Wolfgang Van Halen Dives Deep Into New Songs on ‘Mammoth II’
On Friday, Aug. 4, not only did Mammoth WVH release their sophomore LP, Mammoth II, but they also opened the first night of Metallica‘s North American M72 tour in New Jersey. To celebrate it all, the man behind every note, instrument and word on the new album, Wolfgang Van Halen, joined Chuck Armstrong on Loudwire Nights.
“I never could have imagined this,” Van Halen admitted to Chuck. “I remember being asked [around 10 years ago], ‘What do you see yourself doing in the future?’ Two things I said were I’d really love to play with my friend Mark Tremonti and then I was also like I’d really love to maybe record an album on my own like Dave Grohl did with the first Foo Fighters album. Now, 10 years later, having done both, I’m like, well, I did it—maybe I need to set my sights somewhere else now. It’s a really, really cool feeling and it’s not lost on me how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing.”
As he thought about that question from a decade ago, Chuck asked Van Halen if he has in fact set his sights somewhere else now.
“All I really want to do currently is just do everything with Mammoth and grow it and nurture it and see how far I can take it,” he said. “It’s such a creatively rewarding thing to be doing and to see the response that we’ve been getting. It’s been an incredible feeling, so literally, Mammoth is everything I want to do and just put my entire self into it like I have been.”
Van Halen also chatted with Chuck about his love for vinyl records, something that isn’t just an important part of the marketing or release of his album, but something he actually cares about personally.
“I’m an avid collector. I just added an insane thing to my collection because our PR guy in Europe works with Meshuggah and he got me a signed vinyl of their album, Immutable. It’s my most treasured possession right now.”
That appreciation for vinyl extends from his personal collection to how he actually laid out the tracks on Mammoth II.
“This album is tailored for vinyl,” he told Chuck, “even down to the sequencing. It’s Side A and Side B, 10 songs, five on each and each side ends with an epic, almost seven-minute-long song made to flow into each other on each side. It’s really made for that, so anybody who picks up the vinyl, you have the definitive listening experience there in your hands.”
To take fans deeper into that listening experience of what will no doubt be one of the most celebrated rock albums of the year, Van Halen also chatted with Chuck about several of the songs on Mammoth II. Here is what he had to say.
“That’s my favorite song on the album. I think it represents my mission statement as a songwriter and what I love most about music. It’s one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever written, but also melodic at the same time. The chorus is very sing-songy, but there’s practically almost a Meshuggah djent part after the solo in the song, which is something unlike anything we’ve done before. Even if it doesn’t become a single, that’s why I threw it on as the first track because it’s my favorite. I want everybody to hear it right away, even if they don’t get through the whole album.”
“Miles Above Me”
“I almost view this as a companion piece to “Think It Over” from the first album. It’s got that kind of comfy, cozy, pop-rock sort of melody. What I love most about it is the solo in that it’s not a show-off thing; it’s more of this melodic journey. I think it’s important to show that side of the soloing and not just have, you know, a constant shreddy thing. I really, really love this … it’s always great to hear shredding and it’s fun, but to craft something that can get stuck in your head is a very important thing to me.”
“That’s another one of those songs that I can’t wait to play live. I remember I wrote the bridge and went, ‘Oh. Man.’ The groove of this will be so heavy live, I want to play it for festivals and stuff. On this one, I think my love of Tool kind of crept out the most. I think I let my heavier influences really take over a lot on this album, like Meshuggah with “Right?” and Tool on this, especially it being in 7/4 [time signature]—I’ve not written a song in a weird time signature before, but it really fit. And the fact that the bridge is just this kind of droning, heavy sort of chugging walk rather than throwing a solo over it, I thought that was really important. The whole time I was going, ‘What would Tool do?'”
“Better Than You”
“When the idea came about, I did not see it as this sort of epic song. It only kind of showed itself through the sequencing of the album. Adding the fade out to it really turned it into this epic closer for the album … the lyrics are very sarcastic and it’s just a very heavy overall track. It’s one of my favorites. I feel like the song “I’m Alright” is way more of a personal view and sense of the stuff that I personally get, like people trying to tell me to do Van Halen stuff or whatever, making my own decisions for me. “Better Than You” is more of an overall analysis of where we are and how I guess social media has affected the way that we perceive each other. It’s just kind of my analysis of how everybody thinks they’re better than everybody else and we all suck.”
Wolfgang Van Halen joined Loudwire Nights on Friday, Aug. 4; the show replays online here, and you can tune in live every weeknight at 7PM ET or on the Loudwire app; you can also see if the show is available on your local radio station and listen to interviews on-demand. You can get details on Mammoth WVH’s new album, Mammoth II, at this location.
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