When a musician's first touring gig involves playing bass for his dad's rock band — a little group called Van Halen — it's safe to assume his subsequent projects are saddled with expectations that he follow in his late father's footsteps.
While Wolfgang Van Halen continues to play it hard and heavy, his band Mammoth WVH reflects a conscious decision to move away from the sound pioneered by his father Eddie Van Halen. The younger Van Halen's band incorporates elements of prog metal and '90s hard rock, and it covers Alice In Chains' "Would?" live, a hint of where some of its inspirations lie.
The group, which features Van Halen on guitar and vocals, is touring in support of its self-titled debut and will perform Thursday, March 10 at San Antonio's Aztec Theatre. LA's Dirty Honey, a blues-based outfit with a clear nod to '70 hard rock, is co-headlining.
While Mammoth WVH is a full band experience live, Mammoth WVH is a solo album in all but name. Wolfgang Van Halen played all the instruments, sang all the vocals and wrote all the songs.
"The live experience is very fun because you get to work off each other," Van Halen said on a Zoom call with the Current. "But at the same time, it's also fun to make it super tight and work off of yourself [in the studio]."
Dirty Honey, which released its self-titled debut in 2021, first met Mammoth WVH after playing radio festivals together. The groups eventually developed a kinship.
"We play all of our own music," said Van Halen, in a mock whisper. "We don't use [backing] tracks."
That's a point of pride for Van Halen after accusations that he relied on pre-recorded vocals on Van Halen tours. He replaced longtime bassist Michael Anthony, who served as the band's primary backup singer.
"[My father and I] worked on those vocals for months," Van Halen said, adding that questions about his live vocals "were a huge compliment, when you think about it."
Despite having a virtuoso father as a musical coach, touring with the legendary rock act wasn't exactly easy for Van Halen. He explained that he suffers from anxiety.
However, he pulled through "with a ton of practice and knowing I was there for a reason. My dad and Al and Dave wouldn't have had me there if they didn't know I could do it."
While Van Halen has faced his share of criticism that Mammoth WVH wouldn't be where it is now without his family connections, he takes the criticism in stride.
"I'm not good at anything else," he said. "This is what I do."
$32-$45, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, Aztec Theatre, 104 N. St. Mary's, (210) 812-4355, theaztectheatre.com.
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