The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Vinnie Paul Hellyeah Interview - Interview
The Rockpit interviews

Vinnie Paul needs no introduction, the legacy of Pantera still lives on to this day and his work with that band is legendary. Currently with Hellyeah who are now into their 4th album "Blood For Blood" which came out last year, the band have now shed their supergroup status and cemented themselves as a solid metal band who are completely focused on doing what they do best. We were fortunate enough to catch Vinnie Paul during a brief break from touring to chat about their upcoming tour to Australia in August as well as the new songs and a little about the legacy of Pantera.



Interested in an interview for your band? Want to suggest someone we should be talking to? E-mail digg[at] The Rockpit prefers to interview live or via skype or phone but will consider e-mail interviews.

Vinnie: Hey what's up man, how you doing?

Andrew: Good thanks! How are you?

Vinnie: Fantastic man!

Andrew: Awesome! So are you guys on tour at the moment?

Vinnie: We just got back from England this past weekend. Actually just finished a complete tour of Europe - Germany, Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands and then closed out at Download festival on Friday with Slipknot and Judas Priest which was absolutely awesome! And been home for a couple days, unwinding and getting ready to start up here in the States on the [Rockstar] Mayhem tour with Slayer and King Diamond so really looking forward to that. And then we're heading downunder to see you guys in August.

Andrew: Yeah August is going to be great! I think we saw you guys last at Soundwave festival about 2 or 3 years ago.

Vinnie: Yeah it's been a minute since we've been down there, we've been trying to get back down there and circumstances haven't worked out but things fell in line this time around. We're really proud of the record that we have to support "Blood For Blood" and we're just really excited to get to play Australia as well as New Zealand this time around.

Andrew: Yeah should be good! Have you been playing many new songs from the album?

Vinnie: Oh yeah we'll play almost the whole record, 8 or 9 maybe. Who knows? By the time we get down there we may be doing the whole record, we're really focused on the new material and we're definitely going to do a nice dose of the earlier material to go along with it but the new record is really where our focus is.

Andrew: Yeah it's a great record and I guess we can talk a little about that. It came out about a year ago but how have you found the reception from the fans so far?

Vinnie: It's been the best recieved Hellyeah record yet man, it's a record that really has grabbed a lot of people and anybody that is on the fence about Hellyeah, they really have come onboard with us. We got nothing but great tours from the record, we started off in April over a year ago with Avenged Sevenfold all over America. We got a tour with Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat which was absolutely amazing, we've just had nothing but great tours man. The record really has elevated our level so to speak.

Andrew: One of my favorite songs on that album is "Cross To Bier (Cradle Of Bones)" which is such a great song. Do you have any personal favorites from the album?

Vinnie: It's hard to pick because they are all like your kids, you got 10 kids and it's hard to pick your favorite. Obviously "Black December" is a nice personal touch for me, "Say When" is one of my favorite drum moments I've ever come up with. It's probably the most intense drumming I've ever done since Pantera and then "Moth" is one of the best melodic rock songs that not only have I been a part of but heard in a long time. I love the song, I really love what Chad (gray, vocals) did on it and just really moving.

Andrew: It sounds like you kinda went into...and not that hellyeah has never not been heavy...but more of a heavier approach on this album.

Vinnie: Well we started that with the last record "Band Of Brothers". The first 2 records were very experimental for us, we really wanted to do a lot of things that we couldn't in our previous bands. So we touched on southern rock, almost country at times, bluesy stuff, rock n' roll. Heavy metal was mixed in there but it was a lot of different things and we got that out of our system and with "Band Of Brothers"" we went back to our heavy metal roots and really started going back to being more of a metal band and with this record it was a continuation of that. Just really focused on the songwriting and writing the best songs that we could.

Andrew: With 4 albums in now, do you feel that supergroup tag that you were labeled with in the beginning is worn out now?

Vinnie: Yeah the supergroup thing only came along because of our past. It wasn't anything that we setup or wanted to present ourselves with but was something the media picked up on and probably our label pushed it a lot. And really when we started out people were like 'Oh it's the guy from Pantera' or 'It's the guy from Mudvayne' so that's how the supergroup thing started. But now that Hellyeah is really established, people really do look at it and go 'Yeah it's Hellyeah!'. So that's what we've been working towards and we've really established that with 4 albums and it will only continue to grow with the more records and the more time that passes.

Andrew: That's good to hear! Now one of things that I've been a big fan of for years is your drum sound and on this new album your drum sound is absolutely phenomenal. But I remember years ago when you were in Pantera that you were trying to find that perfect drum sound so I guess the question is, have you ever found it?

Vinnie: I think the sound that I have had on all the records that I've been a part of have been important and special. It always has to have that attack and everything but with this record, it's 2015, recording is much more current and up to date and everything. I really enjoyed working with Kevin Churko, he really got the best out of me and it was a different drum sound for me but also at the same time a much cooler drum sound which was something I was really looking for. Really wanting to keep that attack and bite but wanting more body and I think we got that on this record.

Andrew: Yeah definitely. How important do you think is it to get a good drum sound for an album?

Vinnie: Oh it's very important! It's the base, the foundation that the house is built on. There are numerous different kinds of drum sounds, some are more ambient and roomy and this that and the other, the John Bonham kind of thing. Then there's kinda what I did with Pantera which was much more attacky and then with what I did for "Blood For Blood" on the Hellyeah record is kind of a combination of all of that.

