Wolfgang Van Halen spoke to Big J of the 100.3 The X Rocks radio station about the upcoming debut album from his solo band MAMMOTH WVH. Tentatively due in early 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records, the LP was preceded by the standalone single “Distance”, which was released on November 16. Wolfgang wrote the song while his late father, legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen, battled cancer, “imagining what my life would be without him, and how terribly I’d miss him,” as Wolfgang explained in a statement.
Asked how long it took him to complete MAMMOTH WVH debut, Wolfgang said (see video below): “I’ve been working on it for years. I recorded it sporadically over the years, because my producer’s schedule was very busy. And I was also trying to figure out what I wanted to do; I kind of found my sound as I kept going. But some of the earliest tracks were done in 2015. But I didn’t finish everything until 2018.”
Regarding what role his father played in the making of the MAMMOTH WVH record, Wolfgang said: “He didn’t take any part in it. The only part he took in it was just being a proud dad. Any time he sat in the studio, he would just take it all in and let me fly. He didn’t wanna touch it — he wanted to see what I could do — and he was really proud of that.”
Last week, “Distance” topped Billboard‘s Hot Hard Rock Songs chart. The track also entered the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart at No. 9 and the Hard Rock Digital Song Sales and Rock Digital Song Sales charts at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
Wolfgang had been preparing to release music from MAMMOTH WVH for some time. That plan was altered when Eddie called him and told him his cancer had returned. Wolfgang decided to put everything on hold to be with his father through his battle.
“Distance” is an open letter to his father — one Wolfgang was fortunate to play for his dad and would become a favorite of Eddie‘s — declaring “no matter what the distance is, I will be with you.” The video for the song is created from a collection of family home movies through the years and offers an inside look in to one of music’s most notable personalities. Chronicling the family through the years, the video ends with a touching voicemail left from Eddie to his son.
Wolfgang played every instrument and sang each and every note on the MAMMOTH WVH LP. The group’s touring lineup will feature Wolfgang on guitar and lead vocals, Frank Sidoris (SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS) on guitar, Garrett Whitlock (TREMONTI) on drums, and Ronnie Ficarro on bass.
Last week, Wolfgang confirmed that he asked his father for permission to use the MAMMOTH WVH band name for his solo project. MAMMOTH WVH is a nod to family history — Eddie and Alex Van Halen‘s band was called MAMMOTH when singer David Lee Roth first joined it in 1974.
Photo credit: Travis Shinn