WEST HOLLYWOOD — It’s not exactly what Van Halen fans had hoped for, but it’s definitely intriguing. David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, former singers for the group, will co-headline a national tour beginning May 29 near Cleveland.
And if Tuesday’s (April 16) press conference to announce the outing is any indication, Diamond Dave and the Red Rocker are going to be the perfect pairing. Like a rock and roll comedy duo, the blond bastions of partying traded gags one-after-another at the Sky Bar, setting each other up and flashing face-wide grins at each punch line.
“Sammy and I are like fraternity brothers that have been through the same sh—y hazing,” Roth said. “I think this tour is going to last a lot longer than Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love” (see “Hole Walks Out On Tour, Manson Injury Postpones Several Dates” ).
Roth and Hagar, the man who replaced him in Van Halen in 1985, certainly share a line or two on their résumés, but their joint tour is about more than that, Hagar said. “This is about making a statement.”
“What we are about is a spirit, an attitude,” added Roth, who was clad in black leather and surrounded by women in fluorescent yellow spandex cat suits. “It goes beyond the last band we were in. It’s a state of mind and a point of view that Van Halen has misplaced — twice.”
Hagar said he first approached Roth with the idea five years ago, but the boisterous singer shot it down.
“Yes, Sam, you did have the idea first, but the time was wrong,” Roth said. “Now the time is right. It’s completely unpredictable.”
Tuesday marked only the second time the two, who have traded verbal jabs in the past, have spent any significant time together under one roof.
“I think that was before we met,” Hagar said of their past animosity. Now that they’re acquainted, will they perform together onstage? “We don’t know each other well enough. I don’t trust him,” Hagar joked.
“Any rivalry that may have occurred is nothing that can’t be cured with a little Cabo Wabo Tequila,” Roth added, referring to Hagar’s liquor brand.
Jokes aside, the singers said their friendly rivalry will push both of them to perform to the best of their abilities, hence the boxing reference in the tour’s official slogan: “Song for song, the heavyweight champs of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Roth and Hagar will each play 90-minute sets, alternating the headlining slot.
“We’re going to flip a blonde in the next city and I’m going to call tails,” Roth joked. “You have to think of it as two title fights with no under card. This is a co-headlining tour here. We’ll flip a coin and the winner will headline opening night and then we’ll flip-flop.”
Both singers said they plan to include a heavy dose of Van Halen in their sets.
“I’m going to do almost exclusively the Van Halen catalog,” Roth said. “It’s about time that we show up and not just do renditions. I have a hot band that will serve it large.”
“He’s going to do some of the Van Halen songs I did,” Hagar joked.
“Since Dave actually wrote those songs,” Roth shot back.
“What you have is quintessential Americana, and you couldn’t pick a more appropriate time for that,” explained Roth, who described the vibe of the tour as a cross between Jimmy Buffett and Limp Bizkit. “Between the two of us there is probably something between 80 to 100 million albums sold. And whether you’ve owned it or not, you’ve heard Sammy or my voice blaring out of a pickup truck in front of you at the drive-thru at the local Burger King for how many summers?”
As for the chances of Eddie and Alex Van Halen joining either singer for a reunion, it doesn’t appear likely. Although Hagar and Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony are working together on a side project and both Hagar and Roth said Anthony is welcome to perform with them, they did not sound interested in the Van Halen brothers.
“I’m not sure what the brothers think and I’m not sure I really care,” Roth said.
When asked why Gary Cherone, the other former Van Halen singer, is not on the bill, Roth joked that the former Extreme frontman was busy doing “The Vagina Monologues.”
Roth/Hagar tour dates, according to a spokesperson for the tour:
- 5/29 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH @ Blossom Music Center
- 5/31 – Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Music Center
- 6/1 – Tinley Park, IL @ Tweeter Center
- 6/2 – Noblesville, IN @ Verizon Wireless Music Center
- 6/4 – Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
- 6/6 – Bonner Springs, KS @ Sandstone Amphitheatre
- 6/7 – Maryland Heights, MO @ UMB Bank Pavilion
- 6/8 – East Troy, WI @ Alpine Valley Music Theatre
- 6/10 – Peoria, IL @ Peoria Civic Center Arena
- 6/11 – Columbus, OH @ Polaris Amphitheater
- 6/14 – Selma, TX @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
- 6/15 – Dallas, TX @ Smirnoff Music Centre
- 6/16 – The Woodlands, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
- 6/18 – Albuquerque, NM @ Journal Pavilion
- 6/19 – Englewood, CO @ Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
- 6/21 – Phoenix, AZ @ Cricket Pavilion
- 6/22 – Devore, CA @ Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion
- 6/24 – Universal City, CA @ Universal Amphitheatre
- 6/25 – Fresno, CA @ Selland Arena
- 6/27 – Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre
- 6/29 – George, WA @ The Gorge