HELLYEAH's TOM MAXWELL: 'I Didn't Want To Be A Southern Rock/Metal Band'

August 14, 2014

RockRevoltMagazine.com recently conducted an interview with HELLYEAH guitarist Tom Maxwell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

RockRevoltMagazine.com: You guys brought in an outside producer for this one with Kevin Churko taking over the reins.

Tom: I think our label approached him about doing this album. He was a little apprehensive at first, because of rumors about us being difficult to work with and that we were a pretty wild crew. He did agree to take it on and he was pleasantly surprised that we were quite the opposite.

RockRevoltMagazine.com: Kevin really does seem to have that "Midas Touch" over the last few years.

Tom: Fuck yeah he does! He learned from one of the best in Mutt Lange. That guy gave us DEF LEPPARD's "Hysteria" and "Pyromania", AC/DC's "Back In Black" and more. He was very crucial in making this record. He and I collaborated on a song called "Hush". I went into the studio one day to work on solos and he said that we should write a song together. It took us two days and I was really nervous to show it to the band because it's a little different. It's very lonely with elements of uplifting movement going on. Chad told me to give him a shot at it and he brought it all together.

RockRevoltMagazine.com: I've read a lot of the press releases on [the] new [HELLYEAH] album ["Blood For Blood"] and that seemed to focus on a newfound focus within the band. Can you shed some light on that?

Tom: The last couple of years have been really rough intrastructure-wise as far as the band goes. Greg [Tribbett, guitar] was going through a lot of personal stuff and he couldn't pick himself back up. The energy just wasn't there and there was a dark cloud just kind of hovering over; it was the same thing with Bob ["Zilla" Kakaha, bass]. We just weren't gelling, and it was very toxic to the point that if we had continued on, we wouldn't have been a band; there's only so much negativity that you can deal with. We pretty much realized that this record was going to fall upon myself, Vinnie [Paul Abbott, drums] and Chad [Gray, vocals] and that was it. To be honest with you, I was perfectly happy with that. It was my intention to make this kind of album the entire time; I didn't want to be a southern rock/metal band. I'm from Baltimore and I'm a punk rock/metal kid; I'm used to it being raw and honest and I was doing stuff that I wasn't comfy doing. We went into the studio with Kevin and it was like breathing and exhaling air again. It was very natural, very honest and there was no premeditation to any of it. It was like announcing, "OK, here we are. Let's make the best record we can." It was approached as if it was going to be the last album we ever made in our lives; that was the mentality.

RockRevoltMagazine.com: I'm not sure of you can answer this on his behalf, but I wanted to ask you about a quote that I read from Vinnie Paul. He said that on the song "Say When", he was doing some of the best and most challenging drumming since PANTERA's 1994 classic "Far Beyond Driven". You have to admit, that's a pretty bold statement.

Tom: Yeah, that's very true! You get influenced by what's going on around you and the energy that Vinnie, Chad and I had in the studio had all of us pumped up. Vinnie's drumming on that song and the entire album is like somebody with something to prove. You're right; it is a pretty bold statement for him to say that it's the best drumming he's done since "Far Beyond Driven" because those are some mean drums on there. He really lit it up on "Say When". He actually wrote the drum part first and I had to write the song around it. It's the heaviest song that we've ever done, and I mean HEAVY!

Read the entire interview at RockRevoltMagazine.com.

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