‘Utah is like a hometown show’: Wolfgang Van Halen has strong ties to Beehive State
Nov 27, 2023, 5:30 AM
SALT LAKE CITY — The legendary band Van Halen became the pride of Pasadena in the 1970s and 80s.
And while Wolfgang Van Halen has his roots in Southern California, there’s no doubt that the son of iconic guitarist Eddie Van Halen and actress Valerie Bertinelli, knows Utah.
“I used to go to Utah a lot as a kid. My mom had a house in Park City. So I spent many, many Christmases in Park City. And when the Olympics were there in 2002, I remember how busy it was. I have a big connection with Utah,” Wolfie Van Halen told KSL.com last week while on tour.
Not only did Van Halen ride the Alpine Slide in the spring and ski at Park City Mountain Resort in the winter as a child, but last month he married long time girlfriend Andraia Allsop who graduated with a degree in computer science from the University of Utah in 2016 and still has family based in the Beehive State.
On Wednesday, Van Halen returns to The Depot in Salt Lake City with his band, Mammoth WVH (named after his dad’s and uncle Alex Van Halen’s band prior to changing their name to Van Halen).
“Utah is like a hometown show now,” the 32-year-old Van Halen said while noting his excitement in returning. “Any opportunity I get, I love to get up there.”
Van Halen’s ties to Utah date back to when he would spend his spring breaks and Christmas vacations at his mother’s Park City home.
“I really loved the place we had when I was a kid. It was a fun little place up there,” he said. “My uncle David was a ski instructor at Park City Ski Resort. So, I would ski with him all the time. So from a very young age I was skiing a lot. I know I tried to snowboard a few times, but I fell way too much and I was like, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ But yeah, certainly I skied a lot a very young age. It was fun, because growing up in California you really don’t get to experience all the seasons. So going up to Park City and seeing what snow was, and living with that, was very fun.”
And while Bertinelli no longer owns that home, Van Halen says he and his mother still like to carry on the tradition of spending their Christmas breaks in Park City.
In 2015, Van Halen’s Utah ties became even deeper when he met Allsop online. He says when the two met in person for the first time, there was an “immediate connection.”
“She would visit L.A. and we would meet up and hang out a couple of times, and we just really hit it off,” he said.
And when Van Halen would visit Allsop in Salt Lake City, she introduced him to all things Utah.
“We got pizza from Pie Pizzeria and she was always trying to show me why fry sauce is better, and I don’t agree. I’m fine with just regular ketchup,” he said with a laugh. “She showed me funeral potatoes, they were tasty. Yeah, she was showing me the Utah way.”
Van Halen’s new album is titled “Mammoth II.” And just like he did on his debut album, he played every instrument on the record. He became the bass player of his dad’s band, Van Halen, at age 15. But despite coming from a musically-gifted family, Wolfgang Van Halen says his talent is more the result of simply playing every day as opposed to having some type of gene that makes guitar playing easy.
“I think maybe you can be more genetically predisposed to maybe having an interest (in playing guitar), but I don’t think it necessarily makes it any easier to be played. I mean, at this point I’ve been playing these instruments for 20 years. So I think it’s just the amount of time you put into it,” he said. “When I’m on the couch, even to this day, I’m holding a guitar in my hand.”
What: Mammoth WVH and Nita Strauss
When: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 7 p.m.
Where: The Depot, 13 N. 400 West, Salt Lake City