“Each person who was present felt it, in their soul and in their heart that metal lives.” – antiMusic.com
An undeniable void exists in heavy metal… don’t fear… HELLYEAH are back to revive it in their true bombastic style!
Brace yourself because metal’s baddest group of outlaws, Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Damageplan), Chad Gray (Mudvayne), Greg Tribbett (Mudvayne), Bob Zilla (Damageplan) and Tom Maxwell (Nothingface) are on the verge of releasing ‘Stampede’, the follow up to their 2007 self-titled debut. Chad Gray says of the album “I couldn’t wait to write this record. I can’t wait for our fans to hear it and I definitely can’t wait to hit the fucking stage and play it! Stampede represents every emotion that you’ve ever had and everything that screams HELLYEAH! There’s no smoke and mirrors with what we are. What you see is what you get. And what your get is five guys bringin’ it, a head full of music and bleeding ears!”
Think classic American muscle cars, bars, pretty scantily clad women, just a full on old school keg party. HELLYEAH are bringing their ‘let’s-tear-the-world-a-new-ass’ attitude and bonafide fist-pumping metal anthems to Australia this July… with one singular purpose, complete destruction!
Interview with Vinnie Paul of Hellyeah, Pantera, Damageplan
by Cameron Edney
Australian metal fans are you ready for one hell of a Stampede? You better be because that crazy metal super group Hellyeah are about to give Australian fans are taste of Texan style brutality! Featuring current members of Mudvayne and former members of Nothingface, Damageplan and Pantera; Hellyeah are a ferocious, hell raising force to be reckoned with and they’re heading our way for one hell of a party taking in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in July!
In 2006, five years after first addressing the idea of putting the band together the members of Hellyeah finally put some time aside to begin writing and recording their first studio album! The band’s debut self titled album was released in January 2007 entering the American Billboard charts at #8. Since then Hellyeah has sold more than two hundred thousand copies in the United States alone! Hellyeah are back with album number two and they mean business, they want the world to know that they are more than a super group… and ‘Stampede’ is sure to represent just what Hellyeah is all about when it hits the shelves early next month. ‘Stampede’ promises to show a more musically diverse side to the band bringing the dark, heavy, energetic touches we know and love, as well as a softer and more blues oriented side. Tracks like ‘Cowboy Way’, ‘Better Man’, and ‘Cold as Stone’ will certainly help cement Hellyeah as a heavy metal entity that is here to stay!
Last week I had the pleasure of catching up with one of heavy metal’s true drumming legends, the thunderous powerhouse behind the Hellyeah kit… Vinnie Paul! I spoke with Vinnie about the bands upcoming return to Australia, We also spoke about the writing and recording process for ‘Stampede’, Vinnie’s memories of touring Australia with Pantera in the nineties and his thoughts on the recent deaths of Peter Steele, Ronnie James Dio and Paul Grey!
Kick back as we have a ‘Hell of a Time’ the ‘Cowboy way’ with the one and only Vinnie Paul!
Soundwave Touring: Hey Vinnie, great to talk to you mate, how ya doin?
Vinnie Paul: I’m fantastic bud, how are you?
Soundwave Touring: Doing well thanks! I believe you are currently over in Germany, how has the European run been thus far?
Vinnie Paul: Ah man it’s been fantastic! The fans have really embraced us over here! We blew the roof off in Berlin last night and we’re gonna kick some ass here in Hamburg then we’re heading over to jolly old England this weekend for the Download Festival which is going to be very exciting. We continue on here the week after that, then back home before heading down to see you guys!
Soundwave Touring: Vinnie, we’re all very excited to have you guys returning but before we get into that, only a few days back Chad [Gray] flew home for a family emergency, forcing you to cancel the Rock Am Ring performance… how is Chad doing, I assume you’re back on track now with the tour….
Vinnie Paul: Oh yeah, Chad’s wife had some surgery and some life threatening complications came along with it. The smart thing to do was to be with her, cause your family always comes first! He joined up with us a few days ago and we’ve been rockin ever since!
Soundwave Touring: That’s great to hear dude! Congratulations are in order to mate… the new Hellyeah album ‘Stampede’ is completed and due for release in a few weeks time! The tracks I’ve heard kick ass dude, how did you push each other musically to get the best results possible for the new album?
