The number of tribute bands your band has spawned could be seen as a gauge of success. Take Van Halen, for example. “Just in L.A.,” says Brian Geller, “there’s us and three other [Van Halen–tribute] bands. In San Diego there’s a band that just does Sammy Hagar–tribute material, there’s one in Northern California, and across the country there’s another ten bands.”
Onstage, Geller fronts Fan Halen as a larger-than-life David Lee Roth from the band’s early days. “I took vocal lessons and tried to find Roth’s scream. I spent a good six months driving to and from work practicing the scream over and over again — and then one day I hit it, and I’ve had it ever since.”
Is the VH-tribute gig better than a regulation cover-band gig? “You’ve cheated the system. You’re duplicating great music that everybody wants to hear.” Geller says that after shows “people want autographs, and they want us to pose for pictures.” Do you guys do “Eruption”? “Yes.” I tell him that I listen to Van Halen every day. Does your guitarist play it as good as Eddie? “No one,” he says, “plays it as good as Eddie…
“I got into this six or seven years ago because I love Van Halen.” Geller says he thought he could pull the Roth look off, but at the time he didn’t know how to sing. In truth, Fan Halen physically resembles the original members of Van Halen, the sound is close enough, and they have incorporated all the telling details right down to the racing stripes on “Eddie’s” (Derek Fuller’s) guitar. In the past FH have performed with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, but Geller says he’s never met Roth. Should the occasion arise, what would he say to the rock star? “I’d say, ‘If you’re not interested in staying with Van Halen, could I get the job?’”
FAN HALEN: House of Blues, Saturday, August 15, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $10.