Nuttier than Letterman and Leno hosting a telethon together, more dangerous than Ellen attending Anne’s baby shower, David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar – those rival former singers of Van Halen – are coheadlining a 20-city tour (each with his own sans-Eddie band) starting May 29 in Ohio. ”There’s a little bit of unease about this, like a NASCAR race,” notes Roth, 46. ”Are you here to see the winner or the crash?” Or as Hagar, 54, puts it: ”It’s not Billy and Elton – it’s Tyson and Lewis.” In that spirit, we challenged both to a few raucous rounds of Q&A.
EW On a scale of 1 to 11, how hard are you partying right now?
DAVID LEE ROTH Let me look around…6? We got a gin and tonic going. And we got a little sex and violence on the television. That qualifies.
EW You once said that you want to: ”make music and sing and dance…make ya smile, make ya cry – and charge ya $8.50.” So why do seats on this tour cost as much as $65?
DLR You’re saying I’m not worth it, homeboy? What you have here is an entire retrospective of a piece of Americana. I’ve got more hits than Beethoven. You know da-da-da-da [Beethoven’s Fifth]. While you’re struggling to hum the next one, I’m going to recite the index to your life: ”Hot for Teacher”…”California Girls”…”Jump”…
EW Looking back, do you regret the buttless pants?
DLR It’s more au courant than ever. I still have them. Don’t you antagonize me – I might just show up at your office wearin’ ‘em.
EW Just between us, whaddaya think the teacher’s gonna look like this year?
DLR She’s gonna be a Korean grad student with dreadlocks, neoprimitive tattoos, and a tongue bolt. She does Tae-Bo three nights a week, speaks four languages, digs Timo Maas and Supa DJ Dmitry mixes but secretly knows every lyric to Big Daddy Diamond Dave’s litany. She even knows what a litany is.
EW Which is the more poignant Van Halen lyric: Sammy’s ”Only time will tell if we stand the test of time,” or your ”Got an on-ramp comin’ through my bedroom”?
DLR Well, obviously what I speak ain’t poetry. And if you thoroughly understand that, then you see the poetry in it. Sam seems to have repeated himself within the space of 18 syllables. I will forever be cursed as an artist, but he could become a congressman.
EW Is one ever too old to ride around the stage on a giant inflatable microphone?
DLR Nevah. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you rock. Look at Jon Secada.
EW What’s Eddie doing as he’s reading this interview?
DLR I think he’s talking to himself and his key words are probably: ”Uh-oh.”
EW Don’t tell Sammy, but you were my favorite singer in Van Halen.
DLR Oh, thank you much. That means a lot. God bless.