Like Father, Like Son: Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen Discuss the New Face of Van Halen
From 2008: Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen discuss the evolution and future of the band.
GW Van Halen music has never lost its adolescent appeal. For example, “Panama” was featured in the movie Superbad, and it fit perfectly even though the movie is set in the present day.
WOLFGANG I love that movie.
GW What is it about Van Halen music that makes it so timeless?
WOLFGANG It rocks.
ED It just lives and breathes. It’s real. It’s not contrived, premeditated or anything. It’s just whatever comes out. If you try to write a song to please people and they don’t like it, you’re fucked because you’re not pleasing yourself, for one. And if they don’t like it, you’re double fucked.
GW You write a lot of material. Do you have a gauge in your head that lets you know when something is ready to serve up to the table?
ED There’s a lot of stuff I like that the rest of the guys don’t. It’s like that with “Panama.” I rarely start on the one, and Al hears what I’m playing backward. I’ll never forget when I wrote “Little Dreamer,” which is one of the few where I do start on the one and he played backward to that, too. Onstage when we’re playing…
WOLFGANG …Oh God, I have to watch you! At the end of “Unchained” we have to go eight or nine times before we freakin’ end! Sometimes it’s three. Sometimes it’s five. It’s always an odd number.
ED I can’t count for some reason. It’s always threes or fives for some reason. I only go by feel.
WOLFGANG And sometimes that feeling is wrong! [laughs] But we always somehow manage to pull it together for the ending.
ED We fall down the stairs and land on our feet together. Onstage, I look at Wolfie because he can count!
GW Has it always been that way, even before Wolfgang?
ED Yeah! But now I’ve got two people to help me, because both Al and Wolfie can count.
GW How do you approach your solo section every night?
ED There are certain things that I feel the fans really want to hear me play. “Eruption.” “Cathedral.”
WOLFGANG “Spanish Fly.” The “Little Guitars” intro.
ED I noodle a bit. About the only complaint I get is that my solo is too long. Half the time I’m looking over at Matt Bruck and going, Shit! Where do I go from here? Sometimes I don’t know where to go because I forget all of the stuff that I’ve done. It’s like what you asked me about why Van Halen’s music has held up. It’s because it’s spontaneous and real. I’m not saying there’s no thought behind it. Obviously it has to have some kind of structure. But spontaneity is the main ingredient.
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