Normally when a major rock band releases a comeback album, it’s accompanied by a full-on press blitz. That hasn’t been the case with Van Halen, currently on tour to promote A Different Kind Of Truth, their first album with David Lee Roth since 1984 (the year and the album). In fact, the only interview that we’ve seen until now has been a video of Roth conversing with the Van Halen brothers, Ed and Alex.
Ed Van Halen granted just one other interview, and that went to Esquire magazine. Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, even Guitar World were all shut out from the world of Van Halen this time around.
CBS Local spoke with Dave Curcurito, the Design Director of Esquire, who turns out to be a huge Van Halen fan, and the guy who got the gig interviewing the guitar god. He talked about how he got some quality time with one of the most influential six-stringers in rock history, and how he kept his cool during his time with the man. (The interview is in the current issue, which features Robert Downey Jr. on the cover).
CBS Local: How did you get the interview with Ed Van Halen? He’s been steering clear of press this time around.
David Curcurito, Esquire: I saw Van Halen back in January at Café Wha in Greenwich Village and it blew my mind. The next day my enthusiasm was really high, and it was suggested that I do a story. Esquire Editor David Granger is not a Van Halen fan to say the least, but he saw my enthusiasm, and OK-ed the idea. We put the request out through Ed’s publicist, who also happens to be his wife, Janie. It took a while to convince her, lots of emailing, lots of waiting. She said she wanted to talk to me on the phone to make sure I wasn’t just looking for sensational sound bites. She wanted to make sure I’d be honest.
How did you get so much access?
I just asked for an interview, which was originally scheduled for a couple ofhours over lunch. I asked to shadow him, and was initially told no. Then, Ed and Janie asked if I’d like to go to sound check the day before and watch the concert (at Madison Square Garden). After the sound check, I met Ed, and we got along really well. We broke the ice, which was great because he was nervous and so was I. The next day, the interview went great and so Ed asked if I wanted to come back the next day and check out a new invention on one of his guitars. The day after that, the fourth day, was the photo shoot, and I interviewed him some more, along with his son, Wolfgang.
During the interview, you actually played his guitar?
That was cool. By that time, I was pretty comfortable. I remember thinking I was playing pretty well, and thinking “Wow, this guitar plays great.”
What’s the vibe between the Van Halen brothers and David Lee Roth? In your story, you mention “eye-rolling” when his name comes up.
The vibe seems good to me. David Lee Roth is not from this planet. He’s like that crazy uncle or brother or cousin you know you’re going to have a blast with. Why wouldn’t they get along? They have a new album that hit #2 on the Billboard charts, a successful tour which they just added dates to, everyone is healthy, and it’s all family. Ed had nothing bad to say about Dave at all.
What did you learn about Ed or the band that you didn’t know before? The profound effect of Ed’s nerves on his life and career was an astonishing eye-opener for me.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local