September 5 2023: Alex Van Halen’s place in the pantheon of rock ’n’ roll drummers is legendary. The incredible body of work that he created alongside his brother Eddie is memorialized in Van Halen’s historic catalog of genre-defining music. With each new album, the group, which initially also featured bassist Michael Anthony and vocalist David Lee Roth, further developed its unique brand of music. Since Day 1, the foundation of that sound was the bottomless rumble and stratospheric crack of Alex Van Halen’s drumming.
Though informed by the heaviest of classic rock’s first-generation bands, from the outset Van Halen also had an ear to the future, retaining and even expanding their popularity in the midst of the new wave era, when they unabashedly incorporated keyboard hooks yet never betrayed their hard-rock base. Alex, like Eddie a self-described “tone chaser,” was deeply invested in keeping the VH sound contemporary and exploratory, imbuing his drum performances not only with gargantuan beats and blazing fills, but captivating and idiosyncratic tones.
As much as any drummer in the history of rock, Alex Van Halen helped define the signature sound of his band—which is all the more startling given the fact that his guitar-playing brother is among the most influential players in the history of the music. Alex’s energetic and unpredictable playing style and the unique bark of his sonic attack add an air of excitement to the music, and set the stage for the band’s larger-than-life persona. Blending many influences, such as big band swing, blues, early rock ’n’ roll, and even African drumming, Alex chooses from a wide palette.
And as his playing evolved from album to album and tour to tour, so did Alex’s setup. Usually going for higher-pitched toms and ultra-deep bass drums, he would often experiment with different gear and technology to bring something new to the table. Incorporating Rototoms, timbales, cowbells, tube drums, and electronics, Alex spares no expense when it comes to finding the right equipment to achieve the sounds that are in his head.
Perhaps the most significant event in the recent history of the band, however, came in late 2020, with the passing of Eddie Van Halen. The compilation of this book, including Modern Drummer’s most recent interview with Alex Van Halen, was completed prior to the news of Eddie’s passing. Given that the constant throughout all of Van Halen’s achievements—and what guaranteed their stature not only on the charts but in popular culture—was the bloodline of the Van Halen brotherhood, this book can be viewed not only as a tribute to one of the greatest rock drummers of all time, but to the glorious music that Alex and Eddie created together.
Boxed Set Introduces Four Newly Remastered VH Studio Albums With Sammy Hagar Plus Rarities Recorded Between 1989 And 2004
5-LP And 5-CD Versions Arriving On October 6
Newly Remastered Version of “Humans Being"
Available Today Digitally
Los Angeles - Van Halen will release a new boxed set this fall spotlighting the band’s second incarnation, with singer Sammy Hagar, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony. The upcoming set includes newly remastered versions of four multi-platinum studio albums, along with a selection of rarities recorded between 1989 and 2004.
THE COLLECTION II will be available on October 6 on 5 LPs for $124.98 and 5 CDs for $49.98. Pre-order both versions HERE. All the music in the set was mastered directly from the original master tapes, a process overseen by the band’s longtime engineer, Donn Landee.
The new set is the long-awaited sequel to The Collection, a compilation released in 2015 that focused on the six studio albums recorded by the band’s original line-up, which featured singer David Lee Roth. THE COLLECTION II picks up where its predecessor left off and covers the four consecutive #1 albums released during the Hagar era: 5150 (1986), OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), and Balance (1995).
The journey begins with 5150, Van Halen’s seventh studio album and the band’s first to claim the top spot on the Billboard 200. Certified platinum six times in the U.S., the record treated fans to hits like “Dreams,” “Love Walks In,” and “Why Can’t This Be Love,” which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group returned two years later with OU812, a quadruple-platinum smash that delivered four Billboard Hot 100 hits, including “Finish What Ya Started” and “When It’s Love.”
The accolades continued with For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which earned Van Halen its first Grammy® Award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album. Debuting at #1 and staying there for three weeks, the album achieved triple-platinum certification. The record produced an incredible seven singles, including hits like “Poundcake,” “Top Of The World,” and “Right Now.”
In 1993, the band released its first live album, Live: Right Here, Right Now, before returning in 1995 with Balance, its final studio album with Hagar. The album was another commercial triumph, debuting at #1, selling more than three million copies, and earning a Grammy® nomination for “The Seventh Seal.”
THE COLLECTION II concludes with Studio Rarities 1989-2004, an exclusive compilation that assembles eight gems from the Hagar era for the first time. Among these rarities is “Crossing Over,” the B-Side to Balance’s “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”, and the band’s only non-album B-side.
The compilation boasts other exceptional highlights, including the band’s cover of Little Feat’s “A Apolitical Blues” and the instrumental “Baluchitherium,” which were originally left off the vinyl versions of OU812 and Balance, respectively. Additionally, the set features two songs the band contributed to the Twister Soundtrack – “Humans Being” and the Grammy®-nominated “Respect The Wind.”
Rounding out the set are “It’s About Time,” “Up For Breakfast,” and “Learning To See,” which were recorded during the band’s temporary reunion with Hagar in 2004. All three debuted that year on Van Halen’s second greatest hits collection, The Best of Both Worlds.