HELLYEAH's VINNIE PAUL: We 'Love Playing With Each Other' And 'Enjoy Each Other's Company'

July 29, 2010

Brendan Crabb of Utopia.com.au recently conducted an interview with drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott (HEALLYEAH, PANTERA, DAMAGEPLAN). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Utopia.com.au: You've already done some shows in support of [the new HELLYEAH album] "Stampede". How is the new material going over in the live environment?

Vinnie: Man, we had an opportunity to go out and tour for the record for the first time ever and the new songs went down really great, man. It's very nice to see the fans pick up on it as quick as they did. We just did a month-long tour in the United States and we just got back from Europe, where we did a month-long tour. Our record was never really officially released when we were there the first time around, so almost all the songs felt like new songs to the fans, but they really embraced us and it was great to be able go out and play the songs before the record came out.

Utopia.com.au: In what ways do you feel the new album is an improvement upon your self-titled debut?

Vinnie: Well, the first record was almost like an experiment. We had just got together and we didn't really quite know each other. We just had a lot of things in common as far as the music that we liked and we had a great chemistry, which enabled us to write some great songs. With the second record, we really came into it with a lot more confidence. After touring together, after really getting to know each other, after really getting to gel as a band, I think we really came into our own with this record. I think this record is definitely going to be the one that defines what HELLYEAH is all about.

Utopia.com.au: Was there anything new or anything of note that inspired the lyrics and the music on this album?

Vinnie: Just the fact that we really love playing with each other, we really enjoy each other's company. This band really is a band of brothers and we really do our best to put our best foot forward for each other. There's no egos involved in this band; we all can laugh at each other, we can all have a great time. I think lyrically, Chad [Gray, vocals] comes from a really personal place; you know, with MUDVAYNE he's always singing about things that are (about) different planets, different places, crazy stuff like that. With HELLYEAH he can really open up, be personal and sing songs that come from his heart, say things he's been wanting to get off his chest for years, that kind of stuff.

Utopia.com.au: You obviously went through some very difficult times five to six years ago. How close did you come to not playing music again and what about Hellyeah convinced you to make your return to it all?

Vinnie: Well, after being in a very dark place and really thinking that I was done with music, I got a letter from Dave Grohl [NIRVANA, FOO FIGHTERS]. He's been a friend for a long time and he just said that he'd been through something similar with Kurt [Cobain] and thought he was done with music, that eventually… he said that living without music would kill him... He was totally right. When I got the call asking if I'd be interested in being part of it, I knew at some point I was going to have to take a chance and see if I really wanted to do it again, you know? When they came down, we all met, we did a barbecue, we drank a lot of booze together and the next day we wrote our first song, which was "Nausea" on the first record. I knew (then) that's what I was supposed to be doing. I knew that was exactly what my brother wanted me to be doing and I had to carry on. So that's what happened.

Utopia.com.au: Any new bands that you've been enjoying lately?

Vinnie: Yeah, there's a lot, there's bands who have great new albums coming out. Ozzy's new album and AVENGED SEVENFOLD's new album with Mike Portnoy playing drums on it. The new STONE SOUR record I'm really looking forward to hearing, just got through doing dates with them over in Europe and they were awesome.

Utopia.com.au: Having been around the scene for more than 20 years, how strong do you feel heavy metal is globally now, compared to when PANTERA broke through?

Vinnie: I think it's still strong. I think in the middle '90s it was nothing but a pure lifestyle. I mean, people lived it, breathed it, loved it, no matter what. But today, with computers and the whole Internet world, it's… people don't quite have that same focus, you know? They're still there and they still love it, but it's not like what they live for every day. So it's a little bit different, but we just finished doing a run in the States, just finished playing over in Europe and the fans are just as rabid as they always have been, man.

Read the entire interview from Utopia.com.au.

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