with a Fernandez Sustainer in it on the
bottom, and a six-string bass on the top. That's cause I did
the solo on a six-string bass.
Fuzz: Isn't it a bit heavy?
EVH: Ah - yeah. But the thing is that the six-string bass is hollow. It's
like a Danelectro. So it's a bit difficult to make, because it's a
hollow guitar, and then the guitar side is solid. So it took a bit
of engineering to make that happen.
Fuzz: Live, on tour, how many pedals do you have on stage
in front of you?
EVH: Actually I'm going way, way back to basics, I'm not even using
cordless, I'm using a cable, and I got the old MXR flanger and
phaser back out, and Echoplex - yeah, I'm just going back to
basics. My philosophy has always kind of been the path of
least resistance, you know, the less crap you go through, the
truer the sound - and then, you know, if you can't pull it off in
your underwear, it ain't worth a shit to begin with. Sure, you
use lights and this and that, to make it a little special, but hey,
it's about the music. Without the music, what do you got?
Fuzz: How many guitars do you take on tour?
EVH: Wow. On this tour I'm going to need a lot. Obviously I have a
backup for each guitar too, in case I break a string, so -
probably about 12 - 16, anywhere around there.
Fuzz: Do you actually own any vintage instruments at all?
EVH: Oh yeah - I got some '58 Les Pauls, and an original Flying V,
a '58, and... yeah, I've got some goodies, some old stuff.
Fuzz: I seem to remember reading in an interview a long time
ago that one of your biggest influences on the guitar
was Jeff Beck's "Truth" album, is that right?
EVH: Actually, no - "Blow By Blow". He's a good friend of mine -
actually Steve Lukather, who is one of my best friends, is
producing his new record. I've heard some of it, it's
incredible. Beck is just amazing.
Fuzz: He is. He's too much.
EVH: He's so heavy, he's too much for himself. He gets nervous,
and stuff - he's a trippy guy. He's a great guy, though.
Fuzz: Have you ever played with him?
EVH: No, I never actually played with him. But whenever I go to
England, you know, we hang out, we have a lot of fun.
Fuzz: Are there any guitar players you haven't played with
that you would particularly like to?
EVH: Well, I don't know, I'm just so damn busy doing my own thing
that I never really have a chance to listen to anything. I guess
part of the reason that Van Halen is still around twenty years
later is that we don't follow trends, we just make music and do
what we do, you know.
Fuzz: How did you get the original idea for your
EVH: I saw Led Zeppelin back in - I think it was '70, '71, something
like that, and Jimmy Page had his arm up in the air, and he
was doing pull-offs on the G string, or the B string - and I said,
wait a minute - and I took my right hand, and I put it where the
nut is, and I just moved it up, and kept going up the neck. So I
used my right index finger as the nut, like a capo, and then I
reversed it, and I used my index finger of my left hand as the
nut, and the finger on my right hand is now just an extension of
another finger on my left hand. And that's where it came from.
It's funny, cause I watch other people do it, and I guess it's just
been part of my playing for so long, and as you hold the neck,
it's not like my right hand is tapping, I'm actually pulling off just
like I would with my left hand, you know what I'm saying? And I
don't know why they call them hammer-ons, cause I'm not
hammering it - it's just like if you're doing a trill with your left
hand, I'm just adding my right hand to it.
Fuzz: Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm going to be 50
this year, so when you really made it big and influenced
all the kids, I was like around 30, and I never really got
into the Floyd Rose and the pulling-off. But I had a
young apprentice back then who was a total Van Halen
freak, he would play Van Halen tapes in the shop every
day, so I heard all your records - I dug the music...
EVH: Oh, I thought you were going to say, "Get that shit outta
Fuzz: No, I liked the music, I just never really tried to play it.
But my apprentice would sit and practise your songs
for hours, he was really into the pulling-off. I could
never fix it like him.
EVH: Well, I take it as a compliment, if you can inspire somebody
to play, you know.
Fuzz: Well you really inspired a whole generation of guitar
players, I don't know how many kids came into my
shop with their stripey guitars and I installed
humbuckers and Floyd Roses for them.
EVH: Yeah, it's funny, you know, cause I didn't start using a Floyd
until late in the second tour - but I've got a tricky way of
keeping a regular Strat in tune - it's difficult to explain over the
phone, but all the little variables - the main reason the guitar
goes out of tune is that the string hangs up at the nut. So what
I used to do, I had a brass nut, and I would put oil on the nut,
and the string would slide smoothly - and I would put it through
the hole in the tuner, and wind it up instead of down. So there
was no angle from nut to tuning peg. And every now and then.
if you hit an open string it would pop out of the nut - so I used
my index finger behind the nut to keep it from popping out.
But I recorded those first two albums without a Floyd.
Fuzz: You had a hell of a sound on those albums, even today.
EVH: Well, it was just that old Marshall, which I still have, and
actually, you know, on the tour, we're doing a lot of old stuff,
we're doing "I'm The One", off the first record, and I used an
MXR phaser a lot, and that's really what that sound is.
Fuzz: That's a really nice guitar sound, it was interesting that
you said that about the low-output pickups, I don't think
you can get that sound with high-output pickups.
EVH: Yeah, I never liked the Super Distortion thing, it's like the
5150/2 amp that's going to be coming out in a while, we
added another preamp tube, so it's got six preamp tubes now
- just to smooth it out, you know, cause I don't like distortion, I
Fuzz: Ritchie Blackmore said the same thing when I
interviewed him, he said he was always looking for
sustain without distortion, he said an AC30 was about
the best for that.
EVH: Yeah, but it just wasn't quite enough for me.
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Interview © 1998 Fuzz Magazine