Billy Sheehan Talks About the (Near) ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ Band Reunion with David Lee Roth: “We talked about doing it a couple of other times” – 2022
A Conversation with Talas/Mr. Big/David Lee Roth Bassist Billy Sheehan
The entire conversation can be found @ this location. An excerpt from the interview has been provided below.
On the David Lee Roth band, and the proposed reunion at Ultimate Jam Night:
It was a jam night at Lucky Strike. We were going to play, me, Steve (Vai), Gregg (Bissonette), and get somebody to sing. Initially, it was Ralph (Saenz) from Steel Panther (on vocals), and we just go up and do a couple of songs. It’s just a jam, no planning, no rehearsal, no sound check. You just jump out on stage and go. That’s a cool thing I like about that jam, there are some people out there twiddling around for hours before they start to play, “Okay, next” bang, they’re off the stage, “Next”, bang. It separates the men from the boys in that case.
So, I forgot who suggested it, but they said, “Why don’t we give Dave a call, and see if he’s around, and maybe he’ll want to come up, too?” Somebody did, and he said, “Yes.” Wow. So, I had to call Ralph, “I’m really sorry, but if you could keep it a secret, Dave wants to do it.” He goes, “Oh, that’s amazing.” He was very kind and understanding about that. Eventually, no one was supposed to know, and somehow it leaked out. A lot of people showed up, and the club blew it because they just started letting everybody in; it was free admission, too.
There was no rehearsal, no soundcheck, no nothing. We were just going to meet there for the first time, in I don’t know how many years, get up and play, I think, “Shy Boy”, maybe “Yankee Rose” and that was that. The club let so many people in that my friends that were there said even if you had a drink, you couldn’t drink it because you couldn’t get your arms up.
So, I was on the stage, and next to the stage is the hallway to walk into the club. The club was jam-packed, there was a curtain out. I’m on the stage, just a quick plug in, and I saw the flashlights of the fire marshal coming in, and they just said, “No way.” The place holds maybe 600, they’ll allow 700, they’ll allow that maybe, but there was about 12 or 1500 people. It was way, way out (of hand), and it was dangerous, quite frankly. They just shut it down, and so we couldn’t play. But there was no planning, no meetings, no nothing. We just showed up, we were going to play.
The good thing about that night, though, was we all went in the backstage area, me, Steve, Gregg, Dave, Brett Tuggle, our keyboard player, who sadly we lost recently as well, and we had a blast just talking about the old days. I posted a photo of all of us together. We had a great time in that band, that was amazing. So that, to us, was almost worth it, just the hang. The hang was a big part of that band, hanging out. When we’d rehearse all the ‘Eat ’em and Smile’ stuff down in Dave’s basement, we would hang out. We had US Festival beer in Dave’s garage, which had long gone skunk. The crew guys would come out, and we’d drink skunk beer and tell stories. Dave would tell us about his adventures, Gregg would talk about his time with the bands he was in, Steve’s adventures with Zappa, my Talas days, and we had a blast. The hang was a very, very essential link to that band, and we made it a point to hang out as friends and buddies and bandmates. I think that’s what led to the character of that record. It shows, very much so. Unfortunately, it (the onstage reunion) didn’t happen.
We talked about doing it a couple of other times, here and there, but it just never came together. I don’t know why. I know Steve, Gregg, and myself, would be happy to do it any time, but we haven’t heard from Dave about it. It would be nice to do.
Talas will release their brand new album, 1985, on September 23, 2022. Pre-order @ this location.