The newly published Modern Drummer Legends Vol. 2 - Alex Van Halen book includes a brand new interview with the legendary Van Halen drummer that was conducted prior to his brother Eddie Van Halen's death.
In the interview Alex was asked about the importance of having a producer in the studio with the band. He responded (via UCR), "Part of it was the conflict between the band and Dave.
"One of the things that made everything work was that we came from opposite ends of the spectrum. Dave was vaudeville. Ed and I were coming from Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath.
"So having that strange chemistry is what made it work, oddly enough. But you do need a mediator. Otherwise we would never have gotten anything done."
He elaborated, "If Dave came in with a song, I would respect how they heard it. And then it's the old trick, 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!' And that means, 'Okay, I'll listen to you, but then I'm gonna make it mine. And by the end of the process it will sound nothing like what you hummed me.'"
Alex also compared the different dynamics of Sammy Hagar and Roth. He said that Sammy "has a great rhythmic sense and of course that voice. Dave was much more of a poet. Dave is creative - 90 percent of it is garbage, but that 10 percent is f***ing worth it."
The book is available at the Modern Drummer online store.