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Hellyeah is an American heavy metal supergroup, consisting of Mudvayne lead vocalist Chad Gray, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, bass player Kyle Sanders and former Pantera and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul. The idea to form a supergroup originated in 2001 on the Tattoo the Earth tour, although plans were constantly put on hold due to scheduling conflicts. The summer of 2006 allowed the band to take the project seriously and record its first album. Recorded at Chasin' Jason studio in Dimebag Darrell's backyard, a self-titled album was completed in roughly one month. Released on April 10, 2007, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number 9, selling 45,000 copies. Allmusic reviewer William Ruhlmann stated the album is "a competent example of its genre" awarding the album three and a half stars.
§Formation and early days
Hellyeah's beginnings can be traced back to 2000 on the Tattoo the Earth tour featuring Mudvayne, Nothingface, Slayer, Slipknot and Sevendust. Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell became friends with Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray, and they talked about the possibility of forming a supergroup. The following year, Nothingface toured with Mudvayne and talks to form the supergroup continued, although were constantly put on hold due to scheduling conflicts. At this time, Gray and Maxwell had brainstormed five band names.
Mudvayne guitarist Greg Tribbett approached Maxwell "out of the blue" and wanted to join the band. Nothingface drummer Tommy Sickles originally helmed the drum kit for the band's demo, however, things did not work out and the search for a new drummer began. The band knew former Pantera and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul, and tried to persuade him to join the band as their drummer. Originally, Paul was not sure if he would return to music after the death of his brother, Dimebag Darrell and an 18 month hiatus: "It was one of those things that I didn't think I'd be apart of this ever again without him, and after about a year and a half had gone by, these guys called me up, Chad [Gray] and Tom [Maxwell], they were like, 'We're thinking about putting this band together, would you be into it?' First couple of times, I told them, 'No, I don't think I'm ready to do this yet.' And they just were real persistent, they kept calling me. And one night, I had been drinking some red wine and listening to some KISS on 12" vinyl record and I said, 'You know what, lets take a shot at this, lets see what happens.'"
The band's persistence paid off and Paul joined the project. Paul commented about joining the project: "Everybody had their head in the right place and that let's-tear-the-world-a-new-ass attitude".
In their previous bands, there had only been one guitarist, so having two was a new experience for all members. Paul felt two guitarists brought back the "old school Iron Maiden thing where they play two parts and give you a grinding rhythm part with a badass melody on top". In 2006, Mudvayne did not have any plans to tour and were taking most of the summer and fall off, while Nothingface was preparing to record their next album. The time over the summer allowed the band to pursue the project which had been talked about for years.
Gray flew into Baltimore to Nothingface's home studio to discuss the project further. The song "Waging War" was written in two days, followed by Maxwell tracking it the next day, and Gray completing vocals. During the summer of 2006, schedules were clear, which allowed members to take the time to record a studio album. The album was recorded at Paul's backyard studio, Chasin' Jason in Arlington, Texas. Filled with photos of his late brother Dimebag, Paul found it tough entering the studio where the last albums by Damageplan and Pantera, and the collaboration Rebel Meets Rebel were recorded, but felt "the dark cloud that was there went away", due to everyone's positive energy. Maxwell and Tribbett were the primary writers of the album, and Paul was there to "steer them in the right direction", with Gray adding his opinion on musical arrangements.
Paul built the members a cabana style house on his pool deck with air conditioning, a TV, and beds so the members felt comfortable while recording. Paul produced the record and Gray felt Paul "facilitated the whole thing". The album was completed in roughly a month, with three recording sessions. The band worked on the record for eight days and returned home for a break. A 14 day session, followed the break and then another 10 days in the studio. Gray asserts the breaks in between recording sessions were to "re charge the batteries", and "get a fresh head". As the line-up was complete, the band started to brainstorm names. When a member thought of a name they would write it on a piece of paper and put it in an amp box outside the studio. Someone wrote "Hellyeah", and the band thought it was a perfect choice. Paul says it's "very affirmative and full of attitude. When your buddy asks if you want to get a beer tonight, you don't just say 'yes,' you say, "Hell yeah!". Gray attributes the name to "late teens, keggers and chicks and AC/DC and Metallica".
Revolver Magazine was one of the first print publications to feature the band in March 2007. The self-titled track, "Hellyeah", started gaining satellite radio airplay in February 2007, and the first single "You Wouldn't Know" hit American radio airwaves the same month. "You Wouldn't Know" peaked at number 5 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, and 35 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks. The album's second single, "Alcohaulin' Ass" peaked at number 7 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. The band's self-titled album, Hellyeah was released on April 10, 2007 via Epic Records. The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 album charts, with sales of just under 45,000. The album peaked on the Top Hard Rock albums at number 15, and number 3 on the Top Rock Albums. As of October 18, 2007, the album has sold 204,000 copies.
Hellyeah received generally positive reviews. William Ruhlmann of Allmusic awarded the album three and a half stars out of five, commenting; "Their album is a competent example of its genre, in which Tribbett and Maxwell combine to create crushing riffs over the pummeling rhythm section of Paul, while Gray howls typically enraged, expletive-littered lyrics to songs". However, Ruhlmann believes Hellyeah is not a notable variation from members' previous bands. Blabbermouth.net reviewer Don Kaye awarded the album 7 out of 10, praising the track "Matter of Time" for its slashing main riff, and "One Thing" as it "marches to the finish line with a rumbling, crunching wall of guitars worthy of Dimebag himself". Kaye thought that Hellyeah's first studio effort was not equal to any of its members' main output. KNAC contributor Andrew Depedro stated "it's a set of good songs recorded by 5 accomplished musicians from diverse backgrounds not letting their pasts define them and those songs in one form or another speak to you in different ways".
