In a new interview with Barbara Caserta of Italy's Linea Rock, Wolfgang Van Halen spoke about his decision to use the MAMMOTH WVH band name for his solo project. MAMMOTH WVH is a nod to family history — Wolfgang's father, legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen, and Eddie's brother Alex Van Halen called their band MAMMOTH when David Lee Roth first joined it in 1974.
Asked if it's a "double-edged sword" calling his band MAMMOTH WVH while also having the Van Halen last name, Wolfgang said: "It certainly is, just in general, 'cause people will expect things from me and put a lot on me. I think it's important to go into it with an open mind and not expecting to hear a continuation of VAN HALEN, if you will, 'cause this is all just me. I'm not trying to tread the same ground my father did — I'm trying to carve my own path.
"I really like the MAMMOTH name, because I think only super die-hard VAN HALEN fans are familiar with the name and I think overall, most people don't really know the connection," he explained. "So in a way, it's a subtle homage without kind of treading the same ground, if you will."
Last month, Wolfgang confirmed that he asked his father for permission to use the MAMMOTH WVH name for his solo project. "Yeah, I was a little nervous to ask him, but I wanted his permission," he admitted in an interview with "Elliot In The Morning". "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 month. 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.