Tom Maxwell spoke to Outburn magazine about the first tour HELLYEAH completed following the death of its drummer, Vinnie Paul Abbott. HELLYEAH's May 11 concert at the House Of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada marked the group's live debut with STONE SOUR's Roy Mayorga, who has stepped in as Vinnie Paul's replacement.
"What made [Roy] the best choice was that we are all brothers," the guitarist said. "We've known each other for a long time. HELLYEAH and STONE SOUR toured together back in 2010 and have played countless shows together since. There was a connection and friendship that was already there. We knew that Vinnie loved him and respected him as a drummer and as a person, so that was important to us. We really needed to find somebody who the fans were going to be accepting of. That was a big, big thing for us. For us to get some hotshot dude who is known for good drumming but nothing else, that just wasn't gonna cut it. You need to have somebody the fans are going to be, like, 'I can see that happening and I'm cool with it.' That's exactly what's been going on with Roy. They've welcomed him with open arms, and he's been doing great. He's learned the songs and he was practicing like six hours a day learning our stuff to get every single thing perfect. But we told him to incorporate his own style and make it his own. He's been doing that and has been doing great. We could not be happier."
According to Tom, there are currently no plans for HELLYEAH to do anything beyond finishing the touring cycle for the band's upcoming album, "Welcome Home", for which Vinnie laid down the drum tracks not long before his death.
"The only thing we're focusing on right now is honoring this record, touring it, and honoring Vince with every show that we play," he said. "Kyle [Sanders, bass] said it best: 'Whatever doors the universe puts in front of us, we're gonna have to go through, whether it's good or bad.' So, we're just gonna have to see. I can't really forward think that far ahead. Whether there's ever going to be another record, I don't know. Would I like to do one? Sure. Am I ready to do one? No. It's too early to say anything. We're just gonna take this one day, one tour, one song at a time right now. We're just lucky enough that we found somebody that is a brother who is going to be there to help us and step into that drum world and help us get through. There's no way we could have done it with anyone else. It's kind of cosmic."
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.
"Welcome Home" 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.