Wolfgang Van Halen: When Dad First Showed Me AC/DC’s ‘Big Balls’

AC/DC‘s “Big Balls” is a song that most rock fans are exposed to at some point in their lives, but for Wolfgang Van Halen, it was rather early. Eddie Van Halen first played the song for his son when he was in the second grade.

The Van Halen family once took a week-long trip to the Grand Canyon, and that’s when a young Wolfgang was first introduced to the AC/DC track.

“My dad rented a Winnebago, and we went to the Grand Canyon. I remember we stopped somewhere and my mom [Valerie Bertinelli] went to the bathroom, and Dad was like, ‘Wolf, come check this out.’ And he showed me the song ‘Big Balls’ by AC/DC… and that song made me laugh so hard,” Van Halen told HardDrive Radio.

Bon Scott on that song going, ‘Ooh,’ was something that my dad and I really bonded over. We loved that,” he continued. “So that might be one of my earliest memories of a favorite song.”

Watch the full discussion below.

“Big Balls” was featured on AC/DC’s 1976 album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, which was their third Australian record but wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1981.

Wolfgang Van Halen – HardDrive Radio Ask Anything Chat

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How Eddie Van Halen Introduced Wolfgang to AC/DC’s ‘Big Balls’

Wolfgang Van Halen recalled how his late dad, Eddie Van Halen, introduced him to the unabashedly crude AC/DC song “Big Balls” when he was in second grade.

Eddie waited until his then-wife, Valerie Bertinelli, was busy elsewhere before playing the track for their son during a holiday road trip.

“In second grade my parents took me out of school for a week,” Wolfgang said during an episode of HardDrive Radio’s Ask Anything Chat, which can be seen below. “My dad rented a Winnebago, and we went to the Grand Canyon. I remember we stopped somewhere and my mom went to the bathroom, and Dad was like [quietly], ‘Wolf, come check this out.’ And he showed me the song ‘Big Balls’ by AC/DC … and that song made me laugh so hard.”

He added that Bon Scott’s campy vocal delivery “was something that my Dad and I really bonded over,” continuing: “We loved that. So that might be one of my earliest memories of a favorite song.”

He also revealed that AC/DC played an influential role in their relationship a few years later, when he wanted to start playing drums. “My dad put a bunch of magazines on a table, and he was like, ‘With this one, do this; with this one, do that; and if you can put your foot in between, that is a drumbeat. It was kinda like ‘Highway to Hell’ … and the second he saw I could do that, he was like, ‘Yes!’”

Wolfgang was also asked about the best advice his mom ever gave him. “Certainly not how to cook onion rings,” he replied with a mischievous grin, before adding: “Something she instilled in me at an early age was to treat people how you’d like to be treated. And I think that is a really important tenet to live by – unless you like to treat yourself like crap … Hopefully you like to treat yourself good and you’ll do that to everybody else.”

Mammoth WVH, the self-titled debut album on which Wolfgang wrote, played and sang every song, arrives in stores on June 11. He has released two songs from the project so far, “Distance” and “You’re to Blame.”

Wolfgang Van Halen’s Ask Anything Chat

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Wolfgang Van Halen’s Mammoth WVH Play Acoustic ‘Distance’ on TV

Wolfgang Van Halen‘s band Mammoth WVH performed an acoustic version of the single “Distance” on the Today show this morning.

Van Halen began by jokingly apologizing for his mother Valerie Bertinelli’s enthusiastic promotion of his upcoming appearance during her own visit to the show the day before. “Yeah, she wouldn’t shut up about me,” he said. “I’m sorry about that.”

He then went on to discuss the message behind “Distance,” which he wrote as his father, Van Halen guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, was in the latter stages of a cancer battle that claimed his life in October.

“It’s a thing that it’s almost like a mantra for you when you lose anyone that plays a large role in your life,” he explained. “That’s my mantra when I think about my dad.”

Van Halen and his band – which features guitarists Jon Jourdan and Frank Sidoris, drummer Garret Whitlock and bassist Ronnie Ficarro – then played an acoustic version of the song.

