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

SHANE ROCKPIT INTERVIEWS CHAD GRAY, OF HELL YEAH!


Gday Chad, how are you?

 

Good!

 

 

I managed to have a quick listen to the album last night, it kicks arse – how was the recording process for you?

 

Thankyou – man, you know, we kinda live Hell Yeah! so it’s always a lot of fun, man. We do a lot of drinking and a lot of barbecuing and a lot of hanging out

 

Sounds like my kinda party!

 

Yeah we’d fit right in with you guys hahah

 

Personally what are your major influences?

 

Me? Fuck… they go all the way back to Sabbath you know what I mean – Sabbath Metallica, Pantera… I’ve been into all kindsa shit man

 

Who brings the southern rock flavour to Hell Yeah?

 

I think WE do! All of us – southern rock isn’t just about Texas it’s about a state of mind. That’s just the kinda people we are – It’s about family, its about friends, talking to people – let your hair down and not worrying about every goddammed thing that’s happening, just live your life

 

We were in the states last year and we went to see Lynyrd Skynyrd and that was one hell of a party…

 

Yeah we’re not Skynyrd, but that’s what we try to bring to everywhere we go!

 

Yeah we saw you guys the first time you came out to Australia and that was a helluva show

 

Yeah right, you know, a lots changed since then - The economy worldwide has been on a downturn – people are worried and concerned, they’re trying to protect what they have and trying to protect who they are – you cant always worry, sometimes you have to be a little self indulgent and treat yourself!

 

Oh absolutely - and perhaps more so when times are hard

 

Yeah and that’s what keeps peoples head together – keeps them from climbing clock towers and picking people off with shotguns or rifles! Sometimes you have to just BE – sometimes you just have to go fuck it - the house payments, car payment or whatever. It’s in human nature to get that shit done, but you cant forget yourself – it’s easier if you allow yourself to have a good time. We know how tight money is all around the world, and for that we try to make every show that we play a party – come out and have a good time, we’re having a good time on stage playing!

 

Talking about the economy – how’s the band coping with the new industry problems, less record sales and so on?

 

Well its wierd, back in the day you used to tour to promote a record, and now you put out a record to promote a tour

 

 

Yeah I’ve heard that from a few people recently

 

Yeah it kinda flip flopped somewhere. I’m not gonna say go out and download my record for free – that’s not the right thing to say [because] music costs money to make – and we wanna keep making records

 

You just have to adapt to a different economical situation

 

Yeah, and I get it – there’s a lot of music out there, if you go out and buy every record out there you’re tapped… but c’mon, you have to support what you believe in, no matter what it is - and these days there’s really no greater thrill than selling one record – if I sell a record then I can be proud of that! I put a lot of energy into trying to add something to buying records by making cool artwork – that’s how I grew up

 

Yeah I went to a business conference recently and the message they were saying was that a CD nowadays isn’t music – you can download almost anything illegally for free – but a CD nowadays is merchandise – so you have to make the package really cool

 

That’s a great way to put it man – music really just kinda floats around out there, it’s sound, it’s literally air movement, but for me, I like to have something tangible…

 

Hey yeah, I’m from the old vinyl days, man!

 

Yeah exactly – I grew up with that, my Mum had a shelf full of records – Black Sabbath, Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, Deep Purple - you name it. My Mum always had a lot of vinyl and I grew up with that, then she went to 8 tracks and cassettes

 

Oh don’t remind me of 8 tracks – horrible memories of Henry Mancini!

 

My Mum had Steve Miller, the one where he’s wearing a mask

 

Ahhh at least that’s a bit rock! My folks weren’t so hip

 

But it’s come so far now that its literally that the tangible thing isn’t as important as the audio – its weird to me, because I’m a musician so I’m an audio guy - I want 100% audio, straight off the machine, right onto the press, right outta the box and into the CD player and the audio quality of a downloaded record is about 60% from if you bought the CD and you know, I get it. But for me, I could never do that - I love to buy records and appreciate the sonic quality of the way things are supposed to sound

 

Too true – it’s easy to buy a $10 pair of headphones but you’ll get a much better sound from a $100 pair of headphones

 

Yeah they’ll get the job done but it’s not like, an experience!

