"Diamond Dave's Wit Rips Competitors"

By: Dave Clark

Central Michigan Life (August 29, 1994)

A rock star's rock star, talking music with singer David Lee Roth can only be summed up in one word. Outrageous.

"In the next couple of weeks I'm going to be playing about 80 cities," said roth via phone from his Minneapolis hotel room. "That's just under a year of touring when we wrap in Christmas. It's here today, gone later today.

"I just wish there was more time in the day. I want to keep going and going. It's one too many stamps in the passport for Dave Roth...." he laughed. A notorious motormouth, playing word association with Diamond Dave is a bit like getting the opportunity to play a game of one-on-one with Michael Jordan or chugging banana splits with Elvis.

Rock fans still consider him the definitive singer for Van Halen, some eight years after he submitted his resignation via the "Wizard of Oz" of music videos, "Just a Gigolo," and began his solo career. After a few seasons off, Roth is back with his most diverse effort yet, Your Filthy Little Mouth.

His summer tour, a mix of solo hits and Van Halen favorites, tap dances its way to Pine Knob Wednesday.For those experiencing back to school blues or just need one more fix of summer before leaves begin to turn, Roth said he has the goods.

"The summertime has played an important time in my career and in my lifestyle. When my pop moved the family out to the West Coast it was in the middle of a special time in pop culture, The Beach Boys vs. The Beatles, " he said.

"The Beach and the summertime are a part of the music and a part of my soul. It’s a lifestyle, not just shorts and a tank top. The summertime is a perspective, it’s an attitude, it’s spiritual and it never stops for me—not even when there’s snow on the ground, " Roth added.

At 39, the mane of blond and the Spandex pants are gone, but the in-your-face-attitude and sardonic wit remain unchanged.

"I have a renewed enthusiasm for the whole thing. And the best part is I’m having a great time: that shows in the music as well as up on the big stage, " he said.

Fans may notice a little something extra in his trademark blues-rock yelp.

That’s no studio gadgetry: Roth said he’s discovered a new octave.

"You know the part in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ live that leads up to the big finish? The part where everybody in the audience is going ‘Is he going to do it, can he hit it" And Robert (Plant) just never could. Now, I can."

It’s a vocal toy he plays with frequently.

"It’s like discovering six new keys on your sax. I’m having a great time with it. I sing in the shower, I sing along with Aretha (Franklin, Queen of Soul) in the car. I sing between commercials, I sing at the TV and when I’m in the park I ….sing at small animals, " he says, punctuating the end of the thought with one of his trademark belly laughs.

Your Filthy Little Mouth is what Roth calls "a little Henry Miller with your Huckleberry Finn."

On it he explores reggae, blues, Motown and country, styles not usually associated with the standard hard rock fare.

"Song and the styles that they are written in, especially lyrics, tend to be autobiographical. I have been around the block a few more times than, say, the singer from the Stone Temple Pilots. My music should sound different, more diverse," he said.

"Who wants to get off the bus (as) the same guy that got on 20 years ago? We live in a ready made culture that eats breakfast burritos. I’d rather grab me an art project than just grab one off the rack," he said. A student of anthropology from the tour bus window, Roth says like musical barriers, cultural boundaries are disappearing.

"There was a time 10 years ago that when you were in Texas, you knew you were in Texas. In 1994, the geographical boundaries have disappeared. Kids in Texas and Michigan are all wearing the same baggy pants and the same backwards Raiders baseball hats," he chuckled.

"We have become one nation under cable, and when you travel as much as I do it’s easy to see geological boundaries evaporate. The only difference in Bradford, which has a large Pakistani population. ‘Yo, dude’ loses something in the translation," Roth laughed.

One of the biggest surprises on Roth’s new release is a duet with Travis Tritt on "Cheatin’ Heart Caf."

"We got along great, but we also have more in common than most people realize. Musically we graduated from the same school, ‘Tell the truth an tell it well’."

Though one couldn’t tell Roth has been a country fan for years.

For a child of the Midwest, country music was the only thing going on.

"The heart and soul of rock is the same as country music; all you have to do is get past the shoes and the haircut. Look at the music videos on the country channel. They look a lot like the videos on MTV seven years ago," he said.

With the release of their newest work only weeks away, Van Halen, particularly guitarist Eddie Van Halen and Roth’s replacement as the groups vocalist, Sammy Hagar, are again taking shots at Roth in the media.

"Eddie Van Halen is an idiot savant, but a spectacular guitar player, and at the end of the day maybe that’s all you need to be," he said.

"This morbid hostility keeps coming out of the Van Halen camp. Instead of talking about their new music, they want to take shots at me.

"Maybe if the Van Halens would have taken a little bit more time looking for a better singer than Sam they would feel more confident about their music," Roth said.

Roth said a reunion is never out of the question and harbors only respect for what "the old team" accomplished during their nine-year run.

"For years I’ve tried to be a gentleman about this and it’s very frustrating," he said. "Thats part of the reason I left. I think it’s obvious now that what Sam has brought to the band is only…..

mediocre at best. "I’ve never met Sam, but I almost feel sorry for the guy. If the old team got back together to do a Farm Aid or AIDS benefit, that 45 minutes would totally eclipse what he has done in his entire career.

And Sam would be forgotten," Roth said, adding , "I wonder how he sleeps at night."

Contrary to the buddy image Van Halen portrayed in "Hot For Teacher" or "Panama," the good old days were never really that good.

"We always fought, but we used that anger to write some really spectacular, stellar music. Music that has yet to be topped to this day.

There was a special chemistry on the stage, but nobody ever saw the arguments or the fistfights before the show. That last tour was pure Spinal Tap, " he said.

Roth believes his influence was obvious to fans, painfully obvious when Hagar joined.

"The videos, the brown M&M’s, the stage, the parties,--it was all me. I had to go as far as editing the guitar solo and choreographing the bass solo Mike Anthony has been doing for the past 10 years. And what are they doing.. right now?" he laughed, tweaking his former groups Pepsi commercial/single.

As for Roth once again taking the drivers seat in VH, don’t hold your breath.

"Even with latitude for temperament. I wouldn’t want to return to that situation long term," he said. "Maybe do a record with them every six years. Life is short, but there’s always time. People are going to have to put up with me for another 40 years."

After a break, Roth heads back into the studio to plot his next move.

A certified tour bus ninja, Roth has expressed concern and disappointment with the monstrous productions that some big names---some his own heroes---have tried to hide behind because of uninspired musicianship.

Diamond Dave encouraged those in search of a good time to unbuckle themselves from the couch, turn off the TV and check out his stripped down show.

"Aren’t you tired of watching a 230-pound whale of a singer trying to hide behind miles of video screens and monitors because he’s so ashamed of the way that he looks? U2 anyone?"

"And aren’t you sick of watching a band squeeze into the same clothed they’ve worn for 25 years---the striped outfits and the Converse All Stars---but playing music that only echoes their past?

Aerosmith?"

Diamond Dave has said that he has came to the rescue.

"Wouldn’t you rather come for the music and skip the distractions?

Get the pure uncut stuff that’s just F—in’ electric, and from the guy who can do it better than anybody, in just a pair of jeans, under one white light?" he asked.

"Here I am."

David Lee Roth will be performing at Pine Knob in Clarkston Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Pavilion seats are $20, lawn 12.50. Tickets are available at TicketMaster locations.

Interview 1994 Central Michigan Life