“There are no obvious shredders like Eddie Van Halen”: Producer Tom Werman says rock and roll is over for him

“It began in the mid-’50s and ended around 1990 for me.”

Eddie Van Halen

Image: Ross Marino/ Getty Images

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Rock might have made his career, but the days of rock and roll were over for him “when sound became equally important, or more important than content in music,” says production legend Tom Werman.

The producer was speaking in a new interview with Classic Album Review when he made the statement. Faced with the question of ‘how healthy is rock and roll’, Werman muses: “Well, I think it’s over – for me. You can’t take my pronouncements as gospel because I have not admittedly sought out new music.”

“There are very few guitars left. There are no obvious shredders like Eddie Van Halen.”

“I just think that it was a period,” he explains. “It began in the mid-’50s and ended around 1990 for me, probably ended around 2000 for everybody else — when sound became equally important, or more important than content in music.”

“And as I say in the book [autobiography Turn It Up! My Time Making Hit Records in The Glory Days Of Rock Music], there’s something about a song that has one snare hit become all the snare hits. They’re exactly the same. And so almost everything is sampled once and then duplicated where needed in every song.”

“And there’s just something about it that wears out pretty quickly. The records we made – warts and all – were human and, somehow, they’ve lasted.”

Werman adds that he has a four hour playlist of the songs he liked from that period that he uses in the gym, “and I’ve used it for 30 or 40 years and the songs still inspire me.”

He compares that to a playlist of “good music” of today from a young friend, which he ended up liking very much, though “by the time two months had gone by it wasn’t working any magic at all. It just wasn’t inspiring me and I think that’s because it was perfect.”

The interviewer then points to Gene Simmons’ infamous declaration that “rock is dead” nearly a decade ago, to which Werman comments: “As Paul Simon once said, ‘Every generation throws a hero up with pop charts.’ And I think that the equivalent – the modern, or the future equivalent — of The Beatles will happen at some point.”

“I don’t think it’ll resonate with me, or with us, or with anyone who lived through the ’70s and ’80s. But I think it will [happen], apparently. [Laughs]”

“I ask a lot of kids what they listen to. I had a couple of young guys over here yesterday. And I asked them, ‘Do you listen to yesterday’s music or today?’ They said ‘Today’. And they said, ‘What acts did you produce?’ And I mentioned many of them, and they had heard of Twisted Sister. That was it.”

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