The third VAN HALEN frontman, Gary Cherone, who took over when Sammy Hagarleft the group (or was fired, depending on whom you ask) in 1996, was interviewed on a recent episode of “Talk Is Jericho”, the podcast of Chris Jericho, the world champion pro wrestler, actor, New York Times best-selling author and lead vocalist of the metal band FOZZY.
On whether he was close with Eddie Van Halen during his time with VAN HALEN:
“Yeah, without a doubt. All the guys. But because I wrote with Eddie… Eddie was the sweetest guy in the world. Obviously, he’s had some with problems with alcohol and all that. He’s got through it. This tour now… even 2007… I didn’t see 2012; I don’t think I was in town. But from what I’ve seen of [the current tour], the band is ballistic. I mean, people give Roth a lot of shit, but Roth is Roth. He was a prototype. More people copied his style… I mean, he’s responsible for almost every ’80s rock singer, pulling out the whole party attitude, the whole shtick. He really was a master of ceremonies, so he’s still doing his thing. But back to the band… Alex and Wolfie [Van Halen, VAN HALEN bassist] are incredible players, so this tour is great. Eddie is playing his ass off, and I’m happy that he’s clean and he’s straight. I’ve seen a couple of interviews. I think he did the Smithsonian thing a year ago, and it made me feel good that he was in a good place. I actually like the last VH record, ‘A Different Kind Of Truth’. Some of the heaviest stuff they’ve ever done. It’s great.”
On “Van Halen III” (1998), the only VAN HALEN album he appears on:
“It was more of an Eddie record. He was coming out, at the end of the Sammy period… I don’t wanna get into all that stuff. But I think Eddie was feeling his oats. And I came in, I was writing. He sat at the piano. When Eddie sat at the piano, I’d say, ‘Play that again.’ And we would do something a little bit outside the VH circle, what was expected. Looking back on it, I would have arranged some of those songs differently. In hindsight, you can do that with all your records. And that was a battle I had with some of the EXTREME songs. I think it’s a guitarist-singer thing. Some of those arrangements were a little unorthodox, especially coming out of that VAN HALEN world. So if I was to do that record again, some of those songs would be shorter.”