What happened when Billy Corgan interviewed Eddie Van Halen
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    Default What happened when Billy Corgan interviewed Eddie Van Halen

    Classic Rock


    "We were young and crazy. We were trying to do all the things that Led Zeppelin did": What happened when Billy Corgan interviewed Eddie Van Halen


    By Classic Rock Magazine( Classic Rock ) published 9 hours ago


    In 1996, Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan collared his hero Eddie Van Halen to hear tales of parachutes, parties and, er, practising.

    It was 1996 and Billy Corgan was the toast of the alternative-rock universe. His band, Smashing Pumpkins, were riding high on the monster success of Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness. But before Corgan became a hero to millions of music fans, he had his own idol, a man whose albums and guitar licks he painstakingly dissected.


    Indeed, it wasn’t enough for the then-teenaged Billy Corgan to simply play like Edward Van Halen; he wanted to be Eddie. He wasn’t alone. Corgan found fame and fortune by simply being himself, but when the opportunity arose to have a private sit-down with Van Halen, his response was along the lines of: “Where and when?” Corgan took the meeting seriously, peppering Van Halen with sharp, well-researched questions like only a seasoned journalist could.

    Billy Corgan: At what age did you start playing guitar?

    Eddie Van Halen: I started smoking, drinking and playing the guitar at age 12.

    How did you get from playing your first open G chord to playing Eruption?

    Practice. I used to sit on the edge of my bed with a six-pack of Schlitz Malt talls. My brother [Van Halen drummer Alex] would go out at 7pm to party and get laid, and when he’d come back at 3am, I’d still be sitting in the same place, playing guitar. I did that for years – I still do that.

    What was it like to wake up and find you were suddenly everybody’s guitar hero?

    It was weird. But I’ll tell you what was even weirder. Before our first record came out, this guy wrote an article about the band in one of the major Los Angeles newspapers. He singled me out as the important member.

    He just raved about my playing and didn’t really say much about Roth. And it freaked David out. He was the lead singer and frontman, and it really upset him that I was getting the attention. I felt bad and really didn’t know what to do.

    It was like this journalist almost ruined the band and my life by praising my work. He actually hurt me by putting the spotlight on me. I was like, ‘Fuck you, just let me play.’ The tension it created in the band was unbelievable.

    I was like, ‘Holy shit, David! What did I do wrong? Did I play too good? I’ll play worse. Will that make you happy?’

    Suddenly everyone was tapping and doing whammy-bar dives. What was that like?

    I thought it was kind of funny. Because, with me, it was a form of expression – part of my style. When I used the stuff I invented, I was telling a story, while I felt that the people who were imitating me were telling a joke. I felt other players tended to use tapping and false harmonics as a trick, instead of incorporating them into their vocabulary.

    On your debut album, Van Halen [1978], your guitar solo, Eruption, was the second track. Wasn’t it kind of a bold move to place this crazy guitar instrumental so close to the beginning of the record?

    Eruption wasn’t even supposed to be on the album. I showed up at the recording studio early one day and started to warm up. I had a gig that weekend and I wanted to practice my solo guitar spot.

    Our producer, Ted Templeman, happened to walk by and he asked, ‘What’s that? Let’s put it on tape!’ So I took one pass at it, and they put it on the record. I didn’t even play it right. There’s a mistake at the top end of it. To this day, whenever I hear it I always think, man, I could’ve played it better.


    Fair Warning is a really mean, dark album. That was unusual. Up until that time you were more of a party band.

    It was kind of a dark period in my life. I was getting married, which flipped Roth out to the bone. I actually overheard him say, ‘That fucking little prick, not only is he winning all the guitar awards, but he’s also the first to marry a movie star.’

    So that’s what I was up against. A guy that wanted everything that was going my way. The funny thing was, I really didn’t want the attention, and it came to me anyway. I didn’t want the press – it was like, ‘Leave me alone.’

    I read in Van Halen II’s liner notes that you guys once parachuted into a stadium show [laughs]. What was that all about?

    That was one of Roth’s big ideas. I’m not even sure why, but he said, “Let’s parachute into the stadium.” Of course we couldn’t do it ourselves, so we hired four professional skydivers to jump out of an airplane right before our set. The idea was that we would wear identical gear and run on stage and pretend it was us that jumped out of the plane.

    So there we were, wearing these crazy, heavy outfits, sweating our balls off, waiting for the skydivers to come down so we could jump on stage. It was so silly, and it almost turned into a complete catastrophe, because while we were trying to get out of the gear, Al severely twisted his ankle and had to play the show with practically a broken foot.

    But it sure made things interesting in an incredibly dull period of music.

    Hey, we were young and crazy. We were trying to do all the things that Led Zeppelin did – throw televisions out the window, and so on. We used to drive people crazy. For example, very early on, we were on a tour supporting Journey.

    They would never give us sound checks and treated us like shit in general, so we liked to fuck with them any way we could. So while they were on stage we would sneak in and destroy their rooms – we’d use fire hoses and extinguishers, whatever we could get our hands on.

    What really drove them crazy was that at the beginning of the tour no one knew who we were. The audience would say, ‘What the fuck is this?’

    But by 30 dates into the tour, we were the ones selling the tickets. In fact, halfway through the tour we wanted to bail, and despite all the shitty stuff we did to them, they begged us to stay on. Needless to say, we didn’t [laughs].

