What happens when you remove the heart and soul from classic Van Halen? You’re about to find out thanks to YouTuber Dr. Bob.
Bobby Huff aka “Dr. Bob” has a musical surgery channel and for his latest episode he put the 1978 Van Halen song “Runnin’ With The Devil” on the cutting table to demonstrate the detrimental effects of something called quantization. Dr. Bob defines quantization as the process of “correcting” all the parts of a song to a fixed beat, even if that’s not how they were originally played.
“Almost every new song you’ve heard in the past 20 to 30 years has been time corrected or programmed,” said Dr. Bob. “Which means every part of the song is in perfect time and locked to the grid or metronome to non-human standards of playing.”
He added that while this process may work perfectly for some, it’s the exact opposite for classic rock bands who often pride themselves on their ability to capture human emotion and raw talent on tape.
To illustrate the dangers of modern musical technology, Dr Bob goes on to “fix” Van Halen’s 1978 classic “Runnin’ With The Devil”.
“I know this is going to border on blasphemy, but that’s the point,” Dr Bob warns before operating on the song’s intro and solo by timing the tempo at exactly 95 beats per minute.
Over the years Van Halen band members have talked about how they preferred to leave the mistakes in songs rather than go back and “perfect” them. In a 2006 interview with Howard Stern, Eddie Van Halen brought up the topic when he was asked to give his thoughts on the then current state of music.
“I think half the problem [with today’s music] is the technology,” Eddie said. “How many bands actually go in a room and play together? It’s called Pro Tools…it’s a fucking tool! They take a riff, they loop it – eight bars – and they loop it. That’s it. Then you gotta figure out how to pull it off live.”