Alison Richter of Guitar World spoke with multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Wolfgang Van Halen, portions of the interview appear below.

Guitar World: Congratulations on being chosen as one of the Guitarists of the Year. Is “unexpected” an accurate word to describe your reaction when you heard the news? 

Wolfgang Van Halen: Are you kidding me? What an honor, seriously! Thank you. I’m not a guitarist of the year. I’m just a dude. What an insane honor.

Guitar World: Was it a little bit of a Field of Dreams moment? Beautiful yet bittersweet?

Wolfgang Van Halen: Absolutely. I know Dad [Eddie Van Halen] would be super-stoked. I don’t know how many times Dad was on the cover, maybe more than anyone else. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were actually true. So it’s a trip to be recognized by that same magazine – as myself.

Guitar World: Who is your choice as Guitarist of the Year? Is this a given, or no?

Wolfgang Van Halen: t’s a funny thing. When people ask me who my number ones are in any respective thing, I don’t even think about Dad or Al [Alex Van Halen] in guitar or drums because it’s such a given. They’re beyond rating numbers of who’s my favorite, because they’re a part of me. They would be the easy answer, and I think that would be doing a disservice to the many amazing people who are out there now writing incredible music.

I’d like to point out one of my favorite guitar players currently. His name is Aaron Marshall and he has a band called Intervals. Their most recent album is called Circadian, and came out in 2020. He is one of my favorite guitar players. On top of that, he’s a wonderful man, a very kind dude. I feel like I have become a better guitar player because I’ve tried to learn all the songs on that album.

He has such a wonderful melodic sensibility that is so different from people in his genre of the heavier, progressive, metal-y rock sort of thing. It really separates him from everyone else. I can’t speak enough of how wonderful a guitar player and songwriter he is.

Guitar World: Who were you when you began working on the first Mammoth [WVH] album and who are you now?

Wolfgang Van Halen: I’m a very different person. The person who made the album started working on it way back in 2015, and that Wolfie has been through a lot of sh-t to become the Wolfie I am today, especially in the last three years. The things I experienced have certainly changed the way I look at life and the way I operate, and I’m sure in many ways that I don’t even realize…”

Guitar World: What are your goals for the new album?

Wolfgang Van Halen: It sucks to know that Dad isn’t going to be popping in every now and then like he did the first time. So it’s going to be different, but the goal overall is the same, which is to make music I would like to hear and that I enjoy. That’s how I follow my writing process. 

The main goal is to widen the breadth of what the output can be. I like to view it as this sort of cone, if you will, where the left side is the softer songs, the right side is the heavier songs, and everything in between is scaled properly…

Guitar World: You’ve navigated the peaks and valleys of being a public figure since you were a teen. With that comes the pressure of upholding the family name…First, how is your mental health in all of this? Second, do you have words for readers who are dealing with similar situations and may find comfort through your shared experiences?

Wolfgang Van Halen: I won’t lie. I don’t think my emotional and mental well being have been any lower. It’s a thing that is incredibly tough to fight. In the absence of Dad, and everything that has happened, it’s very difficult.

The lucky thing is I have a wonderful support system surrounding me. I have my mother, my uncle Patrick, my fiancée Andraia, so many wonderful people I can lean toward, because I certainly don’t have the emotional strength. There’s many times when I don’t have the strength to do anything, and more than not, that seems to be the case.

But you’ve got to find the things that give you life. For me, that’s music and being able to wake up every day and think about how I’m going to create this second album. It’s stressful, but it’s also very exciting, and it’s what I put all my thinking into.

When it comes to dickheads on the internet, that’s always there. Everyone deals with it. Sure, it hurts a lot when it’s directed toward you, but you’ve got to realize the place it’s coming from. I like to pick my battles. I like to find the right time to chirp and say something funny, but sometimes you do feel that need to be like, ‘F-ck off.’ And you can do that every now and then. But all in all, it says so much more about them than it does about you that they go out of their way. You can point them out, too, because you’ll see their profile and you can almost always predict what’s going to be filling their timeline. 

When it comes to people who feel the same way I do, dealing with depression and anxiety, you never really are alone. Unfortunately, it’s like we’re all alone together, because so many of us feel this way…”

Read more at Guitar World.

In addition to working on the second Mammoth album, on November 11th, the band released a digital deluxe edition of their critically acclaimed debut album, including bonus tracks from the Japanese version of the album, Talk & Walk, as well as two previously unreleased tracks: As Long As You’re Not You and Goodbye.

For more details about this release, and to hear Talk & Walk, please go here.

7 Responses

  1. I’m a big fan of Wolfie but not just for his music but also for who he seems to be as a human being. I hope I get to meet him someday and get to hang out with him for 5 or 10 minutes.

  2. Sheesh this guy literally had a Wonderful life Handed to him. Talented multi millionaire parents, great musical genetics and he gets over sensitive over some random comments off the internet while opening for major headline acts in full stadiums on his very first record. I think if you make any sort of online presence you are going to have your share of punks throwing dirt at you. Just like T.V if you don’t like what you see turn the damn thing off!

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Well, I think online trolling, and bullying, especially if is unwarranted, is despicable. I have had my fair share just moderating this site, and I am not even on any social media.

      While it says far more about the person posting the vitriol, people are human, famous or not, and some have thicker skins than others.

      While I don’t know him (wish I did, sounds like a great kid), it may also be a case of Wolfie just wanting to stand his ground, by not allowing these anonymous trolls, think they can get away with their nasty behavior without repercussions.

      It’s sad to say, but sometimes taking the mature, high road, isn’t always the most effective way of dealing with trolls. Occasionally, one must lower their standards, and get down in the dirt, and fight back.

      I am not a fan of John Mayer, but he did that, as well.

      Apparently, when Taylor Swift wrote a couple of “diss” songs about him (one called “Dear John” (even though it’s a pun, how subtle (eye roll)) and I believe another one, I don’t know what it is called, maybe, Rattlehead does, he’s a fan 😉 ) all of her fans started swarming his social media sites and writing really thoughtless comments, such as, he “should die,” and other terrible things. Anyway, he was ignoring most of it, but I guess after being inundated, he actually responded to one of these immature stans, and wrote “Dear (whoever), do you really want me to die?” The person who posted it, was so embarrassed, she wrote him back and apologized profusely, and could not believe he even read her comment, let alone responded.

      So, that’s my point, sometimes you have remind these idiots, there is a person behind the persona.

  3. Hi Dana, I’m not sure to what specific Taylor Swift song you refer, but she does have a few “diss” songs that are about ex boyfriends. And you’re correct…I’m a big “Swiftie”! But remember, I’m also a huge Slayer fan, too!

    Some people are stupid, and stupid can’t be fixed. People will use social media/technology to post mean comments that they would never say, face to face, to them. They are chicken s*** cowards and need to be ignored. F- them.

    1. I agree, but sometimes ignoring doesn’t work, they need a sarcastic retort, to get the message.

      As soon a Mayer embarrassed that tool, I do believe most of the hateful comments towards him, ceased. As others saw he just might respond…

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