Frank Meyer is a man with stories to tell. Being a veteran musician, author, journalist and film director, he’s met plenty of interesting people, seen plenty of interesting things. But it’s what he heard that may be of most interest to Van Halen fans.
While a guest on the podcast The DLR Cast, The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs singer/guitarist told co-host Darren Paltrowitz of his experiences while both working and hanging out with the man himself – David Lee Roth.
Meyer’s association with Roth began in the early 90s when he had the chance to interview the famous front man at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on the Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. A few years later, Meyer would have another opportunity to interview Roth, this time at Roth’s home. Meyer was writing for POPsmear magazine at the time.
“Dave invited [myself and the publisher of POPsmear] over to his house and we went to the Pasadena mansion,” said Meyer. “He gave us a full tour and we sat in his back house studio and he was playing us unreleased songs, jams and just all this stuff. I spent probably eight hours at his place!”
It wouldn’t be long before the alcohol started to flow….and flow…and flow.
“Eddie [Anderson, Roth’s personal assistant] had us stop on the way [to Dave’s house], we followed him, and he bought a BOX of alcohol,” said Meyer. “[He bought] Patron [tequila] and wine and beer and we killed it all. I got so f***ing wasted that, at one point, I was in Dave’s bathroom taking a pee and the whole room started spinning. I kinda had to focus and go like, ‘Do NOT vomit in David Lee Roth’s bathroom…do NOT’ ya know, like, ‘Keep it together, keep it…’ and I managed to keep it together and I drove outta there. My friend was a mess and Dave turns to me and he’s like, [in David Lee Roth voice], ‘Is he gonna be alright?!’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah Dave we’re fine. Thanks so much. It was great hangin’ with ya man,’ and we split. I go down the driveway and the gates open. I turn the corner and I park and then I open the door and I just vomited! My friend got so wasted he missed his flight the next morning too. So that was my first time with Dave.”
There would be more meet-ups and hang-outs with Roth in the years that followed. Meyer also had the chance to chat with people within Roth’s circle, including his manager Matt Sencio, who managed to drop quite the bomb on Meyer who is a self-proclaimed die-hard Van Halen fan.
In March of 2004, when Van Halen announced their reunion tour with Sammy Hagar, Meyer was working on a book project with David Lee Roth. According to Meyer, this story takes place on the exact day Van Halen announced the Hagar reunion tour (which, according to the VHND archives, was on March 26th, 2004). Meyer was chatting with Sencio and brought up his disappointment with the failed Roth/Van Halen reunion attempts. That’s when Sencio revealed to Meyer that Roth had secretly recorded songs with Van Halen in 2000.
“I said [to Matt], ‘Man, it’s such a drag as we sit here Eddie and Sammy are announcing their reunion tour,” said Meyer. “As you and I both know it should have been Dave. I know they were trying to get it together forever and it just couldn’t happen. And he goes, ‘Yeah man, we tried so hard so many times. The whole MTV Awards thing [in 1996], and then they did the songs on the greatest hits [“Me Wise Magic” & “Can’t Get This Stuff No More”], we thought that would sort of lead to a more formal reunion but it didn’t. Then back in 2000 when they went into the studio and recorded all those songs…’ and I went, ‘Woah, woah! WHAT?!’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, oh I guess a lot of people don’t know this, I guess you don’t know this.’
“In 2000, three years after MTV, seven years before the reunion [with Dave and Wolfgang Van Halen on bass], he says Dave went up to 5150 [Studios] and they wrote most of a new album, a bunch of original songs, and recorded them live at 5150,” continued Meyer. “I’d never heard this before and I’m a superfreak [Van Halen fan]. I was like, ‘WHAT?! You’re telling me they went in and wrote and recorded?! Have you heard this stuff?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, I got a tape of it. Wanna hear it?’ And he played it for me…the whole f***in’ thing!”
Meyer went on to explain that the songs he heard were the original tracks that ended up on Van Halen’s 2012 album A Different Kind Of Truth featuring Roth on vocals and Wolfgang Van Halen on bass.
