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WOLFGANG VAN HALEN On Backing Tracks: "I Go To A Concert To See Bands Play The F*ck Out Of Their Music"

"You should be able to play your shit."


Backing tracks and faked live performances have become a pretty hot topic over the past few years, though it's pretty clear where Wolfgang Van Halen stands on 'em. In an interview with Coffee With Ola, Van Halen calls heavy reliance on backing tracks a "fucking bummer" and that bands should be able to play their music. He clarifies that backing tracks, in his opinion, are fine to pad out live sound, but not for outright faking integral parts that should be played.

"Hell, half the people live, it's tracks nowadays, which is such a huge… It's just a fucking bummer, man. 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. 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]"

Van Halen later expressed his love of bands like Meshuggah and Tool, both of which he feels put on an incredible live show. Which is absolutely correct – they do.

"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. 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."

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