Despite working together on and off over the last 30 years, Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth aren’t close. “He does not want to be my friend,” Van Halen says, in a recent Billboard profile by author and music journalist Chuck Klosterman. “How can I put this: Roth’s perception of himself is different than who he is in reality. We’re not in our 20s anymore. We’re in our 60s. Act like you’re 60. I stopped coloring my hair, because I know I’m not going to be young again.”
The profile, which covers topics ranging from Van Halen’s relationship with his family and former band mates to his underlying drive to perform, is vintage Klosterman: thoughtfully written, with the occasional overblown tangent—a digression where he compares Van Halen to a Vietnam vet recalling his war experiences comes to mind. But Klosterman is never better than when he’s drawing great quote after great quote out of his subject, a man who apparently hasn’t listened to modern music in 30 years, despite being one of the world’s most popular musicians.
Here’s a collection of the best lines in the piece, as Eddie Van Halen shares his thoughts on:
Recording the guitar solo for Michael Jackson’s Beat It: “It was 20 minutes of my life. I didn’t want anything for doing that…I literally thought to myself, ‘Who is possibly going to know if I play on this kid’s record?’”
Former Van Halen vocalist Gary Cherone’s sartorial choices: “We were getting ready to go on tour, and all of a sudden I see this John Travolta outfit—these big lapels and a crazy jacket. He’s like, ‘This is my stage outfit.’ That’s when I realized it wasn’t going to work. But I don’t dislike Gary at all.”
Bassist Mike Anthony’s abilities as a player: “Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play. Before we’d go on tour, he’d come over with a video camera and I’d have to show him how to play all the parts.” (Former Van Halen vocalist Sammy Hagar posted a response to this quote on Facebook today, calling it “the biggest line of bullshit [he’s] ever heard in [his] life.”
Why Van Halen hasn’t debuted any new material since 2012: “It’s hard, because there are four people in this band, and three of us like rock’n’roll. And one of us likes dance music. And that used to kind of work, but now Dave doesn’t want to come to the table.”