Vinnie Paul for Hellyeah: Stop Living In The Past

Australia is my favourite place to tour. It reminds me of one big Texas; they love to drink, they love their music loud, hard and fast and they love to BBQ!

Hellyeah have delivered the album of their career. The catalyst behind this triumph? A new found appetite. Hellyeah has spent the majority of their career nailing their sound; a sound they felt was juuuuust out of reach, a sound they believe was suppressed by years of corrosion between members. A line-up change is never smooth sailing however the band have yet to look back. Metal As Fuck caught up with Vinnie Paul recently to chat about this career defining album and their new found freedom....

The release of Blood For Blood has in fact created a new era for Hellyeah, so how have things evolved for the band since its inception in 2006? “Well when the band first got together it was almost an experiment. We wanted to make it pretty broad, not put any boundaries or rules on it. We didn’t want to make it just a metal band, we wanted to branch out, throw in the southern rock, some blues, so it was a big collaboration of things. Once the first two records were out it was out of our system, with the third record; Band of Brothers we really wanted to get back to our metal roots and really take our individual crafts and mix it together to make a melting pot of styles; the styles that defined us and we brought out a record in which the fans anticipated from us all along. Blood For Blood was tense at first; we had a couple of band members who really turned into a cancer and were weighing us down and we knew they had to replaced. Once the new line-up was finalised, we were in the studio with Kevin Churko, he really helped the band get to a new level. Blood For Blood is what you would call the Hellyeah sound, it’s really what we’ve been looking for, we’re glad we’ve finally landed on it”. One of the expectations for Hellyeah was to encompass that diverse sound, so being that the band has aimed to fulfil this expectation, have you made a name for this sound? “The supergroup thing sort of followed us around at the start; oh look it’s the guy from Pantera, it’s the guy from Mudvayne... We have since really put that behind us and fans really do accept what Hellyeah is and we’re really happy with where we’re at, our sound has never been better”.  

What challenges have you overcome developing this sound? “It has been the most incredible amount of challenges ever man, we’ve had to overcome so many hurdles but the main thing is that we’ve all stayed focused on what we wanted to do and what we wanted to achieve and not allowing the negatives to get in our way. I have a motto that if you live in the past you have no future; so many people want to live in the past “when is this Pantera reunion gonna happen” they’ll ask me. It’s not going to happen, that was then, and this is now. I’m really proud of what I do now. Everything is just falling into place for Hellyeah; we finally have the right members and have the right sound”. You can tell by watching a Hellyeah show that you guys are having the most amazing fucking time on stage “Oh man, we just finished up a European tour and that was a blast, we really enjoyed it. We did a lot of own shows, with did a bunch of shows with Kiss and Judas Priest; it was just a blast, to be over there and feel the brotherhood on that tour, to play and feel that energy, everyone is giving it everything they’ve got, it was incredible. We want to keep it this way”.

You did mention that Kevin Churko was enlisted to produce Blood For Blood - so what was the reason behind bringing in a producer this time around? “We just felt it was time we had another person’s perspective, I’ve just about produced/co-produced nearly every record I’ve been a part of, Kevin though, really saw the vision of Hellyeah and what we wanted to achieve with the album, and he helped us capture that, he gets it. We had a great time working with him and we hope to work with him again during recording for our fifth album which starts in October”. Was there a little give and take between yourself and Kevin with the drum sound you wanted to accomplish? “Kevin is a great drummer in his own right, it’s almost a challenge, you have to both impress yourself and impress the man behind the desk, because he is a great drummer and he does expect the best out of you”.

Comparing previous projects and current projects have you embraced the variation from your trademark drum sound? “The sound that I had with Pantera was made for Pantera, I thought about giving the same sound for Hellyeah but it’s not the right sound – Hellyeah is a combination of both Pantera and Damageplan; it’s a bigger sound, it’s more ambient and still maintains the bite and the attack. I really like the combination of the two; it fits the music of Hellyeah perfectly”.

The replacement of two members, teetering close to the recording of Blood For Blood, now you have mentioned previously that you’ve never really experienced a member change in a band before, so what were your initial concerns? “Not knowing what was going to happen, that was my biggest concern. You deal with people until you just can’t deal with them anymore, usually you are able to communicate with people, get things back on track. This was not our case - we had to come to the realisation that we had to let them go. I think Chad took it the hardest because he had done so much work with Greg [Tribbett – Guitar 2006 - 2014] previously; he had to come to terms with the fact that he would have to close that door and move on. Once we did, it was very inspiring, we felt more freedom that ever, we felt a bond between us again, communication lines were open – Tom [Maxwell - Guitar] just came to life on the guitar, he brought so many new things to the table because he didn’t have to hold it in anymore. Like I said, it had to happen and once it did, things just started falling into place”.

Blood For Blood has been noted as the career changing album for the band, so where would you say was your most focus? “We just knew that we had gotten close to achieving a level of success for the band but we knew we hadn’t reached it yet, and we knew we had to make the best record we’ve ever made and every song had to count. The trying times that were in front of us during the recording I think got the best out of us. The acclaim that was received by the record once it was released was palpable; the tours we’ve been on since its release have been the best tours we’ve ever scored, playing with our all time favourite bands. Not only have the fans recognised the change within the band but so have our peers, it’s given us bigger and better opportunities to keep moving forward. We’ve worked hard to get where we are, we’re not slowing down, we’re hungrier than ever, no slowing down for Hellyeah - we’re trekking out for a tour with Slayer shortly than we head down under”. The trip down under holds a lot; new album, new members, a new appetite; so what are your expectations for the Australian tour? “Oh man, my expectations are always the same. Australia is a great place. People ask me all the time where’s your favourite place to tour and I always say, hands down, Australia, because it reminds me of one big Texas; they love to drink, they love their music loud, hard and fast and they love to BBQ! I’ve never not enjoyed myself down under. Australia has some of the greatest fans in the world, they really appreciate what we do and embrace us when we’re there, and we don’t get there enough. It’s been a long time since we’ve been down to Australia, once we do get there – you guys are going to get the very best of Hellyeah I can guarantee it”.