You can watch their Today performance below.

Mammoth WVH’s self-titled debut album, on which Van Halen played every instrument himself, will be released on June 11. He released a second song from the album, “You’re to Blame,” last week.

When asked about his new band’s plans for future live performances, Van Halen obliquely referenced the COVID-19 pandemic that has put nearly all mass gatherings on hold for more than a year: “I guess, when it comes to touring, we’re all at a wait-and-see kind of moment,” he said.

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Wolfgang Van Halen Debuts Full Mammoth WVH Band on ‘Kimmel’

It’s a big week for Wolfgang Van Halen, who just revealed details of Mammoth WVH‘s self-titled debut album, released the new song “You’re to Blame” and now he can cross off making the late night TV debut for his band as the group performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night (Feb. 11).

The late night showcase gave Van Halen a chance to show off his new band, with bassist Ronnie Ficarro, guitarists Frank Sidoris and Jon Jourdan and drummer Garret Whitlock filling out the group. For the performance, Mammoth WVH played “Distance,” the song that Wolfgang wrote as a tribute to his relationship with his father Eddie Van Halen. As the group played, bits of the “Distance” video aired on a screen behind the band.

“Distance” was the introductory piece of music from Mammoth WVH last fall, issued not long after the death of Eddie Van Halen. While initially meant as a stand alone track, the song has been included as a bonus cut on the forthcoming Mammoth WVH album.

The record will be released on June 11 via Explorer1 Music Group / EX1 Records. Pre-orders are available here.

Having made their TV debut, Mammoth WVH will next appear on NBC’s Today Show on Feb. 19.

Mammoth WVH, “Distance” (Late Night TV Debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live)

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Watch Wolfgang Van Halen Debut With His Band Mammoth WVH

Wolfgang Van Halen led his band Mammoth WVH through its first public performance when it played “Distance” on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night.

You can see the video below.

It was an emotional moment for Van Halen, who wrote the song as a tribute to his father, Eddie Van Halen, and released it following his death in October.

He acknowledged fans’ reaction to last night’s performance by tweeting: “Thanks so much for the kind words. It means the world.”

Mammoth WVH’s self-titled debut album will be released on June 11. The group’s name is a reference to the early years of the Van Halen band. “Growing up, my dad would tell me the story that [Van Halen was once] called Mammoth,” he said previously.

“And I just thought that it was so cool that, one, Dad was singing. And two, it was an awesome band name. So, growing up I was like, ‘Whenever I have my own band, I want to call it Mammoth.'”

In December, he admitted he had “concerns” about playing “Distance” live because of its meaning. “It’s kind of a wound that can never really close, but I’m astounded with how positive everybody has been, considering that it’s a … softer song that doesn’t sound like Van Halen,” he said. “I always expect the worst … but I’ve been blown away by the response.”

He added: “A lot of people got to experience my father like he was to me. … But then a lot of people can relate it to their lives. … So many comments I’ve seen – ‘Wow, that was heavy; I’m gonna go 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’ in the past month makes me feel really great.”

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Mammoth WVH Release Second Single ‘You’re to Blame’

Though release details for Wolfgang Van Halen‘s debut album under the Mammoth WVH moniker were revealed earlier this morning, there’s now a new song to share as well. Wolfgang recently teased the track “You’re to Blame,” but the song has now been released in full.

The track starts out with a chugging guitar line that builds in intensity with the addition of drums as it then leads into a more melodic opening verse. Take a listen below and if you like what you hear, the song will be available alongside “The Distance” as tracks from the forthcoming release you can find via digital streaming partners.

Mammoth WVH, “You’re to Blame”

As was previously reported, Mammoth WVH’s self-titled debut album will arrive on June 11 via EX1 / Explorer1 Music Group. In total, the album will include 14 songs including “The Distance” which was included as a bonus track after its huge success last fall. Pre-orders are available in various configurations and you can check that out at this location.

