Track honors his father Eddie Van Halen
Wolfgang Van Halen has released his long-awaited solo debut single, “Distance,” in honor of his father, the late Eddie Van Halen who passed away from cancer last month. The younger Van Halen premiered the single and video — which features home videos of the pair as Wolfgang grew up and famously toured as Van Halen’s bassist through the years — as Mammoth WVH on SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show on Monday (Nov 16th). The song is described as an open letter to Eddie and was one of his father’s favorite songs.
“As my pop continued to struggle with various health issues, I was imagining what my life would be like without him and how terribly I’d miss him,” Wolfgang shares. “While the song is incredibly personal, I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their life. I never intended ‘Distance’ to be the very first piece of music people would hear from me, but I also thought my father would be here to celebrate its release. This is for him. I love and miss you, Pop.”
Van Halen had planned to release the new music before now, but held off due to his father’s declining health. The track will appear on Mammoth WVH’s debut via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records in 2021.
Mammoth was the former name of Van Halen before being changed in 1974, thus another ode to the legendary guitarist.
“Our connection with Eddie grew out of his generous nature, his delight in seeing kids learn and play music, and ultimately understanding what’s important in life,” comments Felice Mancini, President and CEO of Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. “Eddie lived out loud through his music, and I believe that he wanted to see that kind of expression ignite in the students. Music saved him and he loved giving back through what we do for kids through the power of music. Thank you Eddie. We’ll never forget you.”
In an open and very personal interview with Stern, Wolfgang discussed the new track and his father’s legacy. He confirmed that the rumored 2019 Van Halen tour was to see the return of original bassist Michael Anthony and all three VH singers — David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone.
He says he came up with the idea when he began working on his debut solo record in 2015. “I would be like, ‘Hey, Dad, you know what would be cool … is if I opened for you guys, and we had Mike come back,'” he shares.
“But as time went on, he warmed up to the idea,” Wolfgang says. “I got him excited about it. And at a certain point it turned into what we joked as the Kitchen Sink tour. ‘Cause after he was okay with that arrangement, it was like, ‘Fuck, let’s get Dave and Hagar and even Cherone, and let’s just do a giant fucking awesome thing.'”
Wolfgang also discussed a new version of Van Halen without his dad. “That’s fucking stupid. You can’t have Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen, because I’m not Dad. I’m not going to replace him, you know? I’ve spent my life making sure I’m not like him. I’m my own person. And my dad, again, he’d be pissed off. He’d be, like, ‘What the fuck are you doing? Go do your shit.'”
He also confirmed that he’s not in any hurry to comb through his dad’s massive vault recordings at his 5150 home studio.
“[There’s] a shit-ton of tapes that will take a very, very long time to go through. As disappointing as it may be for some to hear, it’s not the priority right now. I don’t know, I can’t put a timeline on it – not in the immediate future would we be going through it,” he explains as rumors have surfaced that he’s currently sifting through his dad’s vault.
He continues, “My dad would be pissed off at me. He’d be like ‘What the fuck are you doing? Go do your shit. What are you doing? Don’t go through my old shit, do your new shit.’ Mark my words, there will be a time that we go through it. Just not right now, and not in the foreseeable future. I don’t want to put a timeline on it, but it’s going to take like a full year. It’s a crazy process to digitize all of the tapes. You gotta get like this special oven and you gotta cook it properly. It’s gonna be a helluva thing. It’s gonna take long time. If you see how many tapes there are, it’ll be a huge undertaking. If we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do it right.”