WOLFGANG VAN HALEN: VAN HALEN reunion is off the table, VAN HALEN camp is too 'dysfunctional' to make tribute concert happen
Wolfgang Van Halen has once again weighed in on the proposed all-star VAN HALEN tribute project, saying he got “closure” by performing his late father’s songs at the recent Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts.
No progress has been reported on a possible VAN HALEN tribute concert since April when former METALLICA bassist JASON NEWSTED revealed to The Palm Beach Post that he was approached by VAN HALEN drummer Alex Van Halen about six months earlier about playing bass for the project. Newsted told the Florida newspaper that he agreed to go to California to jam with Alex and legendary guitarist Joe Satriani and see if it felt right, but he eventually realized that it would be impossible to do justice to VAN HALEN‘s legacy. Three months later, Wolfgang told Rolling Stone magazine that the idea for the Eddie Van Halen tribute was ultimately nixed due to the personality clashes within VAN HALEN.
The son of Eddie Van Halen, who played three VAN HALEN songs — “On Fire”, “Hot For Teacher” and “Panama” — over the course of two concerts in September alongside Dave Grohl on bass, Josh Freese on drums and THE DARKNESS‘s Justin Hawkins on vocals, told Classic Rock magazine that he was no longer actively interested in pursuing the idea of a standalone Eddie Van Halen tribute event. “I think I already did it with the Taylor Hawkins tributes,” he explained. “I feel a lot of closure because my part of the show was a tribute to my father.”
“When it comes to VAN HALEN and entities surrounding the band it’s unfortunate, certainly compared to FOO FIGHTERS who have their shit together with interpersonal relationships,” Wolfgang added.
“I don’t know what it is with some bands but certain personalities just can’t get over themselves to work collectively for one purpose. That’s been the curse of VAN HALEN for its entire career. So my playing at the Taylor shows delivered that catharsis without the stresses of dealing with the VAN HALEN camp, and the players involved. Their camp is very dysfunctional — everyone! Hell, it was difficult to make plans even when the band was active.”
When Classic Rock‘s Dave Ling asked Wolfgang about Hagar‘s recent comment that he would “love to play those songs again,” Wolfgang said: “He said that, but he also said he wouldn’t. Sammy said two different things. No… I feel that I’ve said my piece, and if the Taylor concerts are all that happens then I’m happy with that.”
In June 2021, Wolfgang, who joined his father in VAN HALEN for the band’s 2007 reunion tour with Roth, replacing Anthony, told SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” it would be “great” to eventually organize an Eddie Van Halen tribute show. “It’s not in the immediate plans, ’cause that’s a lot of moving parts that you’ve gotta corral to get that to happen. But I definitely think it should happen. Absolutely,” he said.
Asked how he envisions the tribute concert taking place in terms of which musicians should be involved, Wolfgang said: “I have no idea. All I know is that the focus should a hundred percent be on Pop. While it could be a celebration of VAN HALEN and the band’s history, I think more than anything, it should be focused on him… It’s a tall ask and a big thing to figure out. But I do think it should happen at some point.”
In November 2020, Wolfgang told Entertainment Tonight that proceeds from any tribute show in honor of his father would go toward Eddie‘s favorite charity, Mr. Holland’s Opus, which helps underprivileged students access musical instruments. Proceeds from the debut solo single from Wolfgang‘s solo band MAMMOTH WVH, “Distance”, are also benefiting Mr. Holland’s Opus.
Eddie died in October 2020 at the age of 65. The legendary VAN HALEN guitarist passed away at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
The digital deluxe edition track listing for “Mammoth WVH” is:
- Mr. Ed
- Horribly Right
- Don’t Back Down
- You’ll Be The One
- The Big Picture
- Think It Over
- You’re To Blame
- Distance(bonus track)
- Talk & Walk
- As Long As You’re Not You
Writing all of the songs and performing all of the instrumentation and vocals for the debut album, Wolfgang Van Halen set out to establish his own musical identity. From the rocking opening guitar riff on album opener “Mr. Ed” to the driving bass and drums on album closer “Stone”, “Mammoth WVH” showcases the various musical influences that have inspired Wolfgang. Songs like “Resolve”, “The Big Picture” and “Think It Over” are all sonically different from each other but unique to what MAMMOTH WVH is. The first two singles, “Distance” and “Don’t Back Down”, found their way to the No. 1 spot at Active Rock Radio. The single “Distance” was also nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Rock Song” category that saw Wolfgang Van Halen nominated alongside the FOO FIGHTERS, Paul McCartney, KINGS OF LEON and WEEZER. Recently, Wolfgang made headlines performing at the Taylor Hawkins tribute show in London alongside Justin Hawkins, Dave Grohl and Josh Freese.
