ROY MAYORGA On Playing With HELLYEAH After VINNIE PAUL's Death: 'It's Bittersweet'

June 3, 2019

STONE SOUR and HELLYEAH drummer Roy Mayorga was recently interviewed by Meltdown of Detroit's 101 WRIF radio station. You can now listen to the chat below. A few excerpts follows.

On how he landed the HELLYEAH gig:

"Basically, [STONE SOUR singer Corey Taylor and HELLYEAH frontman Chad Gray] had a conversation about a conversation, and then we had a conversation about a conversation, and here we are. It's pretty cool. It was cool how it worked out. I'm happy to be there to help the guys and honor our brother, our friend, Vinnie [Paul Abbott, late HELLYEAH and PANTERA drummer]. It's an honor, man. It's bittersweet. It's horrible even thinking about it. He's not here anymore. It's... Fuck! It's mind-blowing to me."

On the first time he met Vinnie Paul:

"The first time I met Vinnie was the '98 Ozzfest at Milton Keynes Bowl in England. Actually, I was playing drums for SOULFLY at the time. And I can remember, while I was playing the show, I turned around to grab a water, and 10 feet away from me was Vinnie with his arms crossed, giving me this grin and going, 'Yeah!'. I was, like, 'Oh my god. It's Vinnie.' And next to him was Dave Grohl. So, yeah — no pressure. I got to meet him afterwards, I hung out with him, and we've been friends ever since. He was a really cool dude, man. His energy was great. As soon as I saw him behind me, it made me fucking play even better and harder. He was definitely a big influence on me and every drummer that I know. He was a big influence on everybody, big inspiration on everybody drumming-wise."

On what kind of guy Vinnie was:

"You can't say no to him. You cannot say 'no.' [Laughs] He was the life of the party, man. He'd walk into a room, he'd light that fucker up — he was that kind of person. His personality was big; his heart was big. He's Vinnie Paul, man — one of a kind."

On his reaction when he got the call asking him to play with HELLYEAH:

"I was, like, 'You really want me to do this?' [Chad] was, like, 'Yeah.' I was, like, 'Fuck. Okay.' I didn't know what to say other than, 'Of course I'll do it.' You're my friends, and Vinnie was my friend, and, yeah, I'm there — absolutely."

On how he approached his gig with HELLYEAH:

"I'm just here helping helping him and the band carry the torch, man. That's it. No filling shoes — none of that stuff. People are saying, '[Those are] some big shoes to fill,' but I keep saying, 'Look, it's not about filling shoes. No one can fill his shoes. His shoes are with him. And that's it. And I'm here just helping the band and honoring him.' And that's it."

On the challenges of playing drums for HELLYEAH:

"The challenge is just to learn [Vinnie's] parts. He's got such a way of playing — it's just hard to really imitate. There are nuances that he has that only he can do. The best I can do it is just try to channel what he's done and marry it to, obviously, how I play, and just make it work. Just marry the live version to how the studio version is, and then to how he plays it, and then to how I play it, and then getting the chemistry with the band. There's a lot of things involved."

On how much he practiced in preparation for his first concert with HELLYEAH:

"As soon as I got the phone call, there was no wasting time. I went into it headfirst and just learned as many songs as I can from the HELLYEAH catalog. I was doing, like, six hours a day five days a week between the hours my kids were at school — from, like, 10 [in the morning] to, like, four in the afternoon. I lived and breathed HELLYEAH. And [I got] to the point I was even listening to all the PANTERA stuff to really get Vinnie's character of playing, and then listening to his favorite drummers and getting into that. [I was] listening to guys like Alex Van Halen even more, 'cause I know that was his favorite drummer. And John Bonham, obviously — that's our common bond, I think, with every drummer. That's his favorite drummer, that's my favorite drummer, so trying to keep all of that in mind and keep him in mind, that's what really helped me to get this going."

On how much of his drumming he had to change to play and sound like Vinnie:

"I definitely changed a lot, to the point where I even changed my setup a bit more. I'm using bigger drums than I normally do. The fronts of my drum kit changed a bit. I went from a size 12-13 tom to size 13-16 tom, just to get a bigger sound, 'cause his sound's fucking huge. So, now my drums are like 13-, 16-, 18-inch toms. And, actually, you know what? I'm probably gonna keep it that way; it feels so comfortable. I'm, like, 'I should've done this a long time ago.' I'm even, like, starting to play with the back end of my sticks again, which I haven't done in years, and for this kind of music, it definitely calls for that. It's more simple — more punch and move, like a heavyweight boxer would do. With a little bit of gracefulness in between, but fucking meat and potatoes bang that shit — hit that drum. Make it sing; make the room sing."

On what made Vinnie Paul's drumming so unique:

"The big thing, the real thing with Vinnie, it was about his feet. He had the sickest footwork I've seen on any drummer — ever. I mean, I think every drummer out there would agree with me that [PANTERA's] 'Becoming' is probably his ultimate footwork. It's the weirdest thing. Like, he leads with his left foot on that, and all those double triplets on his right, it's backwards. In fact, I can remember, there was one time when we were on tour together, I was on my practice kit and he just happened to be walking past the dressing room, and I was playing 'Becoming', but differently and, obviously, wrong. He walked past my room and he's, like, 'Mayorga!' I'm, like, 'What, man?'. He always called me by my last name too. He's, like, 'What the hell are you doing?' I'm, like, 'Playing 'Becoming'?' He's, like, 'That's not how you do it.' I'm, like, 'Then please fucking show me.' So he gets on my kit and shows me. 'It's the other way. It’s like keeping the time with your hi-hat. Your left foot's gotta be keeping the time and your right's doing the doubles.' And he's breaking it down to me, like, really slow. And it's, like, 'Holy shit.' I still can't do it to this day. It's a mind-fuck, man. Some people can do it. God bless you. I wish I can. I cannot, for the life of me."

Mayorga made his live debut with HELLYEAH on May 11 at the House Of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Vinnie Paul passed away on June 22, 2018 at the age of 54 due to a dilated cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease.

HELLYEAH's first album since Vinnie Paul's death, "Welcome Home", will be released on September 27 via Eleven Seven Music.

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