Wolfgang Van Halen Reveals What He Gets In His Bag While Record Shopping
via Amoeba / Youtube
Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of guitar legend Eddie Van Halen and a founding member of Mammoth WVH, isn’t just following in his father’s footsteps – he’s forging his own musical path paved with a deep love for diverse sounds.
This passion comes alive in his recent appearance on Amoeba Music’s popular YouTube series, “What’s In My Bag?” Here, amidst the vinyl-lined paradise, Wolfgang sheds the rockstar persona and transforms into a music enthusiast, eagerly sharing his latest sonic treasures.
Beyond familial expectations, Wolfgang’s record haul reveals a man enthralled by contemporary music’s vibrant tapestry. From the intricate rhythmic onslaughts of Meshuggah to the infectious melodies of the Foo Fighters, his choices paint a picture of a musical palate that thrives on both technical prowess and emotional resonance. Even the inclusion of Deftones’ introspective grunge hints at a deeper appreciation that goes beyond face-melting guitar solos.
This isn’t just about showcasing his finds, though. Each record becomes a springboard for Wolfgang to delve into his personal connection with the music, offering a glimpse into his creative influences and artistic journey.
Wolfgang falls asleep to Meshuggah, but it’s not the way you think
Forget the Eddie Van Halen comparisons, Wolfgang has a different musical hero: the Swedish metal titans, Meshuggah. “We could start here,” he chuckled, anticipating the inevitable mention, before proudly holding up two copies of their latest album, Immutable.
“I’m sure people are already sick of hearing about how of a crazy Meshuggah fan I am,” he admitted, “but they’re different colors which means I need to I need to get them.”
For the rocker, this isn’t mere fandom; it’s a full-blown sonic infatuation. “Meshuggah is my favorite band,” he declared, dispelling any doubt. He also shared a headline that took his words about falling asleep to their music out of context.
“I said I can fall asleep listening to Meshuggah which is a compliment because it relaxes me it brings me it brings me peace brings me zen,” he shared. “As a drummer first I tend to intake music in a more rhythmic manner I’m all about rhythm and Meshuggah is rhythm just it’s it’s like dinosaurs fighting.”
He really loves Meshuggah
His passion was infectious as he pulled out albums like sacred relics. Nothing, Meshuggah’s 2002 offering, and his personal favorite, got the spotlight. “It’s where they really started getting sort of groovy and sludgy with their sound,” Wolfgang explained.
“A lot of people like the one before Chaos Sphere. Amazing album too it’s more thrashy but I really like their groovy sort of sludgy aspects and this one is all sludge and groove,” he added. The drummer also pulled out Koloss, calling it “just another great album”.
This isn’t just a display of his collection; it’s a journey into Wolfgang’s musical mind. He dissects Meshuggah’s technical wizardry with the same fervor he describes their calming effect.
The heavy music, for him, becomes a source of both intellectual stimulation and emotional peace. This enthusiasm makes witnessing him talk about Meshuggah akin to witnessing a musician finding artistic kinship in the most unexpected places.
He grew up looking up to Dave Grohl as his hero
Moving beyond the pulsating rhythms of Meshuggah, Wolfgang shifted gears, revealing a more personal side as he picked up the Foo Fighters’ But Here We Are album. “This is a very emotional one,” he confessed. This album resonates deeply with Wolfgang, not just for its music, but for the shared experience of grief that connects him to its creator, Dave Grohl.
“Dave Grohl is like who I want to be when I grow up and I’m 33 and I guess I’m not growing up ye,” Wolfgang declared, a hint of hero worship tinging his tone. “Everything I did on my first album for Mammoth WVH yeah I played everything on it and just like he did for the first Foo Fighters album,” he explained, highlighting his respect for Grohl’s DIY spirit.
But their connection goes beyond music. Both have experienced the profound loss of a parent, adding a layer of raw emotion to their artistic pursuits.
The loss of Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters’ beloved drummer, also weighed heavily on the album. “Losing Taylor which was just the worst like this this whole album is just very emotional,” the drummer reiterated.
Dave helped him cope with a devastating loss
A touching anecdote emerged as Wolfgang revealed a special exchange with Grohl. While driving, Grohl stumbled upon Wolfgang’s song “Distance”, a poignant reflection on losing his father, Eddie Van Halen. Grohl’s reaction was simple yet powerful: “He told me it was a beautiful song about losing someone,” Wolfgang shared.
Beyond mere words, Grohl shared his own song, “The Teacher”, inspired by the loss of his mother, Virginia. It was a message of solidarity, a silent acknowledgment of the healing power music holds in the face of loss. “Music is a really healing way to go through trauma,” Wolfgang said as he recalled how the Foo Fighters frontman helped him through his father’s death.
