HELLYEAH singer Chad Gray says that Vinnie Paul Abbott taught him "how to continue to allow a legacy to live even after a passing."
The drummer died last June of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease. His death was the result of chronic weakening of the heart muscle — basically meaning his heart couldn't pump blood as well as a healthy heart.
Not long before his death, Vinnie laid down the drum tracks for HELLYEAH's sixth album, "Welcome Home", which will be released on September 27 via Eleven Seven Music.
HELLYEAH played an emotional sold-out concert on Saturday, May 11 celebrating the life of Vinnie Paul. The show, which began with an emotional procession by the Las Vegas Golden Knights DrumBots, and a live painting by renowned fine-artist Rob Prior, marked the debut of STONE SOUR member Roy Mayorga as Vinnie's replacement.
In an interview that took place just hours before Saturday's concert, HELLYEAH guitarist Christian Brady described how he and his bandmates felt about the prospect of performing together again.
"Why don't you just take all of the emotions that you think someone can feel, and that's where we're at right now — all of the emotions," he said (see video below). "We're happy and excited to play together again, happy and excited to be on stage together again, terrified to be on stage together without our fucking brother, even though we know he's here [in spirit]. But we had a good week. We played a lot together, hung a lot together. Hung a lot with Roy. Roy is fucking killing it."
Gray was equally complimentary of Mayorga, saying: "He's been rehearsing six hours a day for a month and a half. No shit. He knows he's not the replacement, 'cause you can't replace the irreplaceable. He's filling in. He's just helping us carry this torch for Vin. And that's his job. He's such a brother, though, man — he's such a beautiful human being. We had a very short list of people, and it was just, like, nobody can sit on that kit that didn't respect who Vinnie Paul [was] and vice verse. And we nailed it. It came out of nowhere. I actually went to Corey's [Taylor, STONE SOUR and SLIPKNOT] show, and I was just, like, 'What you do think about Roy [playing with HELLYEAH]?' He was, like, 'I'm gonna be doing SLIPKNOT, so hit him up.' And Corey was so cool about it. And we did [contact Roy], and here we are."
Vinnie's passing came nearly 14 years after the death of his brother, PANTERA co-founder "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was killed onstage while performing with DAMAGEPLAN in Columbus, Ohio. The former PANTERA drummer wasn't sure he wanted to continue playing music, but, convinced by Gray and guitarist Tom Maxwell, he ultimately decided to give it a shot.
"Vinnie really did, actually, teach us how to do this through what he did for his brother," Chad explained. "He conditioned us to carry torches for people, because he did it for his brother. He had his mourning period for two or three years. Obviously, the circumstance of how he lost his brother was beyond what any of us can even comprehend. Had Dime just had a heart attack, that would have been huge. But that? C'mon. So [Vinnie] took that three or four years, whatever he took off, and he finally came back around. And we've done that now. We finished our record. We've done it. And he taught us by coming back to music is love — it's true love. One of the reasons why he came back was to carry the torch for his brother, which I was totally fine with, 'cause his brother fucking taught me how to be a fucking human — a good human. Fucking have humility and be humble and be nice and talk to anyone. Don't be a fucking asshole. He taught us how to be that way and to carry the torch. So, for us to fucking go through knowing how much he conditioned us and showed us how to do that with Dime, and we all did — we were all about it, 'cause Dime was a huge hero of mine, and he [Vinnie] was a huge hero of mine. So I've been conditioned to do this. He taught me how to carry the torch. And I'm going to do that. Thank you, Vinnie, for the training. You taught us all how to continue to allow a legacy to live even after a passing. His legacy is still alive. His music is still there. This new record, it's his drumming. Maybe if that record didn't come out or we didn't get anything done or something like that, it might be different."
According to Gray, completing "Welcome Home" was an incredibly difficult task that saw him work harder than he had ever done before on any of his previous recordings.
"I made a promise to [Vinnie] the day after he died," Chad explained. "I sat on the bed by myself, and I was, like, 'Vinnie, it would be so easy for me to open my hand and just let go and just walk away from this right now.' I was, like, 'I can't let you down like that. This is your final music. I have to finish it.' I went back in there and I wrote fucking six songs, and it was the most enormous undertaking I've ever, in my life, had to deal with. I've dealt with losing my grandmother, but I didn't have to go and work on her work. So I was fourth- and fifth-guessing myself all the time — nothing was good enough. It was a brutal time. But I got it done."
The official music video for the "Welcome Home" title track will be made available on Friday, May 17.
HELLYEAH's 18-city headlining summer outing will kick off on July 23 in Atlanta, and will culminate in a special celebration on August 17 in Dallas, Texas.
Mayorga's addition to HELLYEAH was made official on May 6. At the time, the band said Roy was the perfect guy to take Vinnie Paul's place. "These men had so much love and mutual respect for each other, this makes our transition so much easier," HELLYEAH said in a statement.
Mayorga previously played with Sanders in MEDICATION, the early 2000s outfit which also featured guitarist Logan Mader (MACHINE HEAD) and singer Whitfield Crane (UGLY KID JOE).
Like the last two records, 2016's "Unden!able" and 2014's "Blood For Blood", "Welcome Home" was recorded at The Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada with producer Kevin Churko.
HELLYEAH interview with Chad and Christian tonight at House of Blues Las Vegas before their sold out tribute show for Vinnie Paul. Tonight’s show is very special to the band and fans worldwide. Let’s celebrate Hellions, 333 ??????#hellyeah #vinniepaul #pantera #ripvinniepaul #hob #kilpopPosted by Kilpop on Saturday, May 11, 2019