Wolfgang Van Halen, the leader of the rock band Mammoth WVH and the son of Eddie Van Halen, discussed what it was like to use his father’s legendary Frankenstrat guitar on his latest record. On top of that, he also used Eddie’s old Marshall rig. Speaking to Guitar World in a recently published interview, Wolfgang reflected on the song “Take a Bow,” which included this old gear for its 90-second-long guitar solo.
Looking back into the record’s process, he explained:
“When I started making the album, I thought it would be fun to use a different guitar of his for every solo. But then it turned into, ‘Let’s just boil it down to one moment that feels really special.'”
Going into the aforementioned song and its lead guitar part, the young Van Halen went into more detail about how this came to be, offering:
“When I first wrote the solo section for ‘Take a Bow,’ it started as a looped section of the main riff. As I was recording the solo, I sat there for three or four hours and came up with all these fun parts. The solo section got longer and longer, which made the whole song longer.”
Ultimately, he got to a 90-second solo — enough for an entire musical piece in some cases. But it felt really special for him. So much so that he decided to keep this lengthy idea within the song.
“It felt like such a special moment that I didn’t want to change it,” Wolfgang added. “So that’s where that whole buildup comes from. And it felt like such a departure, or really an elevation from anything I’ve done before.”
And since it was such a special piece of music, it deserved a special guitar and a special rig for the occasion. Frankenstrat, or the Frankenstein guitar, found its place on his new album:
“It felt like a really special moment to celebrate by using the Frankenstein and the original Marshall through one of Dad’s OG Marshall cabs from the club days at the same time.”
A lengthy guitar solo and his father’s old gear made this a really special moment. So much that it almost felt like Eddie was right there next to him.
“It was really cool to be able to have that special moment in my career,” he added, “songwriting and guitar playing marked by something so important. It was like having my dad right there with me.”
Titled “Mammoth II,” Wolfgang’s new album under the Mammoth WVH moniker came out in early August 2023. Recorded in 5150 Studios, it features a total of 10 tracks, with Wolfgang doing all instruments and writing all music.
In an interview from about a year ago, Wolfgang reflected on some of the negative feedback he’s gotten online for being Eddie Van Halen’s son, supposedly giving him a major advantage. Reflecting on some online users addressing him as a nepo baby of sorts, he said:
“When it comes to d*ckheads on the internet, that’s always there. Everyone deals with it. Sure, it hurts a lot when it’s directed toward you, but you’ve got to realize the place it’s coming from.”
“I like to pick my battles. I like to find the right time to chirp and say something funny, but sometimes you do feel that need to be like, ‘Fuck off.’ And you can do that every now and then.”
“But all in all, it says so much more about them than it does about you that they go out of their way. You can point them out, too, because you’ll see their profile, and you can almost always predict what’s going to be filling their timeline.”
“When it comes to people who feel the same way I do, dealing with depression and anxiety, you never really are alone. Unfortunately, it’s like we’re all alone together because so many of us feel this way.”
“I work through a lot of it through music, and I have a lot to work through this time around. I’m cautiously optimistic and also dreading it at the same time, because I have to go to a lot of places emotionally and mentally to get to the other side of this album and have a finished, complete thing. But I think it will be good for me because that’s the same thing that happened with the first album. It was a very therapeutic, cathartic experience.”
Photos: Public domain (EVH frankenstrat), Thomson200 (2021 Shaky Knees – Mammoth WVH (1) Wolfgang Van Halen)