Mammoth WVH’s live lineup, which includes bassist Ronnie Ficarro, guitarists Jon Jourdan and Frank Sidoris and drummer Garret Whitlock, will make their live debut on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight (June 11), followed by an appearance on NBC’s Today Show on Feb. 19.

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Wolfgang Van Halen Unveils New Mammoth WVH Song ‘You’re to Blame’

Wolfgang Van Halen has unveiled his second solo single, “You’re to Blame.”

Released under his Mammoth WVH moniker, the track is the latest from Wolfgang’s debut solo album, Mammoth WVH, which will be released on June 11.

Some keen-eared listeners may recognize the song as the same one Wolfgang premiered during his November appearance on The Howard Stern Show. “You’re to Blame” wasn’t officially released at the time, and bootlegged recordings of the track were removed from YouTube and file-sharing sites.

You can listen to “You’re to Blame” below.

Mammoth WVH will contain 14 tracks, including both “You’re to Blame” and “Distance,” the debut single that came out in November. The touring version of Mammoth WVH – which features guitarists Jon Jourdan and Frank Sidoris, drummer Garret Whitlock and bassist Ronnie Ficarro – will make their live debut tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live! They’ll also perform an acoustic version of “Distance” tomorrow on Today.

Wolfgang has reportedly been working on the album for more than five years. News of the project was first revealed back in 2015. “Wait until you hear his record,” the bassist’s father, Eddie Van Halen, told fans at that time. “This is not [his] pop talking; this is real talk. It blew my mind.”

Eddie later described his son’s music as sounding “like AC/DC meets Van Halen meets aggressive pop. The riffs are catchy. It’s a little of everything and sounds like a freight train coming at you. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. It’s so powerful that I’m jealous.”

Though fans would occasionally hear snippets of songs or receive updates on social media, Wolfgang Van Halen’s solo project would go through a long period of gestation. Unexpected complications, notably the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of his father, also affected the release’s timeline.

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Wolfgang Van Halen Announces Mammoth WVH Debut Album Details

Former Van Halen bassist Wolfgang Van Halen will release his solo debut, Mammoth WVH, on June 11.

You can see the track listing and full Mammoth WVH cover art below.

The album will be available in a variety of formats from Mammoth WVH’s website. Fans who pre-order it will get instant downloads of the debut single “Distance,” which came out last year, and the newly released “You’re to Blame.”

Even though the album was recorded solo, Van Halen assembled a band for Mammoth WVH. They will make their debut tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and tomorrow morning they’ll perform an acoustic version of “Distance” on Today.

In November, five weeks after his father Eddie Van Halen‘s death, Wolfgang released “Distance.” The track was written during his father’s long cancer battle. “While this song is incredibly personal,” Wolfgang said. “I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their own life.”

He added that he “never anticipated ‘Distance’ would be the first song of mine that people would hear, but I also thought my father would be here to celebrate its release along with me.” Originally not intended for the album, “Distance” will now be included as a bonus track on Mammoth WVH.

Wolfgang Van Halen, who became Van Halen‘s bassist as a teenager in 2006played all the instruments on the upcoming album, but named the project Mammoth WVH after the band name used by the trio Eddie and Alex Van Halen were in before David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony joined them for Van Halen.

“Growing up, my dad would tell me the story that [Van Halen was once] called Mammoth,” he said. “And I just thought that it was so cool that, one, Dad was singing. And two, it was an awesome band name. So, growing up I was like, ‘Whenever I have my own band, I want to call it Mammoth.'”

Van Halen first said he was working on a solo project in 2015, when his father revealed the news during an interview. Three years later, producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette said the record was complete; Van Halen’s deal with EX1 Records was announced in February 2020. He had planned to release the album last year, but Wolfgang said the inability to tour behind the record due to the coronavirus pandemic put its release on hold.

