I can't read music. Instead, I'd do stuff inside the piano, do harmonics and all kinds of crazy things. They used to put me in these annual piano contests down at Long Beach City College, and two years in a row, I won first prize - out of like 5,000 kids!
When I'm home on a break, I lock myself in my room and play guitar. After two or three hours, I start getting into this total meditation. It's a feeling few people experience, and that's usually when I come up with weird stuff. It just flows. I can't force myself. I don't sit down and say I've got to practice.
If you want to be a rock star or just be famous, then run down the street naked, you'll make the news or something. But if you want music to be your livelihood, then play, play, play and play! And eventually you'll get to where you want to be.
I have pictures of me sitting in the racquetball court in my pajamas with an acoustic guitar, and Wolfgang is probably just two-and-a-half-feet tall. I'll never forget the day I saw his foot tapping along in beat! I knew then, I couldn't wait for the day I'd be able to make music with my son. I don't know what more I could ask for.
Cancer is like a cockroach. It just comes back stronger. I'm tearing apart the immune system of the cockroach and seeing how it ticks. I've opened up my own pathology center.
A guitar is a very personal extension of the person playing it. You have to be emotionally and spiritually connected to your instrument. I'm very brutal on my instruments, but not all the time.
If you have a great-sounding guitar that's a quality instrument and a good amp, and you know how to make the guitar talk, that's the key. It starts with the guitar and knowing what it should sound and feel like.
I don't feel a day older when it comes to my approach to music or what gets me off than when I was a teenager. I've always been into different kinds of stuff and when I play I like to play loud. I like my arm hairs to move and I like my body to vibrate 'cause I like the feel of it; I'm still a teenager at heart.
Music is for people. The word 'pop' is simply short for popular. It means that people like it. I'm just a normal jerk who happens to make music. As long as my brain and fingers work, I'm cool.
It's funny, when bands or younger musicians ask me: 'So, what does it take to make it?' Well, first explain to me what you mean by 'making it': Do you want to be a rock star or do you want music to be your livelihood?
I'm not a rock star. Sure I am, to a certain extent because of the situation, but when kids ask me how it feels to be a rock star, I say leave me alone, I'm not a rock star. I'm not in it for the fame, I'm in it because I like to play.
The stainless-steel frets were a major breakthrough, because of the amount of playing and bending that I do. I have to get my guitars refretted every couple of months.
I've had a hip replacement, I've beaten cancer, I had my hand operation, and I stopped drinking. Something inside of me just went, 'I'm done.'
When Van Halen started out, there was no path to fame. We just played what we liked. Even today it always comes down to the simplicity of rock and roll.
David Lee Roth had the idea that if you covered a successful song, you were half way home. C'mon - Van Halen doing 'Dancing in the Streets'? It was stupid. I started feeling like I would rather bomb playing my own songs than be successful playing someone else's music.
I destroyed a lot of guitars trying to get them to do what I wanted, but I learned something from every guitar I tore apart, and discovered even more things. Things like if the string is not straight from the bridge saddle to the nut, you're going to have friction.
I can't read music. Instead, I'd do stuff inside the piano, do harmonics and all kinds of crazy things. They used to put me in these annual piano contests down at Long Beach City College, and two years in a row, I won first prize - out of like 5,000 kids! The judges were like, 'Very interesting interpretation!' I thought I was playing it right.
When I was growing up and listening to bands like the Dave Clark Five, the groove was what initially got me going. I really like that funky, heavy groove.
'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge' took a year to record; that's why the playing on it might sound somewhat labored. 'Balance,' on the other hand, was written and recorded in only four months, so the whole process was quicker and more immediate.
I'm blessed with a good pair of ears. That's how I fooled my piano teacher. I'd watch his fingers and I'd listen to it, and I just kind of basically learned it by myself.