- - Sunday, March 1, 2015

Nothing drummer Vinnie Paul does is quiet. The backbeat behind Pantera, Damage Plan and Hellyeah — and arguably heavy metal’s third-greatest drummer — lives a loud life.

In a recent interview, Mr. Paul discussed his musical heroes, the healing power of music and Hellyeah’s new album, “Blood for Blood.”

Question: Talk about the “Blood for Blood” blood drive.

Answer: We felt like it was a great way to bring awareness to the hard-rock crowd, and the title just felt right.

Q: Why is the new album called “Blood For Blood?”

A: We were out for blood on this CD — a take-no-prisoners approach. We knew we had to make a career-changing record, and we went in with the eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth and a blood-for-blood mentality.

Q: Musically, where is the band at this time?

A: We feel like we finally accomplished the true Hellyeah sound. It took us four records, but it all came together on this CD: The sound, the songs and the production all fit each other.

The first two Hellyeah records were kind of experimental metal meets blues meets Southern rock meets rock ‘n’ roll. This one is really focused. It’s what fans expected from the start. It’s a great place to be right now.

Q: Do you consider Hellyeah a supergroup?

A: Obviously, we have a great history with our previous bands, and that’s just a natural thing for people to call us.

A lot of times you can take four or five great players and put them together, but they can’t write any good songs because of ego and no chemistry.

With Hellyeah, our chemistry is right, and we use what we learned in our previous bands to help move forward with Hellyeah.

Q: How have things evolved since the start of the band?

A: It’s always been a work in progress, which is good, but with the addition of Kyle Sanders and Christian Brady, the band has never sounded better. There’s a real spark with the band.

Q: You’re the drummer but also the de facto leader of the band. Is that a lot of pressure?

A: I love being in this band, and I want to see us all be successful and thrive together, so the pressure is just part of what we do. I don’t mind that. It’s a real team effort.

Q: Where do you think you fall on the list of rock’s greatest drummers?

A: Honestly, you would have to ask other drummers where I rank. I am really proud of all my work and gave everything I have to it.

Q: Do you believe in the healing power of music?

A: Absolutely. Music speaks to you when nobody else can. It’s truly a great escape for many people and has so much to offer on so many levels.

Q: When you were growing up, what rockers inspired you to play hard rock and heavy metal?

A: The four bands that did it for me and my brother [Dimebag Darrel] were Kiss, Van Halen, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. All four of those bands are still iconic and active. They’re the ones that really sparked us to play music.

Q: Hard rock and heavy metal now have an awards show, and there have been exhibits in museums. Has metal finally become respectable?

A: It’s accepted by the fans, and that’s all we care about. Other forms of music have bigger stages to get on. That’s their audience. This is our audience.

These are the people that like to come see us, bang their head and rock out really hard. I think metal has always been accepted; it’s just never been “popular.”

Q: Do you have a favorite rock ‘n’ roll memory?

A: Pantera was the opening band on the Kiss reunion tour in 1997, with all the original members. We toured with them in South America. We did three nights in Mexico City, then we had a flight on my birthday, which is March 11, and we were on a flight from Mexico City to San Diego, Chile.

Kiss was in first class, and we were in business class. Halfway through the flight, all four of the original members of Kiss came back to me and sang “Happy Birthday” in four-part harmony. They gave me a “KissStory” book. I felt like a 14-year-old kid. I had tears coming out of my eyes.

They took us under their wing, really liked us, and it was a great tour.


WHAT: Hellyeah

WHERE: Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place, Baltimore

WHEN: Tuesday, 8 p.m.

INFO: Tickets $22 in advance, $25 the day of the show; 410/244-1131; RamsHeadLive.com

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