Alex Van Halen has recently challenged that “changes in the music industry have shifted the focus back to artists’ on-stage product.” In an interview with Modern Drummer, which happened before the sudden death of Eddie Van Halen, Alex stated that he’d always regarded Van Halen as a live band.
“After we honed our skills, you learn the connection between the people and the music,” he explained. “Playing live, there should be no dead space. Never turn your back on the audience and never insult them. They are equal to you. That line that separates the audience from the stage, that’s not a line. That’s just to keep them from puking on your shit! You’re there to make the audience feel good.”
He proceeded to claim the today’s modern technology has been misused to demolish the world of recording.
“There’s nothing left in the music business…It’s a bunch of ones and zeroes. In the old days you’d get a dollar a record, and now you get 50 cents for 275,000 streams. It’s insane. It’s wrong. Now the only thing you have is playing live, which is ironic, because that’s how it all started.”
Then, Alex mentioned that up until their 1984 era, Van Halen and their tour crew all had to travel together on the same bus, and that experience in itself strengthened their onstage presence.
After quoting Leonardo Da Vinci about close spaces, he went on to say, “When you’re all tight in close quarters, it focuses your energies, and you learn how to deal with issues and problems. If you’re in a large space, you never even have to say ‘hello’ to the other guys. What’s that all about?"
I think what he’s trying to explain is that many artists today don’t seem to have to experience as much of a hard ship as they did back in the 80’s. Many new artists are able to record their own music in the comfort of their home and not even have to deal with other people. They can get famous overnight without even having to interact with anyone. I think in a sense I’m grateful that it’s easier access for artists to just be able to do that, but I also think he is giving enough credit to the ones who may struggle even doing that. Not everyone makes it, and it’s still a mountain to climb.