MAMMOTH WVH shows no signs of slowing down as the band will be touring extensively in late 2022 and early 2023 with longtime friends ALTER BRIDGE. The band has dates in Europe in November and December with ALTER BRIDGE and HALESTORM. Then, after a short break to continue work on the second album, the band will hit the road across North America as direct support for ALTER BRIDGE starting in January 2023 and wrapping up in April 2023.
Recently, Wolfgang replied to a fan on Twitter, in which he revealed that he would start to work on his new record this week.
I start next week! — Wolfgang Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) September 8, 2022
Hey… any timeline on the next album?— 𐕣 Ant 𐕣 // #MCRBoston both nights!!! (@AnthonyDailey3) September 6, 2022
This past March, Wolfgang said during an appearance on “Whiplash”, the KLOS radio show hosted by Full Metal Jackie, that he was hoping to begin working on the follow-up to “Mammoth WVH” at some point in the not-too-distant future. “Basically, I certainly don’t wanna take as long as it did,” he explained. “I think throughout that first process, I was really just figuring out what it was and who I was as my own artist, finding my own sound and discovering who I was as a lead singer, as a songwriter. But when it comes to the next album, now that I’ve figured out what this is and who I am, within the context of it, I’m really excited to figure out how to condense that process to as an efficient of time as possible, so I can get an album done in a third of the time while it being twice as good. It’s always a personal challenge.”
In February, Wolfgang told SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” that he had already gathered plenty of material for MAMMOTH WVH‘s sophomore effort. “I’m very ready to get back in the studio,” he said. “We have some leftover tracks from the first album that I’d like to take another look at — maybe add stuff or maybe redo entirely — and then a bunch of new ideas to get into.”
MAMMOTH WVH‘s debut album was released via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records.
Featuring Wolfgang on vocals and all instruments, “Mammoth WVH” was met with positive reviews and topped Billboard‘s Top Hard Rock Albums and Top Rock Albums charts.
MAMMOTH WVH‘s first single, “Distance”, reached No. 1 on the MediaBase and BDS Active Rock Radio charts. A tribute to Wolfgang‘s father, the song was not originally intended to be on MAMMOTH WVH‘s debut album, but due to the overwhelming response to its accompanying video, which has been viewed over six million times on YouTube, it was added as a bonus track. All of Wolfgang‘s proceeds from “Distance” are being donated to Mr. Holland’s Opus.
“Distance” is an open letter to Wolfgang‘s father, declaring “no matter what the distance is, I will be with you.” The video for the song is created from a collection of family home movies through the years and offers an inside look in to one of music’s most notable personalities. Chronicling the family through the years, the video ends with a touching voicemail left from Eddie to his son.
Asked why he decided to play all the instruments on MAMMOTH WVH‘s first LP, Wolfgang said in a 2021 interview: “I just figured since I could play everything, I wanted to see if I could do it. (Laughs) Basically, I just wanted to see. And then, since I could — at least I think I could; I guess it’s up to everybody else to decide — I had such a fun time in the studio that I’m looking forward to getting back in there and doing it (again).”
In November 2020, Wolfgang confirmed that he asked his father for permission to use the MAMMOTH WVH band name for his solo project. MAMMOTH WVH is a nod to family history — Eddie and Alex Van Halen‘s band was called MAMMOTH when singer David Lee Roth first joined it in 1974.
MAMMOTH WVH‘s touring lineup features Wolfgang on guitar and lead vocals, Frank Sidoris (SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS) on guitar, Jon Jourdan on guitar and vocals, Garrett Whitlock (TREMONTI) on drums, and Ronnie Ficarro on bass.
MAMMOTH WVH made its television debut in February 2021, performing “Distance” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and running through an exclusive acoustic arrangement on “Today”.