WOLFGANG VAN HALEN: 'Listening To TOOL Really Upped My Game In Terms Of Understanding Music'

July 15, 2023

Wolfgang Van Halen, who originally started out as a drummer before moving on to guitar and bass, spoke to RawMusicTV at last month's Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, Sweden about some of his early influences as a musician. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "When I started playing drums, when I was nine years old, the two albums I played most to were VAN HALEN 'Best Of - Volume I' and 'Enema Of The State' by BLINK-182. [Laughs] So I think BLINK were an early influence for me. I think [BLINK-182 drummer] Travis Barker was a big influence on drums for me starting out, that I was, like, 'Ooh, I really enjoy this.' … But [TOOL's] Danny Carey really was a huge… When I started listening to TOOL, I noticed a big jump up in my own skills. Trying to learn how to play 'Ænima' and learning how to play 'Forty Six & 2' and 'The Grudge' and 'Ticks & Leeches' and stuff like that, and noticing, like, 'Wow, I'm becoming a better drummer just because I'm trying — and failing — to play all of this TOOL stuff.' But, yeah, listening to TOOL really upped my game in terms of understanding music and learning how to play it and developing more skill… And that led into my adoration of MESHUGGAH. That's like math. As a drummer, there's nothing more fun than listening to MESHUGGAH and trying to figure out the rhythm, the polyrhythm that's happening and stuff like that. I really — I don't know — I just enjoy that a lot."

Wolfgang, the son of legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen and actress Valerie Bertinelli, played bass for VAN HALEN from 2006 to 2020.

In November 2020, one month after his father's passing, Wolfgang announced the launch of his own band called MAMMOTH WVH.

"Mammoth II", the second album from MAMMOTH WVH, will be released on August 4 via BMG. The 10-track LP was recorded at the legendary 5150 studio and was produced by Wolfgang's friend and collaborator Michael "Elvis" Baskette.

Back in December 2020, Wolfgang told "The Afternoon Program" on the 102.9 The Hog radio station that his father was actually a pretty lame guitar teacher. "He didn't teach me" how to play guitar," Wolfgang said. "He was a terrible teacher. He only taught me how to do power chords on a guitar, and then I taught myself. [Laughs] I would ask him how to play something, and then he would just be himself, which is be a legendary guitar player. He couldn't really help me connect point A to point B; he would just do it and go, 'Do this,' because it's so easy for him. And I would just laugh and be, like, 'Okay.' [Laughs]

"I guess it's the same thing with [Albert] Einstein," he added, referring to arguably the greatest scientist of all time. "[Einstein] couldn't tie his shoes. There's a saying where it's, like, you're such a genius that it's hard to impart that to others; it's just kind of what you are. [Laughs]"

Wolfgang, who played all the instruments on MAMMOTH WVH's first two albums, went on to say that he picked up guitar when he was just 12 years old, "because I wanted to learn how to play '316', the song [my father] wrote for me, at a talent show at my school. I think it was sixth grade."

At the age of 16, Wolfgang joined his father in VAN HALEN for the band's 2007 reunion tour with singer David Lee Roth, replacing bassist Michael Anthony.

Photo credit: Travis Shinn

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