When I fronted Insect Sex Act in 2011, Max, the drummer, called Brett, the guitar player, and me over to his house for a band pow wow. Max showed video of our last performance, and said he had a problem with how stiff I appeared as I did the vocals during our set. I remember Brett specifically talking about what he DIDN'T want a front man to do when he asked me to audition for him in 2000. He specifically said he didn't want a "dancer." But here Max played the video and implored me to do SOMETHING during the performance that would reflect the energy the of the band as they played their instruments. My solution became to dance around and goof like a trained monkey in our last several performances as a band before we dissolved the unit in late June 2012. Everyone loved it. The audience reacted positively to what I did on stage, and the other three guys in Insect Sex Act liked it too.
I bought two Van Halen CD's last Summer, something I was always way TOO COOL to buy until the age of... fifty-seven, I guess. History has been very kind to the legacy of the Roth years. Eddie Van Halen always had the massive recognition of changing the game in heavy metal/ hard rock guitar. A lot of heavy metal guitarists took to practicing ten hours a day, like a classical or jazz guitarist, all because of Eddie. Robert Christgau, critic for the Village Voice at the time of David Lee Roth's initial departure from the band, lambasted Roth's replacement as "one of the biggest assholes in rock and roll." I saw an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street that featured a really cool usage of Van Halen's "Ice Cream Man," a cut from their first album, during a montage sequence that depicted a shipment of bad heroin hitting the streets in Baltimore. The song sounded great in this context, and one really appreciates Roth's over the top vocalization of the lyrics.
Despite Roth's image as a decadent rock star, he still hasn't been "me too"ed, as far as I know. He never did seem to have any personal problems or substance abuse issues that made the gossip pages, from what I remember. I mean, I heard a story of an A and R guy from a major label scouting the band as they came up through the clubs, and he said that the band would be great, if only they got rid of the singer. As an example of how the thinking on Roth changed over the years, I heard a clip on Howard Stern in the '90's that featured a Van Halen tribute band playing a club, and the singer went to great lengths to ape Roth's drawl and overall charisma as he bantered his way through the intro to "Hot For Teacher." I could actually HEAR the guy swagger his way around the stage as he did his Roth imitation. David Lee Roth had something, alright.