Hellyeah | Interview with Vinnie Paul

One of the benefits of being a freelance rock/metal writer is that you get the chance to speak with people you admire. One of those persons is former Pantera and current Hellyeah drummer Vinnie Paul. Recently I had the chance to sit down with him and have a friendly chat. He turned out to be a very down to earth guy and accessible guy who spoke candidly about his adventures with Hellyeah, dealing with the tragic death of his brother Dimebag, his various business ventures and he gave his vision on the current state of the music industry... 

Hellyeah pretty much brought you back playing music. The band is really taking off. How do you like the experience so far?

It’s been great! After the death of Dimebag I didn’t know what to do for a couple of years. I didn’t know whether I wanted to play music, play drums or be in a band again. At some point I got approached by the rest of the Hellyeah guys if I wanted to be the drummer in their band. They’ve been busy with the band for several years, but they never could find the right drummer. At first I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to do this, but they were very persistent. I decided to give it got, it felt great and I ran with it. The rest is history as they say.

Let’s talk about the new Hellyeah album. It’s called “Band Of Brothers”. What does the album mean to you personally?

It means everything to me, man. We really found our stride on this album. The first two records were about having fun, experimenting with different genres and doing something totally different from our old bands. This time we decided to embrace our metal roots and go for a much heavier direction. Band Of Brothers will be the blueprint for future Hellyeah albums. Thematically it’s all about brotherhood and what we stand for as a band. Five guys having great fun playing together. That’s what Hellyeah is all about, dude.

When I first heard the album it immediately reminded me of Vulgar Display Of Power and Far Beyond Driven in terms of relentless drive and energy. Especially the title song reminds me of I’m Broken and 5 Minutes Alone...

Thank you, brother, that really means a lot to me, because I played on those records, I co-wrote that material and I produced it, so why not take something to that to Hellyeah?

Indeed! Would this also be a convenient excuse to incorporate some old Pantera and Mudvayne songs into the live set as an encore for instance?

No, we decided a long time ago that Hellyeah need to stand on its own feet and that we’re not going to play songs from Damageplan, Mudvayne and Pantera. The band is doing really well and we got three albums to pick songs from, so why would we? 

Fair enough. The recording sessions of the first two albums is stuff of legend as far as the alcohol intake and partying goes. How did things go for Band Of Brothers?

Pretty much the same. We recorded the new album at my house and it went very easy, especially during the recording of the first Hellyeah album. We recorded that one at Dimebag’s place and that was very confrontational experience. I really didn’t know whether I was able to make it through the entire experience.
There are all these great stories about Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath recording in medieval castles and dungeons and what Rick Rubin did in the Houdini mansion, so I wanted to do the same at my place. It’s a really relaxed way of recording and when we don’t feel inspired we can drink a beer or BBQ. It’s good for the overall creative vibe. 

Read full interview here

Words: Raymond Westland