Wolfgang Van Halen is honouring his dad Eddie Van Halen, who succumbed to cancer last month.
With a video filled with touching home movie clips, the younger Van Halen’s “Distance” is a movie tribute written while Eddie was battling cancer. The song is Wolfgang’s attempt at “imagining what my life would be without him and how terribly I’d miss him,” the 29-year-old says in a statement.
“While the song is incredibly personal, I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their life,” he explains. “I never intended ‘Distance’ to be the very first piece of music people would hear from me, but I also thought my father would be here to celebrate its release. This is for him. I love and miss you, Pop.”
“No matter what the distance is, I will be with you,” he sings on the track. Though Wolfgang has played bass in Van Halen since 2007, “Distance” is his first solo release. On it, he plays all instruments and sings the lead vocals. The song is released not under his own name, but under the band name Mammoth WVH in reference to one of his dad’s pre-Van Halen bands, Mammoth.
The modern rock song ends with a beautiful and gut-wrenching voicemail from father to son.
“I’m so happy to have you as my son. I’m so proud of you. I love you so much. Call me if you get a chance. I just want to hear your voice. Okay? I love you. [Kiss noise],” Eddie is heard saying to Wolfgang. The song will feature on Wolfgang’s debut solo album, due in 2021.
All proceeds from sales of the single will be donated to Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, the late Eddie Van Halen’s favourite charity.
He also sat down on SiriusXM’s “The Howard Stern” show for the first interview since his dad’s death.
“I’m awful. It’s terrible. Every day, man. Some days are better than others,” Wolfgang said. “The pain is still there always, but you just kind of figure out how to carry it a little better as time goes on. But it’s always gonna hurt.”
He also took a moment to once again shut down rumours that he will be replacing his father.
“That’s f**king stupid,” Wolfgang said. “You can’t have Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen. I’m not my dad. I’m not going to replace him.”
“I’ve spent my life making sure I’m not like him and I’m my own person,” he continued, while explaining that Eddie would have encouraged him to go do his own thing.
“In my opinion, outside of maybe a tribute show at some point down the line and archival releases further down the line, it’s done,” he added. “I don’t have a dad anymore and I’m coming to terms with that. So, I think fans can come to the terms with the fact that we’re not going to have Van Halen anymore. The music is going to live on forever but you can’t continue without Eddie Van Halen.”