LOS ANGELES – They're in their 50s now, and they've traded their long heavy-metal locks for close-cropped cuts, but the original members of Van Halen are back in business and promise that they're better than ever.
"Usually, when a band comes back like us, it's rockers with walkers," frontman David Lee Roth told reporters at the Four Seasons Hotel here on Monday. "This is anything but."
Van Halen held a press conference to announce a 25-date concert tour beginning Sept. 27 in Charlotte, N.C. The re-formed group features three original members — Roth, guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen — along with Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang, on bass.
"This is not a reunion," said Roth, 51. "This is a whole new band."
"It is totally blowing our minds and I think it will yours, too," said Eddie Van Halen, 52. "It's better than it's ever been."
With its flamboyant frontman, "Diamond Dave," Van Halen was one of the most popular rock bands of the 1980s. But the group split up in 1985 and the original lineup hasn't performed together since.
"I'm shocked any of us are still vertical," Roth quipped.
He and Eddie Van Halen insisted that the band's reunion isn't just a one-tour deal. After performing throughout North America, Van Halen plans to hit Asia and Australia.
"Then we make an album," Roth said, adding that the group has "lots of dreams, lots of ambitions."
"We really have re-formed this team like a brother team that it never was before," he said.
Wolfgang Van Halen, 16, brings "a young energy and a spirit" to the band, Roth said, adding that the teenage rocker chose the tour's song list, which features "close to 25 of your greatest hits."
"You know every single song, you know every guitar lick, every woo, every kick, every jump, every drum lick," he said. "We can't afford to shirk that duty."
The band has been rehearsing since October and plans to exceed fans' expectations, Roth said.
"None of us want to give you less than our best," said Eddie Van Halen. "And we are at our best."