Bassist Montano was asked to leave Hellyeah after the album's release party, where he assaulted guitarist Tom Maxwell and made numerous gun threats while heavily intoxicated. The band's publicist stated his departure was due to "personal reasons on both sides" The band considered Damageplan bassist Bob Zilla as Paul thought; "It was kind hard to go ahead and commit to this band without Bob being part of it". Zilla was invited to audition and got the gig immediately.
Hellyeah embarked on their first tour on May 2007 titled Fire it Up, made an appearance at the Download Festival, and underwent Australian tour in July 2007. The Family Values Tour with Korn and Evanescence, saw the band start touring in late July, which also consisted playing with Alter Bridge in San Antonio before passing through thirty cities before ending in Washington, D.C. A DVD titled Below the Belt was released on November 13, 2007, and featured a documentary, music videos, performance footage from the making of the album, first studio sessions, coverage of the band's world tour, and personal interviews. It was produced by members of the band and Ryan Ziemba.
Hellyeah headlined a tour in the spring of 2010 with: Seether, Five Finger Death Punch, Drowning Pool, and Lacuna Coil. The first date was May 11, 2010 in Madison, WI. They were also confirmed to play the main stage at Download Festival 2010. In 2009, the band revealed that they were in the studio recording a new album, later revealed to be titled Stampede.
For Stampede, the members went to drummer Vinnie Paul's Texas home studio, for a recording process draped in a relaxed, pressure-free atmosphere, surrounded by the obligatory cocktails, good eats and familial brotherhood. "We were doing it at my house solely. We ate, drank and BBQed together, which made the brotherhood that happened, come through in the music," Paul said. The band members lived in bungalows on the grounds and turned Paul's house into a studio. Drums were recorded downstairs and guitars were recorded upstairs, with video screens in each room so the members could see one another while tracking. The methods may have been unorthodox, but the result was nothing short of magical. "It's a broad, diverse album that covers rock, heavy metal and Southern rock ground. That is the main thing that I like about it: it's not so focused on one thing," Paul said. The high ceilings at the Paul home allowed for the creation of a big, booming sound. They also were able to work at their own natural pace. "We slept there, so if one of us just came up with an idea, we could jump on it," guitarist Tom Maxwell said.
"Cowboy Way", a song from the new album, was released for a free download via the band's website on April 21, 2010. The music video for "Cowboy Way" premiered on May 20, 2010. The first single, "Hell of a Time", was released on June 1, 2010. The music video for "Hell of a Time" premiered on June 16, 2010. The song, "The Debt That All Men Pay" premiered on ultimateguitar.com on June 22, 2010. Stampede was released on July 13, 2010 via Epic Records and sold 28,000 copies in its first week of release, debuting at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, making it the band's highest charting album to date.
The group was recently confirmed to be playing the Rock Star Energy Drink Uproar Festival along with other headliners Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour and Halestorm.
§Band of Brothers (2011–2012)
Hellyeah finished recording a new album, titled Band of Brothers, and are extremely satisfied with the production of the record; which was produced by Jeremy Parker, who has produced albums for Godsmack and Evanescence, and was recorded in the home of drummer Vinnie Paul's studio in Arlington, Texas; VP's Upstairs Studio. The direction of the album is said to be heavier and more metal-oriented than its predecessors, fusing the different influences of the band members (Pantera, Mudvayne, Damageplan, Nothingface) together for a more metal approach. Band of Brothers was released everywhere on July 17, 2012 via Eleven Seven Music, the band's new record label home after leaving Epic Records. The digital single "War In Me" was released on iTunes on April 3, 2012. Debut single "Band of Brothers" was released in early May with a music video and will be released on iTunes. On May 8, 2012, the band's second single off their 3rd album of the same name, "Band of Brothers" was released.
They played the Download Festival on Sunday 16 June 2013 and played at Graspop Metal Meeting on Sunday 30 June 2013.
In July 2013, they were on tour on the Gigantour 2013.
§Lineup changes and Blood for Blood (2013–present)
In late 2013, the band has posted updates to their Facebook page, detailing that they are in the process of writing and recording their next album. A few short clips have been posted by the band showing some of the guitar work underway.
On February 13, 2014, the band announced the tracklist and title of their upcoming album to be Blood for Blood, which will be released on June 10. It was also announced that guitarist Greg Tribbett and bassist Bob Kakaha have departed the band, and were shortly replaced by Christian Brady (Magna-Fi/Überschall) on guitar and (Skrew/Bloodsimple/MonstrO) bassist Kyle Sanders. Hellyeah and Adrenaline Mob have announced a few tour dates together. On June 3, the full album was available for streaming via YouTube.
Paul described the band's sound as "a familiar groove, with a new sound". Blabbermouth.net reviewer Done Kaye commented "with little of the complexity of Mudvayne or angularity of Nothingface and much more of the full-on, pedal-to-the-metal style of Vinnie Paul's previous work". However, Kaye said the songs "Star" and "Thank You" border on musical cliché. Andrew Depedro of KNAC.com stated "'Alcohaulin' Ass' showcases Gray's hidden talent as an outlaw country and western-type crooner in the intro", although he thought the band's lyrics were repetitive.