Wolfgang Van Halen of MAMMOTH WVH has given his opinion on groups using backing tracks while performing live
Prepare to rock and roll while we delve into the amusing world of musicians and their love affair with pre-recorded tracks during live performances. Our spotlight falls on Wolfgang Van Halen, the former bassist of VAN HALEN and current frontman of MAMMOTH WVH, who has once again unleashed his thoughts on bands that heavily rely on these musical shortcuts.
Let’s face it, in recent years, the use of pre-recorded tracks, drum triggers, and other fancy technological tricks has become a common occurrence in the live music scene. While some argue that it brings consistency and precision to performances, others see it as a synthetic substitute for genuine musical prowess. And we can’t deny that pre-recorded tracks are not limited to the realm of bubblegum pop; even our beloved rock artists have fallen prey to their allure.
During a delightful chat on “Coffee With Ola,” the YouTube program hosted by the talented Ola Englund, Wolfgang Van Halen candidly aired his grievances about this growing trend. With a touch of colorful language, he exclaimed, “Hell, half the people live, it’s tracks nowadays, which is such a huge… It’s just a fucking bummer, man.”
Ah, the disappointment is palpable in Wolfgang‘s words. As a musician who thrives on the raw energy and authenticity of live performances, it’s no wonder he finds the heavy reliance on pre-recorded tracks a buzzkill. After all, nothing quite compares to witnessing musicians unleashing their talents spontaneously on stage, without the safety net of pre-programmed perfection.
He continued: “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 explained. “You should be able to play your shit.
“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. [Laughs]”
When questioned on whether over-production in modern music has led to an over-reliance on backing tracks to recreate certain sounds, Wolfgang replied: “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.
“I go to a concert to see bands play the fuck out of their music,” he continued. “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.”
We would agree Wolfie.
While some may argue that these technological marvels make for a flawless spectacle, let’s not forget that the unpredictable magic of live music lies in its imperfections. It’s those spontaneous guitar solos, the unexpected drum fills, and the hair-raising vocal improvisations that make live performances truly memorable.
So, as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry, let’s not lose sight of the essence that makes live music so special. Whether you’re a rock aficionado or a pop enthusiast, there’s no denying the thrill of witnessing musicians pour their hearts and souls into their craft, taking us on a sonic journey that can never be replicated by a pre-recorded track.