Rocker Eddie Van Halen and the band that bore his surname ruled the 80’s with their hair metal ditties, but the musician has opened up about his struggles to maintain sobriety, and how he was initially fearful about recording without the help of alcohol.
It’s been several years since Van Halen (the man, not the band) ditched booze, but Eddie says the idea of creating and recording new material while sober was still pretty daunting. He recounts working on the band’s new album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” with former and renewed bandmate David Lee Roth, and explains that early on, drinking and working were interlinked for him.
Eddie Van Halen explains that when he first started out, he was dealing with stage fright and anxiety about performing. And while he says he doesn’t blame his dad for his later alcohol struggles, the rocker recalls his father’s advice about taking the stage:
“I don’t mean to blame my dad, but when I started playing in front of people, I’d get so damn nervous. I asked him, ‘Dad, how do you do it?’ That’s when he handed me the cigarette and the drink. And I go, Oh, this is good! It works!”
Now 57, Van Halen has battled cancer and switched to an electronic cigarette for health reasons. But drinking was a tougher hoe to row, and in the tell-all Esquire interview, he explains that he still worries about playing without the help of Jack Daniels or Jim Beam:
“It’s a sullen truth, but this is the first record I’ve made sober. There’s a certain place that you have to get to where things just flow, and I have to say that when I drank and did blow, it might have created a false sense of getting there easier. I’m not comparing myself to all these famous artists in history, but you know, everybody, guys like Mozart, they were all alcoholics. And it does somehow enable you to lower your inhibitions.”
“At the same time, it also gives you a false sense that what you’re doing is great. Now I’m so aware of everything that sometimes I’m afraid to pick up my guitar.”
It seems whatever he’s doing now is working and his comeback is on track- Van Halen just added 18 dates to their 2012 US tour.