This exchange transcends fandom; it’s a testament to the unifying power of shared experience. Two musicians, bound by both admiration and grief, find solace in each other’s art, their music serving as a bridge across personal tragedies.
This glimpse into their connection reminds us that even in the darkest moments, music can offer comfort, understanding, and a path toward healing.
Blink-182’s Travis Barker was a major influence
With a self-deprecating chuckle, Wolfgang makes a sharp turn from discussing emotional depth to the infectious energy of Blink-182, holding up their latest album, One More Time….
“I’m a huge Blink-182 fan,” he revealed with genuine enthusiasm. This passion isn’t just recent; it runs deep, tracing back to his drumming roots.
“I started playing drums when I was nine years old,” he reminisced, “and the two albums that I played to were Enema of the State by Blink-182, and Van Halen’s Best of Volume One.” He grinned as he recalled devouring every drum part on the album, fueled by the electrifying drumming of Travis Barker.
“Travis Barker was a huge inspiration early on for me to learn how to play drums. I learned everything front and back on that album,” Wolfgang acknowledged, highlighting the formative impact the Blink-182 drummer had on his drumming journey.
Blink-182’s reunions brought Wolfgang unprecedented joy
But Blink-182’s history is filled with dramatic twists and turns, mirroring the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence perfectly. “The numerous times that Tom [Delonge] would leave and they would break up would just kill me every time,” he confessed.
The reunion with Neighborhoods brought back joyful memories, and seeing them live twice fueled even more excitement. Now, with the band reunited once more, One More Time… held a special meaning for Wolfgang. The opening track, “Anthem Part 3”, immediately takes him back to Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, an album title he jokingly declares “the best ever”.
And the cherry on top? Barker himself produced the album. “It’s cool that Travis produced it,” Wolfgang concluded, reflecting on how his early inspiration has come full circle.
This section isn’t just a glimpse into Wolfgang’s musical taste; it’s a reminder of the profound impact music can have on our lives, shaping our identity and providing a constant source of comfort and joy. It’s a love letter to pop-punk’s enduring power and a testament to the lasting influence of musical heroes, even as our own musical journeys evolve.
A weird but amazing find among his haul: The Beatles’ Abbey Road
Amidst the metal madness and pop-punk nostalgia, Wolfgang threw a delicious curveball: a vintage pressing of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Intrigued and slightly amused, he ponders, “Was this a mistake? This seems way too cheap. So I’m gonna take it.” But the playful confusion quickly melts into genuine appreciation.
This album, as he revealed, wasn’t just a random find; it was a companion during a challenging time. “This album helped me through a really dark time,” he admitted, acknowledging the potential cliché with a wry smile.
“But I think that is just a testament to how great the album is.” This simple sentence speaks volumes, reminding us that the power of music transcends generations and personal experiences.
Wolfgang delved deeper, dissecting specific tracks. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, he enthused, “is like, for its time, one of the heaviest songs ever. ‘Heavy’ is in the title, but I just love, like that was like metal before metal, kind of, and I just think it’s such a heavy, awesome song.”
George Harrison was his favorite Beatle
But the mood shifted with “Here Comes the Sun”. This song held a special place in Wolfgang’s heart, having played at his wedding. “George is my favorite Beatle,” he declared, acknowledging potential dissent but remaining firm in his personal preference.
“And “Here Comes the Sun” is his song, and it’s like one of their biggest songs. I think that’s just kind of cool,” he concluded, his voice filled with genuine fondness.
Beyond personal anecdotes, Wolfgang extends a playful call to action: “People should talk more about the Beatles. They’re so great. Why doesn’t anyone say anything about that?” His humorous criticism highlighted the enduring relevance of The Beatles and their music, urging listeners to rediscover their timeless legacy.
This section transcends a mere glimpse into Wolfgang’s music collection. It becomes a testament to the emotional resonance of music, its ability to comfort, inspire, and connect us all, regardless of generation or genre.
He attended one concert and became a Deftones fan
Wolfgang, amidst his exploration of vinyl treasures, stumbled upon an unexpected gem: the latest album by Deftones’ Chino Moreno side project, Crosses. This chance encounter sparked a conversation about a transformative live experience that led him down a musical rabbit hole.
“I loved the first Crosses album,” he admitted, holding the new release, “I haven’t really listened to this one at all. I didn’t even know it was out.”
The story takes us back to 2015 when Wolfgang finds himself on a co-headlining tour featuring Incubus and Deftones. While there as an Incubus fan, the Deftones experience proves life-altering.
“I left as a Deftones fan,” he declared, while also assuring that he remained an Incubus faithful. This unexpected shift underscored the magic of live music, its ability to ignite new passions and broaden musical horizons.
