Will a Van Halen tribute eventually happen? Was it ever planned at all? David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, Jason Newsted and Joe Satriani have all commented on the record. Wolfgang Van Halen, however, has had little to say about it…until now.
During a recent interview with Rolling Stone‘s Brian Hiatt, Wolfgang was asked a series of questions regarding the much-publicized possible Van Halen tribute project that involved his uncle Alex and Joe Satriani. Below is the entire Q&A from Hiatt’s interview:
Q: There was apparently some kind of Van Halen tribute attempted that involved your uncle [Alex Van Halen] and Joe Satriani. What can you say about that?
A: What I can say is that there was an attempt at doing something. But, you know, I don’t like to speak negatively about people, but there are some people that make it very difficult to do anything when it comes to Van Halen. After being in Van Halen for a long time, I really have strived to have an environment where there is no walking on eggshells and there is no personality that you have to deal with. It’s just guys having fun making music and just having a good time. But, you know, from my time in Van Halen, there was always some stuff that gets in the way from just making music and having a good time. And, I think, that’s what happened.
Q: Let’s see, how can we decode that?…
A: I would love to just sit here and say everything and say the truth. There are plenty of interviews my dad did, where he straight up just said everything. And people hated him for it and thought he was lying. So I could just say shit, but people have already decided how they feel about things, facts or not. So I can say the facts. But that may not align with how certain people feel. I know how Van Halen fans get. They are very motivated by which specific people they like in the band. And it’s just not worth it. Just, we made an attempt, and some people can be hard to work with, and made it not happen.
Q: When you say “we,” what would your involvement have been in this?
A: When it comes to Van Halen, and decision-making overall and what Van Halen does, it’s Al, and then I’m there and supportive. You know, I basically help make the decisions that dad would be there to make, because I’m in there in his stead.
Q: So basically, you gave your blessing to this attempt that didn’t work out.
A: It didn’t even get to that point. It was in such an early stage that it never even got off the ground.
Q: Too bad.
A: Yeah, no, I would really like to do something for Pop.
Q: So to get this straight, was this going to be a tour or a single concert? There’s a lot of confusion.
A: It was not a tour.
Q: So it was a one-off tribute concert. And even on that, they couldn’t get together?
A: Right, surprise. Look at anything that’s happened with Van Halen. And look how things have fallen apart. You know? The fact that in my tenure, in Van Halen, we managed to do three tours, put an album of original material and a live album out is a fucking miracle.
Q: It must make any band dynamics you have to deal with now seem like a fucking vacation.
A: When it comes to Mammoth, it’s just like, “Grow the fuck up. Like, We’re here to have a good time. Like, Why the fuck would you want to ruin that?” But apparently, some people are too full of themselves to let other people have a good time.
Q: There’s been a tremendous amount of confusion out there on this tribute thing.
A: People love to pin every decision Van Halen has ever made on Dad. But Al’s the brain. Al has been the guy forever. He’s the dude. When it comes to Van Halen, Dad just wanted to play guitar. But, you know, Al’s mentality, and it’s the mentality that Van Halen took for the entirety of its band, is that there’s nothing worth talking about unless it’s happening. So the reason that nothing has been talked about from Van Halen, the official channels, is because nothing’s happened. And I know how that will stir people up and piss them off. But that’s how the operation is run.
Q: When Robert Plant wouldn’t tour with Led Zeppelin, they auditioned all kinds of singers, including Steven Tyler. But just because they jammed a couple of times, doesn’t mean anything really came of that.
A: Not at all. And just because one person [former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted] decided to talk about it when they weren’t supposed to, it fucked everything up.
Q: Was that really what fucked it up?
A: That wasn’t the end of it, actually. It was already not happening.
Q: And if someone were to assume that the main problem was a certain singer with three initials, what would you say to that?
A: I would say “Do your research on the history of Van Halen, and come to your conclusions.”
Along with his comments on the Van Halen tribute, Wolfgang talked about his next Mammoth WVH album, internet hate and much more. You can read his entire interview HERE.