How did you first meet Eddie Van Halen?

I had done a movie in 2005 called Catherine and somehow Eddie had heard the theme song from this movie and contacted me about licensing the rights to the song.

Was the initial spark or connection that drew you to each other?

Without a doubt, it was the theme song of the movie Catherine.

Can you share a memorable moment from the first time you collaborated with Eddie on music?

Our very first meeting was at his home in Coldwater Canyon in Los Angeles we had spoken on the phone earlier that day and arranged a meeting at his home. So around 10:00 or so in the evening I headed over to Eddie’s home and he buzzed me in through the front gate and told me the door was open to his estate and just let myself in. I went to the house and let myself in and there was Eddie in the living room of his estate sitting at a nine-foot Steinway piano playing Catherine.

How did Eddie react when he first heard the song “Catherine” that you had written?

Eddie told me, that he just could not get the melody out of his head and needed to meet the person who had written it.

What qualities or characteristics in Eddie do you value the most in your friendship?

There were always 2 egos to deal with sober and alcohol/drug-fueled personalities. Sober he was probably one of the most giving and kindest people I ever met, Unsober was not so nice, not so kind. I should also mention he had an incredible sense of humor.

Are there any specific challenges you’ve faced while working together, and how did you overcome them?

Eddie’s addiction to alcohol and drugs would be an incredible hurdle to get past. In our first meeting, I remember sitting at the piano and him and him sizing me up I’m not sure if he knew what to make of me I certainly wasn’t a rock star or what anybody would think of an adult film director but in retrospect, I think this was a good thing that we were both so opposites from each other. I didn’t know anything about the group Van Halen other than their song Jump, it wasn’t my kind of music.

I remember in our first meeting Ed commented that I didn’t look like an adult film director, I told him what he was seeing was my uniform, my disguise, away to keep myself safe. White Oxford shirt,  khakis pants, and penny loffer. I think if I had shown up looking any other way our initial meeting would have ended in 15 minutes. But it didn’t we ended up making music and talking about life for the next 5 hours.

The sun would be coming when I left the Coldwater estate.

Can you describe the creative process when collaborating on music with Eddie?

It was relatively simple Edward would play the bottom cord changes on the piano and I would pick the top part of the keyboard looking for melody over the cord changes he played. Sometimes we would run a drum machine and Edward played different instruments and we would just jam and record those sessions and later listen back and kind of pick the things we liked from that evening’s session.

How has your relationship with Eddie influenced your artistic endeavors?

As I said I was never very much of A Van Halen fan, wasn’t my type of music but spending time with Ed I realized there was so much more to him than being just the VanHelen rockstar, and I hate that expression “Rockstar” I found that he was incredibly talented beyond what I originally thought of him. The music we would develop was not Van Halen so to speak it was Eddie… It was angry, it was beautiful and sometimes so overpowering I got lost in the process many times,

Do you have a favorite memory or experience related to your friendship with Eddie?

Yes, I was with two of my children and we were going to Universal Studios in LA for the day, Eddie wanted to meet for brunch before we went there so he joined us for brunch as we were having brunch people kept coming up to the table asking for autographs. My daughter who was probably 13 at the time turned to him and asked innocently but with all the self-importance of a 13-year-old girl “What are you like famous or something,” he turned to her and gave her the biggest hug and kiss on the cheek. he said to my daughter  “Do you know how many times I’ve asked that very question to myself?”  my children really didn’t understand or comprehend Eddie. To them, he was just some guy who slept on our sofa every once in a while and ate dinner with us when he was hungry.

What role does music play in strengthening your bond with Eddie?

Music was the woven tapestry between sobriety and a life without hope. I didn’t realize it at the time but sobriety was the journey we were on. The music we were working on was a pathway to conversations. Conversations led to hope, and hope led to the possibility of a rebirth or a reimagined Eddie Van Halen not as a player but as a humanist, a father, and a husband.  At some point, our smaller story must overshadow our larger story.

Can you elaborate on that, Small story?

