In a recent cover-story interview for Billboard, Eddie Van Halen covered a variety of topics, including the guitar tone regularly referred to as the “brown sound.”
But what the legendary Van Halen guitarist said might surprise fans.
In talking with Billboard’s Chuck Klosterman, Van Halen was asked if he has synesthesia, which essentially is the ability to “see” sound, as one sense triggers a reaction in another sense in the body.
Interestingly enough, Van Halen said that when he referred to the brown sound, he actually meant his brother Alex’s drumming.
“That’s funny, because people took that whole ‘brown sound’ thing totally out of context,” he said. “I was never talking about my guitar tone. I was talking about Alex’s snare drum. I’ve always thought Alex’s snare drum sounds like he’s beating on a log. It’s very organic. So it wasn’t my brown sound. It was Alex’s.”
Klosterman then asked how the confusion originally occurred.
“It happened years ago. People would ask me about his drumming, and the only way I could explain it was that it had a very brown sound,” Van Halen noted. “I’m glad you brought this up, actually, so people can finally understand what I was talking about.”
In the feature, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also discussed his band, his career, his path to sobriety and some of his classic riffs.
Watch an accompanying video to the piece below.