He played one Crosses song in a loop for a month
Wolfgang’s newfound appreciation transcended mere fandom. Wolfgang personally connected with Chino, describing him as “a really, really nice guy”. This glimpse into the human side of a musical idol adds another layer to the story, showcasing the genuine connections that can form within the music community.
From there, the Deftones rabbit hole deepens. Wolfgang discovered Crosses, the frontman’s side project, and specifically “The Epilogue”, a song that becomes an earworm for a month. This intense personal connection to the music solidified his newfound fandom.
The section concludes with Wolfgang expressing excitement for the new Crosses album. But it’s more than just anticipation for new music; it’s a testament to the lasting impact of that initial live experience.
Deftones, once unknown, became a source of artistic inspiration and personal connection, all thanks to the raw power of music performed live.
Wolfgang also picked up Van Halen’s latest boxed set because he didn’t have a copy of it
Wolfgang also proudly held up a special release: The Collection II, a vinyl box set of the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen albums. “We actually just came out with this,” he said. Wolfgang,, of course, prefaced his comments with a disarming remark: “Not to delve into the exhausting argument of which singer is better.” This sets the stage for a nuanced and respectful approach to a topic often riddled with fan division.
Wolfgang championed an open-minded perspective: “I’m kind of of the mind where there’s positives in everything.” He acknowledges that even for those who favor one era over the other, the songwriting foundation remains the same. “It’s like, ‘Hey, the same guy wrote the songs.'”
But his appreciation went beyond mere respect for his father’s work. He recognized the unique contribution the Red Rocker brought to the band: “I really appreciate the melodic edition that Sammy added to the band with this music.” He saw this era as an opportunity for Eddie to explore new territory, venturing into a more melodic songwriting style.
This isn’t just about revisiting the past; it’s about personal connection. “There’s great stuff on here,” Wolfgang shared. Even with his own musical background and access to the music, he admitted, “I actually never got a copy. So… thanks,” he says with a playful nod to Amoeba for providing him with a personal copy.
He also liked Turnstile’s Glow On
Wolfgang, it turned out, was also a fan of Turnstile, as he held up the hardcore punk rocker’s critically acclaimed 2021 album, Glow On. “This is just a great band,” he went on to say.
The rockstar acknowledged Turntile’s meteoric rise: “They are very hot right now,” he said, recognizing their recent surge in popularity. Glow On is credited as their breakout moment, and Wolfgang himself pointed to its impact: “This album kind of blew them up.” Beyond the music, the album’s visual identity strikes a chord with him. “I just love the album cover,” he confessed, highlighting its vibrant pink hue.
But when it came to the core, it was all about the sound. “They rule,” he stated emphatically. He described their music as “awesome, punky, but heavy,” perfectly capturing the band’s unique blend of aggression and melody. Mentioning specific tracks like “Blackout” and “Holiday”, he highlighted their mosh-inducing energy, especially the latter, which he declared his favorite.
“It’s just heavy,” he reiterated, emphasizing the visceral impact the music has on him. “It just makes you want to mosh and jump around.”
He also loved himself some industrial rock goodness
From mosh pits to industrial anthems, Wolfgang veered away to grab Nine Inch Nails’ 2017 EP, Add Violence. His eyes lit up as he proclaimed, “Nine Inch Nails is one of my favorite bands of all time!”
He talked about some of their recent outputs, mentioning the trilogy of EPs released between 2016 and 2018. “This was the second one,” he clarified as he held up Add Violence. The fact that he doesn’t already own it on vinyl speaks volumes about the urgency of acquiring it.
But what ignited his passion for this particular EP? He points to a specific song, “Less Than”, calling it “the main single”.
While his description of “Less Than” is concise, it speaks volumes. “It’s a good song,” he stated simply. But within that brevity lies a wealth of appreciation for the song’s emotional depth, sonic power, or whatever unique element resonated with him.
Wolfgang’s full-circle moment at Amoeba
Wolfgang saved the best for last, not with another artist’s work, but with his own band’s latest release, Mammoth WVH II. But it’s not just about promoting his music; it’s about celebrating the unique experience of finding it in a record store, particularly Amoeba.
“And I did not get this one. This was my band,” he admitted, holding the album in its special yellow vinyl edition. Wolfgang reminisced about a similar experience following his first album release.
“When my first album came out,” he begins, “my friend Garrett just picked me up and said, ‘Hey, we’re going somewhere.'” The destination? Amoeba, where he had the special experience of buying his own album in his favorite record store.
“It’s a very surreal experience,” he reiterated, emphasizing the emotional impact of that first visit. He wants to recreate that feeling, not just for himself, but for his fans as well. By picking up the special edition vinyl at Amoeba, he extends that unique experience to those who share his love for physical music and the tangible connection it offers. It’s a full-circle moment, a validation of his artistic journey, and a testament to the power of physical media in the digital age.
Watch the full episode below: