The best way to excel in your profession is to get real world experience, and there are few better ways of getting real world experience as a musician than being part of a massive band. Wolfgang Van Halen has his own band Mammoth WVH, but he’s shared what lessons his time in Van Halen taught him about being in a band.
Wolfgang joined Van Halen in 2006 in place of Michael Anthony when the group announced its reunion with David Lee Roth. Thus, as a youngster, he toured with one of the biggest bands in rock ‘n’ roll history, and later played bass on their final album, 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth.
Van Halen played their very last shows in 2015, and Wolfgang went on to pursue his own musical venture apart from his dad and uncle’s band. Shortly after Eddie Van Halen died in October of 2020, Wolfgang shared what he’d been working on during that time — an emotional song called “Distance,” which was released under the name Mammoth WVH.
Mammoth’s debut album came out in June of 2021, and like Dave Grohl, Prince and some of the other greats, Wolfgang sang and played all of the instrumentation on the album himself. However, he needed to recruit other musicians in order to tour, and so guitarists Frank Sidoris and Jon Jourdan, bassist Ronnie Ficarro and drummer Garrett Whitlock joined his live band.
Mammoth II just came out this past Friday, and the band is currently on tour both on their own and as the opening act for Metallica alongside Pantera. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the musician shared what his time in Van Halen taught him about band dynamics, something he plans to keep in mind throughout his career with his own band.
“With Van Halen, I learned a lot of how I didn’t want things to be with Mammoth. Why do we need to be walking around on eggshells? Why is there a problem all the time? Like, why can’t we just get along and play music? Don’t we all love music enough to put our bullshit aside and actually have a good time having this be our livelihood? Shouldn’t it be easier than this?” he said.
“That was one of the main things with Mammoth, was to build this healthy core of people on the inside. That can’t be swayed and that can weather any storm, throughout anything we need to.”
Wolfgang later admitted that he is sometimes envious of Whitlock and Ficarro for getting to play the drum and bass parts live, and that maybe he’ll be able to tackle the other instruments in the future.
“But right now there’s no reason to do that,” he continued. “Currently I have such an incredible band. I’ve forced my very introverted self to be in the front and to play the extrovert. It’s just a direct result of my desire to make this music.”
Mammoth WVH’s next performance will take place tonight (Aug. 10) in Quebec, Canada. Tomorrow night, they’ll open for Metallica in Montreal. See the rest of the dates on the group’s website.