EDDIE VAN HALEN's Conversations With God

June 11, 2009

Spinner.com recently conducted an interview with legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen. An excerpt from the chat follows below.

Spinner.com: You didn't start off playing guitar, did you?

Eddie: I never took guitar lessons. I took classical piano lessons from the age of six when we lived in Holland. And when we moved to America, it was just the typical thing except I was really good at it; so was my brother. Long Beach City College had this contest, it was a piano recital, and I won three years in a row. But I stopped playing piano for one reason: I was forced to do it and I wasn't allowed to play what I wanted, so it wasn't fun. So I rebelled and bought myself a drum kit. And my brother quit playing piano, too, and he started playing guitar. Well, Alex started playing my drums and he got better than me, so I said, "OK, fuck you, I'll play your guitar."

Spinner.com: Talk about your recording/writing technique now.

Eddie: It takes me a good hour to loosen up my fingers and I always just leave the DAT tape rolling or something, or a cassette, anything, and after two and a half, three hours, you kind of get into a zone that I'm kind of relearning because I'm not drinking anymore. When I used to drink, it would get me there quicker. It's kind of the zone where you're not thinking, where you're just open to anything and I just believe that when you play long enough you're able to execute with your fingers, whatever God gives you, and God's not gonna give you nothing if you don't practice or play. So after a couple, three hours, God says, "OK, he's ready. I'll throw him a bone." And God's got a sense of humor, too — sometimes he gives me shit, 'cause not everything I do I like.

Spinner.com: I think every writer hits upon moments where you know you've reached something special. What are a couple of those moments for you?

Eddie: It's like "Jump": It was our only No. 1 single, and believe it or not I built my studio to put that song on our record 'cause everyone hated it, same with the song "Right Now". Alex and I tracked the whole thing, certain people didn't want to be a part of it, then it wins a Grammy and a MTV Award for Video of the Year, and all of a sudden it's like, "Hey, yeah, great!" But it was like pulling teeth to get the person to sing the damn song. And there are certain things that I fight for because I do write all the music so I think I have a little bit of say in how things should go. I'm not a tyrant, as a lot of people think. I just expect other people, if you're in this band, to work as hard as I do.

Read the entire interview at Spinner.com.

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