DAVID LEE ROTH
Legendary rocker David Lee Roth is back with Van Halen and barking mad about dogs, writes Cameron Adams
Who let the dogs out?
Q: Since we last saw you, you’ve become a dog trainer, is that correct? A: Well, on the insurance form they’re called ‘‘ canine athletes’’. We train dogs for cattle and sheep- herding. They’re very different. Sheep are a lot like supermodels – they bunch together, they rattle very easily. You want to keep the dog 10– 15 metres out or the sheep act like girls at a nightclub: ‘‘ OMG, he’s looking!’’ Cattle are like drunks at a hockey game – two will want to fight: ‘‘ Who are you and what’s with your badge?’’ Two of them will be like: ‘‘ Leave them alone, let’s go see the game.’’ Another one is lost: ‘‘ Where’d you guys go?’’ The dog has to deal with all of that. You work them off a whistle. It’s the original video game. Q: Do you get recognised by people in the dog world? A: If you work with livestock, if you wear jeans to work, don’t tell me you don’t know Van Halen. That’s an in for me. I’m wildly enthusiastic about dog- handling – it gives me an entree to travel the world. My dog Mike will enable me to travel to the UK and Ireland. I’ll come in dead last but it’s life outside of the showbiz circle. Q: You’re back fronting Van Halen and have made A Different Kind of Truth, your first album with them since 1984. Was it important not to just tour and play old songs? A: Nostalgia is a form of denial. I love denial. I like selective amnesia too. Mix the two and you’ve got a hell of a weekend. However, in terms of aiming the starship there, nah, retromania is not a great destination. Q: Recording the album took so long, your Australian tour last year was cancelled. What was it like in the studio? There’s a history of tension between you and Eddie Van Halen. A: It was like a stand- off in a Chuck Norris movie. We each had the laser dot on everybody’s forehead, waiting for the other guy to blink. Except for Wolfie, he had a Super Soaker . . . pre-’ 80s. That’s Van Halen. Old plus new. It’s like watching Dragnet on your ipad. Q: How are you and Eddie getting on? A: If Ed and I can get along then world peace can have a chance. There’s sparks, there’s energy, there’s a team enthusiasm closer to pirates than little league. There’s still some pillaging going on there. You can hear it in the music. There’s routinely conflict but there’s a lot of laughter, a lot of appreciation for the privilege of the job. Compared to some of the other jobs we’ve all held, this is better. In one of the songs I say ‘‘ I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, rich is better’’. It’s totally better.
MIGHT AS WELL JUMP: David Lee Roth and his dog ( above) and performing at a Van Halen dress rehearsal left. Picture: Getty Images