For Wolfgang Van Halen, being part of Mark Tremonti’s band — which the Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist says is now a full-time membership — makes a statement that’s just as important as his gig playing bass in the “family business.”
“There’s definitely a lot of hate out there that I try not to acknowledge,” the 21-year-old Van Halen, who’s been part of Van Halen since its 2007 reunion, tells Billboard. “It’s definitely intimidating as a 16-year-old to have the world hating on you and saying you’re only in (Van Halen) because it’s your dad’s band and all of that. But I just kind of do my thing. I know what I can do, and when people tell me I can’t and I know that I am doing it, whether it’s in Van Halen or with Mark, it almost makes me feel better.”
Tremonti, meanwhile, says that Van Halen was actually his first choice to play on his solo album, “All I Was,” and be part of his band, but the most recent Van Halen tour got in the way. “He’s an amazing musician,” Tremonti says. “He doesn’t have that Van Halen gig just because his last name is Van Halen. He’s an amazing bass player. He’s also an amazing drummer and guitar player — he’s definitely got a lot of his dad’s genes in him. And he’s got a real sharp mind when it comes to memorizing and learning.”
Besides playing in the Tremonti band, Van Halen is also actively engaged in planning for the group’s next album. “We’ve actually written a handful of songs on this tour alone,” Van Halen reports. “During sound check we’ll jam some stuff out. Van Halen is definitely the priority, but whenever Van Halen isn’t doing anything, I treat this as another band I’m legitimately in. I’m really excited to be on the next record and have some sort of influence on the writing.”
As for Van Halen, the band, Van Halen the (younger) man is gearing up for the group’s upcoming shows at the Stone Music Festival in Australia on April 20 and in Japan during June. He’s also still “really proud” of the group’s 2012 album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” and that he was instrumental in finding older demos that “kinda put dad, Al and Dave into the mindspace of when they wrote, like, ‘Runnin’ With the Devil’ and ‘Dance the Night Away’ and stuff like that.”
And, he says, there’s more where that came from. “Oh yeah, there’s plenty of other ideas laying around, and some new stuff that we’ve been working on, too,” Van Halen says. “You never know what’ll happen.”
His musical ambitions may not be limited to just the groups he’s part of, either. In addition to bass, Van Halen plays drums (his first instrument), guitar, keyboards and sings. He says that he “definitely would like to be a drummer in a band at some point,” but his assorted talents indicate that he could be his own band, if he wants to take that route.
“I’ve always loved the whole Dave Grohl story of how he started Foo Fighters and just did a whole demo album by himself before he put a group together. I’d love to do that,” Van Halen says. “I feel like it’s just kind of open-ended. It’s all the same to me. It’s just doing what I love. As long as I’m playing music and having a good time, that’s all I really need.”