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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Get Ready...."

I posted back in January that Van Halen had entered the studio with producer John Shanks to record the first album of all new material since 1998's "III", which was the only album recorded with Extreme/Hurtsmile frontman Gary Cherone.  Since that time, few updates have come from the Van Halen compound, but Sammy Hagar told MTV that "It's not going so good. That's what I've heard through the grapevine, that they've already fired one producer, and Eddie and Dave can't be in the same room together. If they can't be in the same room how can they make a record?."  Sammy went on to say that he thought the unflattering comments he made about Eddie may "put a fire under their asses" and push them to make new music for their fans.

Some time later, Van Halen News Desk stated that "Everything is going great and that Van Halen are nearing completion on the new album."  Recently, producer/engineer Ross Hogarth has stated "The whole VAN HALEN record has been recorded and we're all excited," and that "it's the killing side of Van Halen at the top of their game again with Diamond Dave, and the band is on fire."   On July 2nd, stated simply, "Get Ready...", giving further affirmation that new music from the band is coming, and fueling rumors that a single may be released soon; the album is slated for a tentative release in the fall.  It's been reported that the album is in the mixing stages now, and Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti, a friend of Wolfgang Van Halen, got to hear the album played live in the studio.  "What makes it so great is that they took what they could from all their old demos back in the '80s and pretty much did what they could to create songs out of old ideas, so it sounds like vintage Van Halen," Tremonti said. "I didn't hear any vocals — David was not there. It was just the three of them. The music sounded like very authentic, old-school Van Halen."  Tremonti's comments have sparked a lot of controversy from fans on sites like, claiming that the creative energy of the band is lost since they're going through old material, but most fans interpreted the comments to say that Van Halen is using old riffs to inspire the new music, but to give it a vintage feel since the tapes are from the early days.

I've expressed my opinion on that site, and basically I feel that it is exciting that new music is coming from Van Halen after so long, but I find it hard to accept that they'll truly achieve their signature sound without Michael Anthony, original bassist and a major contributor to their vocal sound.  The band allegedly dubbed in Michael Anthony's vocals on their highly successful 2007-2008 "reunion" tour, since they replaced Michael Anthony with Eddie's son Wolfgang.  I'll admit that I've always favored and sided with Sammy Hagar.  Sammy has had a solid career both in and out of Van Halen, and he and Michael have played music together for many years, and currently in their new supergroup Chickenfoot, whose sophomore album is due September 27th, around the same time as the expected Van Halen release.  At one point, Sammy has expressed interest in having Chickenfoot open for Van Halen on their next tour, which would truly be the "Best of Both Worlds", especially if Sam and Mikey joined Ed and Al for a few Hagar-era songs. 

Godsmack frontman Sully Erna was interviewed recently and talked about the competitive side of rock.  "I feel that there are a little bit too many egos out there when it comes to rock music, because everyone wants to swing the big dick, everyone wants to have the belt and think they're the king and they have a bigger draw than anybody. It's silly. Everybody needs to just come down and embrace it for what it is." 

I think if Ed and Dave could drop their egos and embrace just how much it would mean to their fans, a Chickenfoot/Van Halen tour would probably be the highest grossing tour of the decade.  Unfortunately, for fans of either side, or both sides, I think that's just wishful thinking.  For now, I will wait curiously to hear the music that has everyone on the Van Halen side bursting with enthusiasm, but I'm betting on a better album from Chickenfoot. 
I hope, for the sake of Van Halen fans, that I'm proven wrong.

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