Andrew: Just going back into your history a bit and as everyone is probably well aware, you are a huge Kiss fan so I'm guessing Peter Criss was probably a huge influence on your drumming then.

Vinnie: I love Peter Criss, I love Kiss. We just did 4 shows with Kiss in Europe and also on one of our off days we saw Ace at his headline show which was absolutely awesome! They are the reason why I play music, I heard "Kiss Alive" which was the first hard rock album I ever heard and the drum solo on "God Of Thunder" just made me want to play drums man. I loved it man, the catman always did it for me!

Andrew: What was it about Kiss in particular that drew you to their music?

Vinnie: First and foremost the music, the songs. But the image was larger than life, they weren't human they were superhuman. And so it was really the combination of all that, that made them such a great band and such a huge influence on what we do.

Andrew: Do you feel that kind of theatrics are missing in todays music?

Vinnie: Well I feel that if every band did it, it wouldn't be special. So if you have bands that come along and do it and are very theatrical and have a lot of infectious stuff, it is pretty unique and pretty special. But there is only so much new stuff that they can do that hasn't already been done by Alice Cooper or Kiss so sometimes it's not so original and not so great.

Andrew: We had recently caught up with Ace Frehley as he did a tour here in Australia just recently and we thought it was just great. Are you a fan of their solo stuff at all?

Vinnie: I love it man! I still wish Kiss would find a way to have Peter and Ace back in the band but they have their reasons and function the way they function. Ace's solo band is awesome, like I said saw them the other night and they were absolutely killer, fun to watch and Ace has still got it man. So who knows, maybe one of these days he will find his way back into Kiss.

Andrew: Yeah you never know. Just getting back to your drums, I had recently discovered that you had switched drumkits and are now with ddrum.

Vinnie: Oh yeah I've been with ddrums since 2004 so for quite some time.

Andrew: Oh OK so what was the reason you changed? Because I remember you were with Pearl drums for a number of years.

Vinnie: I was with Pearl forever and they are a great company but I wanted to have my own line of drums, my own line of hardware and stuff like that and they just wouldn't do that for any of their artists. They would do a custom snare drum but that's about as far as it would go. ddrum approached me and that's the same company that also my brother was dealing with through Dean guitars and so it really just felt like a great family vibe. They offered me my own line of drums and hardware and all that good stuff and so that's an extension of being a drummer is being an entrepreneur, being a business guy. And I really wanted to do that and really glad I moved on to ddrum, they've been great to me.

Andrew: OK cool. So one of the 2 most important things I find in drumming is aside from the drum sound, is the groove apsect. Obviously the groove aspect is very prominent in your music but if you had any advice to some of the drummers out there, what would you tell them?

Vinnie: I always play drums for the song man. The song is the most important thing, the groove is the most important thing and it all starts there. Some drummers play too much man, they think it's all about the drums and they forget that people listen to the whole thing and the lyrics and all that moves them. I would say when it's your time to shine, do something special and when it's not, fucking be the 4th, hold down the groove and hold down the house. Just keep right in the pocket and then when it's time to do your thing, do your thing. Don't overplay, don't play too much.

Andrew: Have you taken any notice of some of the drummers today who have maybe taken the technical aspect a little too far?

Vinnie: Yeah I think it's overdone sometimes. Blast beats and stuff like that where it's just non-stop double kick, it doesn't really even sound like a song man, it just sounds like a drummer going off and some dude screaming over the top of it. But I do think some of it's taken a bit too far but some people get into that kind of stuff so it's cool.

Andrew: Now career highlights, you have been part of 3 great bands in Pantera, Damageplan and now Hellyeah. For me personally one of the highlights you did was when you did Rebel Meets Rebel with David Allan Coe which is such a great album. But for you personally, do you have a memorable highlight that sticks in your mind?

Vinnie: I don't think anything will ever be able to top having a number 1 album in the United States in 1994 with "Far Beyond Driven". Nobody knew who Pantera was, nobody expected it. We were this "overnight sensation" and I said bullshit, we put out 2 previous records, we toured the world non-stop and have one of the most rabid fanbase in the world. And when we came out with "Far Beyond Driven" the fans made it number 1, the fans spoke so that was a definite highlight and a very special moment in my career.

Andrew: And what about with Hellyeah? Anything particularly special with the 4 albums that you have done so far?

Vinnie: I think everything we have done has been very special just given the fact that I've never done anything in my life without my brother. He's always been there, we always worked together, we operated as one. So learning to move on, on my own was very difficult and having the guys in Hellyeah be a part of what we have done as a band has been just really special and really good for me and helped me continue to live my life and with music.

Andrew: Yeah definitely and it's absolutely awesome that you continued on with your music. Obviously it was a most unfortunate incident with Dimebag but on the bright side, Hellyeah has been a great band and we are absolutely looking forward to seeing you guys in Australia. So thanks again for todays chat!

Vinnie: Well spread the word man, we're going to come in with a full head of steam and we are looking to come down and kick some fucking ass! So thanks again man and we will see you in a couple of months!

New Zealand and Australian Tour Dates August 2015

Thursday 20th AUCKLAND The Studio
Friday 21st WELLINGTON Bar Bodega
Saturday 22nd CHRISTCHURCH Bedford
Tuesday 25th ADELAIDE The Gov
Thursday 27th SYDNEY Metro Theatre
Friday 28th BRISBANE Eatons Hill
Saturday 29th MELBOURNE Corner Hotel
Monday 31st PERTH Capitol

Tickets available at Metropolis Touring

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on June 17th 2015