Wolfgang calls shots in Van Halen
Boss on bass: Wolfgang with Van Halen
Wolfgang Van Halen may be only 21, but he calls a lot of the shots in his dad’s band.
A rare interview with the bassist reveals how he’s responsible for a wide range of decisions including rehearsal sessions and live set lists.
Wolfgang started working with father Eddie in 2005, a year before he became the official replacement for original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony.
Despite the furore from fans after the band attempted to wipe Anthony from their history – even featuring Wolfgang in a video game playing tracks recorded before he was born – guitar icon Eddie has stated they wouldn’t be together today if it wasn’t for his son.
In a light-hearted interview Wolfgang tells Esquire: “I guess it really didn’t hit me until the first night of the tour in 2007. It just felt so normal because we had already been rehearsing for two years.
“We started four months before I was 16. But we rehearsed for, like, a year and a half, two years – it takes a really long time to get shit done. We’ve pretty much been rehearsing every single day, excluding Sundays.”
Eddie adds: “Sometimes we go, ‘You wanna play or not?’”
His son counters: “Dad always goes, ‘Do I have to?’ And I say, ‘Yes.’”
Wolfgang is determined to keep the entire live experience as interesting as possible for his bandmates. He says: “We’ve been doing this new thing to mix it up: every single show we’ve played has been different.
“I kind of come up with the set lists. When we’ve got a song that we haven’t done, it’s like, we should probably run through this before the show and figure out the count of it. Because Dad, for some reason, counts in odds. He’ll land on three instead of four. I have to look at him sometimes.
“He still, to this day, does not know the lyrics to Beautiful Girls – he has it written down on his pedal board. On the last tour I used to have to mouth lyrics.”
And the young bassist is hopeful the band won’t wait too long to record a follow-up to A Different Kind of Truth. “We have a lot of ideas that we wrote that never made it,” he says. “And there’s so much material Dad wrote a long time ago that has never seen the light of day.”