Friday, January 3, 2014

Eddie Van Halen looks back on the 1984 album

Eddie Van Halen looks back on Van Halen’s monster “1984” album and the creation of his home studio in the new cover story feature in Guitar World magazine.

Eddie began by explaining the inspiration behind his home studio, 5150.

“When we started work on 1984, I wanted to show [producer] Ted [Templeman] that we could make a great record without any cover tunes and do it our way,” he says. “[Engineer] Donn [Landee] and I proceeded to figure out how to build a recording studio. I did not initially set out to build a full-blown studio. I just wanted a better place to put my music together so I could show it to the guys. I never imagined that it would turn into what it did until we started building it.”

The guitarist’s need for home studio space was prompted by a couple of issues.

“I used to have a back room in my house where I set up a little studio with a Tascam four-track recorder to demo songs,” Eddie explains. “I really wanted to record demos that sounded more professional than what I was doing. I used to spend so much time getting sounds and writing. I have a tape of me playing in the living room at five A.M., and you can hear Valerie [Bertinelli, Ed’s ex-wife] come in and yell that she’s heard enough of that song. That was another reason why I built the studio.”

“The bottom line is that I wanted more control,” Van Halen continued. “I was always butting heads with Ted Templeman about what makes a good record. My philosophy has always been that I would rather bomb with my own music than make it with other people’s music. Ted felt that if you re-do a proven hit, you’re already halfway there. I didn’t want to be halfway there with someone else’s stuff. ‘Diver Down’ was a turning point for me, because half of it was cover tunes. I was working on a great song with this Minimoog riff that ended up being used on ‘Dancing in the Street.’ It was going to be a completely different song. I envisioned it being more like a Peter Gabriel song instead of what it turned out to be, but when Ted heard it he decided it would be great for ‘Dancing in the Street.’

Van Halen saw the need for control following the lead-up to the band’s 6th album.

’Fair Warning’’s lack of commercial success prompted ‘Diver Down’,” says Eddie. “To me, ‘Fair Warning’ is more true to what I am and what I believe Van Halen is. We’re a hard rock band, and we were an album band. We were lucky to enter the charts anywhere. Ted and Warner Bros. wanted singles, but there were no singles on ‘Fair Warning.’ The album wasn’t a commercial flop, but it wasn’t exactly a commercial success either, although for many guitarists and Van Halen fans, ‘Fair Warning’ is a hot second between either [1978’s] ‘Van Halen’ or ‘1984.’

“1984” produced Van Halen’s first No. 1 single, “Jump”, and went on to sell more than 12 million copies in the U.S. alone. While the album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, the group were denied a No. 1 record due to the ongoing sales success of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, which, ironically, Eddie played on (the solo to “Beat It”).

See also:

Eddie Van Halen posts holiday message
Van Halen: David Lee Roth posts holiday greetings
VIDEO: David Lee Roth updates commentary for classic Dave TV special
Van Halen engineer talks about recording band’s 1978 debut album
Search Van Halen at hennemusic