Wolfgang Van Halen was just interviewed by BASS GUITAR MAGAZINE about his work in Van Halen and Tremonti. Here’s an excerpt:
In Van Halen, a song I very much enjoy playing is ‘China Town’ off of the A Different Kind Of Truth album: a wicked uptempo song that’s got a lot of fun parts to play, especially the tapping intro that I need a capo to do. The crazy tapping at the end with the bass wah is another highlight. From a groove standpoint, the song ‘She’s The Woman’, also from that record, comes to mind.
“I got started as a bass player when my dad asked if I wanted to start jamming with him and my uncle in 2006. I had never really explored playing the bass that much. I had already been playing drums for five years and I’d been playing guitar for three years. It was a great foundation to have in order to make the transition to bass. For me, playing bass well is about staying in the pocket and establishing a lock with the drums: that’s the most important thing you can do. After that, exploring and contributing your melodic ideas for the benefit of the song is important as well.
“My first bass was a vintage 1974 Sunburst Fender Jazz that my dad owns. I dug that bass a lot. I played my first song, ‘On Fire’, with my uncle and my dad on that bass. He still has it… It’s killer! I own many basses but my favourite would have to be my black with silver stripe Stealth Wolfgang bass. Its one of two that exists. The other one is the black with yellow stripe, built for me in 2011 by Chip Ellis at EVH/Fender. Chip is the master builder for all EVH brand guitars. We’re working on bringing my Wolfgang bass to market. I’m really excited about that, because I think if people could play it and know what I know about how perfectly balanced and amazing-sounding it is, they would embrace it big time. Even before Chip painted it, he brought it to me unfinished but assembled to test, and I fell in love with it at that very moment. I wouldn’t let him have it back for a few weeks because I didn’t wanna part with it… even for a paint job! I’ve never played a more comfortable or better-sounding bass.
“My bass heroes are Les Claypool and Justin Chancellor. I was probably about 14 years old when I discovered Primus. Hearing the song ‘Lacquer Head’ with that rhythmic thumping thing he does in the main riff, I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard on a bass and said to myself ‘I have to learn how to play that’. Around the same time, I got heavily into Tool. They were like one of the first bands that literally took over my life! I was completely consumed by Justin’s style: the way he used effects and the fact that he played with a pick was a big inspiration. He’s such a melodic player. I love the way Adam [Jones, Tool guitarist] holds it down and Justin moves around him. The range of his dynamics is mind-blowing. From the heaviest to the cleanest tone on the record and everything in between, it’s just badass! A good example of his heavier tone would be when the guitar drops out in the verse of ‘Vicarious’ and its just bass and drums. That tone is enviable.
“There’s also an Australian band called Karnivool. The bass player, Jon Stockman, is very similar to Justin Chancellor. Check out the song ‘Simple Boy’. He’s got wicked tone, high skill and amazing musical sensibility. If you haven’t checked out Karnivool, I highly recommend you do. They are one of my favourite bands. One of the most incredible bass players that I’ve ever seen has got to be Victor Wooten. I don’t know where to even start… he’s just amazing!”
Tremonti’s Cauterize is out now. Info: www.marktremonti.com.