‘Mammoth WVH’ Track Listing
1. “Mr. Ed”
2. “Horribly Right”
3. “Epiphany”
4. “Don’t Back Down”
5. “Resolve”
6. “You’ll Be the One”
7. “Mammoth”
8. “Circles”
9. “The Big Picture”
10. “Think It Over”
11. “You’re to Blame”
12. “Feel”
13. “Stone”
14. “Distance” (Bonus Track)

EX1 Records

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Mammoth WVH Tease New Song, Reveal Track Listing for Debut Album

Wolfgang Van Halen has revealed more details about his band Mammoth WVH‘s highly-anticipated debut album. Though he hasn’t disclosed the name yet, the record is due out sometime in the spring. You can see the full track list below, and hear a clip of the next single “You’re to Blame.”

Upon reading the track listing, Mammoth WVH’s emotional debut single “Distance,” which was a tribute to Van Halen’s late father, the legendary Eddie Van Halen, is actually a bonus track. It’s the 14th and final song on the record.

Yesterday (Feb. 4), Van Halen posted a teaser clip of the song “You’re to Blame,” which according to his tweet, will be out “soon.” Listen below.

Van Halen wrote the music and lyrics, sang and performed all of the instrumentation on the album. When the time comes to safely perform live, Van Halen will be joined onstage by Slash guitarist Frank SidorisTremonti drummer Garrett Whitlock and bassist Ronnie Ficarro.

As of now, their only confirmed show for 2021 is Aftershock Festival in October. However, they will be making their live debut for a television audience when they perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Mammoth WVH Debut Album Track Listing

01. Mr. Ed
02. Horribly Right
03. Epiphany
04. Don’t Back Down
05. Resolve
06. You’ll Be the One
07. Mammoth
08. Circles
09. The Big Picture
10. Think It Over
11. You’re to Blame
12. Feel
13. Stone
14. Distance (Bonus Track)

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Wolfgang Van Halen Reveals Track Listing for Mammoth WVH Debut

Even though Wolfgang Van Halen has yet to announce the title or release date for Mammoth WVH‘s debut album, he’s revealed the names of the record’s 14 songs.

An email sent to his mailing list contained a link to a video that displayed the song titles. You can see the video and track listing below.

Of particular note are two titles.

The first is album closer, “Distance,” the tribute song to Wolfgang’s father Eddie that was released in November. Wolfgang has said the track was originally slated for the album, but he removed it with the intention of putting it out at a later time. But after Eddie died, Wolfgang reconsidered and released the song as a single.

The second song of interest is “Mammoth,” which was the name of Eddie and Alex Van Halen‘s trio that featured Eddie on vocals, before Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth joined. Not long after that, they changed their name to Van Halen.

Wolfgang chose Mammoth WVH for his project because, he said, “I just thought that it was so cool that, one, Dad was singing. And two, it was an awesome band name. So, growing up, I was like, whenever I have my own band, I want to call it Mammoth.”

While he plays all the instruments on the record, Wolfgang Van Halen recruited guitarist Frank Sidoris, bassist Ronnie Ficarro and drummer Garrett Whitlock for the live lineup. The group is set to make its television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Feb. 11. Their first full-length show is currently scheduled for the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento on Oct. 10.

Watch Mammoth WVH’s Reveal for Debut Album’s Track Listing

Mammoth WVH’s Debut Album Track Listing
1. “Mr. Ed”
2. “Horribly Right”
3. “Epiphany”
4. “Don’t Back Down”
5. “Resolve”
6. “You’ll Be the One”
7. “Mammoth”
8. “Circles”
9. “The Big Picture”
10. “Think It Over”
11. “You’re to Blame”
12. “Feel”
13. “Stone”
14. “Distance”

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Steven Wilson Apologizes to Wolfgang Van Halen for Eddie Comments

British prog icon Steven Wilson apologized to Wolfgang Van Halen for comments he made in a recent interview about the death of Eddie Van Halen.

Wilson told FaceCulture he wasn’t particularly affected by the Van Halen guitarist’s death and went on to say he was never a fan of the “shredding” playing style. “I know he’s an extraordinary musician, and it’s always sad when an extraordinary artist dies,” he said. “I was never a fan of the so-called shredder mentality. And I think in many ways, he was the father of that whole kind of movement.”

