Wolfgang Van Halen discusses learning Paradise City to perform onstage with Guns N’ Roses

Wolfgang Van Halen
(Image credit: Guns N' Roses/Instagram)

Earlier this year, Wolfgang Van Halen took his Mammoth WVH project on the road with Guns N’ Roses for the band’s touring debut, and capped off the sprawling stint around the country in style by joining Slash and co onstage for a performance of Paradise City.

In a new interview with Spin, Van Halen discussed the experience that occurred during the last two shows of GNR’s US tour, revealing it was actually Axl Rose who initially proposed the idea.

When asked about the show-stopping rendition, Van Halen explained, “It was Axl’s guy. He was like, ‘Hey, Axl wants you to come and play Paradise City, and do the bow for the last two nights.’ I was like, ‘Holy shit, I have to learn Paradise City.”

Lucky for Van Halen, his fellow Mammoth WVH bandmate, Frank Sidoris, is pretty familiar with the track. He has, after all, extensive experience playing it onstage with Slash as part of the top hat-toting titan’s solo project.

“He sat there and taught me every little thing,” Van Halen continued. “And then I took it upon myself to just play it every day like people were getting sick of it. It was the only thing I played when I had a guitar in my hands on the bus because I wanted it to be fucking perfect.”

But learning the guitar was only one piece of the puzzle – he also had to sing backing vocals, too. It proved to be no problem for Van Halen though, who even helped the band rediscover a long-lost harmony part that had escaped in the upper register.

“It wasn’t right until we started that Duff was like, ‘Hey, come, come sing! You know, come sing the backups,’” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh, shit, I’ve got to do backups.’ All of a sudden, I just started singing like this high part that I had always heard on the song. 

“And at the end of it, Duff said, ‘Hey, you did the high harmony. We forgot about that shit. Good job.’ I was like, ‘Oh, okay, cool. I did something good.’”

Elsewhere in the interview, Van Halen hinted that he's set his sights on getting the ball rolling on "Mammoth 2", saying that he's "been writing a bit more" recently and has "come up with a couple of ideas".

"Honestly," he reflected, "in a really funny way, [the writing spark] sort of came back after the Grammy nomination. When I got nominated, I was just like, 'That’s a huge thing of respect that it’s a rock song and it’s for my songwriting.' So it gave me a little kick in my step."

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.