Wolfgang Van Halen spoke with Rolling Stone recently to talk about the passing of his legendary father Eddie, his new solo project, David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, the once possible Van Halen reunion and more.
Wolfgang began the interview by commenting on the overwhelming responses he’s received from fans regarding both the loss of his father and the release of his brand new single, dedicated to Eddie, “Distance”.
“”I’ve never seen such an outpouring of positivity,” Wolfgang told Rolling Stone‘s Brian Hiatt.
Below are more comments from Wolfgang:
ON NAMING HIS BAND MAMMOTH WVH:
Q: Using the word Mammoth in your band name draws on some deep family history. What’s that about for you?
A: Oh man, growing up, whenever my dad would tell me the story that, you know, [Van Halen was once] called Mammoth… It was a three-piece, and Dad was singing. They had a bass player, Mark Stone, who unfortunately passed about a week or two before Dad did. He was a wonderful man. And I just thought that it was so cool that, one, Dad was singing. And two, it was an awesome band name. So growing up I was like, whenever I have my own band, I want to call it Mammoth.
Q: Did your dad know you were going to use the name?
A: Yeah, I was nervous, I asked for his permission. Gosh, it was around 2014. I was like, “Hey Dad, I got a question: Would it be cool if I called the band this?” And he was like, “Yeah, why would you worry about that?” He was really stoked.
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH DAVID LEE ROTH:
Q: How much of an ongoing relationship do you have with David Lee Roth?
A: Not too much. We’re cordial. But it was very business-related. You know, we were always cool, but we really only ever saw each other on stage.
ON THE CONSIDERED VAN HALEN REUNION TOUR:
Q: You told Howard Stern that you and your dad discussed a “kitchen-sink tour” with Dave trading vocals with Sammy Hagar and maybe even Gary Cherone. Do you think you could have gotten Dave to do that? I know Sammy would have been down for it, but I just don’t know about Dave.
A: I would have loved to see it happen. Unfortunately, we’ll never know the answer to that. I think at a certain point you would have just had to get everybody in a room and just be like, “Come on, how awesome would this be?”
Q: You talked about Michael Anthony being part of that tour, too. That means you you were personally ready to sort of retire from that band a while ago.
A: Pretty much, other than maybe jumping on stage for a song or two, because Dad would be like, “You got to be on stage at least a couple times.” He kept trying to pull me back in. Not that I didn’t want to be there. Playing with my father was the best thing I ever did. It was my favorite thing to do.
ON REPLACING MICHAEL ANTHONY:
Q: You obviously had a certain birthright to be in Van Halen, but at the same time, the spot you took was Michael Anthony’s. Did you ever have a personal conversation with him about that?
A: Never had too much of an opportunity. That’s kind of what that whole tour was supposed to be. And then it never panned out. I was really looking forward to speaking with him, and that hasn’t happened yet. I’m looking forward to the opportunity that I have in the future to speak with him.
Q: You want to make sure there’s no hard feelings?
A: I mean, I don’t think there are. I’ve seen things he’s said. He’s always been an amazing guy.
ON WRITING & PERFORMING MUSIC:
Q: When did you start writing songs?
A: I really started making my own attempt at writing my own music after the 2012 Van Halen tour. When I got home, I taught myself how to use Logic [recording software], and I made some of the first early demos for some songs that actually ended up on the album. That’s when I was like, “Hey, I’m doing music, might as well try and see if I can write my own stuff.”
Q: How did you find your own musical style?
A: It just kind of happens over time. I mean, it took me a very long time to record everything. It was just kind of waiting for the process to show me myself, developing that original sound. There’s a lot of different kinds of flavors on the album.
Q: Ever record that kind of thing just for fun, though?
A: I’ve never thought of myself as a shredder, but there’s one song on the album that has a fun breakdown, where the guitar and the bass are soloing and then there’s a drum solo.
ON THE STATE OF ROCK MUSIC:
Q: When Van Halen came out with their debut, rock was at the center of the culture. Now, it’s not. How does that affect you?
A: Rock is just what I’m passionate about. I don’t think it matters what’s in the forefront. What matters is what’s in my heart, what I want to do.
Q: If you’ve learned anything from Roth, now you’re supposed to say, “and I’m going to fucking save it.”
A: [Laughs.] OK! I’m gonna try and fucking save it.
Read the rest of Wolfgang’s comments to Rolling Stone HERE.