He clarified that he knew Van Halen’s talent went further than that. “I think that the legacy that he has, Eddie Van Halen, is in creating the shredder phenomenon, which is something so vile to me,” Wilson explained. “That kind of idea that you play music almost like you’re playing an Olympic sport is kind of anathema to my kind of ideas on creativity and music.”

Wilson’s words led to a series of tweets from Wolfgang, who said: “Damn this bums me out. … Been a huge fan of his for years.” He added that he was aware that some headlines regarding the story were “a little too clickbait-y, because what he said really wasn’t that rude.” However, he continued, “What hurts is that he seems to only view Pop as a ‘shredder,’ when, in my opinion, he was anything but. Sure, he could shred, but Pop had melody and finesse like no other ‘shredder’ that swam in his wake ever had … and on top of that he was an incredible songwriter.”

Noting that Deadwing, Wilson’s 2005 album with his former band Porcupine Tree, remained one of his favorites, Wolfgang added that “it’s absolutely okay that he’s not a fan. Not everyone is going to be a fan of everything. It just sucks that he ‘blames’ Pop for shredding being a thing.

“To make things crystal clear, I’d like to add that this in no way changes how I feel about Steven Wilson or his music. I guess it’s just a bummer that a stellar musician I hold in such high regard doesn’t see what I see when it comes to my father and his playing.”

Last night, Wilson followed up by tweeting: “Dear Wolfgang: Apologies, no disrespect was meant to your father, an extraordinary musician. I personally never owned any Van Halen records and didn’t ever get into the style of playing, but he was clearly an incredible innovator. .… So, when asked about his passing, I couldn’t honestly say I was affected deeply by it, at least not in the way that my heroes Bowie or Prince’s passing had affected me. … This statement was given in honest humility. Forgive me for any offence unintentionally given, and I offer my deepest condolences.”

Wolfgang then responded: “Incredibly kind of you to say, Steven. I meant no ill will in my previous tweets. As I said, the internet was exacerbating what you had said, as the internet tends to do. Still very kind of you. Be well, friend.”

In recent years, and particularly since Van Halen’s death, Wolfgang has sought to calm the effects of clickbait and social-media overreaction. In 2019, he intervened after pop star Billie Eilish was criticized for saying she’d never heard of Van Halen. “If you haven’t heard of Billie Eilish, go check her out. She’s cool,” he tweeted. “If you haven’t heard of Van Halen, go check them out. They’re cool, too. Music is supposed to bring us together, not divide us. Listen to what you want and don’t shame others for not knowing what you like.”

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Wolfgang Van Halen’s Mammoth WVH to Perform Live on Late Night TV

Wolfgang Van Halen‘s Mammoth WVH will make their late night television debut on the Feb. 11th edition of the Jimmy Kimmel Live show.

Wolfgang announced his new group’s name and released their debut single “Distance” in November as a tribute to his recently deceased father, guitar legend Eddie Van Halen.

The release of Mammoth WVH’s long-gestating debut album, on which Wolfgang handles all instruments and vocals, is expected to be announced shortly.

“Growing up… dad would tell me the story that, you know, [Van Halen was once] called Mammoth… It was a three-piece, and [he] was singing,” Wolfgang said while explaining his new band’s name. “And I just thought that it was so cool that, one, Dad was singing. And two, it was an awesome band name. So growing up I was like, whenever I have my own band, I want to call it Mammoth.” He also revealed that his father was “stoked” by the decision.

Guitarist Frank Sidoris, bassist Ronnie Ficarro and drummer Garrett Whitlock were previously announced as the group’s live lineup. They have yet to perform together in public, with their first announced show currently scheduled for the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, Calif. on Oct. 10.

In a recent interview with Andy’s Hall Pass Wolfgang admitted that getting through a live performance of “Distance,” a song he wrote while pondering life without his father during Eddie’s long battle against cancer, would be difficult. “I still can’t make it through the song myself, on my own. But I’m going to have to find a way to get there – and I know I will. No matter what, it’ll be an emotional song to play every night, for sure.”

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