Friday, February 10, 2012

Gary Cherone shares his Van Halen experience

When Gary Cherone walked into Van Halen in 1996, the singer was placed in a no-win situation: replacing Sammy Hagar, while the group itself stood onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards with original throat David Lee Roth.

Part of the promotion for a greatest hits release, “Best Of Volume One,” the public read the MTV move as a “Dave is back” scenario, as the band falsely raised fans’ hopes that a reunion was in place.

The ill-conceived promotion by band management not only backfired, it placed added weight to the burden of anyone walking into the third singer slot in one of rock’s most storied bands.

Fast forward 16 years and Roth and half of the original Van Halen lineup have reunited on record with the release of “A Different Kind Of Truth.”

With Van Halen making headlines again, Rolling Stone caught up with Cherone to get his take on his tenure as frontman for the band.

Here’s an excerpt from the session:

RS: Tell me how you first heard about the opportunity to possibly be in Van Halen?

Oh wow, you're going back. It was in the summer of '96. I remember Pat, the bass player in Extreme, calling me and saying "Turn on MTV. Dave's coming back!" There was some story about them, and they were playing the theme to Welcome Back Kotter. That summer, my manager Ray Danniels – who also managed Van Halen at the time – calls me up. Extreme was breaking up and he goes, "What do you think about auditioning for Van Halen?"

At the time I thought that Extreme was going to get back together. I thought that Nuno was going to do a solo project and then the band was going to reunite. I said, "Yeah, sure. I'll go out for the weekend, sing 'Jump,' come back and have a good story to tell." And that was truly, truly how much I thought about it. I got on the phone with Eddie a few times and we wrote a song over the telephone. I flew out for the weekend and we just hit it off. Eddie and I, at the time, had the same temperament. We started writing the moment I got off the plane and he actually asked me to join the second day I was there. I said to him, "Maybe you should ask the other guys."

RS: I've heard that this happened before they appeared with David Lee Roth at the MTV Video Music Awards that year.

Oh yeah, yeah. That is true. The commercial I saw was just coincidental. I didn't know what was going on with that. But when I came down they were putting out a greatest hits things and doing the VMAs. I remember one morning getting up to go to the studio and no one told me all this press was interviewing the Van Halen guys because of the VMAs and all this stuff. They told me, "Gary, no one knows you're in the band." I remember bumping into a photographer from Japan and he knew me from Extreme. He goes, "What are you doing here?" I go, "Nothing."

RS: Wait…they ask you to join the band, and they go do the VMAs with David Lee Roth? Did you worry that you were already out and Dave was back?

No. Maybe Dave thought that, but…and maybe he didn't. I don't know. Me and Eddie were writing at the time. I remember him calling me that night saying that he got into a fight with the press or something. He was very protective. I didn't feel threatened. But the three years I was in the band, every day I woke up not knowing what the day was going to bring. Sometimes it was great, other times it was a little dysfunctional – especially at the end. But as far as how those guys treated me, they treated me like brothers.

There’s lots more – check out Rolling Stone for more with Cherone here.

Van Van Halen

Van Halen – Without You

See also:

VIDEO: Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth TV commercial
VIDEO: Van Halen rock dress rehearsal for tour
Kool & The Gang talk about opening for Van Halen
Van Halen vs. Adele for Billboard #1 next week
Van Halen: ESPN running Tattoo contest
AUDIO: Van Halen – Outta Space preview
VIDEO: David Lee Roth interviews the Van Halen brothers
David Lee Roth defines the Van Halen sound
Van Halen tops the hennemusic Hot 10
VIDEO: Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth timelapse
VIDEO: Van Halen play secret show in Los Angeles
PHOTOS: First pictures from Van Halen’s secret show in Los Angeles
AUDIO: Van Halen – You And Your Blues preview
AUDIO: Van Halen – Beats Workin’ preview
AUDIO: Van Halen – As Is preview
Van Halen: David Lee Roth’s handwritten lyrics to Stay Frosty
Michael Anthony: No plans to challenge Van Halen over old songs
AUDIO: Van Halen – The Trouble With Never full preview
Sammy Hagar slams new Van Halen again
AUDIO: Van Halen – She’s The Woman preview
AUDIO: Van Halen – Big River preview
David Lee Roth talks new Van Halen album
AUDIO: Van Halen – Bullethead preview
AUDIO: Van Halen – China Town preview
AUDIO: Van Halen – The Trouble With Never preview
AUDIO: Van Halen – Stay Frosty preview
AUDIO: Van Halen – Blood And Fire preview
Wednesday: Van Halen to debut new song on CSI
Van Halen add more dates to US tour
Van Halen: Tattoo hits #1 on Billboard Hard Rock Singles chart
VIDEO: David Lee Roth explains Van Halen’s Tattoo
VIDEO: Van Halen unplug for You Really Got Me
Van Halen: David Lee Roth’s handwritten lyrics to Tattoo
Sammy Hagar slams new Van Halen single
Van Halen: Tattoo earns Top 20 debut on Billboard’s Rock Songs chart
Van Halen offering new album on vinyl
Van Halen tops the hennemusic Hot 10 for 3rd week
Eddie Van Halen donates 75 guitars to L.A. schools
VIDEO: Van Halen – Tattoo
Van Halen recording engineer talks about new album
Van Halen singer’s uncle raves about Café Wha? show
VIDEO: Van Halen’s David Lee Roth – Ode To Uncle Manny
Van Halen tops the hennemusic Hot 10 for 2nd week
VIDEO: Van Halen rock 1979 classics in New York
VIDEO: Van Halen rock 1978 classics in New York
VIDEO: Van Halen rock 'Panama' at New York club show
VIDEO: Van Halen arriving at Café Wha? in New York
VIDEO: Van Halen debut new song at New York club show
Van Halen 2012 tour dates announced
PHOTOS: First pictures at Van Halen LIVE in New York
NBC's Al Roker uncooperative on Van Halen flight to New York
hennemusic: Van Halen leads list of Rockers To Watch in 2012
Van Halen win two hennemusic Rock News Awards
Rock News Artist Of The Year #1: VAN HALEN
Rock News Story Of The Year #1: VAN HALEN
Rock News Story Of The Year #9: VAN HALEN
2011 hennemusic Rock News Awards finalists announced