INTERVIEW: Chad Gray (HELLYEAH/Mudvayne)
Kye: You’re about to do your first Australian tour with new members, Kyle Sanders and Christian Brady. Are you excited about the tour?
Chad: Absolutely, I think we’re playing better now than we ever have. We’re all really excited, it’ll be Christian’s first time down, we’re all so excited about coming back to Australia.
Kye: Have you found you’re live shows changed much with the new members?
Chad: Absolutely, we’re just like fireplugs now man! It’s crazy, me and Kyle are just constantly stocking each other’s fires. Its intense man, we’re just playing better, I think we are performing right to the edge of the envelope. Every night it’s high intensity… It’s a lot of fun man. We’ve had a lot of fun with this line-up and hopefully it’s going to continue.
Kye: You’re promoting a new album “Blood for Blood” which the new members didn’t play on. Instead you have Kevin Churko On bass. When you signed him on as producer of the album was the original plan to get him on bass?
Chad: There was no original plan (Laughs). When we went in the only thing I knew was that when we were going into record was… Everything that kind of happened with the line-up changes with HELLYEAH kind of happened on the door step.
I think that’s what made us stronger as a band, in the face of adversity you know. You have to be resilient. You lean on each other, as a family. You become stronger because you had somebody leaning on you.
We just grinned and beared it, Kevin came in and did exactly what he was supposed to do. This was the first record HELLYEAH have ever had produced, the rest were self-produced. I think inviting him in to be that other member and having him on the soundboard really made us get what we paid for, because we made a better record. Just having someone else go ‘hey, come over here and look at it from this side’. Just looking at your songs/compositions from a different angle.
Kye: It’s been about a year since ‘Blood for Blood’ have you had a chance to work on new songs with the new members yet?
Chad: No not yet. We’re going to do the tour in the states, Mayhem festival. Then we are going to go down there, then we are coming to come back and take a little break. Then we will write some new stuff, we’re all really excited about it. We feel like for the first time ever HELLYEAH is focused and re-aligned as what we’re doing as a band. I don’t think there’s going to be any severe right or left turns from the path we’re on at the moment. It’s onwards and upwards, we’re going to be writing better songs and I’m excited about it.
Kye: Next year marks the tenth yeah since HELLYEAH formed are you doing anything to celebrate it?
Chad: NO (laughs) I don’t even want to talk about it, that’s crazy.
Kye: When HELLYEAH formed it was promoted as a supergroup, Mudvayne and most the other associated bands were still going. Did you think it would last this long when it first started?
Chad: We didn’t know what was going to happen. We just wanted to get in a room and play music. We just wanted to change the landscape and change what was normal for us at that time. We just started playing and we liked it, so we put it out. Through the process of writing songs and records together we raised out own awareness of what we are. I think we’re hungrier now than we were then. It’s really nice when you throw a rope around and you get a hold of what you’re doing. It’s like “Okay I’ve got this now” at first it was a bit experimental. You go through your ups and downs and you’ve got to live and learn.
I feel like we’ve gone through the growing pains of being what HELLYEAH was and what HELLYEAH is.
Kye: Mudvayne have been on hiatus for quite a while now, did you ever find you were pissing off fans by putting all of your effort into HELLYEAH?
Chad: Oh I’m sure. Absolutely, but I mean it’s like, this just felt right. It was tough, it was really hard. I don’t feel like at that point with Mudvayne or HELLYEAH I was giving either one 100%. When you’re doing something you’re always being pulled by the other thing you know. It took a minute to be like “this is where I want to be”, I had to wrap my head around the fact that I play with one of my favourite heavy metal drummers of all time, I think I want to play metal with this guy. I think that’s when it happened, we want from being a Hard Rock band to being a Heavy Metal band. I wanted to go back to being me, playing with Mudvayne I had to put on my Mudvayne hat, playing with HELLYEAH I had to put on my HELLYEAH hat. It’s obvious that I have to keep them two completely different things.
I couldn’t write like myself, the way that I knew how to write in HELLYEAH because I didn’t want similarity, there had to be a clear distinction. As an artist I think it helped me grow. Just to know that I could do that was kind of a big thing, But I did it and now I’ve done it. I was just like I’m going to play in HELLYEAH It’s a good place to be, and I’m going to write the way I’ve always written.
The band has grown, people have realised it more since way back in the beginning. I think there is now similarity there too for people that love Mudvayne, I write deeper more thought provoking lyrics, more real life stuff, versus cold beer and that type of thing.