by Rick Florino
HELLYEAH on the cover of Maxmum Ink May 2007
An undeniable void exists in heavy metal. Few new records have the hooks, songs, resonance and attitude of the classics. But Hellyeah are about to change that with their arena-ready self-titled debut. The band’s lineup reads like a heavy metal all-star team, featuring Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Damageplan), Chad Gray (Mudvayne), Greg Tribbet (Mudvayne) and Tom Maxwell (Nothingface). Vinnie sat down with Maximum Ink and showed us why the members of Hellyeah remain metal’s baddest group of outlaws……
MAXIMUM INK: What was the creative process like for you guys? Even though you’re all from different bands, it seems like the chemistry was there from the start.
VINNIE: When I first got on the phone with everybody, I truly felt very comfortable. I thought everybody had the same goals and the same kind of drive. The next thing you know, we all met up in Texas. Eight days later, we’d written seven songs and the freight train known as Hellyeah was born. It was magic. Like you said, the chemistry was there from the start. Everybody in this band has a really great amount of deep respect for each other, and I think that’s one of the reasons why it works so well. When we started it, we didn’t know where it was going to go. We just had to try and test the waters.
MAXIMUM INK: Was it hard to step back behind the kit?
VINNIE: After the events of December 8, 2004, I didn’t really know if I was ever going to play again. I just told myself if I was, it was going to have been the ultimate situation and fall into my lap. That’s what happened. Everybody had their head in the right place and that let’s-tear-the-world-a-new-ass attitude. It was just a great record to make. We feel like it is really going to set some standards this year.
MAXIMUM INK: Why do you think the band worked so quickly?
VINNIE: I think it comes from the fact that all of us have plenty of experience and a great deal of admiration for each other’s accomplishments and bands. I think the coolest thing about working with everybody is there are no egos. Everyone was just gung ho. One for all, all for one. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around a situation like that.
MAXIMUM INK: All of you guys are from one-guitarist bands; was having two guitarists a big transition?
VINNIE: Everybody knows Tom and Greg as great rhythm guitar players, but they’ve never really heard them play lead because they don’t in their respective bands. On this thing, I didn’t know solos were going to be part of it. Once Greg and Tom started branching out and doing some leads, the lead playing they did was really impressive. They definitely have some old school roots and can play bluesy stuff. Having two guitarists was something that’s new for all of us. I really enjoyed it, and I think everybody in the band really enjoyed it. It was unexpected to hear the way the two guitar players would interact with each other. They bring back that old school Iron Maiden thing where they play two parts and give you a grinding rhythm part with a badass melody on top. I’m dying to hear what the band sounds like live, because I know it’s going to fucking rock.
MAXIMUM INK: How would you describe the Hellyeah sound?
VINNIE: I think it’s like a familiar groove, with a new sound. It’s all part of the attitude of the band. We didn’t put any rules out there. We really wanted to branch out and cover a lot of ground. It would’ve been real easy for us to make a record of nothing but 12 bone-crushing songs from start to finish, but then it wouldn’t have been dynamic. We feel like this band has a lot of creativity. I also brought a new type of recording to these guys that they’d never experienced before, where everything just goes straight to tape. So as we’re writing, we’re also recording. You capture all of the magic, spontaneity and everything that goes down. You get that kickass raw feel and go for it. The magic’s there. That’s how we did it.
MAXIMUM INK: Where do you want this band to stand in the current scene?
VINNIE: I definitely want it to stand alone. Hellyeah is its own band. It’s not a side project. It’s the real deal. It’s something we’ve all discussed that can co-exist with everyone’s respective bands. It’s my baby, and I’m looking forward to everything, especially the live show. That’s what making music is about. It is fun being in the studio, but being able to perform in front of people is that ultimate high in this world, man. I love it.
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