    One of the things that struck me is your fearlessness – you’ve never been afraid to go where you’ve wanted to go. You’ve played blues, you’ve played crazy music, you’ve played synthesiser music…

    I think my desire to do my own thing came from my dad. He was a real soulful guy. He played sax and clarinet like a motherfucker. Unfortunately, he was also an alcoholic who died when he was 66. But he lived a full life.

    My mom, on the other hand, is 80, but she doesn’t live. So I’m trying to find a balance between them. I don’t want to be like my mom and live to be 80, and not live. And I don’t want to die at 66 like my dad.

    This feature originally appeared in Classic Rock 104, published in April 2007.
    Beauty is life when life unveils
    her holy face.

    But you are life and you
    are the veil.

    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself
    in a mirror.

    But you are eternity
    and you are the mirror.

    -Kahil Gibran

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    I own that magazine!! And like many other posters here, some other stuff before and after that release.

    TT: "Wow, you can play acoustic guitar?"
    EVH: "Sure. What's the difference? It's got six strings... It's a guitar!" - 31.12.1978
    ___________________________________

    "Van Halen is entertainment. Van Halen is entertainment delivered at maximum impact, but it's entertainment." DLR

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    Yes, Simon, me too... I remember reading it when it first came out, those interviews with Eddie were always something to look forward to!
    Beauty is life when life unveils
    her holy face.

    But you are life and you
    are the veil.

    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself
    in a mirror.

    But you are eternity
    and you are the mirror.

    -Kahil Gibran

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    Quote Originally Posted by James in New York View Post
    Yes, Simon, me too... I remember reading it when it first came out, those interviews with Eddie were always something to look forward to!
    Spot on!

    I used to run to some musical store in order to by those magazines!!
    TT: "Wow, you can play acoustic guitar?"
    EVH: "Sure. What's the difference? It's got six strings... It's a guitar!" - 31.12.1978
    ___________________________________

    "Van Halen is entertainment. Van Halen is entertainment delivered at maximum impact, but it's entertainment." DLR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Ribeiro View Post
    Spot on!

    I used to run to some musical store in order to by those magazines!!
    Yes, me too! And seeing Eddie on the cover usually meant new music and tour coming!
    Beauty is life when life unveils
    her holy face.

    But you are life and you
    are the veil.

    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself
    in a mirror.

    But you are eternity
    and you are the mirror.

    -Kahil Gibran

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    Default What happened when Billy Corgan interviewed Eddie Van Halen

    You guys do know that interview has been on this website for 25 years in the interviews forum. Lol.

    Best Of Both Both Worlds - April 1996
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink/top...ink_source=app
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    You guys do know that interview has been on this website for 25 years in the interviews forum. Lol.

    Best Of Both Both Worlds - April 1996
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink/top...ink_source=app
    Yeah, I remember getting the magazine back in the day.

    This was like the last thing I read Eddie ever say about Dave...so with all his bitching (still!) about Roth all those years later, it only surprised me that much more when Dave was (apparently) coming back just a few months later.

    It's funny...there's one spot in which Eddie expresses (very clearly grumbling about Sammy) that he's tired of being perceived as being in a "party band" and that he wants his music to be more "deep." And Billy Corgan says, "Do it and take your lumps!"

    And I will now angrily say, "Thanks, Billy! You basically just encouraged Eddie to make VAN HALEN 3!"
    "I had a girl beating on my hotel door all night...She was screaming, crying. Finally, I said, 'What the hell'...and I let her out!"- DLR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    You guys do know that interview has been on this website for 25 years in the interviews forum. Lol.

    Best Of Both Both Worlds - April 1996
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink/top...ink_source=app
    Yep!!!

    I used to read it here many times, Boss!

    Thank you for keeping that and all the other interviews here!
    TT: "Wow, you can play acoustic guitar?"
    EVH: "Sure. What's the difference? It's got six strings... It's a guitar!" - 31.12.1978
    ___________________________________

    "Van Halen is entertainment. Van Halen is entertainment delivered at maximum impact, but it's entertainment." DLR

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    That's why 1996 was so shocking to many of us.

    April 1996 - another great Guitar World cover with Ed. They were always cool. Ed was always very open and seemed like the nicest dude in those extensive interviews. He was 100% the cool guy. Dave was a jerk in 85, Ed was the good guy, and then he met his new best friend Sammy in 85, everyone lived happily ever after. That was the official narrative in this per-Internet world. Yes we were very naive, but all the inside stuff was kept under wraps, we didn't know.

    And then a month after this interview came out, then all the crazy 1996 shit started happening. Talk about a case of the two Edwards, or "Dr. Van Halen and Mr. Ed."
    Little Dreamer

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    My eyes were immediately drawn to this line:

    "And I don’t want to die at 66 like my dad."

    Sad...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    You guys do know that interview has been on this website for 25 years in the interviews forum. Lol.

    Best Of Both Both Worlds - April 1996
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink/top...ink_source=app
    Yes, it was just in the newsfeed so...
    Beauty is life when life unveils
    her holy face.

    But you are life and you
    are the veil.

    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself
    in a mirror.

    But you are eternity
    and you are the mirror.

    -Kahil Gibran

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    Default What happened when Billy Corgan interviewed Eddie Van Halen

    Quote Originally Posted by James in New York View Post
    Yes, it was just in the newsfeed so...
    Listen, I pay you good money to stay on top of this stuff, man.
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    In other news, water is wet.

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    The Corgan/Stern interview is cool. I hadn't seen it before.

    One thing Corgan didn't learn from Ed is how to get a great guitar sound. Those 90s sounds haven't aged well.
    Little Dreamer

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    The comment about living/dying comparison to his parents is sad in hind sight.

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