Wolfgang Van Halen praised the talents of Michael Anthony during a recent interview with Guitar World.
Below is an excerpt from his interview with Guitar World‘s Bass Player Staff featuring his comments on Anthony and Van Halen.
How old were you when you got started on bass?
“It was shortly after I picked up guitar, so it was probably around 13 or 14. I just started jamming for fun, with no intention at all of going anywhere, you know. I made a playlist of Van Halen songs and learned a bunch of them. My dad and I just started jamming on stuff, and we did that for months, just for fun, which is when I really started to get comfortable on the instrument.
“Van Halen’s basslines really lend themselves to being able to interpret things your own way. They’re very locked into the groove, so you can find little fun moments to fuck around, if you will. Mike Anthony is such a fantastic bassist – he really locks in with the drums.“
Did you take lessons?
“No, I never took any lessons. Dad gave me pointers here and there, but they were few and far between. He would tell you right now that he’s not a good teacher. I liken it to how Einstein couldn’t tie his shoes. People who are too smart for their own good!“
Which bass players influenced you?
“My two big ones would be Justin Chancellor and Les Claypool. I’m a huge fan of both of them. I watch them in awe and just go, ‘I love that,’ but I can’t replicate it in my own way.“
Have you played many different basses over the years?
“In 2012 we made some custom Wolfgang basses, and those have ended up in every outfit I’ve played in. Chip Ellis made them in partnership with Fender, because that’s where the VH brand is. They’re killer.“
Did you ever study the jazz guys? Stanley Clarke, Jaco and so on.
“You know, in the same way that I’m enamored with Les Claypool, it’s the same thing with them. I can’t even begin to play, or even fully comprehend, everything that they’re capable of – but I’ll watch them and be just like, ‘Wow!’“
Would you say you’re playing bass differently these days?
“I might be a little better. It’s like the 10,000 hour rule – after a certain point, you just keep getting better the more time you put into it. In the context of the music I write, I found exactly what I like to do. Now that I’ve found my comfort zone, every now and then I’ll try and pull some stuff that is out of it.“
Which bass part that you’ve recorded or played live are you particularly proud of?
“In terms of the Van Halen album I was on, A Different Kind Of Truth, I guess I’ll do a couple. I think songs like Chinatown and The Trouble With Never are two that I’m really excited about on that album. On the Mammoth album, Feel is a really fun one, and the groove on Resolve is something I’m really proud of.“
Your dad was a hero to many of us. I can’t say it to him, so I’ll say it to you. Advertisement
“Thank you. I’m so glad that he got to hear my music before he passed away. I know he enjoyed it a lot.“
The focus of Wolfgang’s interview was on his bass playing but he also commented on his approach to songwriting, his debut Mammoth WVH album and more. You can read the entire interview HERE.