On Tour: David Lee Roth

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The Independent Culture
Preparing for a tour starts with the song-writing. I always consider how something works live long before we ever record it. My approach has always been that it has got to be performable, without studio effects. You should be able to play with borrowed equipment with any song and have an impact. In 1986 there was a lot of vaudeville thrown in and that takes more time to rehearse. The kind of show we're preparing here is much more grass-roots, it's coming full circle to how the great Van Halen started.

Last time we were doing battle with the Gulf War. Now things have loosened up a bit. I'm painting in smaller circles as opposed to simply playing London and Birmingham. It's classic barnstorming. I officiate all departments, but I've always done that. Van Halen was the first group to take huge productions into small venues. People have made fun of the brown M & M thing, but by insisting that no brown M & Ms were to be found in a venue we were checking that the promoter had done his homework. In fact at the same time as I hurled a jar of M & Ms across the dressing room of a basketball stadium in Colorado just before we were due to play, the front stage was sinking through the floor.

The worst tour was in the early 1980s at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis. No one could get gas for the cars and trucks. We went on the road and we couldn't get from one gig to the next. After a gig I'll have festivities. There's no set pattern, it depends on the show. You only have so much energy, what with changing time zones and bizarre dietary restrictions but when your doing five nights a week it's all you can do to get to the next show.

David Lee Roth plays Cardiff International Arena tonight (0222 224488), tours to 22 May

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