10 Questions with Van Halen Tribute Band 84


There is a lot of anticipation about 84 playing at Main Street in Murfreesboro on February 16, so we asked one of the members of the band to take some time to answer a few questions about how they recreate the experience of a real Van Halen concert experience from 1984.

RS: Hello there! Who am I talking with?

84: Eddie Van Halen. Well, I play Eddie, I’m Stratton James Wilson.

RS: Where is your home base? Where are y’all from originally?

84: The band is based in Atlanta. All of the guys, except me, have been performing in Atlanta for many years with various projects. I just signed on with the band about a year ago, after moving from New Orleans. Jason Dozer, David Lee Roth, is from Kentucky. Dave Northrip, Michael Anthony, grew up in South Georgia, around Statesboro. Doc Rockson, Alex Van Halen, calls the Atlanta area home.

It’s cool to have a mix of different geographic backgrounds from so many places in the region where we play. It’s great to look forward to seeing friends and family at the shows no matter where we play.

RS: How long have each of you played music? How long together?

84: The four of us have been a band for just over a year. I’m the baby of the group, so I have the least experience, but I think we all have been playing/performing most of our lives. (Shouting to the others in the room) Right guys?

Key point is that others in the group were around to remember a lot of the music we play when it ruled the airwaves. I’m envious of that. My view is historical.

We have a great mix of youth and experience, which I think makes our band uniquely able to connect across multiple generations.

One thing is for sure, no matter which one of us you talk to, we are ALL the biggest Van Halen fans on the planet. Borderline nerd level. It’s a passion driven by respect.

RS: What made you get into music?

84: I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember. Sitting in the car seat bobbing my head to GnR, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, whoever. My parents always had me at concerts on their shoulders. At about 11 years old, it just clicked with me that playing a guitar could possibly be the coolest job in the world. I started preparing for my future that day. The other guys in the band have similar stories.

RS: Why Van Halen?
84: Because a Soggy Bottom Boys Tribute doesn’t draw as big of a crowd.

Seriously, that’s an interesting question. I guess the answer is that it was meant to be. Dozer had been in a David Lee Roth tribute band, and he loves the guy. He pays an unbelievable tribute to him. Unbelievable.

Doc, our drummer, was in that project, too. He just slays the drum parts. He’s super human and the glue that holds us together on stage and off. When Dave, who plays bass, and I, who plays guitar, joined the band, we decided to make it Van Halen. Dave’s Michael Anthony vocal covers are outrageously good. His playing is even better! True Van Halen fans know how rare it is to get a guy like that.

Each of these guys are so good at what they do, and have a common love for the boys from Pasadena, it HAD to be Van Halen.

RS: What is your favorite song to perform?

84: We’ve talked about this several times, and the basic answer is that we refuse to name one. It changes so often for each of us. It’s a mood-thing.

Although, I can say the crowd favorites are OUR favorites always! You stand in front of us and ask to be rocked, we are going to rock you no matter what song! THAT is our favorite song for that moment. Believe it!

RS: Do you write any of your own music when you are not doing Van Halen?

84: I write, and some of the other guys do, too. None of the guys write together, as far as I know.

RS: You try to recreate the original concert experience from 1984. Do any of you have acting backgrounds? If so, do you do anything besides Van Halen?

We do all we can to create a show that will take you back to 1984 or before. Of course, Van Halen is THE GREATEST band EVER, so they are big shoes for us to fill. We do it as a labor of love. I think we find a good entertaining balance between show, music, and respect for the real people we portray.

We are not one of those bands who believes they ARE the band they tribute. That’s just creepy. But, we try to put focus in places that most people expect it, and are comfortable with. It’s part acting, part performing music, and part connecting with the audience as the musicians/people we really are.

We love it when people come up after the show and ask us our names, and want to know about us as real life individuals. We call those people friends.

I’m not aware if any other acting that anyone in the group does. But, life is kind of a stage itself, isn’t it? We are all actors. I’m acting like I don’t want another guitar right now (but I do).

RS: Tell me more about how you all created the Van Halen experience.

Our drive, from the beginning was to strive to emulate the Van Halen of the MTV era at its height. The personalities that many of our followers saw develop over their cable box on their console television in the 80’s.

A smaller segment of people actually got to see Van Halen live. What an awesome experience! For those guys, we have plenty of live concert references and of course, the show itself is a concert.

We try to give the three-ring circus that was the Van Halen stage back in the day. You will see outrageous costumes, realistic stage props, authentic gear (I made my guitar out of parts and assembled it just like Eddie as an example), and most importantly, a faithful recreation of the music you heard coming out of your Camaro speakers in 1984!

All of this with similar stage antics and non-stop movement. Just like the original. This isn’t a stand there and tap your foot while you play band. This is the show you paid for.

RS: Anything else you want to add to let your fans know what kind of ride they are in for?

Absolutely. We are so super excited to be playing Main Street Music on February 16 at 8:00 pm.

We can’t believe how much buzz is going on up there. It’s like we have found the holy grail of a Van Halen community. You guys are ENGAGED and chomping at the bit for a Van Halen show. It is super rare that we see a crowd this much in love with Dave, Eddie, Alex, and Michael.

We can’t even tell you how much of a pleasure it is to play for a crowd like that. There are shows and then there are SHOWS. Something tells me this is going to be a SHOW! See you there!

Main Street Music is located at 527 West Main Street, Murfreesboro. 84 plays at 8pm on Saturday, Feb 16th.

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