Don't Back Down

Album: Mammoth WVH (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • This rocker is part of the first Mammoth WVH album, which is the solo project of Wolfgang Van Halen, son of Eddie. In a Songfacts interview with Wolfgang, he described it as "a fight song when you want your team to decimate the other team."
  • The original title was "Saltbath," a play on "Sabbath." Wolfgang told Songfacts: "It has that kind of shuffle-y, Black Sabbath vibe."
  • Van Halen wrote the song, sang on it, and played all the instruments himself. The video has a little fun with this one-man-band concept, showing identical Wolfgangs at every instrument as they record the song in 5150 Studios, which was set up by his dad, Eddie. At the beginning of the clip, drummer Wolf annoys his bandmates by showing up late. They get it together and record a take, then we see two more Wolfgangs in the control room who declare it "terrible." Producer was one role Wolf didn't do himself: Michael "Elvis" Baskette handled it.

    This wasn't the first video to use this concept: Phil Collins did it for his cover of "You Can't Hurry Love," and Outkast on "Hey Ya."
  • The album was completed in 2018 but wasn't released until 2021 because Wolfgang was occupied by caring for his father, who was in ill health and died of cancer in 2020. It was recorded at 5150 Studios, but it had been a while before Wolfgang returned there to shoot the video, which was a poignant return.
  • "Don't Back Down" features a dramatic mid-song instrumental section reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age. Wolfgang is a big fan of the Josh Homme-fronted band. He pointed out to UCR that another of the Mammoth WVH tracks, "The Big Picture," was called "Queens" as a demo title. "If you thought you heard Queens on this one, it's definitely on that one, too," he said.

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