Cameron of the Rock 100.5 The KATT radio station recently conducted an interview with HELLYEAH frontman Chad Gray. You can now listen to the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how he is feeling almost a year since the passing of HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott:
Chad: "There's a calm over me, man. I feel like Vinnie and Dime [Vinnie's brother 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott] are with us. We're stoked to be able to carry on his legacy and his torch for him and his brother."
On title of the new HELLYEAH LP, "Welcome Home", and the album's recently released title track:
Chad: "If you listened to the dynamics and the emotion of that song and all that, you'd probably think that that was post-Vinnie passing. That was actually the first song we wrote on the record, so Vinnie heard that song, like, three million times, which is awesome that even, obviously, before the tragedy, it still has that kind of connection. I think people can really feel the connection in that. The song had a different name when we started it. I wrote that chorus, like, probably five times. This record was really weird for me — I was second-, third-, fourth-guessing everything — nothing was good enough. Before Vinnie passed, it was really bad like that. So I kind of came up with that line, and I looked at Kevin [Churko], my producer, and I'm, like, 'What about those last two words? It's so inviting; it's so cool.' And he was, like, 'Yeah, definitely. That's the name of the song, for sure.' And I'm, like, 'Okay. Cool.' And then everything went down and we get to the end of the record. Names are getting thrown around and stuff, and I'm, like, 'What about 'Welcome Home'?' Because now that title kind of took on a new meaning, because I do believe that Vinnie is still with us, I do believe that Dime is still with us, but I wholly and fully believe that… The one thing that's given me peace through all this is knowing that Vinnie and Dime were best friends, they were bandmates, they loved each other so much, they loved their mother so much, [and] they're all back together. Vinnie is with Dime right now, and that makes me happy, and that gives me peace. So that 'Welcome Home' name really became more important, because it's like Vinnie went home — he went home to his family. So it gives it a real depth. And it just seemed like the perfect title for it, considering everything that happened."
On how much of the album was completed before Vinnie Paul died:
Chad: "Everything was done musically. I had four songs done [vocally] — I had actually just finished the fourth song, and 15 minutes later, I got the call. So I sat on the bed the next day, and I talked to Vinnie like I'm talking to you right now — that loud. I was, like, 'Brother, I can open my hand and just let go, just put this shit to bed, 'cause I don't wanna endure this, I don't wanna deal with this.' I was, like, 'But I love you. You were such an inspiration to me. This is your final work, and I don't know how I'm gonna do it, but I'm gonna finish it.' So Vinnie became my muse, he was my drive, and he got me through it. It was the biggest undertaking, I think, I'd ever had to assume in my life. The load I was bearing and shouldering was incredible, and it was overwhelming. 'Cause I had six songs [to write lyrics] to, and I went back to the studio, and it was just me and Kevin, 'cause everybody else went home, 'cause everybody was just destroyed. But I had a job to do. So Kevin — bless his heart, man — his patience was over the top. We went back in and I just started plugging away on it. Like I said, the burden that I was shouldering was so heavy and over the top, 'cause I knew it was his final music. So then I really became… [I was] second- and third- and fourth-guessing myself — nothing was good enough. And I was mentally and emotionally just destroyed. And I was, like, 'I think those guys [Vinnie and Dimebag] are carrying me. I think they're taking some of this load off my back. I think they're taking just enough off my back to keep me from crumbling, but I think they're keeping just enough pressure on me to keep me focused.' And that's what I did. I just wrote. And we got through it. And it was an amazing thing, man… I did it for [Vinnie]. He was my muse and my fire. I did it for us as a metal community and a metal family. I had to finish it, and I did finish it. And I'm very, very, very proud of it."
"Welcome Home" will be released on September 27 via Eleven Seven Music.
HELLYEAH's 18-city headlining summer outing will kick off on Tuesday, July 23 in Atlanta, and will culminate in a special celebration on Saturday, August 17 in Dallas, Texas.
Vinnie Paul 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.