Wolfgang Van Halen has confirmed that he asked his father, legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen, 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 David Lee Roth first joined it in 1974.
"Yeah, I was a little nervous to ask him, but I wanted his permission," Wolfgang admitted in a new interview with "Elliot In The Morning" (hear audio below). "Not that I needed it, but I wanted it. And I kind of asked him. I was, like, 'Hey, pop, is that cool if I use MAMMOTH?' He was, like, 'Absolutely. That's awesome.' He was super stoked about it. 'Why would you be worried about asking me?' [But] I'm a naturally anxious person, so I don't know why [I just felt like I wanted to ask him]. That's just kind of how I felt."
Wolfgang played every instrument and sang each and every note on the debut album from MAMMOTH WVH, which is scheduled for release in the spring of 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records. The disc's first single, "Distance", was released last Monday (November 16). Wolfgang wrote the song while his late father battled cancer, "imagining what my life would be without him, and how terribly I'd miss him," as Wolfgang explained in a statement.
Asked if the rest of MAMMOTH WVH's LP will be musically similar to "Distance", Wolfgang told "Elliot In The Morning": "Well, 'Distance', within itself, is kind of a standalone single; it's not actually gonna be on the album. I wanted this to kind of be a separate release just for dad. But next year, when the album comes out, I think a lot of people will see that while 'Distance' might be an outlier in terms of the core sound, that flavor can definitely be heard. But I think what's fun about about the album is there's kind of something for everybody on it; there's all different kinds of sounds. But it's not haphazard in its diverseness of different songs; it's kind of all collective and it feels right. I guess everyone will just have to see when the album is out."
When Wolfgang hits the road in support of MAMMOTH WVH's debut album, he will be accompanied by guitarist Frank Sidoris (SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS), drummer Garrett Whitlock (TREMONTI) and bassist Ronnie Ficarro. Wolfgang will handle lead vocals and guitar at the shows.
Wolfgang discussed the MAMMOTH WVH band lineup during a November 18 appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". He said: "We've got Frank. My good brother Garrett Whitlock, who I played with in TREMONTI; we were the rhythm section for a good long while. And God, he hits hard, and that's really important to me. And an amazing guy too, which is even more important, 'cause they're family — you've gotta live with them moving forward. And Ronnie Ficarro, a bass player; he played with FALLING IN REVERSE and a band called I AM GHOST. He's a tremendous player and a great guy too. So I'm really stoked about it. The second we started playing in 2018, we just immediately jelled. Even dad was, like, 'Fuck yeah! You guys got this.'"
Wolfgang joined his father in VAN HALEN for the band's 2007 reunion tour with Roth, replacing Michael Anthony.
Eddie died on October 6 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.