Here's the pictures they used for the cover shot taking Derek's head and arms and Eddie's Torso and legs...
Tribute artist feature
Questions for Derek Fuller - Fan Halen
1. How did you come to join/form Fan Halen?
Fan Halen evolved rather than formed. Every year I had a party at my home where my musician friends and I would jam. At the time I was busy with family, a career and I wasn’t playing much guitar and this was my once-a-year opportunity to dust off my 1985 Kramer Baretta and rock! One year I decided we should only play Van Halen songs. The people at the party went crazy hearing these songs performed live so we decided to take it to the next level, playing out doing Van Halen covers and eventually dressing and acting like the band. Now seven years later we’re traveling the world as Fan Halen, The World’s Most Authentic Tribute to Van Halen!
2. Are you guys pro or do you hold down day jobs too?
I think we are pro as in professionals who get paid to perform as Van Halen, but a couple of us, including myself, do have day jobs (or what I like to refer to as a “real” job). It does take a lot of effort to balance the band, career, and family but more importantly, it takes one hell of an understanding wife!
3. What bands (and type of music) did you play in pre-Fan Halen?
Growing up in the 80’s I loved bands like Guns-n-Roses, Motley Crue, Kiss, Judas Priest, Ratt, Ozzy, Scorpions and of course Van Halen. In high school I played guitar in several “garage” bands where we played covers of these Rock Gods. We mostly played backyard parties earning a percentage of the cover charge or better yet, a case of beer. While in college I continued to play in a band and began writing songs and aspiring to “make it,” meaning get a big fat record deal, tour the world and ultimately live the life of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. We played all the clubs on the Sunset Strip from the Troubadour to Gazzarri’s but we never got that “big break.” So by the age of 22 I decided to give-up my Rock-n-Roll dream and do what I know my parents would want me to: find a long lasting respectable career.
4. Are you a long term fan of Eddie Van Halen and the band?
Remember I’m the guy who dresses up like Eddie and pretends to be Eddie almost every weekend, so to say I’m a huge fan would be an understatement. Everyone in my band is a “fanatic” for Van Halen, how do you think we came up with our band name?
True story: I remember hearing Van Halen for the first time on my older brother’s 8-Track player, it was 1978 and the song was Ice Cream Man, it was just Dave and his acoustic guitar and I thought to myself, “what it this shit?” You have to understand at the time I was a huge Motor City Madman Ted Nugent fan and if it wasn’t Ted it might as well be dead. So I hit the button on the player and on came the a capella part in ‘I’m The One’…bop badda shooby do wha and I thought, “this is a bunch of crap!” And then I heard a sound that changed my life. It was Edward’s scorching guitar in ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’ and I was floored! From that moment on it became, if it ain’t Ed it might as well be dead!
5. What is it you particularly like about Eddie’s playing and the music of Van Halen?
What most people admire with Eddie’s playing is his two-handed tapping and soloing acrobatics, which of course is amazing and revolutionary, however, what I particularly like is Eddie’s incredible sense of rhythm; I truly believe Eddie could fall down a flight of stairs and it would be in rhythm. Also, Eddie’s choice of notes and his song writing ability are unmatched. I know it’s been said many times but it’s true, he’s a musical genius. And on top of it all, Eddie wrote most of the songs you hear on the first six records when he was in his early 20s, now that’s just amazing! As for the music of Van Halen, it’s pure magic. It’s the perfect balance of bravado, musicianship, and bombastic sexiness that culminates into the ultimate kegger party. There’s no other band in the world that can attract hard-core musician types AND beautiful girls bringing them together in perfect musical matrimony.
6. Were there any EVH songs that you found challenging to learn and play?
I often ponder what’s more challenging, trying to play like Eddie Van Halen or trying to get my hair to look like his. The guy had perfect rock hair!
As for the songs, I’m The One was a challenge because it has a shuffle rhythm that took me awhile to get. Ice Cream Man solo has a four note per string pattern that was ridiculous to learn. The beginning of Mean Street was/is a bear. And then there’s that little piece of music that changed rock guitar forever called Eruption!
7. I imagine you have to get Eddie’s riffs and licks as accurate as possible; do you get the chance to improvise during a Fan Halen show?
Being in a “tribute” band the expectation is I’m going to play every note just as it is on the record, which is really unfair if you think about it because Eddie would almost never play exactly like the record. And don’t forget Eddie jumped around on stage like a madman and I have to do the same with the flying Eddie kicks, spins and twists and play it like the record! But this is the dichotomy between originator and impersonator. So yes, I play the riffs and licks as accurate as possible. However, when I do improvise--it’s really not improvising--I will play something that Eddie did “live”; Eddie was always throwing in extra licks or a whammy bar dive in-between notes or chords when he performed live, so I take the liberty to do this as well.
8. What are your favourite songs to play? Are there any EVH songs you’re bored of playing?
I have to answer this two ways, there’s my personal favorite songs to play, which include ‘I’m The One’, ‘Little Guitars’, and ‘Romeo Delight’ because they’re amazing guitar songs and challenging to pull off. Then there are my favorite songs to play in front of an audience like ‘Hot For Teacher’, ‘Panama’, and ‘Ain’t Talkin Bout Love’ because the audience goes absolutely crazy when we play them!
There might be some songs that I look forward to playing more than others but I’ve never gotten bored with any of them, but then again we don’t play any Sammy Hagar era Van Halen J.
