Former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony reveals that he recently spoke with his former bandmate drummer Alex Van Halen for the first time in 10 years. He also says he’s open to the possibility of a reunion of the original Van Halen lineup with guitarist Eddie Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth.
Speaking in an October 21 interview with Eddie Trunk on his Trunk Nation radio show, Anthony said his former roadie from his Van Halen years recently reconnected him with Alex Van Halen.
“This was this past May, and I hadn’t spoken to Alex in like 10, 11 years,” he says. “We talked for about 20 minutes and had a great conversation just about life in general and getting older and what’s going on around us in the music industry. And it was actually really great talking to him.”
Trunk also asks Anthony—around the 13:30 mark in the stream below—if he sees any chance for a Van Halen reunion. “Do you have any interest in it?” Trunk asks him. “Do you have any desire? Do you feel there’s any unfinished business, or are you over it?”
“You know what? In some ways I’m kind of over it, only because you can only hold your breath for so long,” Anthony says.
“But it’s kind of interesting that you say ‘any unfinished business.’ It’s like Van Halen, being one of the biggest bands there ever was, it’s kind of sad to see how everything kind of dwindled down like it did, with a whimper. Which this band, if we were gonna go out, should have gone out just killing it all over the world
“I’m always that never-say-never guy. If the circumstances were right, I’d have no problem [reuniting]. I love going out and playing the music. But if we did it, it would have to be none of this four separate planes, and four separate this and that, and you only see them onstage. I don’t know if we could ever be a brotherhood like it was before. You know, we used to call it—when Sam was in the band—we used to call ourselves the four-headed monster. But if everybody could get along great, I think it would just be great to do it for the fans.
“And as far as Dave goes, obviously it would have been great to be onstage with Dave again, because I always liked his silliness onstage anyway. It really is kind of comical, you know. But it always made for an interesting show.”
Anthony also talks about two previous opportunities where the original band had a chance to reunite. The first was on September 4, 1996, when the four came together for the first time in 11 years to be presenters at the MTV Video Music Awards. The celebratory evening turned contentious when Roth tried to dominate the proceedings. The singer also believed a Van Halen reunion was in the offing and was unaware that the band was still interviewing new singers to replace Hagar, who had left earlier that year.
“It was all brotherly love until Dave and Ed almost went to blows after that,” Anthony says around the 2:30 mark. “Because Roth, he was pretty much thinking that the whole night was going to be about him, and Eddie just wanted to answer questions [from the press]. Roth just wanted all the press to be about him, and Eddie’s going, ‘No this is what’s happening, we’re doing a step at a time…’
“Next thing I know, the security guy was, like, arms outstretched, Dave on one side, Ed cocked, ready to go, on the other side. And I’m going, Oh shit, get me the first flight the hell out of here.
“It was all Roth. People thought it was staged. Even Roth thought we were duping him because right after that is when we announced Gary Cherone being in the band. And it wasn’t that at all.”
Anthony also talks about Van Halen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. As fans will recall, the Van Halen brothers, Anthony, Hagar, and Roth were inducted, but only Anthony and Hagar showed up to accept the award. Anthony says it was a missed opportunity for the group to perform again.
“I remember sitting there next to Hagar at the table and we’re watching R.E.M. play,” he says, “and I lean over to Sam and I say, ‘God if we all could have been here, we would have kicked ass something that would not have been forgotten for many years.’ It was really sad, you know?
“I’m up there giving my little acceptance speech, and I’m looking on one side of the room, there’s Keith Richards, and I’m looking on the other side, there’s John McEnroe and everybody in between that. And I’m going, Man this is the greatest thing ever! I couldn’t understand why those guys just wouldn’t want to be there.”