Distance

Album: Mammoth WVH (2020)
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Songfacts®:

  • Named in tribute to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Wolfgang Van Halen is the only child of the late musician Eddie Van Halen. Wolfgang first joined his father's band Van Halen as their bassist in 2007, and started work on his debut solo album about a dozen years later. He released "Distance" on November 16, 2020 as his first single under his Mammoth WVH moniker after losing his dad to throat and lung cancer.

    In a Songfacts interview, Wolfgang explained: "'Distance' is a song that I wrote between 2013 and 2015. My father had struggled with his health a lot throughout the years, and it was a song that came out during one of the darker times, where it was my brain playing a scenario of what it would be like if I didn't have him in my life, and being able to focus on the idea that while we may not be together at some point, we're never really that far apart."

    "Mammoth" has significance in Van Halen lore: That was the name of the band before David Lee Roth joined.
  • This song, which finds Wolfgang trying to imagine what life without his dad would be like, was one of Eddie Van Halen's favorites from his son's recording sessions. Wolfgang explained that "'Distance" was going to be held for a later time, but with the passing of his father it seemed appropriate to release it as his first single.

    "As my pop continued to struggle with various health issues, I was imagining what my life would be like without him and how terribly I'd miss him," he said. "While the song is incredibly personal, I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their life. 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"
  • Wolfgang recorded the song with producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette (Slash, Alter Bridge) at Van Halen's 5150 Studios in California.
  • Wolfgang inherited many of his father's musical talents. He plays every instrument on the track, including a virtuoso guitar solo, and provides vocals.
  • All proceeds from the sale of the single are going to one of Eddie Van Halen's favorite charities, The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, which donates musical instruments to schools.
  • The music video for "Distance" features a montage of clips of Eddie and Wolfgang throughout the years taken from old home movies featuring the Van Halen family.
  • Asked by Lou Brutus of HardDrive Radio how his family members reacted to hearing "Distance" for the first time, Wolfgang said it moved everyone he played it to. "I remember when I showed it to dad for the first time, maybe it was out of pride or also just the song in general, he cried when he heard it," he added. "And I don't think he was aware of the significance of it for me; he just understood it as a song about loss."
  • The song was not originally intended to be on Mammoth WVH's eponymous debut album, but such was the overwhelming response, his record company added it as a bonus track.
  • Mammoth WVH made their TV debut when Van Halen and his backing band performed "Distance" on the February 11, 2021 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

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