Wolfgang Van Halen on Joining Tremonti, His Bass Influences + Why He Got Kicked Out of 5th Grade Choir
The Van Halen bassist is on the horn discussing his role in the group Tremonti. The band just wrapped up a run of European tour dates, and is currently heading to the U.S. to finish the trek in support of All I Was, their 2012 debut album. Van Halen joined the group's ranks in late 2012.
"I was flattered that Mark thought of me for the gig, but he asked me out of nowhere after Brian [Marshall, original bassist] said he couldn't tour. So I called my dad [Eddie Van Halen for the uninitiated] and asked him what he thought. He said, 'Fuck yeah! It would be awesome.' That's all I needed to hear. So I called Mark back and told him I was in. My first show as a member of Tremonti was in New Jersey the day after I joined," laughs the bassist.
Noisecreep can attest that Tremonti and his band boast a fervent social media following. So we ask Van Halen what kind of reaction his entry to the group's lineup has been so far. "At first they were all surprised, but they've been so nice to me on Twitter and Facebook. There are always the haters, but that's the way the Internet is anyway. I'm sure people will complain about our interview here. What can you do?"
Growing up in a house with a certified guitar hero, Van Halen was obviously exposed to music at a really young age. But his early influences might surprise some of you. "My dad introduced me to AC/DC before I could even talk, but the band that I found on my own that I truly fell in love with was Blink-182.
"I loved the idea that they had two lead singers, and the vocal harmonies they use. I also started playing drums first, and Travis Barker is amazing. I would play along to all of the Blink-182 records. The other thing I loved about the band was that it was a trio like Muse or The Police. Three people getting it done. I love it."
Van Halen tells us he switched to guitar after the drums, and eventually bass. "I switched to bass because it was the only position open in Van Halen [laughs]. I didn't really get into the bass until we started messing around in the studio for about a year before the 2007 Van Halen tour. We rehearsed for a long time and at first it was just fun, and then when we got Dave [Lee Roth] involved, it got really serious."
Noisecreep asks the 21-year-old who some of his favorite bassists are. "Les Claypool of Primus is huge for me. He keeps pushing the boundaries of what can be done on the instrument. Justin Chancellor of Tool is another personal favorite. Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree is great. I also love all of the classic guys like Jack Bruce of Cream, John Entwistle of The Who and Jaco Pastorius."
Besides rocking the bass, Van Halen is also a gifted singer, providing background vocal help in both Van Halen and Tremonti. "I actually got kicked out of choir in 5th grade. I think I learned more about singing from listening and picking apart harmonies on records I listened to like Blink-182."
Kicked out of choir? Noisecreep needs to know. "I couldn't focus on the classes, and I never paid attention. I was always just a troublemaker."
Don't worry Wolfgang, you're doing just fine.
Tremonti tour dates
Feb 21 Pontiac, MI The Crofoot
Feb 22 Libertyville, IL Austin's Saloon
Feb 23 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
Feb 25 Colorado Springs, CO The Black Sheep
Feb 27 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory
Feb 28 Seattle, WA El Corazon
Mar 3 Scottsdale, AZ Pub Rock Live
Mar 5 West Hollywood, CA Roxy Theatre