Wolfgang Van Halen spoke to Andy Hall of the Des Moines, Iowa radio station Lazer 103.3 about "Distance", the first single from his solo band MAMMOTH WVH. Wolfgang wrote the song while his late father, legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen, battled cancer, "imagining what my life would be without him, and how terribly I'd miss him," as Wolfgang explained in a statement.
Asked if the overwhelmingly positive response to "Distance" helped him in his grieving process, Wolfgang said (hear audio below): "The whole process in general has certainly helped a lot, but I don't think it's ever anything that can be fixed. So while I am so thankful and overwhelmed by the positive response, it's kind of a wound that can never really close. But I'm just absolutely astounded with how positive everybody has been considering that it's a much softer song, and it doesn't sound like VAN HALEN. I always expect the worst, just 'cause I'm kind of an anxious mess of a person, but I've been blown away by the response. It's been a very therapeutic experience, for sure."
"Distance" is an open letter to his father — one Wolfgang was fortunate to play for his dad and would become a favorite of Eddie's — declaring "no matter what the distance is, I will be with you." The video for the song is created from a collection of family home movies through the years and offers an inside look in to one of music's most notable personalities. Chronicling the family through the years, the video ends with a touching voicemail left from Eddie to his son.
"That was probably one of my favorite things that a lot of people got from the video," Wolfgang said. "It's kind of like a dual thing — a lot of people got to experience my father as he was to me more than just the icon they know him as, but then also people can just relate it to their lives. So many comments I've seen [were], like, 'Wow! That was heavy. I'm gonna call my dad right now.' Knowing that there's probably a wave of sons and daughters calling their dads just to say 'I love you' the past month makes me feel really great."
Wolfgang played every instrument and sang each and every note on the MAMMOTH WVH LP, which is tentatively due in early 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records. The group's touring lineup will feature Wolfgang on guitar and lead vocals, Frank Sidoris (SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS) on guitar, Garrett Whitlock (TREMONTI) on drums, and Ronnie Ficarro on bass.
Last month, Wolfgang confirmed that he asked his father for permission to use the MAMMOTH WVH band name for his solo project. MAMMOTH WVH is a nod to family history — Eddie and Alex Van Halen's band was called MAMMOTH when singer David Lee Roth first joined it in 1974.
Photo credit: Travis Shinn