Vinnie Paul: Well, we did it similar to the first record; we record everything as we write it so everything has that very spontaneous, dangerous edge to it. The main difference this time was that we actually recorded the record in my house instead of doing it at Dime’s recording studio where we did the last Hellyeah record, the Damageplan album as well as the last couple of Pantera records. We did it Rick Rubin style, we set up the drums in my living room where I have a fifty foot ceiling, so the drums were really nice and ambient. We put the guitar amps up into the game room and turned one of my bedrooms into a control room, and we put video monitors around so we could all see each other! It really felt like we were at home literally, all the guys stayed at my house, we would eat, sleep, and fuckin jam together, did a lot of barbequing together, a lot of drinking together and I think that vibe really comes through in the music.
Soundwave Touring: No doubt you guys were happy with the outcome, how has the response been from family and friends that have heard the finished product?
Vinnie Paul: Oh they love it man. I think that with any band their second album really solidifies what they’re all about and it’s usually their defining moment so to speak. With Pantera I thought that ‘Vulgar Display Of Power’ really set the tone for what the band was all about from that point on and I feel that way about ‘Stampede’. I think this record will really solidify what we do and what we’re all about… hopefully we’ll have a long career ahead of us!
Soundwave Touring: I quickly want to run through some of the song titles from ‘Stampede’… ‘It’s on’, ‘Better Man’, and ‘Stand or Walk Away’ all strong titles, tell us about the different factors surrounding the material on the new album!
Vinnie Paul: Well, I think this is a very diverse record! We never wanted to pigeonhole the band into being just a metal band, we all come from a really strong metal past and we wanted this band to be much more diverse. We want Hellyeah to be as heavy as anything we’ve ever done before but at times we want it to be bluesier, more southern, deeper, more emotional. It’s one big roller coaster ride, it goes fast, it goes slow, it’s a great combination of all the influences we’ve been a part of and listened to, I feel really good about it man!
Soundwave Touring: Vinnie now that the album is completed, looking back over the writing and recording process is there anything you would have liked to have done differently?
Vinnie Paul: Nuh man, I think you put your best foot forward every time you make a record, and if you didn’t think it was good in the first place you wouldn’t have finished it or put it out. We all feel strongly about it and we’re really excited about it and I think it stands on its own and really defines what Hellyeah is all about!
Soundwave Touring: We’re still a few weeks away from the album being released and there will be a limited edition version of ‘Stampede’ that can be ordered tell us about that!
Vinnie Paul: The limited edition thing that you can order from the website is really cool; you get the Hellyeah bull skull with it! I don’t know if you have the same kind of big bulls over there that we have in the [United] States but they represent what the albums all about… Stampede… a pack of wild animals just charging and there’s nothing that can stop it, not a fence, not a wall, nothing and that’s how we feel about Hellyeah and that’s why it’s titled that!
Soundwave Touring: And tell us about the making of DVD that comes with it!
Vinnie Paul: It’s got a lot of the behind the scenes footage, you will get to see the inside of my house here in Texas and some of the debauchery that goes on, us making fools of ourselves at times, having fun making the record and other times where we’re being serious and intense.
Soundwave Touring: Mate, as we mentioned you are currently on tour in Europe, how are the new songs going over live?
Vinnie Paul: Absolutely wonderful, the coolest thing about the tour over here in Europe is that our record company hardly put the last album out over here, so this is really people’s first chance to hear any of our material. The new stuff blends in really well with the material from our first record. We did a month in the [United] States and when we did the new songs there they went down great! Luckily by the time we come down to see you guys the record will already be out and people will have had the opportunity to hear it.
Soundwave Touring: The Australian fans will get that chance soon enough when you hit our shores once again! What else can the fans expect when you return in July?
Vinnie Paul: Just a bunch of fuckin hell raising man! We’re called Hellyeah for a reason, we like to drink, and we like to party. You guys have some of the best fans in the entire world down there, you have beautiful girls there! It’s just a fuckin wonderful place to play, we’re all excited about coming back down there to play, and it’s a wonderful place to visit. Australia always reminded me of one big Texas, the people are so friendly, and it’s always been a great place to play no matter what bands I’ve played with down there!
Soundwave Touring: From memory this will be your sixth Australian visit, when you look back over all those past Australian tours what fond memories come to mind?