 

Talking of that first Australian tour, what are your memories of that?

 

Fuckin’ blurry! Blurry and fun – I just remember having a good time, man. We had such a blast, man – we love comin’ down there. Australia from what I’ve seen is just an extension of who we are, the people are so rad and cool, and I have a lot of friends down there who I only see when touring, but we like to fire up the barbecue, just hang out, drink beer, we like to party man! [shouting] WE LIKE TO PARTY!

 

 

Awesome! We’re disappointed you’re not coming all the way over to the West coast this time round

 

Oh you’re in Perth? Yeah it sucks – not that you’re there, but that we aren’t making it there this time. We just don’t have a lot of time, we’re just comin’ down quickly to say hi!

 

That was my next question - what other tour plans do you have to support the new album?

 

We’re coming back [to The States] and doing the Uproar festival tour with Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour and Halestorm. We’re headlining the second stage with a bunch of other bands, yeah our whole summer – [the tour] goes all the way from August through to September

 

When you sit down to write a song do you sit down specifically and you think “I’m gonna write a Mudvayne song” or “I’m gonna write a Hell Yeah! song” or whatever or does the music just come out and you find which project it fits later?

 

I always just write… you know what I mean? With Mudvayne there’s always a thread or theme that runs through the record – and what we consider a concept – it’s not “The Wall” or anything, but there’s always a thread or fabric that runs through the record… So I kind’ve always have an idea conceptually what I wanna do as far as the universal whole of the record. Lyrically Hell Yeah! has been pretty challenging for me - I’m not touching on a lot of subjects that I do with Mudvayne, [which is] is a little more calculated… a little more deep thinking at times… some kind of esoteric views. Hell Yeah! is a little more up front, a little more laid back lyrically… not making necessarily any big political statements

 

Your music is really aggressive and in your face – what makes YOU angry?

 

Well I don’t think I’m really angry any more…I think I’m more frustrated - I think there’s a difference. When you’re young you’re angry – you’re pissed off at your parents and you’re pissed off at your principal at school and you’re pissed off at this and pissed off at that, and then as you get older you have a better understanding of what life is, every day – through life experience you have a little more understanding, you’re a little better educated. And as you have that little more life experience, and that education, that’s the frustration – why all the red tape? Why all the bullshit? Why this and why that and why can’t things just be simple, you know what I mean!

 

It’s like a little needle point [stitching] that hangs over a toilet – “everything I ever needed to learn about life I learned at kindergarten”! It’s like, the most fundamental aspects of what living is about – caring, sharing, the things you’re taught as a little kid by your Mum and Dad. Then the more you grow up, the more gets thrown at you and everything becomes more difficult, everything becomes more intricate as you get older. I think there’s a point in your life where you’re really fucking confused and really pissed off, and you really don’t know what to do and for every action there’s an opposite reaction and generally that reaction is a pissed off one… As you get through those times, you start understanding a little bit more, and that’s where the frustration comes from. And I think that’s kinda where I am in my life. I feel like I carry myself with my [middle] finger in the air – like Fuck You! I’m not as pissed off any more, I just don’t give a fuck!

 

That’s a really good way to put it

 

Yeah I can’t change it - there’s not a lot I can do. I don’t necessarily have to conform to it, but I don’t have to like it! I think if you live that way you’re a happier person. I mean, it’s fucking crazy – [for example] politics is just… it’s fucking retarded

 

It’s ridiculous isn’t it!!

 

Man I just don’t understand it – they can’t get anything fucking done! Too many chiefs, not enough Indians

 

What’s been your most Spinal Tap moment?

