Wolfgang Van Halen, the frontman and creative mastermind behind Mammoth WVH, casts an eye back over his remarkable 2021 in the new end-of-year issue of Classic Rock magazine, and admits that his surname can be both “a blessing and a curse.”
In conversation with Classic Rock’s Polly Glass, Van Halen addresses the “mixed blessing” that comes with his iconic surname, in terms of having to prove himself as an artist in his own right.
“It’s definitely a blessing and a curse,” the 30-year-old musician acknowledges. “I’m very blessed to have the opportunities that I’m able to just because of my last name, but I really don’t think that the last name keeps those doors open for you. If you don’t have the goods to back it up, you're not going to be there for long. So I guess if I disappear in the next year, I didn’t have it! [laughs]”
Mammoth WVH have enjoyed a hugely successful 2021. The group’s self-titled album, on which Van Halen wrote every song, and played every instrument in addition to singing lead and harmony vocals, reached number 12 on the Billboard 200 album chart in America upon its release in June, and last month the group received a Grammy award nomination for debut single The Distance in the Best Rock Song category, alongside Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters, Kings Of Leon and Weezer. The quartet also supported Guns N’ Roses on the most recent US leg of their 2020 Tour.
Looking back upon the making of the Mammoth WVH album, which he began recording in 2015 and completed in 2018, but set aside in order to spend more time with his father Eddie as he battled cancer, Wolfgang describes the experience as “a therapeutic thing.”
“I had been going through a lot of stuff in my personal life at the time,” he tells Classic Rock. “It was a really fun, cathartic way to express myself. I had been in Van Halen and Tremonti, which were projects outside of my involvement in terms of the creative input, so having this thing that felt like my own, where I could just unabashedly be myself, was a very special thing to me.”
“My father had every opportunity to listen to it and he loved it,” Wolfgang adds. “He couldn’t have been happier with it.”
For more from Wolfgang Van Halen, and to see where his Mammoth WVH album placed in Classic Rock’s Albums Of The Year poll, pick up the new issue of the magazine, which is on-sale now.