Wolfgang Van Halen Didn’t Take Michael Anthony Backlash Personal

In 2006, Eddie Van Halen confirmed that Van Halen would continue with his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, taking over on bass. With the Van Halen fanbase being a passionate one, the move certainly raised a few eyebrows for those who loved the group’s longtime bassist Michael Anthony, but in a new interview with Forbes Wolfgang Van Halen says he didn’t take the backlash from Anthony fans personally.

After speaking of the kind and positive things that Van Halen fans have had to say about his new song “Distance” online, the conversation turned to how the Internet chatter hasn’t always been so kind. Referring to his arrival in the group, Wolfgang stated, “I don’t think it was a personal thing. I think it was their love for Michael Anthony, it had nothing to do with me as a person. It’s just that they would have much rather seen him without realizing the back story of how [the reunion] probably wouldn’t have happened without me because dad felt incredibly uninspired and, especially when he was sober, he had a monumental anxiety issue and having me there made him more comfortable and creative.”

The musician added, “Now that people are starting to learn the truth behind everything so many people understand and actually apologized directly to me on Twitter, like, ‘Hey, man, I hated you before, but I realize that I actually never really knew you. I just hated you for a reason outside of your control and I just wanted to apologize. I feel terrible.'”

Van Halen says, “That’s a really big thing for people to do, especially on the Internet. So I’ve been really touched by how kind people have been that may have been rude to me in the past. It all rolled off my back anyways. But it takes a big person to admit when they’re wrong. And these people are certainly doing that in droves and I can’t believe it.”

When the topic of Wolfgang’s role in the reunion tour happening continued, he shared, “It was incredibly important to [Eddie] and I don’t think people really took his words to heart, I don’t think they really believed it. They wanted to look to the negative. In this day and age it’s always about the cynical reaction and everything, so the true meaning behind what he was saying never really resonated.”

Van Halen’s debut single, “Distance,” has received largely positive reviews, with the track soaring all the way to No. 1 on the Apple Music song chart the same day it was released. Under the moniker Mammoth WVH, Van Halen is working toward his solo debut album.

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Wolfgang Van Halen Was Ready for Michael Anthony’s Return

Wolfgang Van Halen said he’d been ready for Michael Anthony’s return to Van Halen, even though it would have meant giving up his position in the band.

Bassist Anthony was fired in 2006 and replaced by Eddie’s son, who was 15 at the time. Despite rumors of bad blood as a result of the lineup change, Anthony was all set to take part in a reunion – until it was canceled amid the health issues that finally ended Eddie’s life last month.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Wolfgang was asked if he’s ever had a “personal conversation” with Anthony about taking his place.

“Never had too much of an opportunity,” he said. “That’s kind of what that whole tour was supposed to be. And then it never panned out. I was really looking forward to speaking with him, and that hasn’t happened yet. I’m looking forward to the opportunity that I have in the future to speak to him.”

Asked if there were maybe “hard feelings” about the lineup change, Wolfgang said: “I don’t think there are. I’ve seen things he’s said. He’s always been an amazing guy.”

Van Halen agreed with the assessment that he was ready to “sort of retire” to make way for Anthony, “other than maybe jumping onstage for a song or two.” “Dad would be like, ‘You got to be onstage at least a couple of times,'” Wolfgang said. “He kept trying to pull me back in. Not that I didn’t want to be there. Playing with my father was the best thing I ever did. It was my favorite thing to do.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he was asked about his relationship with singer David Lee Roth. “We’re cordial,” he explained. “But it was very business-related. You know, we were always cool, but we really only ever saw each other onstage.”

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Van Halen Discussed Anthony, Hagar and Roth ‘Kitchen Sink’ Tour

Wolfgang Van Halen said a Van Halen tour proposed for summer 2019 was to include not only Michael Anthony – which had been reported – but also former singers Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone.

During an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Wolfgang revealed discussions started in 2015, when he began work on his solo album. He approached his father, Eddie Van Halen, with an idea he had: “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.'”

Eddie initially insisted his son remain in the band, with Wolfgang eventually thinking he could sit in on one or two songs from A Different Kind of Truth. “But as time went on, he warmed up to the idea,” Wolfgang explained. “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 [Lee Roth] and Hagar and even Cherone, and let’s just do a giant fucking awesome thing.'”

They ran it past manager Irving Azoff, who began to get the ball rolling. Shortly before Christmas 2018, Roth revealed that a tour featuring what he called “the original thing” was being planned for the next summer. A few weeks later, Anthony denied he’d been in contact with anybody; by February, he admitted he had spoken to the band the previous October but “something broke down on their end.”

Before the news could be announced, Eddie’s health began to decline. It started with the discovery of a brain tumor following a motorcycle accident in early 2019. A procedure called Gamma Knife radiosurgery seemed to have taken, but then “shit just kept on stacking up and stacking up,” Wolfgang said. “It just never let up,” and the Stage 4 lung cancer Eddie was diagnosed with at the end of 2017 began to get worse, and the tour was canceled.

Wolfgang wanted to let fans that the tour “was real, and we were so excited about it. All of us. It just didn’t pan out, unfortunately. It would have been insane.”

The multi-instrumentalist, who debuted his new single “Distance” on Stern’s show, addressed rumors regarding a new version of Van Halen, featuring himself on guitar and Anthony on bass. He said the talk was the work of “desperate fans. … 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.'”

Wolfgang did understand that fans just “want to see the music continue. But some things just suck, and this is one of those things. … So, my opinion [is that] outside of maybe a tribute show at some point down the line and archival releases further down the line, it’s done.

“I don’t have a dad anymore,” he added. “And I’m coming to terms with that, and I’m trying to deal with that, so I think the fans are gonna have to try and come to terms with [it] and figure out how to deal with the fact that we’re not gonna have Van Halen anymore. The music is gonna live on forever, but you can’t continue without Eddie Van Halen.”

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