Vinnie Paul: Oh man… the craziest thing I remember was back in 1996 when we played down there with Pantera. I remember heading out the back of the arena in Sydney and there was this big twelve foot fence, it may have been higher actually and the fans would not leave. They were climbing on this fence chanting Pantera! If there wasn’t barb wire at the top they would have been over; it was like everybody left the 10,000 seat arena and went and stood up at that fence. I was scared man… I thought the fence was going to cave in, the fans were chanting Pantera as loud as they could go, they were fucking awesome! That’s probably one of my fondest memories of being there.
Soundwave Touring: Unfortunately some Australian fans will miss out on seeing you this time as you’re playing on the East Coast in what can only be described as a whirlwind tour, will you even have time to take in the sites whilst you’re here?
Vinnie Paul: Oh yeah, we will be getting in a couple of days early and we will be staying a couple of days extra on the backside. We definitely plan on coming back early next year for a complete tour. All you people on the West Coast, if we miss you this time we’re sorry but we will be coming back! If you have a bike, an airplane ticket, a car and you can make it to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne come see us this time around, if not we will catch you next time for sure!
Soundwave Touring: It won’t be long before you guys hit the U.K. for this year’s Download Festival and the line-up is phenomenal! Over the years you’ve shared the stage with so many great bands! Whilst on the road who has given you the best touring advice and what was it?
Vinnie Paul: You know what… I can’t remember anyone giving us any touring advice but I’ve given a lot myself and it is usually just drink a lot of water! It’s the greatest lifestyle in the world I think, some people are made for it and some people aren’t. Some people go out on the road and they can’t handle it, they miss their wives and their kids or the road’s just not in them. Some people are like me or like Lemmy from Motörhead, they live for this shit, their lives revolve around this and that’s what it’s all about! With all the abuse and alcohol that we drink, if you can drink a lot of water it will help your system operate so much better. It’s just like driving a car with no water in it; eventually it’s going to blow up! Take a day or two off on the tour from all the excess and fun and just chill, just take a minute to get away from it!
Soundwave Touring: Vinnie there is no doubt that you’re a kick ass drummer! These days before hitting the stage do you do anything specific to warm up and prepare for a show or would you much rather hit the stage running?
Vinnie Paul: If you can’t get pumped up when you’re walking out on stage and you hear the crowd fuckin roar there’s nothing else in this world that’s going to pump you up more than that! I’m excited about it every night, every time I go out there it almost feels like the very first time and I just fuckin got for it! Being a drummer you definitely want to loosen up though, these muscles need some stretching before you get up there and do your thing. I do a lot of stretching beforehand, I listen to some kick ass old school metal like Judas Priest, Metallica or Slayer, something to really pump me up and then I like to have a couple of shots of vodka just to really get loose… then I’m ready for the show!
Soundwave Touring: Mate, we have hit the part of the interview where our readers get to find out a little more about the real you… As the years have gone by we have seen you be part of some amazing bands and projects! You also have Big Vin Records up and running… What else would you like to achieve musically, are you interested in producing other bands, signing new bands to the label?
Vinnie Paul: Oh yeah, right now I’ve put the label on hiatus because I’ve dedicated all my time to Hellyeah and I wouldn’t be able to do anything proper with it, but I would be interested in signing another band or two once this album and touring cycle is done. I love producing, that’s my way of being more than just a drummer, I really feel like I can help to shape and create the songs, so that’s something that I’m really excited about and as far as the rest of it goes… playing live, nothing else beats that!
Soundwave Touring: I loved the Rebel Meets Rebel album and was wondering if you have any plans to do any other projects like that in the future?
Vinnie Paul: That record was really based around my brother Dimebag; he had such a huge part in that record. Dime was the first guy who became friends with David Allen Coe and he really came up with the concept and the idea of doing it. That’s a onetime deal and we will never touch it again, it’s a true legacy and something that was really very special. It was really the first time a heavy metal band and a country dude came together and made a record not just one song, it was a pretty special moment and I think it’s better left untouched man.
Soundwave Touring: It’s been well documented that growing up both yourself and Dime were huge Kiss fans and it was only a matter of time before you would start playing music and immolating your heroes, but I’m curious to know when was the very first time you felt like you guys had a real chance of making it?
Vinnie Paul: I used to practice nonstop on the drums and my brother started on the drums but I would never let him play them cause I got better than him. I would say “no way dude, that’s my drum set”. He got a guitar and I used to walk by his room all the time and he would be standing in front of the mirror with his Ace Frehley makeup on looking at himself. I’d say “Man, are you ever going to learn how to play that guitar”? It was kind of aggravating cause I really wanted to jam, I would go back to my room put my 45’s on and play along with them. One day Dime came walking into my room with his guitar and his little amp and he said “are you ready to jam”? I turned to him and said “What, you know how to play that now”? Dime said “well, I know something so let’s try it”. He turned on the amp and started playing Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ [Vinnie hums the infamous guitar intro]… we played that riff for ten fuckin hours over and over and that’s when I knew that we were going to play in a band together and that we would be making music. That was the point where I really knew that was going to happen!
