HELLYEAH vocalist Chad Gray recently spoke with Meltdown of the Detroit radio station WRIF. The full conversation can be streamed below (interview starts at the 6:13 mark). A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On new single "Welcome Home":
Chad: "It was the first song we wrote [for the new record]. Vinnie [Paul] actually heard that song probably 10 million times... As we got through the record, it was one of those 'whoa' moments when we named the song. It was, like, 'Wow, that's a really cool name. That's what it should be called,' because it was called something else before. Then we went through what we went through, and it just seemed appropriate [as a record title], because we do believe that Vinnie went home to his brother and his mother. [It was] kind of an homage to him with the title."
On how much of the group's forthcoming album features Paul:
Chad: "Everything was done [with him]. Those are all his drums."
On the album's musical direction:
Chad: "It's really diverse. We've always kind of prided ourselves on that. We're a super-organic band, and everybody brings something to the table. We always listen, because everybody in a band is generally a sounding board. No one person came in and [said], 'This is how it's going to be.' We didn't feel it would be organic that way. We always listened [to each other]... We're not always all heavy. We're not always all emotional. We're not always all this or all that. There are many emotions in the human experience, and we kind of pride ourselves on being a very diverse band. We've always been that way... We just embrace that, and we just roll with it."
On whether he thinks Paul ever recovered from losing his brother, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott:
Chad: "What's making this process easier for us to move forward and keep on keeping on, in his own words, is that Vinnie was probably the best teacher we could have ever had as far as how to carry on the legacy of someone. He took such pride in carrying on his brother's legacy, and we just fell right into line with that. That was the HELLYEAH mission — to keep Dime's name and legacy alive. That's absolutely what we're going to do. Of course, there was a piece of it missing [for him]. Not that we could ever replace that, but I think that the role that he played in HELLYEAH and what HELLYEAH played in his life did help fill some of that void, because he knew that his brother would want him to play. He did his mourning and grieving, and he got through it, and he came back to doing what he loved. I think that he knew Dime was very proud of him for doing that. I think he really embraced that... Vinnie mourned and grieved for a few years. He did what he was supposed to do. That's part of the process — you have to mourn and grieve — but then along comes annoying, persistent HELLYEAH blowing him up, and I think it kind of filled a void inside of Vinnie. His brother would have wanted him to play again. It took him a minute, but he came back, and when he came back, he came back strong. HELLYEAH was his whole life. He loved it. The guy went to the end of the earth for us. He was so generous in everything that he did for the band. What he brought to the band musically; what he did for the band financially, helping us; and what he's done for us personally by giving me not only all of his music, but all the great and wonderful memories that he's left me to remember him with over the last 12 years. He's given so many people those. That's what we need to embrace now — like, put the tissues away. He wouldn't want that. Vinnie was Mr. Showtime. He was about having fun and putting smiles on people's faces, very much like Dime. He wouldn't want us mourning and grieving over him anymore — he would want us to remember him and remember the wonderful music he left behind for us and remember the great memories he left behind for all of us, and to embrace that. That's what we intend to do... He made me a better man — him and Dime — and I'll be eternally grateful to them for that."
On new HELLYEAH drummer Roy Mayorga (STONE SOUR):
Chad: "I went and saw Corey [Taylor] play in Vegas here. [I was] kind of hanging out with him backstage... I just said something to Corey, like, 'What would you think about Roy, because I know STONE SOUR's done and you're going to do SLIPKNOT.' He's, like, 'That's actually a really good idea, but you'd better get on him fast because he's a busy guy.' I hit him up right away... Roy and I started talking. I've known Roy for a while, and he's just one of the most beautiful human beings on the planet — just an amazing guy and a smashing drummer. We started talking, and I'm, like, 'This is the fit.' We didn't want to get anybody that didn't absolutely love Vinnie and that Vinnie didn't absolutely love. We didn't want to get some YouTube kid that could play 'Becoming' out of his basement... We wanted somebody that had a common connection [and] a mutual respect and admiration. Roy fit that bill. Vinnie absolutely loved him."
On the advice he offered Mayorga:
Chad: "I told him, 'Roy, let's look at it this way — you're going to be the fill-in drummer to help carry the torch for Vinnie. We're not going to try to replace the irreplaceable.' He understood that metaphor. He didn't feel the pressure of us trying to replace Vinnie with him, because that's not our concern. What we need is somebody that's going to help us continue to carry the torch for Vinnie and Dime, and to continue to carry the legacy of two super-inspirational people. Vinnie was such a great teacher on how to carry the torch. He taught us a lot. I don't feel like it's a burden at all. People are receiving it very well. They love Roy. They love the fact that we chose him. Roy is very passionate about it. Roy loved Vinnie so much; Vinnie loved Roy so much. It's just a match made in heaven. All the pieces fit."
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 Paul's death, "Welcome Home", will be released on September 27 via Eleven Seven Music.