“It wasn’t the remake songs so it wasn’t ‘Tattoo’ ‘cuz that’s ‘Down In Flames’ and it wasn’t ‘She’s The Woman’. It wasn’t all the songs that stemmed from old [demos], it was all the rest of ‘em,” said Meyer. “It was ‘As Is’, and it was ‘Honeybaby[sweetiedoll]’ and it was ‘Trouble With Never’ and it was, um, ‘Blood and Fire’. It was all the songs that weren’t stemming essentially from some pre-Van Halen 1 idea. And each one, it was a soundboard tape from 5150, of all four of them. So, presumably it was [including] Michael Anthony [on bass] though I don’t recall if I asked [Sencio] that question. It could have been that they did it as a three piece and then Ed played the bass later, I don’t know. It sounded live and I asked him [if it was live] and he said, ‘It’s them live in the studio.’ But it could have been them as a three piece live or even as a two-piece, then Dave did his vocals, then Eddie did his bass. But it sounded generally like they were live in the studio jammin’ in whatever form.”
Back in 2008, the Van Halen News Desk’s Jeff Hausman asked Michael Anthony about those 2000 recordings. Hearing Anthony’s response, it seems likely that he was part of those sessions.
“We had some pretty decent ideas goin’,” said Anthony. “After a while it was like, ‘Well, Dave’s being Dave again,’ and it was just, old things were comin’ up…A lot of it was really good and shaping up to be really good. We demo’d up a couple of things. I think we pulled the plug before we could really get deep into really, ya know, gettin’ it goin’.”
Was the tape Meyer heard that day the same Anthony was referring to during his VHND interview? That isn’t known but what Meyer did say is that this particular demo tape included songs that ended abruptly. That, according to Meyer, was for a specific reason.
“Each song stopped dead in the middle,” Meyer told Patrowitz. “I was like, ‘What’s the deal with them stopping somewhere right around the solo, somewhere before or afterwards?’ [Sencio] goes, ‘Well that was Dave’s thing. Dave knew that he was in Eddie’s studio on Eddie’s tapes and that, once he walked out the door, who knew what was gonna happen to that stuff?’ He didn’t want it all to show up as bonus tracks at some point without his permission so he told Eddie the only we he’d go in and do these sort of live demos is if they didn’t have full recordings of them until they cut the deal to put it out as an album as Van Halen, which didn’t happen for another several years. But those tapes exist and I’ve heard them and they are awesome.
“The first thing that I heard, and it’s burned into my brain, is he played me ‘As Is’ but it didn’t have the intro, the whole sludgy intro,” continued Meyer. “When he played it for me it just went, [makes sound of Eddie’s ‘As Is’ lightning fast guitar intro], and the double kick drum and it was like, ya know, basically ‘Hot For Teacher’ part two and I was just like, ‘HOLY SHIT!!!’ And then Dave comes in, I was just like, ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!! Like, not only did they go into the studio…it sounds like this?!’”
Meyers continued, “And then the next song was ‘Blood and Fire’ and [Dave’s] goin’, ‘Look at all the people here [tonight]’ and I’m just like, ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This is the greatest…’ And Matt’s like, ‘And you can’t tell ANYONE you heard this.’ And I didn’t tell anyone. Only in the last year as I’ve been doing so many interviews ‘cuz my music stuff’s been happening and blah, blah, blah. I’ve done enough interviews where I’ve finally just told that story ‘cuz it’s a good story and there’s enough distance and Eddie’s not around anymore and bah, bah, bah. ‘Cuz I don’t wanna ever…I always keep my place as a worshipper of Van Halen.”
Meyers has much more to talk about in his two-part interview on the DLR Cast, including attending Eddie Van Halen’s infamous 2006 backyard party, meeting Eddie at Dweezil Zappa’s house, partying with Sam Kinison and more. Listen to parts one and two of Meyer’s DLR Cast interview below:
The DLR Cast with Steve Roth and Darren Paltrowitz: Spotify
Spaghetti & Frank (Frank Meyer & Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers): Instagram