It was a day Van Halen fans thought would never come. At one point, Eddie Van Halen himself didn’t think it would happen. Yet, there it was – the first Van Halen studio album since 1998 and it featured the return of David Lee Roth on lead vocals.
On February 7th, 2012 Van Halen released its twelfth and ultimately final studio album A Different Kind of Truth. It was the first to feature Wolfgang Van Halen on bass and the first to feature David Lee Roth on lead vocals since 1984. Around 2009, Eddie had told Guitar World that he wasn’t sure if he even wanted to make a new album. So, what changed his mind?
“I think I was pissed off at the time,” Eddie told Guitar World in 2012. “I didn’t want to do something new because I felt that even if we did, the fans wouldn’t like it anyway. We just snapped back and realized that, hey, we’re doing this for us, too. This is what we do. We make music for a living. Like I’ve always said, if you like what you’re doing, you’re halfway there; if someone else likes it, that’s even better. If they don’t like it, at least you like it. Not to be selfish, but you kind of have to be.”
Over the years that followed A Different Kind of Truth‘s release, it would become evident that it wasn’t a matter of what led to the album’s creation but who.
“Wolfgang’s enthusiasm [got the ball rolling],” Eddie said. “He was going, ‘Come on, come on!’ We went up to 5150 and started jamming. It felt like a comfortable old pair of shoes. Working with Dave again was like we had never left each other. It was that comfortable. We’ve known each other since high school. When you have old friends, five or six years can go by when you don’t see each other, but you just pick up where you left off.”
Van Halen also picked up some songs from where they left off as far back as their club days. Shortly after a highly successful tour with Roth ended in June of 2008, Wolfgang, Eddie and Alex Van Halen started up some jam sessions. During that time, Wolfgang discovered rough, unreleased demos from the band’s archives. He brought them to Eddie and Alex, who decided it was time to complete the songs and include them on the new album. Those tracks included “She’s The Woman”, “Let’s Get Rockin'” (later renamed “Outta Space”) and “Bullet Head”. A total of seven of the album’s 13 songs had been demoed in the late-1970s/early 1980s. Other tracks including “As Is”, “Honeybabysweetiedoll” and “The Trouble With Never” began during an attempted 2000 reunion album with Roth.
“I wanted to remind my dad of the mindset he was in when he wrote songs like ‘Runnin’ with the Devil’ and ‘Dance the Night Away’,” Wolfgang later told Guitar World. “I thought that recording those old songs would make it easier for dad, Dave and Al to put their minds where they were back then and get back to writing how they would have then.”
The album was recorded at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood and Eddie’s own 5150 Studios from November 2010 to August 2011 with the finishing touches done in January 2012. John Shanks would be brought in to produce the album.
A Different Kind of Truth received positive reviews when it was released. Several writers called it a return to form while multiple publications ranked it as one of the best albums of 2012. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200.