First impressions last a lifetime. Now a solo artist, Wolfgang Van Halen has prepared a lifetime to make his. The songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist has worked tirelessly towards the introduction of MAMMOTH WVH, his self-titled debut album. Playing every instrument and singing each and every note, his music presents a personal and powerful perspective, balancing memorable hooks and tight technicality. As many times as audiences have experienced his talent alongside the likes of Tremonti, Clint Lowery, and of course, Van Halen, we meet Wolf as an individual— Jonathan Graham talks with Wolf in this exclusive interview for Guitar Interactive Magazine.
In writing all of the songs and performing every part of the instrumentation and vocals, Wolfgang Van Halen has already established his own musical identity with the release of his debut album Mammoth WVH (available worldwide via EX1 Records/Explorer1 Music Group). From the rocking opening guitar riff on album opener "Mr. Ed" to the driving bass and drums on album closer "Stone," Mammoth WVH showca
ses the various musical influences that have inspired Wolf. Songs like "Resolve," "The Big Picture," and "Think It Over" are all sonically different from each other but unique to what Mammoth WVH is all about.
Late last year saw the first single "Distance" drop to universal praise and chart success. The track—written as a tribute to his father and guitar icon Eddie Van Halen—is another side of Mammoth WVH. On release, it promptly rocketed into the #1 spot on US rock radio, with the emotional music video having been viewed over 4.6 million times on YouTube. Surprisingly, the song was not originally intended to be on the debut album, but due to the overwhelming response, it has been added as a bonus track, with all of Wolfgang's proceeds from "Distance" being donated to the charity Mr. Holland's Opus.
To coincide with the album announcement earlier this year, Mammoth WVH made their performance television debut for late night on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The band—currently on tour in the United States supporting Guns N' Roses—comprised of Wolfgang Van Halen (guitars/vocals), Ronnie Ficarro (bass/vocals), Jon Jourdan (guitars/vocals), Frank Sidoris (guitars) and Garrett Whitlock (drums).
Coming from such a musical household, it may come as a surprise, but outside of his father teaching him one drumbeat from an AC/DC song, Wolfgang taught himself every instrument. "My dad wasn't the best teacher," he laughs. "I would ask him to play something, and then he would just proceed to be Eddie Van Halen. He would look at me and say, 'Do that.' to which I would laugh and sarcastically reply, 'Sure thing, no problem."
His father often played guitar against his mother's pregnant belly, however, and Wolf clearly absorbed those vibrations from the womb. By the age of 10, his Pop gave him a drum kit for his birthday. To this day, Wolf considers himself "a drummer before anything else." As he developed as a musician, he learned how to play the guitar in order to perform "316" — which his father penned for him — at a 6th-grade talent show.
In the summer of 2006, when he was 15 years old, Wolf grabbed a bass and began noodling for the first time. While at the legendary 5150 Studios, his impromptu woodshedding inspired Eddie and Uncle Alex. Endless family jam sessions followed. By summer's end, Wolfgang phoned David Lee Roth's manager, and by winter Roth showed up for rehearsal. They rocked "On Fire," and "That's how the 2007 tour began," says Wolf.
Not only did Wolf canvas the world with Van Halen while in high school, but he also held down the low end on 2012's 'A Different Kind of Truth'—which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200. When not on tour with Van Halen, he cut bass for Tremonti's critically acclaimed 'Cauterize' (2015) and 'Dust' (2016), in addition to joining the band on the road. In 2019, Wolf handled drums and also played bass on half of the ten songs for Clint Lowery's solo debut, 'God Bless The Renegades.'
In the midst of all this, at the beginning of 2015, Wolf broke ground on what would become MAMMOTH with producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette [Alter Bridge, Slash] behind the board. Wolf began to embrace his voice, inspired by everyone from his father, to bands like AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, TOOL, and Jimmy Eat World. "I've been singing my whole life, but it wasn't until MAMMOTH that I really found my voice. Elvis was great, and he helped me gain the confidence to become a lead vocalist."
"The name Mammoth is really special to me," says Wolf. "Not only was it the name of Van Halen before it became Van Halen, but my father was also the lead singer. Ever since my dad told me this, I always thought that when I grew up, I'd call my own band Mammoth, because I loved the name so much. I'm so thankful that my father was able to listen to, and enjoy the music I made. I'm really proud of the work I've done, and nothing made me happier than seeing how proud he was that I was continuing the family legacy."
"You only have one chance to make a first impression, and I wanted to do so to the best of my abilities," he affirms. "Throughout the whole process, I was finding who I am musically, and by the end, I got a pretty good handle on a sound I can claim for myself."
Mammoth WVH's 'Mammoth II' is out now worldwide through I Am the Sheriff and BMG Rights Management.
Mammoth WVH – Mammoth II Tracklist
2. "Like a Pastime"
3. "Another Celebration at the End of the World"
4. "Miles Above Me"
5. "Take a Bow"
7. "I'm Alright"
8. "Erase Me"
10. "Better Than You"
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