Wolfgang Van Halen has spoken to Metal Hammer ahead of the launch of his debut album Mammoth WVH, and revealed that the pride that his late father Eddie took in his music has been a source of strength to him in a challenging year.
It was Wolfgang who broke the tragic news of his father’s passing on October 6 last year, and Mammoth WVH’s debut single, Distance, was a touching dedication to the Dutch-born guitar legend, who believed in his son’s talents so much that he recruited him to play bass in Van Halen when he was just 15 years old.
“My dad was my biggest supporter, next to my mom [actress Valerie Bertinelli],” Wolfgang says. “To this day – and for the rest of my life – the pride my dad had in me is one of the things that drives me most.”
On June 11, Wolfgang’s solo vehicle Mammoth WVH will release a self-titled album, on which the talented 30-year-old musician sings and plays every instrument. Following on from Distance, three further singles have already been released from the album, Don’t Back Down, Think It Over and Feel.
Asked by writer Rich Hobson to nominate a favourite track on Mammoth WVH, Wolfgang opts to pick an entirely different track, album closer Stone.
“I’m really proud of Stone, it was really fun to just go out with that one,” he says. “ I don’t really count Distance because it’s a bonus track; Stone is the one I consider the album closer so I really wanted to go for broke and make an epic song.”
Although Mammoth WVH is Wolfgang’s debut album, it’s not his first time appearing on record, with the Los Angeles-born musician previously playing bass on Van Halen’s 2011 studio swansong, A Different Kind Of Truth, and on 2015’s Cauterize and 2016’s Dust from Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti.
Speaking on his memories of making the final Van Halen album, Wolfgang says, “It was such a fun experience. I’d wake up early every day excited to go to work, driving over and picking up dad like we were going to school, just getting in there and doing it.”
The bassist also reveals that a follow-up to A Different Kind Of Truth was never really on the agenda for Van Halen.
“It wasn’t really in the cards,” he says. “Considering by the time we toured again my dad’s health issues really started to crop up so we couldn’t really invest in that. I like to think if that hadn’t been the case we’d definitely have worked together more though.”
Asked to share one lesson he learned from his father, Wolfgang says, “Just to keep smiling and enjoy it – the music is what matters, everything else is little. Being up there and playing is what it’s all about.”
Mammoth WFH is due for release June 11 via EX1 Records.