Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Van Halen?

“Thank you very much for reinventing the electric guitar.”

- Frank Zappa to Eddie Van Halen, 1981

Well, it’s been awfully quiet in Van Halen-land for some time, but a hint of exciting news leaked the other day.

In an interview with Glide magazine on Thursday, with excerpts posted on the Van Halen News Desk yesterday, Dweezil Zappa talked about hanging out recently with Eddie Van Halen.

I’ll cut to the chase:
“I've recently been spending some time with Eddie Van Halen after being out of touch for a while. He was playing me some new stuff from his record, and I was playing him some stuff that I had been working on for this project, you know, playing Frank's music.”
Ed playing new stuff from his record to Dweezil? Damn, that sounds like promising news: could VH have finally committed to getting some new music down on tape for a possible release?

Keep in mind, the last new tunes from VH were the three additions to the 2004 “Best Of Both Worlds” package: “It’s About Time,” “Up For Breakfast” and “Learning To See,” all featuring Sammy – Michael Anthony was excluded, as Eddie played bass on the tracks.

The last full studio album from VH was 1998’s "Van Halen III," and the last time VH had anything new with David Lee Roth on it were the two tracks added to 1996’s “Best Of, Volume One” set – “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and the amazing “Me Wise Magic.”

Van Halen - The Best of Van Halen, Vol. 1 - Me Wise Magic Van Halen - The Best of Van Halen, Vol. 1 - Me Wise Magic

Van Halen – Me Wise Magic
Fan-created video

In the last few years, Dweezil has been the lead guitarist/bandleader’s in “Zappa Plays Zappa,” where he’s out on the road playing his father’s tunes live; Eddie recently attended the L.A. performance, where ZPZ were opening for Jeff Beck.

Dweezil and Eddie have a long, shared history: in 1981, Eddie called Frank Zappa and went over to his house to hang, and Ed became fast friends with the young Dweezil. Frank, too, was a big fan of Eddie’s, telling him: “Thank you very much for reinventing the electric guitar.”

Following that first hang session (which also involved Steve Vai), Eddie produced (along with Donn Landee) Dweezil’s first single, which was released in 1982. Production credits were listed as “The Vards,” and Eddie played the song’s intro.

Dweezil Zappa – My Mother Is A Space Cadet (1982)
Featuring Eddie Van Halen (uncredited)

Over the years, Dweezil has also talked about a project he started in the early '90s called “What The Hell Was I Thinking?” Originally scheduled for a fall 1996 release, reports indicate that more than 30 guitarists (including EVH, Steve Vai, Brian May, Malcolm and Angus Young, and more!) make appearances on one continuous 75-minute piece of music that incorporates many different musical styles.

Dweezil gave some insight into Ed’s involvement in a 1999 interview with The Wolfgang Report:
“The thing that he played on my record that I still haven’t finished, when people get to hear that, they’re going to be amused because he’s playing a host of all his best licks. Basically, licks that I requested him to play. They’re all sort of strung together in one extended solo. Anybody that knows anything about Van Halen will notice very single lick and be very amused at the way it all works.

To me, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio because you get to hear your favorite guitar player playing. You get to see it up close and you get to make requests, and it’s all being put on tape and you get to listen to it and check it out without any other backing tracks. You could do all kinds of stuff. It was amusing because he had not remembered how to play certain licks that I was requesting, and some of them I actually knew how to play. So I was like “Yo, the one that goes like this” (laughs) He’s like (Dweezil imitates Edward’s voice) ‘Well, f**k, why don’t you just play. You sound like me anyways.’”

Dweezil shares his story of first meeting Ed before tearing up “Eruption”…

Dweezil Zappa – Eruption
Dodge Theatre, Phoenix – February 26, 2009