WOLFGANG VAN HALEN “super happy” with performance Van Halen songs at Taylor Hawkins Tribute
Wolfgang Van Halen says that he is “super happy and proud” of the fact that he performed his late father’s songs at the recent Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts. The son of Eddie Van Halen 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.
Wolfgang told Guitar World ‘s Chris Gill: “I didn’t even know if I could do it. I had a lot of conversations with Dave. What a kind sweetheart of a man he is. We talked a lot about (it). Initially he was, like, ‘What do you think? Would you be comfortable doing this?’ Initially, I didn’t wanna disappoint Dave Grohl. And I was, like, ‘Sure.’ And he was, like, ‘Why don’t you think about it and get back to me?’ And so I did. I thought a lot about it and I was, like, ‘You know what? If there was ever a time, this is it.’ I talked to him about it and I was just honest. I was, like, ‘I don’t know if I could do this, but if I do, I need your support. I need you up there with me.’ I was like, ‘Whatever the incarnation of what it becomes, I need you there with me.’ And he was, like, ‘Absolutely.'”
Regarding the other musicians tasked with performing the VAN HALEN material at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts, Wolfgang said: “Knowing that Josh was gonna be there, I was, like, ‘Josh Freese is one of the best drummers on the planet.’ Seeing the response of people saying, ‘Who was on drums?’ It was, like, ‘Dude, you’ve gotta learn yourself something and realize that Josh Freese has literally played on fucking every single thing you’ve ever heard, ever.
“I was pretty sure Justin could do it, but then once we got there and he hit it, it was, like, ‘Fuck, this is gonna be amazing.’ It was really exciting. He is a sweetheart of a human; he’s such a kind man. It was really special, man. I’m super happy and proud with how everything came to be.”
According to Wolfgang, he and the other musicians only rehearsed less than a handful of times before the London concert on September 3. “We rehearsed it a couple times in L.A. with just Josh, Dave and I (in) one day,” Wolfgang said. “And then we got there and rehearsed one day with Justin. So all in all we played each song maybe five or six times. It was really special.”
Wolfgang also responded to those people who have suggested he has an easier time playing the classic VAN HALEN songs because he is the son of Eddie Van Halen. “I didn’t just put a CD in and upload it into my head,” he laughed. “I practice a lot. It’s a really weird backhanded compliment, where it’s, like, ‘Oh, you did nothing to be able to do this.’ And it’s like, ‘No, I work very hard to be able to do what I can do.’ I understand where it’s coming from, though.”
Wolfgang released his debut album under the banner of MAMMOTH WVH last year. 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”.