June 22nd, 2019 marked one year since the world lost legendary drummer Vinnie Paul, who passed away in his Las Vegas home from complications of coronary artery disease.
The former Pantera stickman and, at the time of his death, full-time drummer of super-group Hellyeah had completed his work on the groups forthcoming album (now titled Welcome Home), leading the remaining members to push forward with the release and corresponding tour in his honour. Stone Sour's Roy Maorga stepped in behind the kit for what could very well be the final tour of Hellyeah.
Addressing the upcoming album, emotional tour and impact of the passing of Paul, guitarist Christian Brady caught up with Metal Injection for a weighty interview that celebrates the life of one of the all-time greats of heavy metal.
On the New Album and Vinnie's Passing:
He was such a such a lifeline to this band, such a big presence and part of this band. He lived and breathed this band, that’s what he was. He loved where he was in his life. We really miss him man. He’s missed very much every day.
It was touch and go for a while, figuring out what we were going to do. We definitely knew, no matter what, we had to finish the record. I guess it would have been a different story if his drum parts weren’t finished or if we were just getting started, but because we were at the point we were at with the record where all the drum tracks and guitars and bass had been laid down we were able to finish it. All the arrangements and everything were already there. It was fortunate that that was the case because at least we got one more record to be able to give to the fans that Vinnie was a part of.
I think he played fucking amazingly on this record and he was so much more involved in the process I think than everybody really realizes, but maybe by now they do. But he was such a big part of the arrangements and writing and producing, especially the production with Kevin (Churko). Kevin obviously is the producer but Vinnie was the next line on that end and they worked closely together on a lot of stuff. He just had such a great mind for all of that. So there was a lot of guidance that came from Vinnie too, just experience and guidance.
On Joining Hellyeah:
It’s fucking priceless man. The 15 year old kid in me was fucking screaming when this went down. I remember the first time I ever heard Pantera, I was 15 years old. I grew up a fan of Pantera and Damage Plan and the brothers. Dime was a big one for me too man. I loved his playing and just overall everything about what they embraced.
Vinnie always used to say when we were hanging out late at night, “Man, I wish my brother would have known you man. He would’ve loved you.” And that always made me feel sad but great as well. Just to hear that from him was always such a an honour, but you know a little sad too. But to get to work with Vinnie man …
Fast forward four years (to 2014) and the band were doing Blood For Blood and parted ways with Greg and Bob. It was funny, it didn’t really dawn on me at the time that that was an opportunity. I wasn’t even thinking about that, I wasn’t like oh man I’ll probably get in the band. It wasn’t like that at all. I was just friends with everybody.
I had gotten to know Tom (Maxwell) while they were doing the record. We hung out a bit. Tom started coming out with Vinnie to see me play with Franky (Perez in Vegas). And next thing I knew my phone rang. Tom was actually the one that called me and asked if I’d be interested in doing the gig and obviously I jumped on it. It was just kind of funny the way the whole thing went down.
On Performing With Vinnie Paul:
Getting to work With Vinnie like that and record and being in that environment with him, yeah it’s priceless man. I learned so much from him about the business and about everything. You can’t put a price on that man. To get to stand on stage with that man night after night and feel that presence behind you. People have asked me many times what it was like to play with Vinnie Paul and I can’t even really explain it. I think the best word that comes to mind when I think of that is just massive. The sound of him playing drums behind you, the way it feels. It was just massive. It was such a presence, such a sound and really nobody plays like that man. He had his thing. It was Vinnie fucking Paul. You can’t replace that.
So now we’re doing our best to honour him and pay tribute to him and keep it going for him. He had to do it after losing his brother which I couldn’t even imagine what he went through in the way that he lost his brother. He found a way to carry on and play music again because he knew that’s what his brother would want him to do. So now I feel like we have to do that too. I know he would not want us to give up on this band because he was so proud of it. He loved it so much man. I think he would seriously be pissed if we didn’t try to continue.
On Roy Maorga Stepping in on Drums:
Roy is fucking awesome, he’s a killer drummer and just a wonderful person man. I love hanging out with him. I love chatting with him and everybody telling stories. It’s kind of turned into that actually. Everybody sits at nigtht after the show or just random moments and you start talking about Vinnie. Lately it’s been very good, a lot of laughs, a lot of stories and a lot of memories that you can only get with Vinnie Paul man. He was such a character you know and we had some of the greatest moments ever with that guy. Roy of course is a part of that because he knew Vinnie and the guys for a long time. So he’s got a lot to contribute to that.
On Honouring Vinnie on Tour:
There’s definitely those moments of sadness. It’s strange. We got the first show out of the way in Vegas back in May. That one was really hard because that was the first time any of us had really been on stage together in that capacity since we got off the road in August of 2017. You know there was a lot of emotions around that.
First time we walked into the rehearsal room and started to play and you turned around to look back and he’s not there. It was a lot of those emotions going on and a lot of heaviness. But also on this tour it’s turned into a lot of gratefulness and joy and happy moments because we’re all genuinely happy to be playing together again.
I think there’s a real chemistry between everybody in the band. It’s one of the things that always shown through with this group of guys. To be able to do it again at the level we’re doing it is incredible. That’s a testament to the supporters of this band too. The fans are amazing. They’ve given us so much support and love through all of this ordeal. We’re not the only ones that lost in this. Obviously we were very close to Vinnie and we lost him as a brother and a friend and a musical cohort and companion and all of that stuff. But the fans lost something too. I mean all those people they loved him and loved what he did and everybody lost something major when he left us. We’re just lucky that we have what we have musically to listen to and have and that will always be around. He contributed so much, so we’re grateful to be able to be out here doing this again and getting the support and the love that we’re getting from everybody. It’s been tremendous.
On the Future of Hellyeah:
I don’t know if I really can answer that right now. Everything feels really good right now to be playing together again. We’re excited to be out here doing this and supporting this record and honouring our brother. I think that’s something that we’re gonna have to try to feel out as we go along and see where we’re at when we’re done with this record cycle and see what everybody is feeling. There’s a lot of emotions involved. I personally think that I would love to be able to continue on because I couldn’t imagine not playing with these guys and making the music we make. Obviously Vinnie was such a big part of that. There’s a lot to that. So I think honestly that’s something we’re kind of taking day by day right now. We’re doing this tour and we’re going to support this record and celebrate Vinnie and his legacy. And I think that’s something we’ll probably really address as we get further down the road and see where everybody’s heads are at.
Welcome Home drops on September 27th through Eleven Seven Records.