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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk bklynboy68's Avatar
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    05.26.18 @ 12:10 PM
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    Default Billy Sheehan Talks Touring With VH And Playing With Dave

    With Talas, you got the chance to tour with Van Halen a couple of times. What was the scene like at that time?

    Van Halen was the greatest band in the world. At their worst, they were only spectacular. It was just an amazing experience. It was Showbiz 101 to see that band in action and behind the scenes and [to see] how incredibly precise and awesome [they were] and [with] almost military precision [how] they could get up on stage and make it look like it’s a big-ass party.

    You know, to do a party, you just have a room with beer in it and have people in there. But if you do it right, it’s a riot and they always would do it right. And it would never seem like there was any effort put into it at all, but behind the scenes, there was great effort. The lighting, the sound and the cues and everything was all worked out, but when you watched it — even though we watched it every night and it was the same every night, we’d still laugh at every joke. It was all worked out and scripted to a large degree, but boy, it was just done magically and perfectly.

    A lot of that was Dave, of course — he’s just a grandmaster of showbiz and the greatest frontman in my humble opinion that there ever was — and still is. It was an incredible lesson to learn and they were very, very nice to us. They let us do some encores and they chose us personally to be on that tour, because they got a tape from Premier Talent, the booking agency. We had no idea we were even up for it until we finally found out, “Hey, you guys got the Van Halen tour” and we were like, “We got the what?” We didn’t even have a record out, really — so we were very surprised. We made friends with everybody and I’m friends with all of them to this day, thankfully.

    That was a band that was knocking a lot of people for a loop at the time. Particularly the bands that were touring with that band, it seems like if you’re in that position, that would cause you to take at least a second look at all areas of your process to make sure you had everything dialed in.

    Yeah, when you’re up on that stage and it’s Van Halen’s stage, you’re under a microscope and there’s a whole lotta people watching. We got lucky. We scored and we got a bunch of encores and we did real well and they were real pleased with us. I created a relationship there that, of course, led to the Dave thing later.

    It was a little spooky though, getting up on a stage like that in front of all of those people and telling them that we’ve never played there before and we had no record out and we just gotta go up there and do it. There again, we get back to the power trio thing and with everybody singing and playing, we got up there and did our thing and they responded positively. Sometimes you roll the dice and the sun comes up.

    One of our readers wanted to ask about how you were asked to join Van Halen quite a few times. It’s surprising that never panned out or went that way.

    Yeah, in the end I’m not really sure what the purpose of any talks with me to join the band was. But it happened a couple of times. I love Michael Anthony and I felt totally torn, because I love the band too — I didn’t want to see the band change and [have them] bring some new guy in, even if it was me. I’m a real believer in the original lineup — I love that concept as a fan. Whenever anybody changes, even if it’s some peripheral person, it’s kind of not the same to me — once in a while, it works. So I was torn a little bit, but it never really panned out.

    In a way, nature took its course. When Dave left, he called me and we started that band and that was close enough. I always said when I was in Buffalo, the only band I’d ever leave Talas for was Van Halen and when Dave called, I said, “Okay, close enough, I’m gone.” That was it!

    That ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ lineup, as it’s now called, that was a supergroup to end all supergroups. Even now when you look at some of the combinations have come along since then, that lineup remains impressive. The albums that you guys made speak well of what was accomplished. Was there instantly good chemistry when the band came together to work with Roth?

    Absolutely. ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ was just a great experience for all of us. We would hang in the basement with Dave and tell stories. He had a whole garage full of beer left over from the US Festival. He lives in Pasadena where it’s pretty hot and the garage, of course, was air-conditioned, so the beer was skunked by then.

    But we drank it anyway — we’d sit around and drink skunk beer, like we were sitting around the campfire in Dave’s basement, telling stories and hanging, me, Steve, Gregg and Dave. It was a riot. On tour too, we just had a complete blast.

    With ‘Skyscraper,’ things changed. I think it was more management-run at that point, which I think was a mistake in retrospect. It wasn’t as personal and fun or close or [us] hanging out. But the ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ thing was just an incredible experience. Everywhere I go, someone has an ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ record for me to sign. Coming out of the jungles of Indonesia, somebody has a copy of it and it’s incredible.

    Ted Templeman produced that album while Roth and Vai end up producing the next one. How much did that change the dynamic of the sessions for that second record?

    Quite a bit. The second record was done one at a time. We never played together as a band ever. The drums were laid down, I came in and did bass and then they did a zillion guitar overdubs and it wasn’t the band playing. ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile,’ Ted had us all in a room and we were playing, we laid down the track and there it was.

    I remember even Steve wanted to go back and double all of his guitar lines and Ted said “no, let’s just leave it organic the way it is and leave it there” and I’m glad he did, because it really showed a side of Steve’s playing that I don’t often see now where he’s just kind of on his own and he’s just gotta play. He’s a studio wizard, so when he goes in the studio he ends up with a lot of wizardry and it’s brilliant and beautiful, but what he did on ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ is a different character than the Steve I see today.

    I love ‘em both, but I’d love to see Steve go out now with a combo amp and a drummer and a bass player and do a record like that without going and doing a zillion things after. A lot of players are like that and they approach it differently — Steve uses the studio as an instrument now and on ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ he didn’t have the opportunity because someone else was in charge. Then on ‘Skyscraper,’ the record sounds a little over-produced to me and it was not one of my favorite records.
     "He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal" -Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

    "Make way for the bad guy"- Tony Montana

    'This hamburger don't need no helper"- David Lee Roth

    "I wish Bon Jovi would've given me a call before he recorded all of his hits, because the lyrics would've been smarter, the melodies would've been much more smashing, and they would've sold a lot fewer records." -David Lee Roth

    "My beef is people thinking Bon Jovi is good cuz they sold lots of records to housewives." -tango

    "But being number one doesn’t really mean jack fuck all. We sold twice as many records as other records that year (1984) that landed in the Number One position." ~Eddie Van Halen

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk BREW CREW's Avatar
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    Van Halen 1
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    05.11.18 @ 06:48 PM
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    Awesome interview. Some really great things mentioned about VH's rehearsing for perfection etc...the "The lighting, the sound and the cues and everything was all worked out, but when you watched it — even though we watched it every night and it was the same every night, we’d still laugh at every joke. It was all worked out and scripted to a large degree, but boy, it was just done magically and perfectly."
    Just go for it!

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk edwardv's Avatar
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    diver down
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    05.26.18 @ 06:27 PM
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    I met Billy on a B-3 tour gig in Baltimore after the show. He's very cool and we asked him basically the same questions. Hope he does a B-3 thing again.
    EVH 1979: Well, actually it's not much of a vacation, because we run everything ourselves. We design our own album cover, we have to be in the office every day to sign checks - the whole corporation revolves around us. Nothing can be done without our approval. We even have photo approval.



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