INTERVIEW: Vinnie Paul (HELLYEAH/PANTERA)
Levi: How’ve you been?
Vinnie: Absolutely great, we’ve been on this Mayhem Tour and it’s been awesome. I’m playing with Slayer and King Diamond every night. Tonight’s a headlining show so we get to play about 15 songs.
Levi: You’ve been going 8 or 9 years with HELLYEAH, it seems like a fun band to be in. Great songs, lots beers and BBQ’s. Has it been a good time?
Vinnie: Its great man, things are awesome. We had to do a few member changes to get things back to being a solid foundation like what we started with. Bringing Kyle Sanders and Christian Brady on was really important to getting the band back and making it top notch. Things have been great, when you think about the true history of Pantera we only had 5 studio albums over a period of 11 years. We’re entering upon that now with HELLYEAH, we’ve been creating our own legacy and things have been going great man. Everybody’s in the best health they’ve ever been, Blood for Blood is without a doubt the best success we’ve had, and things are going awesome man.
Levi: Did you do anything to initiate Christian and Kyle? Is there anything you do for new band members?
Vinnie: Well you know we didn’t have a million dollars apiece to give em’ like Metallica. But we wanted to make sure we had good chemistry with whoever we brought into the band. We do a lot of drinking together and we do a lot of hanging out, it really does feel like a band of brothers again. There really wasn’t any kind of initiation stage, we knew they were the right guys when they came in.
Levi: Are you still friends with the last guys Greg Tribbett and Bob Zilla? Would you call them mates?
Vinnie: Ah you know… I’m sure if we ran into each other we’d say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ and maybe have a drink together. But it’s not like we’re in touch with each other on a regular basis.
Levi: The new album ‘Blood for Blood” is a bit more serious than the last record. How come you’ve chosen this new direction?
Vinnie: There’s only so much of that territory you can cover. When we really wanted to get back to the reason why we started this band in the beginning and that’s to make music and to have a good time. After being in bands long periods of time they turn into businesses you know and they’re not as fun as they used to be. When we started HELLYEAH we wanted to put the fun back into it, that’s where a lot of the lyric concepts like 'Alcholin Ass’ and ‘Drink, Drank, Drunk” stuff like that came from. We got that out of our system and now we really want to get back to where our roots came from as a metal band. The kind of music we’re playing is more suited for the type of lyrics that are a part of it you know. We got the party/fun side out of us. We have those songs and we will have those songs the rest of our career. Blood for Blood is all about metal, man.
Levi: You’re coming back to Australia soon. Do you enjoy it here?
Vinnie: It’s always a pleasure to play there man. All the way back when I came there for the first time with Pantera. It’s an amazing place to come man. It always reminds me of one big Texas where people like to drink and BBQ and like their music loud, hard and fast man. It’s been almost 5 years since we were there with HELLYEAH. Unfortunately things didn’t work out for us to make it down there but this time we’ve got a complete tour. Each state and New Zealand, we’ve got a few dates in Japan. We’re going to be on that side of the word for almost a month.
Levi: Is your cookbook “Drumming up an Appetite” still happening?
Vinnie: Oh yeah, I was working on it today man. I was hoping to get it out sooner but HELLYEAH is really a priority right now. Hopefully if everything goes right I’ll have it out by the end of the year.
Levi: Do you have a favourite recipe?
Vinnie: Many. One that was inspired from one of the first times I was in Australia was stuffed Jalapeno peppers and they put BBQ sauce on it. I thought it was very unique because coming from Texas we normally put hot sauce on top. The BBQ sauce really added a real nice sweetness to the cream cheese, I took it to another level and put bacon on it as well as cheddar cheese on top and then hit it with the BBQ sauce and it’s awesome. Then I did a Texan version and hit it with peanut butter, I know it sounds odd but jalapenos with peanut butter and crushed Doritos, bacon, cheese and we put grape jelly on top. You get the heat from the jalapeno, you get the peanut butter flavour, you get the sweetness from the grape jelly and you get the crunch from the Doritos. It’s a delicatessen to be had man.
Levi: What do you think about the controversy over the Confederate Flag?
Vinnie: All I’m going to say is it’s a big knee jerk reaction to something that happened. It’s unfortunate that people are like that, they want to point a finger at something you know. Honestly, this country was built on freedom of speech and freedom of expression and when you can no longer do that, then it is no longer based on that you know. It’s a touchy thing you know and that’s really all I’m going to say about it. I just think that it doesn’t follow what the country was built on/what it was based on. To me that blows, but that’s how it is man.
Levi: You’ve been playing music professionally for over 30 years now. Do you still feel as youthful now as you did 30 years ago?
Vinnie: Well let me tell you this man, I’ve never been married, I’ve never had any kids and I’ve always dedicated my life to my music and touring and all that. I know what it takes to give it everything you’ve got. I just turned 50 last year, I feel better than I’ve ever felt, my health is awesome, I’ve always been a 18-19 year old kid at heart man and I’ve never slowed down. I love playing music and I’m carrying on for me and my brother you know, he’s with me everywhere I go, he inspires me and I feel great and love doing what I do.
Levi: There’s still a lot of great bands that are yet to be inducted into the rock n’ roll hall of fame like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I think Pantera are worthy too and should be inducted within the next 10 years. Would you like that recognition?
Vinnie: I think for it to be complete the band definitely deserve to be in there. In all honesty I’m not crossing my fingers man. I don’t think that institution will ever recognize Pantera because we went against the grain, we were a hell-raising heavy metal band man. It took them forever to figure out Black Sabbath and KISS. If they ever were to nominate us or put us in there I’d be petrified, I’d be shocked because I don’t expect it and wouldn’t expect they’d do it.
Levi: I agree with you when you said you can’t replace Eddie Van Halen and you can’t replace Dimebag Darrell, but if you did get inducted would you do a one off performance?
Vinnie: Nar man, I’ve been true to my word from the very start you know what I mean. Anybody can say what they want but for me it’s just de-facing what my brother did with this band man. He deserves all the accolades and credits that go along with being in Pantera, he was the biggest part of it man. I want his legacy to never be touched, I want it to remain golden till the day I get to go see him again wherever that may be. That’s how I feel about it and I’m going to stay in that position.