Soundwave Touring: There has been so many highlights in your career, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?
Vinnie Paul: I’d say the one thing that is the most stellar that ever happened was in 1994 when we put out ‘Far Beyond Driven’. The record debut at number one in the United States of America and it just fuckin floored everybody in the music industry. They were saying who the hell is this band Pantera… we knocked out Bonnie Raitt, we knocked out Ace of Base, we knocked out all these bands they thought would have a number one record, and then all the press came out and said Pantera – an overnight success! We were saying “bullshit man; we’ve been playing in fuckin nightclubs for seven years where nobody knew us and then another four years with 200+ tour dates as well as making records”. We had the greatest fans in the world; it was something that I’ll never forget it was a huge accomplishment.
Soundwave Touring: Vinnie, Pantera’s ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ holds a strong place in my heart and will always be one of my all-time favorite metal albums! From all the albums you’ve recorded in the past what one would be your favourite to listen to and why? Is it even possible to narrow it down?
Vinnie Paul: I personally think they’re all great first of all, not to toot my own horn but like I said earlier… if you don’t believe in it, nobody else will! I always thought that every record we ever made was rock solid and tried to be ahead of its time. I agree with you that ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ was one of the most stellar moments of Pantera and on the other hand I think that one of the most underrated records I’ve ever been a part of was the Damageplan record. Me and my brother were really proud of that record and we knew that we had to do something that was different to Pantera and unfortunately the fans didn’t really want that, they wanted Pantera and that’s not what it was. I’m really proud of the Rebel Meets Rebel album which is very cool, unique and different and of course the two Hellyeah records that I’m a part of now, I really love and I really enjoyed making them, it sets us apart from all the other bands that are out there right now!
Soundwave Touring: Vinnie, Hellyeah are about to go into overdrive with the new album hitting shelves, tours booked here in Australia, Europe and the U.S.A.… what other plans are in the works for the band, can we see a new dvd later this year, is there anything else planned at this stage?
Vinnie Paul: We’re filming all the time, we film every day, there will be another Hellyeah home dvd and then we just plan on touring solid for the next two years. We really want to make Hellyeah a solid international band, this won’t be our only trip to Australia, we will be back again in January or February next year. We’re going to be on the road non-stop and that is our goal right now!
Soundwave Touring: Mate just before we wrap it up the Metal community are still in mourning with the recent passing’s of the great Ronnie James Dio, Type O’ Negative’s Pete Steele and Slipknot’s Paul Grey. It is certainly a very sad time for all metal fans around the world… having been in the company of these amazingly talented artists over the years, what fond memories do you have from the precious time you have been able to share with them?
Vinnie Paul: Well, Ronnie James was just a fuckin amazing human being! We did the first Golden Gods Awards that were held in the United States together and we filmed this skit, I got to spend about four hours with Ronnie just hanging out at his house. Not only was Ronnie one of the most amazing fuckin singers to have been in heavy metal, but he was just a great fuckin super cool dude! Same goes for Peter Steele, a fuckin amazing dude! My favorite tour that we ever did together was Pantera and Type O’ Negative on the ‘Far Beyond Driven’ tour, they were just fuckin amazing. Paul Grey… we just seen him four days before he passed and he looked like he was doing great and things were going well… he was always a super energetic dude and he was part of a groundbreaking landslide band… Slipknot is just fucking amazing! They’re all huge losses and I think that all of us are still a little numb, it takes a long time before you really realize that they are no longer with us. The cool thing is they left us a lot of fuckin great music to listen to and a lot of great memories!
Soundwave Touring: Vinnie I couldn’t agree more! Thanks so much again for your time today, it’s been a true pleasure speaking with you, stay safe out on the road and all the very best with the new album ‘Stampede’! Do you have any last words for our readers?
Vinnie Paul: I’d just love to say that you guys are the best fans in the world, we’re looking forward to coming down there, you never disappoint. Hopefully the weather will be nice and we’ll have a fuckin blast man!
© Cameron Edney June 2010