Michael Anthony: Scrapped ‘VH III’ Sequel Had ‘Really Good’ Songs
"I remember Alex [Van Halen] was going through a divorce," the bassist told Eddie Trunk on a new episode of SiriusXM's Trunk Nation. "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."
Van Halen III marked the band's only album with then-former Extreme singer Gary Cherone, following the departure of Sammy Hagar. It marked a major sonic departure and was received lukewarmly by fans and critics, going only gold after a string of multiplatinum successes.
Still, Cherone reportedly had good chemistry with the rest of the band and gamely collaborated with Eddie Van Halen. "Gary actually moved into the guest house up there by Ed," Anthony told Trunk. "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."
Listen to 'Without You' From 'Van Halen III'
The late guitar hero co-produced Van Halen III with Mike Post, better known for composing TV themes including Law & Order, The A-Team, NYPD Blue and Magnum, P.I. Anthony suggested that Post had a negative influence on the recording process, which was more fractured than previous Van Halen albums.
"He was trying to influence Ed on certain things, so it was just a really strange, strange, strange time," he explained. "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."
Van Halen released Van Halen III in March 1998 and embarked on a supporting tour that ran through November. Cherone left the following year, halting progress on a follow-up album that reportedly sounded more in line with typical Van Halen fare, according to multiple band members.
"They were a little bit more straight-ahead, what Van Halen sounds like," Anthony said of those unreleased songs. "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." Cherone told Trunk the same thing back in 2020. "It was more in the strike zone of Van Halen," he said. "The stuff that we were coming out with, we were actually comfortable writing. ... It was in the strike zone of VH or the classic VH stuff. It was good."
Anthony is gearing up for a performance this weekend benefiting Save the Heartbeat, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by congenital heart disease. The show will take place on Saturday at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, Calif. Tickets are still on sale.