Wolfgang Van Halen Calls Bands Using Tracks ‘a F—ing Bummer’
Wolfgang Van Halen once again expressed his disdain for artists who rely too heavily on tracks while performing live, calling it "a fucking bummer."
The Mammoth WVH bandleader recently sat down with guitarist and YouTuber Ola Englund for a wide-ranging interview in which he detailed his early musical self-education, the gear he's taking on the road and the act of playing that gear instead of performing to a backing track.
"I think everybody else draws their own line with what tracks are acceptable or not, but if you're pumping in the main guitar riff and the lead vocals and actual fucking drums, like pre-recorded drums, that's a problem," Van Halen said. "You should be able to play your shit.
"I can understand [if] you don't have a keyboard player, so we need the pad. That's fine," he continued. "You can't carry around a 60-piece orchestra, so you got the strings. That's fine. But lead vocal, main guitar, main bass and the drums, you should be playing that." He further singled out drummers whose "kicks are on [a track] — like, dude, learn how to fucking do it."
Being able to replicate his music in a live setting is especially important to Van Halen, who wrote and recorded all of Mammoth WVH's self-titled debut and the upcoming Mammoth II by himself. "I never do anything in the studio that I can't do live," he explained. "Sure, there are tricks that you could do to do stuff that you wouldn't normally be able to do, but why would you want to do that? Because it's about creating music that you're capable of doing and that you can do live."
Van Halen also cited a few of his favorite bands and explained how they've informed his philosophy about performing live. "I go to a concert to see bands play the fuck out of their music," he said. "Meshuggah, that is my favorite concert I'll ever see, because they just kill it. They stand there and they just play the fuck out of their music. ... I don't go to a concert to see a guy going around like, 'How you feeling tonight?!' That's not my shit. Like Tool, they stand there and they destroy. That's what I love about music, and that's what we try to do with Mammoth. First and foremost, we are playing everything, and we're doing it to the best of our ability."
Watch Wolfgang Van Halen's Interview With Ola Englund
There is, of course, a slight irony to Van Halen's remarks, as he spent several years playing bass for Van Halen, whose David Lee Roth is known as one of the most dynamic frontmen in rock history. Yet even Van Halen relied on some modern technology while performing live, he revealed.
"With Van Halen, Al [Van Halen] would have click in his ears, but we'd play to him," Wolfgang explained. "I wouldn't have click in my ears, but I don't know. Click isn't bad. That's not cheating, but that is technically tracks."
Mammoth WVH will release Mammoth II on Aug. 4 and tour rigorously over the next year, with opening slots for Metallica, Motley Crue and Def Leppard. Fans should expect to see completely live performances at all shows. "I never want to make excuses," Van Halen told Englund. "I have morals."
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