It probably came as little surprise that some long-time fans of Van Halen chafed when the band’s guitarist chose his teenaged son to replace departed co-founding bassist Michael Anthony.
There was even been talk that the band’s concerts (halted after the release of this year’s A Different Kind of Truth, when Eddie Van Halen was stricken with diverticulitis) actually featured recorded tracks, something meant to smooth the learning process for young Wolfgang Van Halen.
Eddie’s son, who took over for Anthony in 2007 as a high school-age kid, insists that nothing could be further from the truth — adding that he’s learned to live with the naysayers.
“At first, all of the blind internet hate used to hurt me a lot,” the now 21-year-old Wolfgang says in a talk with Metal Express Radio correspondent Mick Burgess via Bravewords, “but as I have grown older, I have started to think that, while there are plenty of people saying they don’t think I am playing or they don’t think I am singing, I know that I really am. So, I take that as a complement — because that means it is so fantastic that they can’t accept that I am actually doing it.”
The elder Van Halen’s instrumental “316,” from 1991’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, was written in honor of Wolfgang. Eddie later appeared on the cover of the April 2008 issue of Guitar World with Wolfgang, marking the first time a father and son have been so honored. Wolfgang was also an integral part of what became Van Halen’s 2012 reunion album with original lead singer David Lee Roth, encouraging his father to revisit unfinished and discarded demos from the band’s early days to light a creative spark.
It worked: A Different Kind of Truth was No. 6 on Billboard magazine’s mid-year list for top-selling rock albums, and spawned a sell-out tour — all on the strength of songs that some diehards had long been familiar with. That success, along with a subsequent invite to serve as bassist on former Creed guitarist Tremonti’s on-going tour, has clearly emboldened Wolfgang — whatever the rumors.
“If they think that I am not doing it when I know I am, then that’s a compliment,” he tells Burgess. “These were really big shoes to fill. It’s a really rough job, but I feel like it turned out alright. It’s a whole lot of fun playing all together.”
Van Halen’s new song “Tattoo” was based on a previously unreleased track called “Down in Flames”; “She’s The Woman” and “Bullethead” were originally part of the band’s 1976 pre-deal sessions with producer Gene Simmons. “Blood and Fire” was based on “Ripley” from mid-1980s soundtrack work Eddie Van Halen did for The Wild Life.
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