Hellyeah is a rock/metal supergroup consisting of vocalist Chad Gray (Mudvayne), guitarist Tom Maxwell (Nothingface), guitarist Christian Brady (Magna-Fi), bassist Kyle Sanders (MonstrO), and drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera). The band is currently on the North American traveling Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. You can click here to view our recap and photos of the event. We spoke to bassist Kyle Sanders at the show. You can view the interview below.
We’re here at the first day of Mayhem Festival in San Diego along with headliners Slayer, King Diamond, Hellyeah, and many more amazing bands. Who in this lineup do you think has had the biggest influence or affect on your band?
Kyle Sanders (bassist): I would say Slayer, personally. But there’s some huge King Diamond fans in our band. I’ve played a lot of shows with Slayer before but not a full run, just a couple festivals and off-shows with them. It’s going to be really cool with those guys everyday for the next five weeks.
Can you remember the first time you heard about them or a memorable moment you had of the band?
Kyle: Originally, when I was getting into metal, it was kind of scary. I started with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but then I got into Black Sabbath and Slayer and all that kind of stuff. So my first impression back then was different, but now I couldn’t imagine life without them.
What four bands would you predict or hope to be on next year’s lineup?
Kyle: Well, they don’t do bands twice in a row, so I can’t say my band. I’d like to see Deftones out here doing their thing. Mastodon should be on it next year; it’s been a few years since they’ve did it. I like how old-school this year’s lineup is so I’d like to have Iron Maiden. Judas Priest is still kicking ass too.
It’s been a year since your last album, Blood for Blood, came out. Can you reflect back on that album?
Kyle: It came out in June of last year and we started touring in April. It’s been a pretty good cycle so far and there’s no end in sight. We’re going pretty strong for the next couple months. It’s the fourth record and you try to get better and better each time and I think it is definitely the best this band has put out. It’s kind of been like a new life and fire in the band. We’ve been playing it for a year and a half and we’re not sick of it. We’re still putting more songs from the record into the set and playing most of it. It’s been an awesome ride and hopefully we’ll get back into the studio and take it to the next level.
Are there any thoughts towards a follow-up yet?
Kyle: There are thoughts. We know the time is coming, so rather than be overwhelmed, we’re trying to gather ideas and little bits and pieces of stuff. After these next two tours, we’re going to try to do something at the end of the year. We’ll get something out and get back on tour at the beginning of next year.
Any plans towards a musical shift or experimentation for the next album?
Kyle: It’s going to start the exact same way as the last one. We’re not going to change anything. The whole chemistry of how Blood for Blood started was a good setup and just organically came together. We’ll see what new ideas and flavors come to it.
Official music video for “Hush” single
The big thing you guys are currently doing is the #HushNoMore campaign. Can you talk about the events that led up to the single and the campaign?
Kyle: The song was actually written two years ago, so we didn’t write the song to be exclusive for a charity. It just came out naturally. The lyrics are really close to Chad Gray. If people understand it, then great, but if if they don’t get it, oh well. He’s not writing for that reason. You write for yourself. We were familiar with the charity organizers and they really loved the message. They pitched us the campaign and we were absolutely on board. It was just a really cool coming together of us both.
You’ve also had a cool history in other bands before Hellyeah. Can you talk about those bands and your relationship with them currently?
Kyle: Hellyeah started originally as an experiment. Pantera could only do their style and same with Mudvayne. So, this band was created so Chad and Vinnie and anyone else involved had the freedom to do something else. People always bring up the old bands, and of course we wouldn’t be where we are today without them, but the focus is Hellyeah. It’s cool where everyone came from because it brought us fans from those perspective bands and our younger fans learn about those old bands.
Former Pantera guitarist, Dimebag Darrell, who was shot onstage in 2004
Are there any thoughts or rumors towards a reunion of Pantera, Mudvayne, or any other past bands of current Hellyeah members?
Kyle: People are always asking that and there’s always the offers, but Hellyeah is definitely the main focus. Pantera is not getting back together. And that’s because Pantera can’t get back together. They can do some sort of tribute, but it’s not a reunion without the full band. They’re not gonna reunite because it’s impossible. And Chad is always getting questions about Mudvayne and that’s just not his focus. We’re trying not to spread ourselves thin.
What’s coming up after this Mayhem tour?
Kyle: We have three days off after Mayhem and then a short headline run in the US with some festivals. Then we go straight to Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, which we haven’t gone to on this cycle yet. After that, we’re gonna start the new record. Mid-September, we’ll take a break and then get back in creative mode for writing and recording. The plan is to have the album done by the end of the year. I would imagine we’d release the album early next year and tour in the states and UK in promotion.