The members of Hellyeah had their lives turned upside down last year when the news broke that their drummer, Vinnie Paul, suddenly passed away from heart failure. After taking some time to mourn and process the loss, the band decided to pay tribute to the legendary stickman by finishing their new album.
That new LP, Welcome Home, is due out September 27th via Eleven Seven Music, and it’s an emotional record for Hellyeah and their fans. Paul, who was also the founding drummer of Pantera, is not only a large part of Hellyeah’s new album in spirit, but also on tape, as he laid down all of his drum tracks just prior to his death.
Now, after welcoming Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga into their lineup, Hellyeah are on the road supporting their upcoming album and honoring their fallen friend.
Hellyeah guitarist Tom Maxwell checked in with Heavy Consequence while on tour to discuss the emotions that come with the band’s first tour without Vinnie Paul, the new album, the state of metal music, and more. Read the full interview below.
On why it was important for Hellyeah to finish their new album, Welcome Home, and also tour to support it
We had to finish the album. That was the most important thing. Luckily, Vinnie had finished all his drum tracks before he passed, so everything you’re hearing is his stuff. But I think it was important for us to do it because we owed it to us and the band and the record — and to him — to take it on the road and keep this music out there. He set a good example when he came out of hiding after Dimebag passed. It was a dark time for him — an extremely dark time. If he could do it, we could do it. It took a year, though. It was a traumatizing year.
On the most rewarding aspect of getting back out there on the road with Hellyeah
I think just the fans. Seeing everybody — the excitement on their faces. It’s genuine. It’s nice being out there with my crew again. It’s been a little rocky, emotionally, for everybody. It’s been a minute since we’ve been out, so it takes some time, but the main thing is giving the fans that glimpse that everything is going to be alright, and it’s been great.
On the album’s title track, “Welcome Home”
Honestly, the song was written before [Vinnie] passed, completely. It was finished, vocals and everything. That was one of the few songs he heard with vocals on it, and he loved it. When he passed, it took on a whole new meaning. It was like, was there something there that we weren’t aware of? I think that the title of it seemed to fit perfectly, plus the whole meaning of the song and the line about that feeling of loss.
On what he misses most about Vinnie Paul
Wow. Just him. Just all of it. Him as a whole. There’s so much to that guy, and not just his kindness and selflessness. He was in no way narcissistic or self-absorbed. He was about everybody else and making sure everybody was happy and content and taken care of. He was just brutally kind and a wonderful human being. If you can imagine what it would be like to be around Santa Claus, that’s what he was like. He brought that kind of joy.
On new drummer Roy Mayorga and his contribution to the band since stepping in for Vinnie Paul
Roy is awesome. We’ve been friends for years and toured together back in 2010 with Stone Sour and Hellyeah. We wanted to have somebody come in who was a bro and friend, not somebody who we didn’t know or weren’t comfortable around. It was already a relationship that was established, and he and Vinnie were friends and respected each other, and that was really important for us, that we got somebody that Vinnie liked and knew. And it was somebody fans liked, too, and he’s killing it and doing a great job.
On what it’s like playing new songs off Welcome Home live
It’s great to play them, and I’m stoked we’re doing three songs off the new record in the set. Usually, you’re just going to do one or two, but we always would force new songs into the set, because we really want people to hear them live. I think we really break those songs down live, intensely. It’s exciting, and people are already singing the words back to us, which is amazing.
On whether Hellyeah will continue to tour and make new music following Welcome Home
It’s still all too forward thinking for me. I can’t think that far ahead right now. All I can see right now is doing this responsibility that we have right now and honoring this record. Then, we’ll take that next step, and whatever door the universe opens to us, we’ll take it.
On the state of rock and metal music
It comes in waves — music does. If you go to these shows, just look around, and there are tons of people and tons of support. I think, if anything, it’s just the game that is changing, and we’re all figuring out how this new game is going on with the streaming and all that stuff. It’s hard for new bands.
On the first rock albums he ever remembers purchasing
I think my first record I remember actually going to the record store and pointing out to my mom to get was Kiss Alive II. You open it up, and there’s fire everywhere, and it’s all of them live, and it was amazing. And then Mötley Crüe, Shout at the Devil.
On what newer metal bands he thinks have promise
I like Code Orange; I think they’re really cool. There are so many cool bands out there right now. Periphery from Maryland — they’re amazing and nuts and really talented. Toothgrinder out of New Jersey, they’re really good. There are so many. I think if I had to pick my big new favorite band, it would be Code Orange. They’re nasty and awesome.
On what’s next for Hellyeah
We have a weekend of shows in September. Then, I have to get hand surgery, and then a November and December tour. Next year, there’s ShipRocked, and that will be the anchor point for whatever is next.