It took some doing to get Vinnie Paul into a band again. Nothingface bassist Jerry Montano approached the former Pantera and Damageplan drummer to be part of the all-star outfit Hellyeah several times before Paul — still mourning the December 2004 onstage shooting of his brother, Dimebag Darrell, at a Damageplan show in Columbus, Ohio — acquiesced.
“I’ve known Jerry forever,” Paul tells Billboard.com, “and he started calling me and said, ‘Dude, you’ve gotta be the drummer for this band.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m not sure if I’m ready to do this. I just started my own label (Big Vin Records).”
“But persistence pays off,” Paul continues. “He kept calling and finally one night he got me when I’d been drinking and listening to music. And I said, ‘This sounds like a great idea.’ The next day I talked to everybody and loved everybody’s attitude and said, ‘What the f*ck. I’m in!'”
Besides Paul and Montano, Hellyeah includes Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell and Mudvayne principals Chad Gray on vocals and Gregg Tribbett on guitar. All concerned say that Paul was the lynchpin for the group, whose self-titled debut album comes out April 10 via Epic.
“It wouldn’t have been possible or feasible without him,” says Gray. “He housed us. He provided resources. He provided the studio, the engineer. He provided know-how … Everything we needed, really.”
Montano adds that Paul particularly helped “when it came down to the nuts and bolts of recording and engineering. That’s where that man shined. A lot of people don’t know he (produced) those last Pantera records himself. The guy knows his stuff, and he worked his ass off on this record.”
Paul says the hardest part, emotionally, was recording at the Chasin’ Jason studio in the garage of Dimebag Darrell’s Dallas-area home, which was loaded with photos and memorabilia from their days making music together.
“It was very tough at first,” he acknowledges. “But once we got in there it felt like the dark cloud that was there went away, and it really felt like Dime was watching over us and guiding us. Everybody just really had nothing but positive energy from the get-go. That’s what made it work.”
Hellyeah plans a world tour to support the album, including some European festivals and a run on this year’s edition of Korn’s Family Values Tour.