Van Halen Member Reveals Blatant Lip Syncing


The debate surrounding the use of pre-recorded tracks during live performances has resurfaced once again, with former Van Halen bassist and current Mammoth WVH frontman, Wolfgang Van Halen, voicing his strong disapproval.

In an era where technology dominates the music industry, an increasing number of artists have turned to pre-recorded tracks, drum triggers, and other technological aids to enhance their live shows, bringing both consistency and an artificial element to their performances. This reliance on backing tracks has become a prevalent practice across various genres and levels of artistry, not solely confined to pop music but extending its reach to rock acts as well.

Should artists just deal with this trend or is it their right to push back against it?

During an interview on “Coffee With Ola,” hosted by Swedish guitarist Ola Englund, as reported by BlabberMouth, Wolfgang expressed his disappointment with the current trend of using pre-recorded tracks in live performances. He lamented, “Hell, half the people live, it’s tracks nowadays, which is such a huge… It’s just a f*cking bummer, man.”

Wolfgang drew a line, emphasizing that while he understands the need for certain elements like keyboards or strings, pumping in main guitar riffs, lead vocals, and pre-recorded drums crosses a critical boundary. He firmly believes that artists should be able to play their own music and deliver an authentic live experience to their audiences.

The discussion turned to the impact of over-production in modern music, which has inadvertently led to an over-reliance on backing tracks to recreate intricate studio sounds in a live setting.

Wolfgang, however, takes a different approach. He insists on producing music in the studio that he can faithfully reproduce on stage, prioritizing a genuine and unadulterated performance. For him, attending a concert means witnessing musicians pouring their hearts and souls into their craft, epitomized by bands like Meshuggah or Tool, who captivate audiences with their raw musical prowess. With Mammoth WVH, Wolfgang aims to deliver precisely that—a passionate, live experience where every instrument is played with utmost dedication and skill.

The issue of backing tracks and pre-recorded elements extends beyond Wolfgang’s recent comments. Iconic rock band KISS has faced accusations of incorporating backing tapes into their “End Of The Road” tour, especially as frontman Paul Stanley has encountered difficulties hitting high notes in their classic songs.

Gene Simmons, the band’s bassist/vocalist, has criticized artists who use backing tracks, calling for transparency in concert performances. Simmons argues that concertgoers deserve to know if a significant portion of a live show relies on pre-recorded elements, comparing it to listing the primary ingredient on food labels—honesty should prevail.

In response to these criticisms, KISS’s longtime manager, Doc McGhee, defended Stanley’s vocal performance, explaining that while enhancements are employed, Stanley fully sings to every song during the concert. McGhee clarified that tracks are used as part of the process to ensure optimal sound quality and to fulfill the audience’s expectations. This example demonstrates the complexity of the issue, as even renowned acts like KISS face scrutiny regarding the use of backing tracks.

The prevalence of pre-recorded tracks in live performances has become a reality, with Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers estimating that around 90 percent of rock artists incorporate them to some extent. Myers suggests that this reliance on technology should not be a cause for concern, as it serves the purpose of delivering the best possible sound quality to the audience.

He highlights that while a band can undoubtedly perform without backing tracks, the decision to incorporate them is an artistic choice aimed at achieving the optimal live experience.

However, there are artists who continue to resist the trend.