I think you get to a certain point in your career when a lot of people depend on you, so there ends up being two stories you’re small personal story and then your big story, Your small story encompasses your personal life, your core values and how you interaction with family and close friends and things you do for yourself. The big story is when the machine starts deciding how you interact in life. Things are done for you instead of you doing them for yourself.  For instance, one time Ed and I were at a late-night session recording it was maybe 2:00 AM, and he was hungry so d I went to the refrigerator knowing there was nothing in it.  Standing in front of an empty refrigerator I suggested let’s go grocery shopping and put some food in the fridge Eddie was somewhat bewildered by the idea of actually going into a supermarket and shopping.

Have there been moments where your artistic visions clashed, and how did you find a compromise?

Only in the sense that most things could not get finished because of a lack of focus and the fear of what it would be when it was finished. At this point in his life things just didn’t get finished, I think he thought if they weren’t finished they couldn’t be judged. For myself, I seem to be finding in the smallest of details and the smallest of steps that there was somehow enormous magic coming from him. So obviously I took what he was willing to give and found the value in that.

How do you navigate the balance between your roles as an adult film director and a collaborator in the music industry?

I was relatively secure in my world I had my success found my standing and did everything possible to stay out of the limelight in that world. No interviews, I decided early in my career not to accept publicly or any of the accolades that were being laid upon me. Working with Eddie I found myself in the new stream of light very hard to hide with him by my side.

Are there specific themes or emotions that frequently emerge in the music you create together?

The pure power of Ed’s playing and the upbeat tempo was a learning experience for me. Ed’s first instrument was piano also nine. We would spend hours at the piano together playing around with different chord changes and melodies I would say we spent at least 75% of the time sitting side by side on the piano. A lot of what you hear on Synthara is my understanding and interpretation of the music that was created during those sessions. By the end of our writing sessions, I had easily 1/2 a dozen notebooks full of notes from the sessions.

How has your friendship with Eddie evolved?

Over time, sobriety would truly be realized and an understanding of Ed’s self would become apparent there would become a time when there was less Michael and more Ed and the things he was accustomed to, stardom, a new love life, and new goals. a need to be back on stage. Where he truly shined and was happiest. Interest in this son’s, interest in a new love that would eventually turn into his wife.

Sober, Ed knew exactly where he was going what he wanted, and how to get there. I think he knew or at least hoped that there would be a Van Halen band with his son Wolfgang, this part of Ed’s life would prepare his son Wolfgang for eventually his career, and he could move with lessons learned forward. I had spoken to Ed many times about this before it came to fruition even though he could hardly stand being in the same room with David it was a small price to pay to work with this son.

I asked him about Sammy Hager and Michael his old bass player and he told me, they didn’t need him any longer and they would be OK with whatever they did. Maybe that was his way of justifying what he wanted to do or maybe he honestly believed it, I don’t know. Speaking with Ed I could tell he had a deep affection for Sammy but the path to working with his son was through Roth and whatever that cost he was willing to pay it.

Did you know Sammy or any of Ed’s musical inner circle?

No, when I came into Ed’s life he had alienated almost everyone who was ever close to him including his brother Alex, I had never seen or met any of them. At that time he was on a serious downward spiral, some people said it was him at his very worst, but I looked at it as maybe the first steps upward. 

Can you share a significant milestone or achievement that you’ve celebrated together?

There were many but I think the very first step was cleaning his house, I know that may sound trivial but it was the very first step in his understanding of the value of who he was and what he had achieved.

How do you handle disagreements or differences of opinion when working on music together?

We never really had any disagreements, we both brought to the table what we liked and somehow they just seemed to merge into one idea. Understand we were not under any pressure to write a hit our main goal was to just experiment with sound. Mix styles see how far we can push the boundaries of our abilities.

Has your friendship with Eddie influenced your perspective on life?

It made me a more patient person, I learned you could raised from the ashes, that love is around all of us if we’re open to it, and don’t give up on people. Be thankful for what you have.