Wolfgang Van Halen had the ultimate rock band training when he played bass in Van Halen, but that doesn’t mean it was a walk in the park for him. During a recent conversation, the rocker recalled the hardest part about being in a band as big as they were.
Wolfgang joined Van Halen in 2006 in place of Michael Anthony when they reunited with David Lee Roth, and remained in the band until its disbandment. Thus, he went on tour with the group several times, and played on the 2012 album A Different Kind of Truth. His father, Eddie Van Halen, confirmed that he was the newest member of the band during a discussion with Guitar World in ’06.
“Wolfgang breathes new life into what we’re doing. He brings youthfulness to something that’s inherently youthful,” the guitar legend said [via Music Radar]. He’s only been playing bass for three months, but it’s spooky. He’s locked tight and puts an incredible spin on our shit. The kid is kicking my ass!”
In a new interview with Classic Rock, Wolfgang said he’d spent a ton of time rehearsing for the band’s 2007 tour, but the hardest part of it was the reactions from fans who were upset that Anthony wasn’t part of the reunion instead.
“It was tough,” he reflected. “I was there to support my dad, but I was aware that I’d become the biggest enemy of every 40-to-50-year-old man out there in the world. It was something I didn’t know how to handle. That did a lot of damage to me.”
Wolfgang added that he and Anthony have a good relationship today, though, calling him a “wonderful” guy whom he keeps in touch with.
Aside from learning to navigate an angry fanbase, the young rocker also got a taste of what it’s like to deal with disagreements amongst bandmates. He remembered one specific song he’d written with his dad and uncle, Alex Van Halen, called “Ain’t Talkin’ About Panama” — but Roth wanted nothing to do with it.
“[Our producer] Dave, ‘Check this out…’ And Dave was like, ‘No, not doing it,'” he recalled. “The relationship between Van Halen and their singers was always complicated.”
Having made it through those hardships, Wolfgang now has his own successful career with Mammoth WVH — but that hasn’t come without its own set of hurdles either. The musician faces a pretty consistent battle with people who accuse him of trying to benefit from the Van Halen name.
“People being rude and trying to say hateful things don’t bother me. It’s when people are stupid, ‘Oh, you’re milking the Van Halen name.’ It’s my fucking name, you grape. Stupidity bothers me more than people trying to hurt me,” he asserted.
Mammoth WVH’s next show is set for tonight (Sept. 8) in Albuquerque, N.M. See the rest of the dates on their website.
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