This interview was done for publication in the Official Van Halen magazine "The Inside". For some reason, it has never been published.



VAN HALEN TRIBUTE CD - Interview with Jake E. Lee - March 2000

Michael Hurcomb: How and why did you get involved in the tribute CD? Did the producer contact you, or did one of the other musicians that played on the CD?

Jake E Lee: Hmmmm, let's not answer that one ...

Michael Hurcomb: Did you get to select the song that you played on or was it chosen for you? If you did get to choose, why did you select "Running with the Devil"?

Jake E Lee: Actually, I was originally asked to do Atomic Punk. That one not being one of my particular favorites, I was offered "Devil". It's a very basic, simple song, musically ... the kind that lends itself to personal interpretation easily, and seemed like a natural for me to fuck up ... er, I mean fuck with!

Michael Hurcomb: What guitar, amp and f/x setup did you use for this track? Is this your regular setup or did you select certain gear for the session to get a Van Halen sound?

Jake E Lee: It's been awhile, and my memory has never been one of my strong points ('specially when it comes to ... oh .... schedules, deadlines, appointments, etc ... ) but I believe I played through the SansAmp PSA-1into the Avalon Vt737sp tube compressor, my setup of choice for the last couple of years and the one I record with in my home studio. I do remember trying out a Marshall 50 watt that was at the studio, and it may have been used in conjunction with my setup, can't recall exactly. The guitar would have been a Jake E Lee model (now discontinued, of course!) ESP, more than likely the one with the soap bar (Seymour Duncan) pickups ... or ... the one with the lipsticks (WD) in it.

Michael Hurcomb: You get a great sound for the rhythm parts on this song and then you have a different but really cool Hendix-y sound for the solos? How did you approach the solos, how many takes did you do for them, and how did you get that sound?

Jake E Lee: Hmmm, the last time I heard it was the night I recorded it ... never got a copy of the finalized track. So ... not really sure what you're talking about. Maybe you can get me a copy? I THINK I used an octave fuzz for part of it, probably the Voodoo Lab Proctavia, but since I have several different kinds/brands I'm (once again) not sure. The approach to the entire recording process was basically just wingin' it and seeing what came about. If Mr. Kulick wasn't thrilled about a particular take, I'd do it again, a bit differently, until we were both happy.

Michael Hurcomb: Did you record the song as a live group or individually? Approx. how long did it take to record the track?

Jake E Lee: Individually. The basic tracks were done, and I think a rough vocal ('course seeing as how it was Pearcy, it may very well have been the final one ..... just kiddin', I thought he actually sounded pretty decent on it!) I was in the studio for a couple of hours.

Michael Hurcomb: Were any particular recording techniques used to capture the Van Halen sound? (Mic placement / Effects)

Jake E Lee: No, not that I was aware of (as if I'm aware of anything! ... really ... just ask my managers!) I would like to point out however, since I haven't heard it ... and for all I know they may not have even gone with it ... that I came up with the "siren" sound in the beginning. They had given me a rough mix on cassette about a week before. I wanted to screw around on my computer with something, so I extracted part of Tim's bass line, did some massive EQ'ing, filtering, etc ... to bring out the harmonics from his fingers/strings, added echo and then pitch-bent (?) the end of it. I thought it sounded pretty cool, and it was a bit more ... inventive ... than using some kind of horn, or sample thereof ... so I gave it to them on a CD. Like I had stated previously though, I'm not even sure if they usedit ... so just ignore all that if they didn't!

Michael Hurcomb: What influence has Edward had on your playing?

Jake E Lee: Eddie had an enormous influence on my playing. In the late '70s I was becoming bored with "rock" guitar (other than Uli Roth) and was in a couple of different fusion bands, looking for a direction. Even auditioned for ...oh ... I forgot his name .... he was the violinist in the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, wait ..... oh yeah, Jerry Goodman's band (didn't get it) ... when all stakes were raised by Mr. Van Halen. I was so impressed with his playing, and fire, and inventiveness, that I got back into playing rock with a whole new outlook and vision of what I wanted to accomplish. And, of course, like everyone else, I tried desperately to get that "brown" sound every time I plugged in! Finally settled for what I could get, but still use him as a reference point when I'm in the studio. Not since Jimi had anyone turned the entire rock guitar scene upside-sideways-down-every-which-way and loose, like Eddie did.

Michael Hurcomb: Do you own or have you tried the Peavey Wolfgang guitars and 5150 amps?

Jake E Lee: I've picked up a Wolfgang in a store, and it felt really nice. Kinda partial to the old Jake E Lee guitars I have, though! And yes, I did have a couple of the 5150's .... great sounding amps .... but they got lost a few years ago. That's when I went the SansAmp route.

Michael Hurcomb: Any funny or interesting Van Halen stories that you'd like to tell?

Jake E Lee: I've got to thank Eddie for one of the highlights of my life, professionally at least. During one of the Monsters of Rock tours when I was in Ozzy, we ended up having to play between Gary Moore and Van Halen. I remember ambling up to the stage to check out Y&T, I think, and passing both of their tents. I heard Eddie and Gary warming up. They both sounded phenomenal, of course, and I decided that I wasn't gonna warm up that day. I figured that if nothing else, in the back of my mind, I could use that as an excuse for sucking! Feeble, I know, but it was something to hold on to! Anyhoot .... I surprisingly played very well that day, and afterwards Gary approached me and told me he thought I was the best new guitarist he'd he ard in years! Whoa ... got dizzy. Later, Eddie actually tracked me down, and told me he thought I was the best guitarist to come out of L.A. since .... well, him! Alright, somebody help me back on my feet! Even if they didn't mean it, or changed their opinion of me, I was floating 10 feet above the ground for the rest of that day! Oh yeah ..... sometimes life is very good! And it helped to erase the interview I had read earlier in some magazine where Ted Nugent singled me out in his assessment of the new wave of guitarists as the most deserving of the "what's the big deal" award.

Michael Hurcomb: Well that should do it. Thanks again for taking part in article.

Jake E Lee: You betcha! ... da OGE (Old Guitarplayin' Effluvium ... aka Jake E Lee)