Gary Cherone Recalls Introducing Eddie Van Halen To New Songwriting Techniques

For two years, Gary Cherone was the vocalist of Van Halen, and that small period of his life is something he will always be proud of. The singer recently spoke about working with Eddie Van Halen and how he introduced different ways to write songs to the icon. Even though Eddie was a king to him, he revealed that what he had up his sleeve inspired the iconic guitarist.

Cherone joined Van Halen in 1996 when Sammy Hagar quit the band, and David Lee Roth refused to join again. He filled in as a vocalist for around two years and contributed to the album ‘Van Halen III.’ The band had already grown accustomed to two vocalists, and Cherone was new blood for the band. Hence, his ideas about songwriting could have easily been frowned upon.

It’s hard to switch a way of doing something if you’ve done it the same way for years. Eddie had been working on the melody before giving life to the songs with lyrics, but Cherone introduced him to a new way of songwriting that he had never tried before. He gave Eddie some new lyrics and encouraged him to write music according to them. This pulled Eddie out of his comfort zone, which inspired him, according to Cherone.

Here is how Eddie embraced a different way of writing songs:

“As far as Eddie, I think our writing partnership was different than the other guys in the sense that I would show him a lyric, it was the first time he would write to a lyric he said. It was something that me and Nuno did forever. But that was something new for him which inspired him in different directions. He would sit on a piano…

He had all this material, I can only speak for myself, I think with the Sammy era, not that there was pressure from the record company, I think they did what they did but they knew who they were. With me coming into the fold, we were discovering who we were. ‘Year to the Day’ was something bluesy. Not that he didn’t do anything bluesy but I thought that a little song like ‘Once’ or ‘From Afar’ was from left field.

I approached from ‘Afar,’ speaking of Alice Cooper, ‘From Afar’ I approached that music, I go ‘Oh this is thematic, I can see Cooper doing something or even Floyd.’ So, I think he was free in the sense that he could try things differently with me and I’m the new kid coming in. I was almost a new toy for him, it’s like ‘Let me show you this!’ I’d be like ‘Sure’ Who am I to say, I’m in the presence of the king here.”

The songs they came up with sounded more thematic than they would typically go for, but according to Cherone, this was good since it reminded him of Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd. Unfortunately for him, after the release of ‘Van Halen III,’ the record company they were working with kept sending the demo of a new record back, which frustrated Cherone and eventually led him to quit the band. Yet, he still talks proudly about how he used to sing for Van Halen.