|Posted on August 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM|
Before the show at Sound Control, Mick Birchall had the chance to sit down with the heavy metal legend Vinnie Paul and discuss touring, the new album, Blood For Blood, and the love of heavy metal music.
Well, you and the guys have just come off your first Bloodstock Festival. How was it for you?
It was, honestly, one of the best festivals I’ve ever played. We headlined the second stage and we got the biggest crowd of the day on that stage. The crowd just really embraced us, I mean they were chanting “Hellyeah” from the minute we started, until the minute we finished and it really just felt like a headline gig, it was great. I mean, Bloodstock is a little bit different from the other festivals we’ve been apart of, because it really focuses on metal bands, and that makes it special. From what I understand it’s a family owned thing, and it’s more of a boutique festival. So, it’s never going to be one of those events with an eighty or a hundred thousand people. It’s always going to be kept it around fifteen or twenty thousand, making it more of an intimate festival. Just an absolute killer weekend.
Fantastic. Now, after Bloodstock, you’ve headed out on this UK tour. Would you say you prefer to play to larger crowds or are the small intimate crowds better?
I love them both, they’re both very special. The intimate ones, there’s nothing like playing to 500 to 800 people, you can see everybody's faces and feel their energy. You can hear them sing along to your songs and watch them slam and kill each other in the pit. However, playing something like Download there’s nothing like the roar of a hundred thousand people to get you going you know? It’s amazing to play to that many people and all the focus is on you at that time.
So would you say having that bigger focus on you gives you more of a rush and you can get more of a momentum going for a bigger crowd than the smaller ones?
Well I just say, if you can’t get up for any crowd, you just shouldn’t be doing this. I love playing music, whether it’s in front of 500 people or 50,000, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a rush, and it’s something you can only get from playing music.
Would you say there any noticeable difference between the American hard rock/metal scene and the British, from your perspective?
Back in the day there really wasn’t much of a difference. However, these days, Europe and the UK still lives it, loves it and breathes it. You know, it’s a part of their culture and their lifestyle, if you dig metal you can still have that faith and belief in it in Europe, and the metal bands will always have a place to play here, because the people will never forget. Whereas in the US, it’s very much here today and gone tomorrow. Here today, gone this afternoon. It’s just so driven by the people trying to get that one song they want off the internet, instead of buying a record and following a band. So the fans in the US still “get it” but I don’t think they touch what goes on over here in Europe and the UK.
Hmm, well there’s just so many, you know man? [laughs] Well the one that sticks out to me is a show we did in 1992. We played Monsters in Moscow with Metallica and AC/DC when I was with Pantera. It was right after the coup in Russia and it was a gift from the people at Time Warner to the people of Russia, to give them some of the western music. Before that, none of the music was available over there. Well only on the black market. We got up and played, and, there was like a million people there and they treated us just like Led Zeppelin. That was so fucking killer and it’ll always be a highlight of my life.
Amazing, sounds like a great show. I could only imagine something like that. Right so, Blood For Blood has dropped recently, I think it’s a brilliant album. How has the response been to Blood For Blood, since it’s release?
It’s been getting a decent response. We’ve had some great reviews and acclaim, even from the critics who would usually have it in for you as a band. That was a great start and then we did a tour all over the US with Avenged Sevenfold, and it went down great with their fans. We’re now here in Europe and we’re playing almost the whole record, I think like 7 songs and it’s been going down great every night. Also, a lot of bands, when they come out with a new record, they only want to play one or two new songs and only want to focus on their past, with their hit singles. However, with this album and with this version of the band we’ve wanted to focus on the new stuff. I mean we’ll still play songs off the previous records but this album has been our favourite to play.
Well they didn’t leave, we asked them to leave, so lets get that straight [laughs]. Well the bottom line is, we made those party records and we got that out of our system with the first couple of records. Then with Band of Brothers we got back to being a heavy metal band. We just wanted to play what was inside us and the experimentation phase was gone. So when we came to Blood for Blood, the focus was on just making a heavy record, we didn’t want there to be any boundaries on it and just be ourselves and that’s what we did with this album.
Well it sounds brilliant, especially your drum part on Say When, I can honestly my mind was blown when that track started. So, would you say there was more of a focus on getting the music to sound as aggressive as the lyrics, because this seems like a much more gritty album.
Thanks man, it means a lot. I think the difference was, that the three people that were left, (Vinnie, Tom Maxwell and Chad Gray), we were really able to bring what we had to the table with no distractions from the other guys, you know? We were able to dig down and get what we were able to get. Tom really came to the plate with some great riffs, and he’s used to being in a one guitar band, with Nothingface, and he was able to write in that style. It was the same with Chad, he was just able to get a lot out of his system. It was a trying time, and sometimes you’ve got your back against the wall. So you either come out swinging or you fail miserably, and I think we came out swinging pretty hard.
Yeah definitely, well I thought so [both laugh]. Of course I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying, metal fans, including myself, consider you a legend. Who do you call legendary?
I would say Lemmy from Motorhead. I mean he’s one of the most iconic heavy metal fuckers on Earth, every time I watch that Lemmy movie it just blows me away, with all the things he’s been through and he’s been doing it twenty years longer than me, you know? [both laugh] and he’s still going strong so he’s an icon. Also Rob Halford (Judas Priest), he’s truly the metal god when it comes to vocals and even Metallica and Dave Mustaine, you got to look at them. These guys all created this music that we’re all apart of now.
My favourite band I’ve toured with so far has been Avenged Sevenfold. They’ve really respected us, they’ve treated us great and rolled out the red carpet for us. They also have a very die hard fan base, who have really embraced Hellyeah and they’re really fucking great. We’ve toured with them all over the UK, Europe (in 2010) and the US and Canada.
As for bands who have supported us, hmm. That’s a good one man, I digging down and thinking. I would have to say, Kyng. They were really cool, they were really diehard guys and put on an awesome show. Also Holy Grail, they were really good and we took them out on tour with us, they really hungry and really good.
Yeah I have Holy Grail’s most recent album from last year, so I guess, I’ll have to check them out when they’re next on tour. Well, I think I’ll end on this last question: You’ve been with Hellyeah since 2006 and had 4 albums now, what do you feel is the one thing you’ve learned with this band?
That with each record we get stronger, better and become more focused as a band. It was really scattered when we started. Some songs were southern rock, some songs were almost country, some were straight up rock and roll and some were heavy metal. It felt good to do that after being in Pantera which was just Heavy Metal. However, as it’s grown it’s gotten better and become more focused and it really is a brotherhood, even though we’ve had the two member changes, and I look forward to whatever comes next.