Billboard, roth, and the circle
I'll preface this by saying that while I consider myself one of the biggest Van Halen fans on Earth, loving pretty much everything they have ever done, I am by no means a "fan boy." I think there are way too many people out there who think you either have to love all the decisions these guys make or you have to hate every decision they make. I think true fans can look through the smoke and mirrors that have surrounded this band for many years and see what's really going on and form logical conclusions. Just because you're a fan of a band or artist doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they say or do. To do otherwise would constitute fan boy status. Let's break it down...
Their Management sucks.
- Zero press/performances for 2012's A Different Kind of Truth, their first album in 14 years (Ed did an interview in Esquire magazine of all places, and it wasn't really even about the new album)
- An advertised, then cancelled leg of U.S. tour in 2012
- An advertised, then completely cancelled Australian tour in 2013
- A genuine disinterest in playing ANY (even slightly) smaller markets besides major cities
- The Jimmy Kimmel late-night fiasco this past spring where the band hadn't played a live show in nearly 2 years, was clearly rusty around the edges, and elected to play a live spot to a large televised audience that could just as easily put their credit cards back in their wallets after seeing Roth stammering around onstage after destroying his nose with the mic stand and the rest of the band looking clearly out of sorts (probably hoping Roth could at least pull it together to get through this train wreck of a performance/managerial decision). Speaking of Roth...
Dave's always stunk live. Not much of a concern here...
True Fans miss the hagar stuff.
"To expect Roth to sing a Sammy Hagar song would be like putting Keith Richards on guitar in Dream Theater."
I've said it before, I'll say it again- those 4 studio albums they did with Sammy Hagar are masterpieces. The songwriting and production are on another planet from their early stuff (which I love just as much, but they grew with Sam in the band). I challenge you to find much of anything they recorded with Roth that matches the depth of tunes they did later with Hagar like "5150" or "Cabo Wabo." And it feels like a crime to not hear "Poundcake" or "Finish What Ya Started" at a VH show today. But alas, every VH fan knows it is both a psychotic fantasy and a grave injustice to expect Roth to ever sing a Sammy Hagar-fronted song (besides a Montrose cover back in the day). To expect Roth to sing a Sammy Hagar song would be like putting Keith Richards on guitar in Dream Theater. It's like forcing a square peg in the round hole. So, yeah, don't expect to ever hear a Sam song as long as Roth is within a 5-mile radius of a microphone. Not that Roth's ego would ever allow him to "lower" himself to sing a song by another guy that fronted VH, even if he had the ability to do so. As a fan, it bums me out that they have to ignore four #1 albums and twelve #1 hits, but it's what we have to reserve ourselves to in the present situation. But, in the interest of playing devil's advocate: If Sammy were fronting the band again, would we hear "Light Up the Sky" or "Drop Dead Legs"? Probably not, so it makes me happy that we can still hear the Roth-era stuff with VH and the Sam-era stuff with his band, The Circle (featuring Mike Anthony on bass, Vic Johnson on guitar and Jason Bonham on drums).
True Fans love Michael Anthony
Some may argue that Mike shouldn't have toured with Sammy after he split from the band after the train wreck '04 tour. C'mon... Did you see the condition Ed was in on that tour and the couple of years after that? If you need a reminder, there's an atrocious version of "Humans Being" on YouTube from that 2004 tour that should quickly remind you. It makes the "Jump" vid from the '07 tour where the keyboard track and the guitar were in totally different keys look downright sensational. If Mike is like most other musicians on this planet, he likes to play, especially live. Mike and Sam just have that connection onstage and they long to play in front of people. They know the fans love it too. So, why would Mike sit around waiting for Ed and Al to get a wild hair and want to record/tour again? For some time in the mid-2000's, it looked like Ed could turn up dead any day, much less have anything going on musically. Mike would have still been replaced by Wolf even if he would have remained "loyal" to the brothers and sat at home. I've been happy as hell to see him playing with the Wabos, Chickenfoot and now The Circle. Wolf has done a great job, but Mikey's presence is still missed in VH. It's not truly Van Halen without him.
As far as Ed's comments about Mike in the recent Billboard interview, are we surprised? The only thing I was surprised about wasn't Ed's scathing remarks (about a guy who has had ample opportunities to bash him and chosen to take the high road, mind you), it was rather the fact that Ed even addressed those questions in the first place. He even talked about Gary Cherone a little bit, and his era in VH has been buried with Jimmy Hoffa since 1999! I guess we should be glad to know Eddie even acknowledges their existence in the Universe at this point.
Alright, let's conclude this...