HELLYEAH guitarist Tom Maxwell says he had to "dig deep emotionally" after drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott's death in June 2018. The guitarist went through a period of depression that lasted until HELLYEAH started touring this year with Abbott's replacement, STONE SOUR drummer Roy Mayorga.
In a recent interview with Tattoo.com (video below), Maxwell was asked about how HELLYEAH is able to combine "anger, aggression and pain" into its sound. "It's 'beautifully brutal,' if I could say it that way," he said. "I mean, we kind of write songs for the wounded in the world. Chad's [Gray, vocals] very in tune with that, because he had a pretty rough upbringing, so I think it's cathartic for him to finally — not finally, he's been doing this his whole career, but he's really kind of been very transparent with his emotions. I think it's pretty damn cool, and honest. For me, and I don't write lyrics, I'm just the music guy, and for me, it's like I have to have the valleys and the ups and downs musically, the dynamics. I mean, maybe when I was much younger and just starting out writing songs, I was kind of a one-note kind of a thing, one vision, but you kind of have to really explore everything to be happy, I think, as a musician and a songwriter. You have to be afraid of your own self a little bit, feel uncomfortable. That's what one of the things that I was talking to Vinnie before he passed, when we went into this record. I said 'I want to feel really vulnerable after this record is done. I want to feel unsure if it was any good.' To me, it's healthy to be that way. Instead of 'This is the best album we ever did.' Or 'We're going to go in there and kill, kill, kill.' It's good to have the diversity."
Maxwell also discussed the period after Paul's death and the emotional toll it took on him. "After Vince passed, I had to really dig deep emotionally to find out whether I belonged here anymore," he said. "Depression is a hard thing. I went inside my shell and stayed there until we got back on the bus. The first day of the tour, it was pretty traumatizing, actually. My emotions were all over the place. I'm getting better now. We're starting to find our groove and we're getting it together. We're only six, seven shows in. We still have two, three weeks left, and then we're going to take a little break. I got to get hand surgery. I was in a car accident a year ago. I broke this hand [points to left hand] on the dashboard. Somebody t-boned me. I keep getting trigger finger. You could only get so many cortisone shots. My doctor is a huge fan, too. It's crazy. He really was supportive of it. I had to schedule a surgery, which is going to keep me off the road for about six, seven weeks, probably."
HELLYEAH's sixth studio album, "Welcome Home", is due on September 27 via Eleven Seven Music. The disc will mark the group's final effort with Abbott.
HELLYEAH's May 11 concert in Las Vegas marked the first time the band has taken the stage since Vinnie's passing and the debut of Mayorga as Vinnie's replacement.
HELLYEAH's 18-city headlining summer outing kicked off on July 23 in Atlanta, and will culminate in a special celebration on Saturday, August 17 in Dallas, Texas.
Like the last two records, 2016's "Unden!able" and 2014's "Blood For Blood", "Welcome Home" was recorded at The Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada with producer Kevin Churko.