Mammoth WVH's sophomore album hasn't even been out for a year, but Wolfgang Van Halen has already begun working on the band's third album.

"We're really early in the process," he tells UCR, clarifying that a new record wouldn't hit shelves until the second half of 2025 at the earliest. There's a simple reason for that: "I'm going to be on tour more than I'm not this year," he laughs.

Indeed, he's got more dates on tap with Metallica, as well as shows with Foo Fighters and a fall run supporting Creed and 3 Doors Down. Mammoth WVH is currently out on a headlining run with support from Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss.

Van Halen is also celebrating the upcoming launch of his EVH SA-126 guitar line, which is due in May. During a rare day off, he dialed UCR from Philadelphia to talk about his busy year, which included covering Bon Jovi in front of Jon Bon Jovi at last month's MusiCares gala. He also shared his thoughts about his "family reunion" with Michael Anthony that took place in December when the two were both in Las Vegas.

Mammoth WVH performed at the Jon Bon Jovi MusiCares tribute recently. I was curious how you guys ended up performing "Have a Nice Day."
Jon requested it.

Yeah, it was like, "Mr. Bon Jovi has requested that you do this song" and it's like, "Yes sir, we will do it to the best of our abilities!" [Laughs] Literally, all I did was just sit there for a whole week and did everything I could to completely internalize the song. It was incredibly nerve-racking, playing someone's song for them that they requested — in front of him, his band, and then also, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney. [Laughs]

I know very well how much you stress about something like this. And then you have McCartney, Springsteen and the guy who wrote it watching? No pressure at all!
I cannot recall being that nervous that many times in my life. Definitely that, the Taylor Hawkins tribute show and maybe the first Mammoth show ever, I think those were probably the most nervous I've ever been.

READ MORE: Bruce Springsteen and Sammy Hagar Honor Jon Bon Jovi

What's interesting to you about Richie Sambora as a guitar player and the way that he and Jon crafted songs?
That's what I think is a testament to their longstanding dominance in just rock. You know, it's one thing to be a great guitar player and to be able to shred and stuff like that. But it's another thing to be able to actually write great songs. I think that's what they do together. I think that's the key, really, to anything. It's one thing to be able to play as fast as you can, but if you can't write a song, it doesn't really matter.

Watch Mammoth WVH Perform Bon Jovi's 'Have a Nice Day'

Let's talk about your new EVH SA-126 guitar line. What drove the look and feel of the design?
Really, it was just trying to figure out what a semi-hollow guitar would look like from EVH. It started with that slightly bigger Wolfgang body, but being chambered and doing a different headstock. But then, there were little flairs, like doing the E hole instead of an F hole. Stuff like that, I think, were some of the most exciting things we could do to separate it from everything else. I'm very proud of it. I can't wait for people to start playing them.

How about from a sound perspective?
For it to sound good, more than anything. [Laughs]

That's a good place to start.
Yeah, absolutely. [Laughs] I think that given what EVH is known for, the goal was pretty much to blend the classic vibes and tones from what you'd expect from a semi-hollow, but with the playability that EVH is known for. The fast necks, high gain — definitely, I think that was one of the key design challenges, was how to balance the fact that it's a semi-hollow, but giving it higher-gain pickups, because they're a bit beefier compared to more standard semi-hollows. So to find that balance where it's still playable and doesn't feed back all of the time was definitely a challenge, but that's why I played them onstage for two years before we finally got it all figured out.

Mammoth WVH is back out there now with Nita Strauss. You've had a chance to do a good number of shows with her now.
Dude, she's incredible, man. It's amazing watching her every night. I'm kind of speechless. She really is just an incredible player. On top of that, more than anything, she's just an amazingly nice person. I think that's the most important part. Because she's clearly one of the best out there right now, and to be as kind of a person as she is, I feel like it's rare when you're that good.

How have you seen the music from the latest Mammoth album evolve with the shows you've played since it came out last year?
It's been really cool, I think. You know, with the first album, I was just trying to figure out what it was and who I was, in the process. But with Mammoth II, that's when I started using the experience from touring and going, "Man, this would probably be a really cool section for live." To see that pay off in different ways with the approach that I took through the writing is really, really cool to see. Because there's so many moments where I was like, "Oh man, this is going to be so cool." Then, we play it [live] and it is cool and it works out! It really is exciting to see that different aspect from the writing pay off.

Watch Mammoth WVH Perform 'Take a Bow' in Kansas City

What sort of interesting feedback do you get from the music you've put out so far, from fellow players or the ones you've met in person?
Not too much, really. It's really difficult for me to take compliments from anyone. [Laughs] But what has meant a lot is my friend Aaron Marshall [from Intervals], who is one of my favorite guitar players out there right now, said some nice things to me when the second album came out. That's always been a huge thing when somebody you look up to ... that you can even imagine them sitting there listening to your own music, let alone just doing that, but also enjoying it at the same time, it's just a crazy thing to me. But with Mammoth overall, I really just enjoy the creation process. I think I'm a songwriter more than anything.

I think that people seem to want to paint me — you know, given obviously who my father was — to be carrying that torch and being the second generation of the guitar innovator. I'm just not ... that's not what I am. I'm a songwriter more than anything. I record everything, but what I do wish is that people would look at the song as a whole, instead of sitting there and expecting a solo every song, and expect there to be crazy tapping and some crazy solo. I think more than anything, the creation and composition of the song is where I get excited with Mammoth.

Do you feel people are starting to understand that more the further you get into your own journey?
Definitely. But, you know, I think given that people don't naturally really like change ... [Laughs] I think that people hop on board and expect, "Oh yeah, the Van Halen thing! He's going to do the Van Halen stuff! I'm into that!" I remember when we put out "Like a Pastime" as our second song, after "Another Celebration at the End of the World," people were like, "Where's the solo?" [Laughs] I just can't fathom listening to the song, just to hear the 20 seconds after the second chorus. It's the whole song that makes me excited.

I love hearing that you're working on new music. What's in your head as far as the next chapter?
That I don't want to do it unless there's something interesting and something new. I think with the second album, you know, I hadn't been there since 2018 when I finished the first Mammoth album. That was just so exciting to get back into the studio. I think through that excitement came the heavier, more energetic aspect on the second album, tempo-wise and some of the heavier sections. "Optimist" and "Right?" are a couple of examples of that. But with this [new music], I'm still trying to figure out what that left-field sort of thing is. Granted, we're really early in the process. [The third album] wouldn't potentially come out until the second half of next year, so it's very preliminary. But given that I'm going to be on tour more than I'm not this year ... [Laughs] I'm having a fun time looking through old ideas. My voice memos app is just filled with random shitty clips of 20 seconds of me strumming a guitar, trying to figure out, "Oh, is this an idea?" I think at the time, sometimes, you're not even convinced. Then, two years go by and you hear it again and you're like, "Wait, there's something here!" So I'm looking through that, and also compiling new ideas I've come up with since then. I'm just taking stock and trying to get my head into that creative space before we hopefully get into the studio soon.

You got to see Michael Anthony in Las Vegas recently. It seems like it would have probably been pretty meaningful for you to get that time with him.
Oh, it was wonderful. We hadn't seen each other in 20 years. So it was great to just give him a big hug and really talk. We haven't had much of an opportunity to do so. People try to make it seem like there's some animosity, hatred or competition between us, [but] it's never been that way. I've literally always loved Mike. He's a wonderful person, wonderful guy and a wonderful musician. Man, it was such a pleasure and joy to reconnect with him. It was like a family reunion. My mom and my uncle, Patrick, were there as well. They obviously go way further back than I do with Mike. But man, it was wonderful. I was very happy.

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