Wolfgang Van Halen said Van Halen’s 2007 reunion with David Lee Roth was inevitable and an idea he initiated.
Wolfgang told Rolling Stone‘s Andy Greene the seeds of the reunion began in 2006 when he, Eddie and Alex Van Halen started jamming together at 5150 Studios. Soon after, Wolfgang offered up the idea of bringing Roth back to the band.
“Initially it was all for fun and we were just having a good time [as a trio],” said Wolfgang. “But as it started to show that there was substance there, if you will, it’s when I think it was just inevitably going to be Roth. It was my idea, it’s certainly what I wanted. They had been exploring the [Sammy] Hagar years, obviously, much more recently so we were kind of…I think everybody was kind of clamoring to hear that whole half of the catalogue. That’s when I…we all decided that I would be the one to call and call [Dave’s] manager. I wrote out exactly what I was gonna say as this little 14 year old kid and called his manager and was like, basically, [in kid’s voice] ‘Hey, this is Wolfgang Van Halen, can David Lee Roth come out to play, please?’ And that December he showed up one night and we plugged in and we played ‘On Fire’ and it felt amazing. I think that was, like, late 2006. December, maybe.”
Not only did Wolfgang kickstart the reunion with Roth but he also picked out the songs the band would play on the ensuing ’07 tour. Roth was open to all of the songs on Wolfgang’s list..Well, almost all of them.
“I made a playlist called Van Halen Trio Jams and I think that piece of paper is still hanging up on the studio in the workshop,” said Wolfgang. “There were even some Hagar era songs on there and I remember once we had Dave in there, he looked at the list and was like, ‘What’s ‘Get Up’? [laughs] I was like, ‘Oh shit, I should remake the list.'”
Wolfgang said his experience working with Roth was positive from the get-go.
“He gave us gifts,” said Wolfgang. “He gave us these, like, furry hats [laughs]. I still have it somewhere, I love it. It’s a really funny memory. It felt like, ‘Oh shit, here we are. This is….this is awesome.’ It was really exciting.”
Green asked Wolfgang what it was like working with Roth’s eccentric personality on a day-to-day basis.
“He really is a character but he was very supportive,” said Wolfgang. “He really welcomed me on the team. It was never like this, ‘What the hell is this kid doin’ here?’ kinda thing. He was fully in and that was a real…real pleasure. He really welcomed me in. I mean, obviously, he wouldn’t have been a part of it had he not been OK with it. We really gelled. It was really fun. He’s a funny guy, man. Always laughing.”
Now that he’ll be fronting his own band Mammoth WVH this summer, Greene asked Wolfgang if he learned any front man tips from Roth.
“I’m certainly not trying to emulate him in anyway when it comes to being a front man but being able to see how he can control a crowd is really a fun thing to see,” said Wolfgang. “Regardless if I’m taking any pointers from it or not he’s one of the greatest front men in the history of the scene.”
Below is Wolfgang’s entire Rolling Stone interview. In it, Wolfgang discusses both his and father’s struggles with shyness, whether he’s ever been tempted to use drugs or alcohol to cope with it, the debut Mammoth WVH album, his upcoming tour with Guns N’ Roses, dealing with online critics and much more.
Van Halen’s First Concert With David Lee Roth Since 1984 (September 27th, 2007 – Charlotte, NC):