Wolfgang Van Halen is the 2023 Artist of the Year


Wolfgang Van Halen

Wolfgang Van Halen – Story by Cat Badra, photo by Travis Shinn

Wolfgang Van Halen of Mammoth WVH is Audio Ink Radio’s 2023 Artist of the Year

Wolfgang Van Halen is Audio Ink Radio’s 2023 artist of the year. It was a tough choice, as a bevy of great artists and bands stuck out this year. I considered plenty of artists for this honor, from newbies on the scene to statesmen that found new audiences in 2023. But, in the end, I had to go with Wolfgang Van Halen and his band, Mammoth WVH. Wolfgang really expanded this year, both in terms of new music and touring. Here’s why Audio Ink Radio has made Wolfgang the publication’s No. 1 artist of the year.

Sophomore albums are always really difficult. Probably the most successful sophomore album of all time was Nirvana with their massive 1991 hit, “Nevermind.” But, that record almost seemed like a debut, because it was their first on Geffen and first with the final lineup of band members Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. That said, sophomore albums are often a struggle with bands, especially when debuts have set expectations high.

Wolfgang released Mammoth WVH’s sophomore album, “Mammoth II,” in August, and my, he didn’t disappoint. The album’s first single, “Another Celebration at the End of the World,” quickly skyrocketed to the top of the rock charts, making it yet another Mammoth WVH radio hit. The band’s debut album, their 2021 self-titled debut, also scored No. 1 hits in “Distance” and “Don’t Back Down.”

“Mammoth II” is choc-full of passionate, gritty rock ‘n’ roll in the tradition of classic rock greats, but with a super modern sound. Every track on here is a gem and brings something different to the record, so there’s nothing repetitive in these songs. “Mammoth II” also marked Wolfgang’s first release on BMG, and it seems to be a match made in rock ‘n’ roll heaven.

While all the songs off “Mammoth II” shine in their own way, one standout is “Take a Bow.” What’s makes this song really unique is that Wolfgang recorded the track’s guitars on his father, the late Eddie Van Halen’s, original Frankenstein guitar, using his dad’s original amps. The gear gives this song a very nostalgic vibe, and the wild Eddie Van Halen-worthy guitar solo doesn’t hurt, either.

While Wolfgang musically progressed with “Mammoth II,” he also progressed on the road. This year has brought tours with Alter Bridge, Sevendust, Nita Strauss and, yes, Metallica. Wolfgang and Mammoth WVH served as support on Metallica’s massive M72 World Tour, alongside the reincarnated Pantera. Metallica, by the way, is Audio Ink Radio’s 2023 metal band of the year.

Wolfgang and Mammoth WVH are still on the road this year. They’re currently on a North American run that will wrap up Dec. 9 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, California. They also have both North American and international dates booked through September 2024.

On a personal note, Wolfgang also got married this year to his longtime girlfriend Andraia Allsop. Wolfgang walked down the aisle to “316,” a song Eddie wrote for him that appears on Van Halen’s “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” album. We wish them many years of happiness. Those who rock together stay together, right?

In a previous interview with Audio Ink Radio, Wolfgang spoke about his process for writing lyrics for Mammoth WVH. “That was the toughest thing for me to figure out,” he said. “Usually, it starts with a melody that I get comfortable with, and kind of the tone of the song is what carries me into writing the lyrics. So, the music always dictates everything first for me.” He added that he does like to keep the lyrics a bit mysterious about write them from “a perspective that anyone can take their own meaning from it. So, it’s not so personal that you can’t really relate.” Find the full Audio Ink Radio interview with Wolfgang Van Halen here.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Music, Rock

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