HELLYEAH Frontman: We Quit Being Afraid Of Who We Are
July 14, 2012
Troy Culpan of May The Rock Be With You recently conducted an interview with HELLYEAH singer Chad Gray. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
May The Rock Be With You: How pumped are you to get [the new HELLYEAH album, "Band Of Brothers"] out to people?
Chad: Oh, fuckin' I can't wait. I honestly believe that this is probably the record that people have been waiting for us to put out, since they heard that the members were getting together, but unfortunately for us, it was never really possible because of the other band and keeping things separate, you know what I mean? I didn't want to play in both bands the same way, so HELLYEAH was more of a, "Hey, let's get back to songs and music and do shit that we wouldn't normally do in our other heavier bands," you know what I mean? So, with MUDVAYNE being on hiatus and stuff indefinitely and doing back to back HELLYEAH records, it occurred to me that I need that for my life, I'm a metalhead, I need… I've got a killer job because I have a job where I can fuckin' get up there and rage and fuckin' release demons every single day. I need that balance in my life, I was really ready for this record and I wanted to write a heavy, a solely heavy record, my own style and Vinnie's [Paul Abbott, drums] own style and let us let HELLYEAH stand on its own ten legs.
May The Rock Be With You: The album seems to have taken on the best parts of all your past groups, which were, of course, there previously but it seems that you've found your strides now and it's a monster. Was there a realisation of when that actually happened?
Chad: I think that what we did was, we just, we just fuckin' quit being afraid of who we are. This is the first time that we actually went, "Fuck it — we're gonna be ourselves." I'm gonna be Chad Gray, I'm not gonna be Chad from MUDVAYNE, but I'm gonna be Chad Gray, and that was the Chad from MUDVAYNE, on a level, writing songs like "Alcohaulin' Ass", "Pole Ride" and "Hell Of A Time", that shit was fun because I've never done it before, so I didn't know if I could do it. Now I know I can do it, but I like darker imagery, I like deeper darker lyrics, I like more helpless songs and shit like that, that's what I dig, that's what I always did with MUDVAYNE is play heavy music. Vinnie's drum tone has gotten more open over the years, more focused, versus PANTERA where it was just fuckin' in your face and up the middle and the kick beaters just hit you in the head. We said, "I want you to play like you play but I want that sound, too. Be Vinnie Paul, be the dude that fuckin' everybody fell in love with." You know what I mean? We don't have to hide from that, I want to be Chad Gray that people fell in love with, I want Greg Tribbett to be Greg Tribbett. Let's just get out of this exterior metal shit and get back to honest and just really, really, really play music and I think by us doing that, I think that's given HELLYEAH that was kind of like a sidecar to all the other bands, or keeping us tethered to something else, we've kind of cut the cord because we've all come and brought our styles and sounds to the table, it allowed HELLYEAH to be its own thing. It made the people hush with the, "When's MUDVAYNE coming back?" "When's PANTERA gonna do a reunion?" blah blah blah blah, "When's NOTHINGFACE ever coming back out?" "Is DAMAGEPLAN ever going to do anything again?" I mean, these are fuckin' questions we hear every day… There's a little bit of all those bands in what we've done and you can hear it throughout the record and it's cool; we're not plagiarizing anything. It's the honest thing we've ever done. We are the dudes from those bands, we're not stealing anything, we're just bringing what we've done to the table under the umbrella that it's HELLYEAH.
May The Rock Be With You: So, the name speaks for itself, but what was the decision behind calling the album "Band Of Brothers"?
Chad: I think it started with the song. I wrote the song first and the more we started thinking about it, the more we just felt like we were… We'd seen a lot of success in our other bands and the way that we feel in HELLYEAH is that we all kinda feel like underdogs, you know what I mean? And you've gotta be careful when you bag an underdog in to a corner — you know what I mean? — because they come out fuckin' fighting, and I think that was kind of our attitude with this record that we had this underdog kind of vibe to us because we felt feisty, we felt fuckin' we were salty about shit, we just wanted to refocus our anger and fuckin' frustrations and fuckin' helplessness and bring it to the table and do it together and that really is what we are, we are fuckin' bros. I'd lay down in traffic for those guys and they'd do the same for me, you know what I mean? It's like fuckin' militant, it's like going in to battle, there's only five of you facing the world, there's only one way you're going to win that war. That's the fight, that's the first wave, the second wave is you're gonna have each other's backs no matter what you know what I mean? I think that's just the vibe to it, and the more I've even thought about it and we kind of agreed on that as the name of the record, the more that I really thought about it and standing on stage and looking out and playing songs for the kids with their fists in the air and fuckin' whatever, I think that "Band Of Brothers" is more about the metal community than it is, almost even the five of us are a band of brother in itself but really we're just five dudes in a much larger band of brothers and that band of brothers is the metal fuckin' community. We all fight and go to the grave for something that we believe in very, very strongly which is music and it's heavy and it's relevant to our society that we create for ourselves.