Chad Gray spoke to the 105.7 The X radio station about the first show HELLYEAH played following the death of its drummer, Vinnie Paul Abbott. The May 11 concert at the House Of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada marked HELLYEAH's live debut with STONE SOUR's Roy Mayorga, who has stepped in as Vinnie Paul's replacement.
"It was so cathartic for the band, 'cause we were so emotional," Chad recalled (hear audio below). "We got out on stage, man, and within the first couple of measures, it was like right back at home again — just like putting on an old pair of shoes. It was awesome. All that weight really kind of lifted off of us that night. And I could see it in the crowd — the cathartic element of us playing those songs."
According to Chad, Roy has done "an amazing job filling the shoes of Vinnie. He worked really hard, man," the singer said. "That dude was playing drums six hours a day for 35 days. And he's one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. He had a lot in common with Vinnie — both of 'em are banger drummers, just slammers, and then they are both just very gracious and very genuine and very humble and very sweet. They're different — Vinnie was a different personality — but the makeup of the men is very similar."
Mayorga's addition to HELLYEAH was made official on May 6. At the time, the band said Roy was the perfect guy to take Vinnie Paul's place. "These men had so much love and mutual respect for each other, this makes our transition so much easier," HELLYEAH said in a statement.
Mayorga previously played with HELLYEAH bassist Kyle Sanders in MEDICATION, the early 2000s outfit which also featured guitarist Logan Mader (MACHINE HEAD) and singer Whitfield Crane (UGLY KID JOE).
Vinnie Paul died in June 2018 of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease. His death was the result of chronic weakening of the heart muscle — basically meaning his heart couldn't pump blood as well as a healthy heart.
Not long before his death, Vinnie laid down the drum tracks for HELLYEAH's sixth album, "Welcome Home", which is due on September 27.
Like the last two records, 2016's "Unden!able" and 2014's "Blood For Blood", the new disc was recorded at The Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada with producer Kevin Churko.