Hellyeah released their first record for Eleven Seven Music entitled Band of Brothers on July 17th. Having had a chance to hear it already I must say it is an incredible compilation of one heavy hitting, rock n’ roll track after another. The album was recorded in Dallas at drummer Vinnie Paul’s home studio, VP’s Upstairs Studio, and was produced by the band and Jeremy Parker (Godsmack, Evanescence), who also served as engineer. The band just finished up their U.S. tour with Volbeat and are planning on taking the show on the road again come this fall.
Interview with Vinnie Paul:
Shauna/AR: Hi Vinnie, I saw your show at the Grove back in July and you guys were amazing.
Vinnie: Thank you, it was a good time for sure.
Shauna/AR: You guys released your third album entitled Band of Brothers on July 17th. I listened to the record and it is incredible. What has been the reaction from the fans so far?
Vinnie: We came in at #19, so we had a Top 20 album in the United States and it was the only rock band in the Top 72. I think that was a pretty good statement from the fans and a really great way to launch the record. I believe it came in it at #2 on the metal chart in Australia. I’m not sure how it did everywhere else, but I’m thinking that we had a pretty damn good week all around the world. It’s off to a great start and everybody that has listened to the record seems to be very positive about it, so we feel like we did the right thing.
Shauna/AR: Absolutely! Let’s talk about the new record. You took a slightly different musical direction this time around, although I think it is still track after track of heavy hitting, feel good rock n roll. When writing the record you guys went back to your roots and what you’ve done individually, what inspired you to do so?
Vinnie: When we started the band we really wanted to do something outside what we had done in our previous bands. We wanted to be able to have no boundaries and to touch on things like southern rock, blues and almost country at times. There’s metal in there as well as some straight up rock n roll. It is very diverse and I think that we all felt like we really got that out of our system between the first two records. When we started to write stuff for the new record it was kind of unspoken. We just felt like getting back to our roots. We wanted to bring in elements that we had in our previous bands into what we do with HellYeah. We wanted to make a heavy record and see where it went. The first song we wrote was “War In Me” and I think it set the tone for the record. I think we all knew what direction we were going once we wrote that song.
Shauna/AR: Do you ever find that songs written last minute are some of the best written on an album?
Vinnie: Sometimes it is the last minute written ones and sometimes it is the ones that take the shortest amount of time.You don’t have to over think them, they don’t get cut apart, put back together and so to speak operated on. They are just natural. They happen. Those are the best ones.
Shauna/AR: Were you able to experiment a little more with this record as far as different styles, instruments etc?
Vinnie: I think what we did is really streamlined it. We did all the experimentation on the first two records. We just got in there and this was a balls out metal record. There is stuff that we did on the first two records that none of us could have done in a band like Pantera. We got that out of our system and came back to the heavy stuff. It is more common ground for us, so I think it was easier and much less experimental. It was just more straightforward.
Shauna/AR: This is your first record with Eleven Seven Music, so congratulations on that.
Vinnie: It’s exciting to be with a label that’s all about rock n roll and heavy metal. After being on a label that had pretty much given up on hard rock, it is nice to be with some people that are passionate and really into what we are doing.
Shauna/AR: The album was recorded in Dallas at your home studio VP’s Upstairs Studio. Do you produce for other bands there or is it just for HellYeah use?
Vinnie: Well it’s actually my house. (Laughs)It works better for us that way. We did a lot of the first record here. We take my living room and turn it into the drum room. It has a forty-five foot ceiling and so the drums sound great. We put the guitar amps up in one of the game rooms, turn one of the bedrooms into a control room and we put video monitors around so we can all see each other. We wake up at four or five in the afternoon because we go all night. We start doing a little barbequing, then we start doing a little drinking and then we start jamming. It just really works out great for us to all be here. It really brings a lot of cohesiveness to the band and the music that we are making.
Shauna/AR: Jeremy Parker produced the record. You are all seasoned musicians, so what was it that Jeremy was able to bring to the table that wasn’t already there?
Vinnie: We have worked with Sterling, especially me sinceFar Beyond Driven and he is like my right hand man. There is a comfort zone there and it is something that I didn’t think I’d ever deviate from. Sterling had committed to making some records for some other bands. One of them was from New Zealand. Anyways, we were ready to get started on the record and Chad had worked with Jeremy in the past on a couple of records that they made. They brought him down and we hit it off really great. He’s probably one of the best engineers that I have ever worked with. He can read your mind, he’s quick and he is a really good listener. We all feel like we are producers in our own right and so he doesn’t really do a lot as far as arranging the songs or helping with the melodies. He’s just there to help us capture what we have in mind and what we envision. He’s not so much a hand’s on producer, but he is really great at listening and helping us get to where we want to get to. Sterling is a great producer/engineer. I’d definitely like to work with him again in the future, but it was also a great opportunity to try something different with Jeremy.
Shauna/AR: I love the song “Drink Drank Drunk.” Did you play the song at all on the Volbeat tour?
Vinnie: We just started playing it about ten shows ago. We just finished up with Volbeat. We really wanted to make sure that with this record we didn’t start playing new stuff until the record had came out other than what you heard on the radio. There is so much that floats around on shitty cell phone cameras. It is all distorted and you can’t really tell what it is like. We wanted the album to have an impact when people heard it. Before that we were playing “Band of Brothers” and “War In Me.” This last string of headline shows we worked our way back from Baltimore and we did a week in Texas. All the songs did great, but in particular “Drink Drank Drunk” definitely had a lot of impact live.
Shauna/AR: I bet it did. It is a great song. You made a video for the single “Band of Brothers.” Tell us about the making of the video. Where was it shot?
Vinnie: We used the same guy whoalso did the “Drink Drank Drunk” video, which is going to be insane when people finally see it. It’s just got so much treatment and work that he has done to it. I’m finally going to get to see a cut of it on Monday. I’ve seen a little bit of it and it’s insane. We just really wanted something that really came across powerful live. The fire has always been a part of our imagery with a name like HellYeah of course. We shot it at an old warehouse in Los Angeles the day before we went to Australia to do the Soundwave Festival. It was a lot of fun. It was actually a pretty cold and clammy day. The fire made it so much better, it was awesome.
Shauna/AR: When will the video come out for “Drink Drank Drunk”?
Vinnie: I believe the video and the actual single itself will impact at the end of August.
Shauna/AR: I know summer is almost over, but are you doing anymore summer festivals this year?
Vinnie: We are working on a big fall festival right now. I wish I could tell you what it is, but they won’t let me tell anything until it is officially announced. We did a lot of previous touring to set this record up. We went to Australia, Japan and we did two runs through the U.S. Right now we have four or five weeks off. I’m having a little bit of enjoyment with the time off , but at the same time I wish we were on the road to support this record. We have a big fall tour and a spring tour coming up, so things are going to be good.
Shauna/AR: Thank you so much for the interview. Was there anything you’d like to add or say?
Vinnie: I’d just like to say thanks to all the people who have followed me and all the bands that have ever been a part of Pantera. Thank you for the continued support and hopefully if you have heard Band of Brothers you are a fan, if you haven’t give it an opportunity because I promise you will not be disappointed.
Shauna O’Donnell, Alternative Revolt Magazine
READ ANOTHER [DIFFERENT/IN DEPTH] INTERVIEW WITH VINNIE PAUL IN ISSUE #24 (IMAGE BELOW) OF ALTERNATIVE REVOLT MAGAZINE, AVAILABLE IN PRINT & DIGITAL, HERE.