Wolfgang Van Halen Says He ‘Just Wanted to Keep My Dad Alive’ When Joining Van Halen
Wolfgang Van Halen recently summarized how he came to replace bassist Michael Anthony and join his father, the late Eddie Van Halen, as a bandmate in the namesake Van Halen. Acknowledging that the 2006 swap drew understandable ire from onlookers, the 30-year-old rocker said that, at the time, he "just wanted to keep his dad alive."
The musician now fronting Mammoth WVH made the comments during a wide-ranging interview that emerged this week ahead of Friday's (June 11) release of Mammoth WVH, the self-titled debut that's Wolfgang's first album with his own band.
Remembering a time when Eddie's public battle with addiction resulted in the guitarist's often erratic behavior, Spin outlined how Wolf sought help for his dad. Once Eddie got cleaned up, a plot to reunite Van Halen was hatched — what became the 2007 comeback with singer David Lee Roth.
But as the situation stood then, it seemed the most logical choice for Eddie was to simply include his son on bass rather than reach out to Anthony, who, as Wolf recalled of the admittedly "dicey" situation, was then performing with former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar.
"Looking cynically on paper, as a kid replacing a longtime member, it's like, yeah, you should hate me," Wolf admitted before adding that the circumstances were more nuanced than that.
"It's not like my dad was like, 'Fuck you, get out of here,'" the musician explained. "My dad wasn't going through a good time, and Mike was having a good time playing with Sam. Sam wasn't in the band. Sure, it's a little dicey and complicated, but he really wasn't a part of it anymore. I completely understand that he wouldn't want to be around my dad when he was like that. It was never like I went to my dad and said [in a cagey movie villain voice] 'I should be playing bass.' At that point, I just wanted to keep my dad alive."
Elsewhere in the interview, Wolfgang was asked about his "haters," with the musician refuting notions of exploiting his dad's legacy while accepting that questions about Eddie are unavoidable. "It's not like I'm going and saying, 'Hi, nice to meet you; you know who my dad is, right?'" he said. "It demonstrates the simplicity that brains operate at where they just want to hate."
Regardless, the Mammoth WVH rocker, clearly excited for the future, indicated his hope that, perhaps someday, the roles of renown between him and his father might even be reversed.
"It's exciting to be able to finally be my own person," Wolf shared. "I would love people to get into me and be like, 'Oh, shit, that's his dad,' instead of it being like, 'Oh, it's his son.' That would be the ultimate compliment."
Ahead of Mammoth WVH's release, listeners have been treated to the singles "Distance," "You're to Blame," "Don't Back Down," "Think It Over," "Feel" and "Mammoth." Wolf debuted his live band on Jimmy Kimmel Live in February. Pre-orders for the album are available now.