 

Dude I can’t even think – the craziest things happen on tour, I cant even pick one specific thing... because touring for me literally is kind of a big blur – like, all we do is fucking party!

 

 

I get the feeling you guys would get along really well with Zakk Wylde

 

Oh fuck, I love Zakk – he’s fucking great, I mean he is fucking awesome! We’re all the same people! We’re from different parts of the country, but you have that [connection] … and WE are from different parts of the world, but I can feel, just having this conversation with you, that our hearts are similar, where we’re at. And I think that’s where Hell Yeah! are at – you know, you can please some people some of the time but you cant please everybody all of the time! If you get it, you get it, and if you don’t, you don’t, and that’s okay with me, you don’t HAVE to like our band, ‘cos y’know it’s not FOR everybody! You know, the people that can read between the lines lyrically or read between the notes musically and understand it – those are the people that we want, ‘cos those are the people that we’ve touched. And at the end of the day as an artist that’s the most gratifying thing, to be able to touch people and have them say “Oh my God!” and we’re not the type of people who where people come up and say oh my god we say go fuck yourself, were the type of people who say “Hey come ‘n’ have a beer!”

 

What sort of pressure do you put on yourself knowing you have so many young listeners who are pretty impressionable?

 

Actually I got that question when I was in Europe – and I’m like, well you can get it from your parents or you can get it from us. We’ll just teach you how to do it the right way! Don’t be fucking stupid, you know, we don’t promote just getting wasted and going on a drive, or anything like that!! I think the kind of vibe we put out there is just to have fun…

 

Get fun but also get the work done?

 

Yeah, you don’t have to [get wasted]… like, we know a lotta people who are sober who have a great time hanging out with us. You don’t necessarily have to party to have a good time, but I think there’s a certain something in your state of mind that – in a world of confinement, somewhere in yourself – you’ve got to have a freedom. And that’s kind’ve what we promote – freedom of self and rebellion. Like the rebel flag for us – it doesn’t have anything to do with the Confederacy and all the associated bullshit, it’s about rebellion and that’s why we fly it.

 

Going back to your Mudvayne days, when you got the MTV2 award for the ‘Dig’ video, the first time a metal band won it - how did that make you feel?

 

Well, it was pretty awesome! Just being up against all these [mainstream] artists, you know – Alicia Keys, The Gorillaz – bands who were out of our genre and who weren’t metal, yeah it was pretty huge for us – and I think for the metal world it was pretty huge too.

 

Was that kind of a turning point in terms of acceptance for the band?

 

Yeah, I think that, it was a viewers choice award basically and it just shows how tight the metal world is. That was a voting thing – like, you’d have to get online and vote for us. My understanding is that we won by a fucking landslide! Fists in the air for metal, y’know! I’ve been a metal fan since I was a kid and still am, and I’m very fortunate to be able to play it, whether it be with Mudvayne or Hell Yeah!… I am very rich, in that respect!

 

And then Mudvayne got mentioned on The Sopranos – that must’ve been a pretty big thing!

 

Yeah that was pretty funny – we saw the clip of it, someone gave it to us, it was very cool

 

And did that change anything for you in terms of the awareness of your brand name, so to speak?

 

Oh… who knows! Man, I dunno [about that side of things], I just do what I do!

 

Where is Mudvayne at the moment – do you have any plans?

 

Nothing at the moment – we’re just on a hiatus

 

And the last question we ask all our interviewees… it’s a really easy one for you! What’s the meaning of life?

 

Wow, what’s the meaning of life… hmmmm. Be Happy! Whatever it is that makes you happy, do it. Be happy – and METAL!!!

 

 

Nice and simple – thanks so much for that, good luck with the album and the touring!

 

Alright, you too!

 

At the time of publishing Hell Yeah! Are strongly rumoured to be revisiting Australia in early 2011 on the Soundwave line-up, and second album “Stampede” is out now. Thanks to Chris at Riot Entertainment for putting us in touch with Chad.

 


Shane Rockpit
August 2010