Wolfgang Van Halen on Backing Tracks – ‘You Should Be Able to Play Your S–t’
Bands using backing tracks during live shows continues to be a hot button topic these days, and Mammoth WVH's Wolfgang Van Halen has made his stance known. As you might expect, with Van Halen taking on all the music from his first two studio albums, the musician has shared his disappointment at how much backing or pre-recorded tracks are used within the live music community these days.
Van Halen was speaking with YouTube host and record producer Ola Englund on his Coffee with Ola show when the discussion turned to backing tracks at concerts.
"Hell, half the people live, it's tracks nowadays, which is such a huge… It's just a fucking bummer, man," stated Van Halen.
"Look, I think everybody else draws their own line with what tracks are acceptable or not, but it's, like, 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," he added. "You should be able to play your shit."
Van Halen made an exception, noting there are times you don't have the luxury of the additional players and instrumentation added to a studio recording. "I can understand [if] you don't have a keyboard player, so [you] need the pad. That's fine. You can't carry around a 60-piece orchestra, so you've got the strings. That's fine. But lead vocal, main guitar, main bass and the drums — you should be playing that," he said with a laugh.
As for his own approach, Van Halen told Englund, "I never do anything in the studio that I can't do live. Sure, there are tricks that you can do to do stuff that you wouldn't normally be able to do, but why would you wanna do that? 'Cause it's about creating music that you're capable of doing and that you can do live."
He adds, "I go to a concert to see bands play the fuck out of their music. Like Meshuggah — that was my favorite concert I'll ever see. Because they just kill it. They just 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 and be, like, 'How are 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, is that first and foremost, we are playing everything and we're doing it to the best of our ability."
You can see Mammoth WVH on tour in Europe this summer, with the band returning stateside for shows in August and September. Get tickets here.