TOUR IS A CELEBRATION OF LIFE FOR THE FORMER PANTERA DRUMMER.
Written by Jonathan Jung
On Sept. 27, Hellyeah released the last drum tracks of the late legend, Vinnie Paul, who earlier succumbed to heart failure at the age of 54 in 2018. The legendary Pantera drummer, unfortunately, passed before the record was completed, but the band strived to push through to complete this album.
Hellyeah is currently on the road and honoring Vinnie’s legacy, dubbing the tour “A Celebration of Life.” Bassist Kyle Sanders took some time to talk with us about what happened and how the band is commemorating him:
“There was so much going on with everyone when we started the first leg of the tour. It was really hard to play initially, but over time, it got better,” he says. “We’ve been able to just get out and play every night. Seeing the fans react and just show so much support is just amazing. It brings everyone together and this is a really special tour. We’re playing things that expand our entire catalog including a few new songs and it’s been great seeing the fans get into it. We’re trying out some songs here and there, switching them around and seeing what works best for the show.”
With Paul passing halfway through the creation of this album, this was like no record before. Having to go through that process of losing someone so close and integral to your life is such a devastating experience. Saunders opens up about finishing the record without Vinnie.
“We started going into the album pretty normal,” he says. “We sat down and only did the best tracks we had. If it wasn’t good enough we threw it out. Only the best songs made the cut. Of course, with Vinnie passing, it took a lot to get through that. We all knew we had to finish the record though. It’s what he would have wanted. We all just kind of dealt with it and got back together to finish the rest of the album.”
Paul is considered one of the most influential drummers in metal history. After Pantera, Paul started a new band, Damageplan, with his brother and Pantera band-mate, the iconic Dimebag Darrell Abbott, who was tragically shot and killed on-stage in 2004. In 2006, Paul got together with Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett from Mudvayne, plus Tom Maxwell and Jerry Montano from Nothingface to form Hellyeah. With Vinnie gone, it begs the question of who can even replace such an iconic figure, over a decade after the band formed.
“We recruited Roy Mayorg, from Stone Sour,” Saunders explains. “He is one of the few drummers that we knew would fit in. I used to play in Medication with [him] and I knew he would be amazing. We wanted someone who Vinnie would approve of as well as someone who got along with everyone in the band.”
Sanders concludes about his favorite memories with Paul: “There was just so much love to go around with him. Everybody loved him so much, he always would light up a room and put everyone else before himself. My favorite memories are whether on or off the tour, mostly on tour, were just the BBQs he would do. He would fire up the grill and just having that time to hang out on our off days was everything. Those little moments that we had were my favorite thing about him.”
The band will continue to honor their late bandmate by donating a portion of ticket sales from each tour date to the American Heart Association in Vinnie Paul’s memory. Tickets and full routing are available HERE.
In addition to this initiative, HELLYEAH will host a TEXT TO DONATE campaign during each of their upcoming tour dates. Fans can TEXT ‘VINNIE’ to #41411, or head to a special CrowdRise page where they can also DONATE