For a long time Wolfgang Van Halen had no problems responding to his online followers. A response would go out almost as quickly as one came in. That was until he released a hit single.
“It’s incredible,” Wolfgang told Forbes. “I’ve never been able to not keep up with comments before. At a certain point I have to stop reading and just wait ’till later and scroll through what I can. I’m not able to read everything anymore, it’s coming at such a crazy amount. And also, on the funny side of things, I’ve never been able to go, ‘Hey, let’s go read nice things about myself on the internet.’
Along with the staggering numbers comes the critical praise. You’ll have to search hard to find any fan or music critic who hasn’t given the “Distance” single and video positive reviews. In fact, many have noted how the song’s emotional lyrics about losing a loved one have connected with them far more personally then your average hit single.
“I know specifically where to look to find the real shit about me, like super dedicated, diehard Van Halen message boards and stuff,” said Wolfgang. “And I’ve even just popped a look in there and they’re being nice to me there. I can’t believe it. Like, even the mean shit is nice to me now.”
Below are a few more highlights from Wolfgang’s Q&A with Forbes’ Steve Baltin:
Baltin: How did you deal with the [online] negativity?
WVH: I don’t think it was a personal thing. I think it was their love for Michael Anthony, it had nothing to do with me as a person. It’s just that they would have much rather seen him without realizing the back story of how [the reunion] probably wouldn’t have happened without me because dad felt incredibly uninspired and, especially when he was sober, he had a monumental anxiety issue and having me there made him more comfortable and creative. Now that people are starting to learn the truth behind everything so many people understand and actually apologized directly to me on Twitter, like, “Hey, man, I hated you before, but I realize that I actually never really knew you. I just hated you for a reason outside of your control and I just wanted to apologize. I feel terrible.” That’s a really big thing for people to do, especially on the internet. So I’ve been really touched by how kind people have been that may have been rude to me in the past. It all rolled off my back anyways. But it takes a big person to admit when they’re wrong. And these people are certainly doing that in droves and I can’t believe it.
Baltin: I knew from talking with your dad in 2009 the only way that tour was happening was because he was so happy to tour with you. He was so proud.
WVH: Yeah, it was incredibly important to him and I don’t think people really took his words to heart, I don’t think they really believed it. They wanted to look to the negative. In this day and age it’s always about the cynical reaction and everything, so the true meaning behind what he was saying never really resonated.
Baltin: How old were you when you realized how much your dad supported you and how has it influenced you going forward?
WVH: It’s part of what motivates me to this day and it’s almost a big part of it. The reason that this whole thing has been so easy for me is even if I don’t believe in myself, I’ve had a lot of struggles with depression and anxiety in my life, and self-esteem issues. But even when I don’t believe in myself knowing how much my mother and my father believe in me is what keeps me moving along. And especially now that my dad is not here and knowing how proud he was of me and my music, it’s been the main driving force that’s kept me going through the whole situation. I knew that’s what he wanted for me. And I couldn’t be happier to be fulfilling his dream for me.
Read the entire Q&A HERE.