“I was able to develop my own voice and flavour rather than just being a copy of dad”: Wolfgang Van Halen says he taught himself the guitar
Much of his learning involved looking up guitar tabs and trying out the parts to his favourite songs, Wolfgang says.
Image: Michael Buckner / Getty Images
Though Wolfgang Van Halen might be the son of one of the greatest rock guitarists in history, most of his guitar skills are self-taught, he says in a new interview.
- READ MORE: “I’ve never really thought of myself as a good singer or a good guitarist”: Bryan Adams on the simplicity behind his success
On a recent episode of Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk Is Jericho, the Mammoth WVH frontman revealed that contrary to popular belief, much of what he knows about the six-string did not come from the older Van Halen.
“Everybody thinks my dad woke me up and strictly went, ‘practise your scales!’,” he says. “But no, the only thing he directly taught me was how to play drums.”
“He had magazines on the table and was like, ‘do this and do this’. The second he saw I could do that he bought me a V drum kit and for my birthday the next year got me an acoustic kit. That’s where I started.”
As Wolfgang explains, his guitar journey began with him trying out the parts to his favourite songs.
“I taught myself, looking at guitar tabs for System Of A Down and stuff like that, teaching myself. I think that’s important because I was able to develop my own voice and flavour of playing stuff rather than just being a copy of dad.”
The guitarist also says that there weren’t any “specific, shreddy guitar players that I was directly following.”
“It was more a bunch of bands… Tool was a big band for me, expanding my musical knowledge. I noticed I became a better drummer when I learned how to play Tool songs.”
Also in the interview, Wolfgang says that he won’t be covering Van Halen songs in the future as he prefers to stand on his own as a musician.
“The important key distinction is that I’m not doing what my dad did, I’m my own person, I’m my own musician,” he explains. “It’s why I don’t play any Van Halen music or have a plan to play Van Halen music during my sets.”
“I’d much rather fail on my own than succeed heartlessly by playing Panama.”