Michael Anthony opens up about Van Halen’s “strange” Gary Cherone era

“One thing that was really kind of sad for me was that there was not even a handful of songs that the band actually recorded together in the studio.

Van Halen with Gary Cherone

Image: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

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Former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony has opened up about the band’s Gary Cherone era, a time he describes as, for the lack of a better word, “strange”.

Anthony was speaking on Eddie Trunk’s Trunk Nation show when he reflected on the often neglected Van Halen era with Cherone as the lead singer. Cherone, known for his work with Extreme, was in Van Halen from 1996 to 1999 and had only one recorded album — 1998’s Van Halen III — with the band.

“I remember Alex [Van Halen] was going through a divorce,” Anthony said of the album’s recording process. “And there’d be times where we’d start up in the studio and he … would record for a half hour, then have to leave to meet with his lawyer.”

He explained that Cherone had a good relationship with the late Eddie Van Halen, saying “Gary actually moved into the guest house up there by Ed. And Ed would be calling him in the middle of the night, all hours of the day, saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea for this!’ And Gary grew a little old of that, so he finally moved out of the house there.”

Aside from the members’ working habits, choosing Mike Post, who’s known mainly for his television work, as their producer also had a negative impact on their recording process, says Anthony.

“He was trying to influence Ed on certain things, so it was just a really strange, strange, strange time,” he said.

“One thing that was really kind of sad for me was that there was not even a handful of songs that the band actually recorded together in the studio. And before that, we used to record everything with everybody in the studio.”

Released in March 1998, Van Halen III was met with a lukewarm response from fans and critics alike, achieving only a Gold status unlike their previous platinum-selling releases.

Unfortunately, Gary’s departure the following year also halted all progress on a follow-up album that would’ve reportedly sounded more in line with typical Van Halen fare, dashing any hopes of a redemption for the Cherone era.

That said, Anthony maintains that the axed record had some great material on it, saying “They were a little bit more straight-ahead, what Van Halen sounds like. A couple of things — I can’t remember what the working titles were — there were a couple of things that we did not include on Van Halen III that I thought were sounding really good, that ended up not being used.”

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