Legendary Pantera Drummer Performs in Hershey May 8
With Mudvayne’s Chad Gray on vocals, Nothingface’s Tom Maxwell on guitar, Bloodsimple’s Kyle Sanders on bass and Pantera’s legendary drummer Vinnie Paul behind the kit — HELLYEAH is not your typical opening act.
So when Avenged Sevenfold’s “Shepherd of Fire Tour” stops at the Giant Center on May 8 — metal fans are surely going to want to show up early to catch HELLYEAH.
“The tour has been absolutely amazing,” HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott said. “We get 45 minutes and we’re playing three songs off the new record Blood for Blood and all three of them go down great every night so things are off to a great start.”
Blood for Blood, due out June 10, is the fourth album by the heavy metal group, and they are confident that it is their best yet.
“The first two records were kind of experimental for us — songs like “Alcohaulin’ Ass” or “Hell of a Time” — those kind of songs would never fly in our previous bands, but they were really fun for us to write and fun for us to tour,” Abbott said. “We kind of got that out of our system and when we got to Band of Brothers, we really wanted to get back to our metal roots and really put out a record that I think was the first record that sounded like what people expected from us. Then when we got to the new record, Blood for Blood, it was just an extension of that.”
Blood for Blood is also the first album without longtime guitarist Greg Tibbett and bass player Bob Zilla.
“When we finished the Gigantour last August, we really felt like we had turned a corner and really captured our fan base. We wanted to get right into the studio and start working on the fourth album. Once we got in the studio and started working, it just came really apparent to us that Bob and Greg didn’t have the same focus that we did and they had some personal issues that were not going to allow us to keep moving forward and make the record that we wanted to so we parted company with them,” Abbott said. “Myself, Tom and Chad wrote the record and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to us. I think this is the best lineup we’ve ever had and the best record we’ve ever had — we just feel really great about where we are at.”
Two songs from the new album are already in rotation on rock radio and available on iTunes — the title track “Sangre Por Sangre (Blood for Blood)” and the incredibly heavy “Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones).”
“We feel like it is our very, very best record to date — it’s the best songs we’ve ever written and the best production we’ve ever had,” Abbott added. “We feel like it’s set up in the right place to really do something special this time around.”
And while they are set up for something special with this record, Vinnie Paul’s answer to joining the band eight years ago was anything but a “hell yeah” initially. Only 18 months removed from the tragic death of his brother and Pantera/Damageplan bandmate, iconic metal guitarist Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul wasn’t sure if he was ready to get back on stage.
“I knew I still loved playing drums and I knew at some point in my life I would probably get back into it — but I just didn’t know when,” Abbott said. “I just told myself that if and when it did happen — it would have to be an accident and it would have to be something that just kind of fell in my lap.”
Lead singer Chad Gray and guitarist Tom Maxwell were persistent about landing the legendary drummer and called every day for about two weeks before Vinnie Paul agreed to give it a shot.
“One day I was doing some stuff around the house, I had KISS on 12-inch and I was drinking some red wine — which is kind of unusual because I usually drink vodka — and I looked down at the caller ID and said, man, these guys just don’t give up,” Abbott laughed. “We started talking and I said, you know man, I’ll never know if I want to do this again or not until we give it a shot. It was something that was meant to be and that’s the only way I can say it.”
Metal fans around the world think that another thing that is meant to be is Pantera being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — where they have been eligible since 2008 — but Vinnie Paul isn’t sure that will ever happen.
“There’s so much stuff in there like Madonna and stuff that’s not rock and roll and never has been — there’s barely any metal in there. Honestly, I don’t think Pantera will ever be nominated for it … much less inducted,” Abbott added. “If it were to happen, it’s kind of like the baseball hall of fame or the football hall of fame — there’s only one of them in the world and it would be a great honor to be a part of it.”
Tickets are still available online for the HELLYEAH and Avenged Sevenfold concert at the Giant Center on May 8.
However, if you can’t make it this time — Vinnie Paul said it wouldn’t be too long before they are back in Pennsylvania.
“There’s a really huge tour that we are going to be a part of in September and October that goes all over the United States — and I’ve already seen the dates and it definitely comes up to the Pennsylvania area,” Abbott hinted. “I can’t tell you who we are with or the whole lineup — but I can tell you it is going to be the heaviest and coolest tour of the end of the summer/Fall.”