David Lee Roth has made it clear — if you're looking to catch the spirit of Van Halen in concert — he's the man to see. Roth spoke to The New York Times and gave an in-depth interview regarding, the state of Van Halen, his painting, and the pandemic, among other things.
Regarding whether Van Halen will ever join forces again after a five-year hiatus — especially with Eddie Van Halen's reported cancer battles, Roth said, “I don’t know that Eddie is ever really going to rally for the rigors of the road again. I don’t even want to say I’ve waited — I’ve supported for five years. Because what I do is physical as well as musical and spiritual — you can’t take five years off from the ring. But I did. And I do not regret a second of it. He’s a band mate. We had a colleague down. And he’s down now for enough time that I don’t know that he’s going to be coming back out on the road. You want to hear the classics? You’re talking to him.”
Roth — who had briefly served as a licensed EMT in New York City during the 1990's — had been on the road opening for Kiss when the pandemic shut everything down, believes that he might actually have had the coronavirus: “I’m not so unconvinced I didn’t have the corona. Man, they gave me enough prednisone to put boots on the moon! We left a trail of groupies, rubble and incandescent reviews. But I don’t want to go back through it.”
Regarding the handling of how the U.S. has handled the coronavirus, Roth, whose father was a doctor explained, “I sure wish our country had taken a Marine Corps approach to Covid. Instead of (creating) a divide, good or bad, right or reasonable, wrong or otherwise.”
When pushed as to whether he leaned left or right politically, “Diamond Dave” admitted: “I love civil rights. Equal rights. Women’s rights. Kids’ rights. The rights of the rights. OK? The entire list. But conversely, I’m prepared to shave my head, join the Marines and go defend those rights. That in itself isn’t really a left-wing statement. Or it didn’t used to be when I was growing up.”
Roth went on to recall: “I grew up in a really great time and a really great space during integrational busing in the '60s. I went to schools that were 90 percent Black and Spanish, and I was in the color guard with a crew cut. Every morning at seven we’d march to put up the flag. And then at night we’d go to Kenny Brower's brother’s house, smoke pot and listen to that new Doors record. Combat hippie!”
Recently released is author Greg Renoff‘s Van Halen biography, Van Halen Rising: How A Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal. Renoff sheds light on how the Van Halen brothers were never particularly smitten with David Lee Roth — either personally or as a singer — yet after three failed auditions for the Van Halen brothers' band Mammoth, his ownership of the all important P.A. system helped him gain entree into their good graces: “I think it was always — especially for the Van Halen brothers — a series of compromises. I think they understood what they needed, which was somebody like Dave. They needed a guy out front. They needed that, One of the most amazing things was that, y'know, when people would tell me what Mammoth was like; which was the three-piece — it was a bass player Mark Stone, Ed and Al. It was just like seeing Black Sabbath, they said. It was just like the hair was down their face, it was long hair, and they're in front of the microphones, they're kind of banging their heads — they had no stage presence at all.”