When the members of Hellyeah first came together in 2006, it marked the culmination of more than half a decade of conversations between guitarist Tom Maxwell, then with Nothingface, and Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray. As the idea finally began to take shape, they still needed a drummer and thought of Vinnie Paul as one possibility.
The former Pantera member, still mourning the tragic 2004 loss of his brother, guitarist Dimebag Darrell, wasn’t sure he wanted to continue playing music, but, convinced by Maxwell and Gray, he ultimately decided to give it a shot. The intensity of the sludgy, chunky metal sound Hellyeah put down on album, starting appropriately enough with “Hellyeah,” the lead track on 2007’s self-titled 2007 debut—further galvanized by the power of Paul behind the kit—was proof positive that the team-up had been a smart one.
In the years that have followed, Hellyeah has placed five straight albums inside the Billboard 200’s top 20, adding another significant chapter to Paul’s legacy. At the time of the Las Vegas resident’s unexpected death—reportedly from heart disease—last June, there was no end in sight for the group.
The drummer had already laid down his tracks for Hellyeah’s next record, which the band later finished. “333,” the first single from that album, which is set for a June release, features one of the band’s most pulverizing performances to date. In a statement, Gray revealed that Paul had come up with the idea for the song. While he was known for being a “badass, slamming, smashing drummer,” Gray points out that he was so much more. “He understood production and composition, and he was very much a contributor to the writing process.”
Hellyeah: A Celebration of the Life of Vinnie Paul will bring the group back together onstage at House of Blues for one night only, the band’s first performance since Paul’s death. It is expected that they will be joined by a number of guests to help pay tribute to the life and legacy of the legendary drummer.
HELLYEAH May 11, 7 p.m., $39+. House of Blues, 702-632-7600.