9. Please can you give me a rundown of your gear - guitars, amps, pedals etc? How did you get hold of the Frankenstein guitar? It would be great if you could include details of where you got some of your gear from; do you have any particularly favourite guitars?
All-in-all I have 13 Eddie Van Halen guitars (eight I use in Fan Halen and the other five are just Eddie Van Halen models that he used later in his career, but I had to have them):
Black and white Van Halen I guitar (with Gibson logo and replica studded leather guitar strap)
The Shark, which is a striped up and modified Ibanez Destroyer
Black and yellow Van Halen II guitar sometimes referred to as the “bumblebee”
Red, white and black Frankenstrat with Stratocaster headstock (this one’s my favorite)
Red, white and black Frankenstrat with a Kramer “banana” headstock
Mini Les Paul which Eddie used to perform Little Guitars
Kramer 1984 with “5150” rainbow tape
Yellow Megazone or Hydra. I’ve never performed with this guitar and I’m not sure that Eddie did either he was just pictured with it
Amber translucent quilted Ernie Ball Music Man Eddie Van Halen model with “5150” decal
Red translucent quilted Peavey EVH Wolfgang
White Fender EVH Wolfgang
Black 1985 Kramer Baretta
White 1985 Kramer Baretta
Dave Friedman “Marsha”, which is a hot rodded Marshall Plexi clone and is currently my main amp
Metropoulos 12000 Marshall Plexi clone
EVH 5150 III and 5150 III cabinet (signed by Eddie)
Peavey 5150 II and 5150 Peavey cabinet
Peavey 5150 combo
Marshall 4x12 cabinet with Scumback M75 Speakers
Original Eddie Van Halen owned and toured 8x12 Flag System cabinet with Celestion Speakers
2 Original Eddie Van Halen owned and toured 2x12 Flag System cabinet with Celestion Speakers
MXR Phaser (original script model and striped EVH model)
MXR Flanger (original grey 70’s model and striped EVH model)
Maestro EP-3 Echoplex
Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo (digital version of the Echoplex)
ClinchFX EP-Pre (JFET preamplifier that is based on the preamp section of the Echoplex EP-3)
Boss GE-10 Graphic Equalizer
MXR 6-band Equalizer (original blue 70’s version and noisy as hell)
MXR Carbon Copy analog delay (for Cathedral)
Fulltone OCD (remember I said playing the intro to Mean Street is a bear, this pedal makes it easy J)
Boss TU-2 tuner
Boss NS-2 noise suppressor (this stuff can get noisy)
Line 6 G50 wireless system
10. Has it been expensive to get hold of gear like Eddie’s? I suppose the fact that you only do original Roth-era material means you don’t have to buy a Wolfgang!
It can get expensive, but it’s my passion. As mentioned, I have a lot of gear “like” Eddie’s and I even have some gear that “was” Eddie’s. Over the years I’ve been able to buy one of Eddie’s striped Kramer guitars (I have since sold it and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t regret it). I also own a couple of Eddie’s Flag System cabinets that he used on the ’81 Fair Warning Tour thru the ’86 5150 Tour. They sound amazing!
11. Has Eddie or any member of Van Halen ever caught your act? If so, what did they think?
I don’t believe any of the members have caught the band live (unless they were at a show lurking in the darkness). I’m sure they’re aware of the band and probably have seen us on YouTube, I would imagine they get a kick out of it, at least I hope they do. This I can assure you, when people come see Fan Halen and hear these songs live, a lot of them run out the next day and either buy a Van Halen CD or download some Van Halen songs from iTunes. Hopefully Van Halen sees that as beneficial.
12. Approximately how many shows do Fan Halen play a year?
This number grows every year, but this year we’ll have performed more than 70 shows. We’re based in Los Angeles, California and have performed all over the US and the World including Japan, South America, Mexico and Canada (we’ve yet to perform in Europe).
13. I’m obviously not looking for specific amounts but do you make a good living from playing in Fan Halen?
If you mean monetarily then no, but if you’re asking is it a good living, then hell yes…I’m having a blast! Playing in Fan Halen allows me to make a little money, travel the world, meet new and interesting people and get a small taste, and I mean very small, of what it might be like to be a real Rock Star. People pay a lot of money here in the States to go for a week of “Rock-N-Roll Fantasy Camp”, I get to go every weekend.
14. Are there any shows that were particular standouts for you? Maybe it was a large crowd; or a particularly strong reaction from the crowd...
This past July was a highlight in my career when we performed in front of 12,000 rock fans in Dallas, Texas. Motley Crue had just played the same venue only a week earlier. I have to admit it was a surreal moment. If you would have said to me when I was 15 years old, just learning to play guitar, “hey Derek, when you’re in your 40’s you’re going to be pretending to be Eddie Van Halen, performing at the same venues Van Halen performed at in front of huge crowds,” I would have said you’re out of your mind!
I don’t want you to get the wrong impression, I don’t think I’m Eddie Van Halen, not for a second, and I don’t think my band is really Van Halen. What we do is pay “tribute” to one of the World’s greatest Rock bands. Now what IS real is the music, the experience and the “connection” we make with our audience. For those 90-minutes while we’re on stage, playing those songs…’Jamies’ Cryin’, ‘Dance The Night Away’, ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘Everybody Wants Some’, ‘Bottoms-Up’, the list goes on and on, it’s easy to get caught-up in the moment and if you squint your eyes and squint your ears you’ll be convinced its 1984 and you’re really at a Van Halen concert!