Earlier this month, Wolfgang debuted his new rock act Mammoth WVH with a touching tribute to his dad, the propulsive and melodious “Distance.” It didn’t quite sound like Van Halen, but an encouraging listener response still sent the song to No. 1 on both Apple Music and Billboard‘s Hot Hard Rock Songs.
Following the premiere, Hagar, who currently fronts the Circle, spoke to Sirius XM‘s Trunk Nation on Monday (Nov. 23). There, the singer showed his support for Wolfgang’s tunes and defended him against those who want him to mimic his father.
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot,” Hagar said, as reported by Ultimate Classic Rock. “When he was first putting little snippets on his Instagram and stuff I was following him. And there were people getting in his shit about not sounding like Van Halen. And it kills me — I think he’s handling it so well.”
The “Red Rocker” continued, “I can’t believe how grown up this kid is for his first time out there, to be on view and to be on [Howard] Stern[‘s show]. … I mean, he’s jumped right into the big time.”
Perhaps some expected the music to hew more closely to Van Halen’s style since Wolfgang had been playing bass in Van Halen for the past several years. He replaced longtime member Michael Anthony in 2006, joining his father to tour the world and record 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth.
But Hagar argued that Wolfgang’s affiliation with Van Halen isn’t the same as the 29-year-old making his own songs and “jumping into the big time like being you … being Wolfie Van Halen now.”
He added, “For those people out there that want him to sound like his dad and follow his dad’s footsteps … What if Eddie would have followed his dad’s footsteps? He would have been a jazz player with a clarinet. So you don’t follow your father’s footsteps. I’m a firm believer in you don’t do that. And Wolfie shouldn’t do that.”
All that said, Wolfgang undoubtedly has massive respect for his dad, who died in October following a battle with cancer. The Mammoth EVH bandleader frequently ends social media messages about his new music with heartwarming salutations such as, “Wish you were here for this, Pop.”
On Tuesday (Nov. 24), Wolfgang said he was “blown away by the response to ‘Distance’ and so thankful for each and every one of you. This has been an incredibly difficult time for me, but releasing this song and seeing it resonate with so many has been such a therapeutic experience.”
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