Every now and then we get reminded of why we love Van Halen so much. It happens on sunny days when “Beautiful Girls” or “D.O.A.” comes on blaring through the radio, or at night when we hear “House of Pain” or “Romeo Delight”. Or when we come across an old bootleg video of a tour we wish we had seen.
Well, the last time we were reminded why we love VH so much happened to be when we were surfing the internet and stumbled across a musician who wrote and recorded some original music that we think TRULY captures the sounds and feel of old Van Halen.
His name is Craig Parker Adams. He’s a California guitar player who wrote and recorded some songs that we feel have the essence of vintage VH. The music from his homemade Youtube videos blew us away.
We thought about doing a news feature about his music for the VHND. We wondered, would our readers want to hear about some music that was NOT written by Van Halen, but which, in our opinion, kicks some serious butt and SOUNDS like early Van Halen? Since there is no word on when Van Halen themselves will be making new music anytime soon, we figured we might as well share these songs with all the Van Halen fans out there. If people like Craig’s music HALF as much as we at the VHND do, it will be well worth it!
It turns out, he couldn’t get enough of the vintage Van Halen sound, and he got tired of waiting for Van Halen to crank out some more of it, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and write some instrumentals that sound like Roth-era Van Halen.
So, here are three of his instrumentals that sound the most like early Van Halen. Hope you enjoy them!
|“HOLD EVERYTHING” sample:
||“FIVE NINE” sample:
To purchase the full songs:
All 6 of Craig’s instrumentals are available for just 99 cents each.
We called up Craig at his recording studio in Los Angeles. He turned out to be a hell of a nice guy and we did a short interview with him.
VHND: How did these great songs come about?
“Well, as a guitar player, I’ve always felt very connected to Edward’s feel. It just connects. So naturally I love to play his songs and have always dreamed of playing with guys who shared the same connection or love for vintage VH. Unfortunately I was never able to find anyone who really had the feel for the music. Then one day a friend’s band came into the studio to record. The drummer from the band, Rich Toledo, completely had Al’s sound and vibe. I couldn’t believe it! It took about 2 seconds to figure that out. Rich told me he was a huge fan too.
“We compared our VH bootlegs lists, our favorite versions of songs, concert stories, and whatever. I said, “Hey man, we should get together and have a Van Halen jam night and some beers sometime” and he said “sure”. So, I set it up and my friend Michael Duarte, who was Rich’s bass player from their band, came along to play the bass. Well we commenced partying and having fun and I recorded the whole night. And what came of it was killer… We played 20 or so VH tunes and Rich and I played together like we had played our whole lives together. It was AWESOME! This was what I had always wanted and was waiting for. When we listened back to the recording it was scary. It sounded very authentic. I ended up editing little clips of the songs into a medley from that night and made a Youtube video called “Van Halen, All Cut Up”. You can totally hear straight away that the vibe was definitely there. And to me you’re sunk without it…
“Soon after that jam night I thought how cool it would be to actually write and record original songs that sounded like old unreleased VH tunes. For me that sound and era of Van Halen is something that I just could never get enough of. Rich thought it was a great idea. So we wrote and demoed six songs together.It’s not very easy to capture the Van Halen sound and vibe, trust me! Not easy at all…
“Basically what we’ve tried to do is capture and combine elements of different songs to create new songs. Like our song, “Five Nine”. The drum feel and sound is like Van Halen I . Kind of a “Jamie’s Cryin” thing and the guitars feel and sound like Van Halen II. Kind of a “Dance The Night Away” / “Women in Love” type vibe with a break down, ala “Light Up The Sky”. The guitar overdub is doing a “Jamie’s Cryin” type of single long note melody thing.
“Hold Everything” is just a straight ahead drop D crusher. Our version of an “Unchained” type of thing. The breakdown section with overdubs ( which is not on the live demo ) was inspired by the ultra cool feel of the breakdown in “Little Guitars”. It has a giant slow sliding echoey type of thing. It’s very cool.
Then there is the song “Possible”. I think this tune has some really cool and clever parts. The drums have an “I’ll Wait” 1984 feel and the guitar is a mix between Fair Warning and Van Halen II. The parts themselves overall have a Woman and Children First flavor to me…
So as you can see we’re combining vibes from different songs. I posted the demos online to see how people would respond. I wanted to see if there would be any demand for this type of music from two unknown guys. Just the fact that YOU loved them enough to call me is so cool I can’t believe it. Honored is an understatement. But ultimately we would love to write more tunes. My hope is to make a strong record of music that sounds like the Roth-era of VH. It’s the kind of music a lot of us still wish they were doing themselves.”
VHND: Are you, or have you ever been, in a Van Halen tribute band?
“Well, we are a tribute to VH, but in a different way. The difference is that our tribute is to the sound and vibe of the music. Take my word for it, you don’t want to see me in a wig and overalls with a striped guitar. That ain’t me! I should also say that that is why the music is instrumental. I don’t think it would work if it had vocals.”
VHND: What do you think Eddie and the guys would think of what you and Rich are doing?
“Well, it’s my understanding that Ed hates it when people try to do his thing. But, I’m not taking his notes. I’m copping his vibe. And frankly in a lot of ways that is much worse. So I suspect his regard for Rich and me would be somewheres down near the bottom of the swamp. But in our defense, we’re really just trying to keep and celebrate a spirit and sound of a flavor of music that we absolutely love. For us, it’s the ultimate respect. Just like it is for everybody else who’s keeping the Van Halen spirit alive in their own way. This is just how we do it! “