In the world of heavy metal, Vincent Paul Abbott needs little introduction. When it comes to Texas heavy metal, you can spare such formalities outright. So think of this as an abbreviated list of accomplishments:
- Drummer and co-founder of easily the most renowned metal band to come out of the Lone Star State — Pantera
- Drummer on one of the first metal albums to debut on the U.S. Billboard charts at No. 1 (Pantera’s 1994 Far Beyond Driven)
- Drummer and co-founder of Damageplan
- Drummer for Rebel Meets Rebel
Certainly not least, Vinnie Paul is the drummer for a little thing called Hellyeah, which features Mudvayne singer Chad Gray, Mudvayne guitarist Greg Tribbett, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell and Damageplan bassist Bob Zilla (read my 210SA interview with Gray from last year here).
Hellyeah will be stampeding into Sunken Garden Theater on Saturday for the 99.5-FM Kiss Summer Swelter that’s headlined by Buckcherry and includes Filter, Drowning Pool and more. Hellyeah will headline the second stage of the inaugural Rockstar Energy UPROAR Festival on Sept. 11 at Concrete Street Amphitheater in Corpus Christi.
It’s been a horns-up type of month for Hellyeah. They sponsored the No. 73 car of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Derrike Cope at the Subway Jalapeno 250 on July 2 in Daytona Beach, Fla., and last Tuesday, they released second album Stampede. It’s a record with plenty more giddy-up than let-up, hitting you in the face with rip-roaring opener “Cowboy Way” and continuing their Texas onslaught with the title track before paying a hard-hitting ode to strippers on “Pole Rider.”
As the legacy of his legendary guitarist brother “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott lives on, Paul carries on not only by continuing to make music for the masses, but by giving aspiring musicians a chance to live their dream via Big Vin Records.
Paul, 46, spoke with me exclusively by phone last week from Dallas, 48 hours after Stampede‘s release:
Q: This San Antonio show is your last in the States before heading to Australia and returning for the UPROAR Festival. The specialness of playing Texas goes without saying for you guys, but can you describe how much it means to you?
A: Texas is home. It’s a beautiful place, the people are super friendly. We like our BBQ and our Rock N’ Roll, and we try to put Texas on the face of the musical map. There’s only a few bands from Texas to make it like ZZ Top and King’s X.
Q: How would you compare Stampede to the first Hellyeah album?
A: The first record was almost like an experiment. We were trying to feel each other out. We got lucky with the chemistry between the band members, and we didn’t know how it would be writing songs. With the fans and the tour, we had a chance to really bond, and it just gave us more confidence going into the studio for the second record.
Q: And the iTunes version has a full video concert from Dallas, right?
A: Yep, that was shot at the Nokia Theatre on Dec. 15, 2007. It was a great time.
Q: What was the last festival you played in America?
A: We haven’t really done a full-blown festival, but back in 1990, we did a string of radio shows with Rob Zombie, Korn, Alice In Chains, Papa Roach — a bunch of cool bands. Festivals are cool because you get to play for so many people. You play to everyone’s collective fans and see what’s out there and bring your music to them.
Q: I interviewed David Ellefson recently, and he was telling me about you and Dime auditioning for Megadeth in 1990. What’s your recollection, and do you ever wonder what it would have been like had the two of you joined?
A: Basically it was at a time where Pantera had been turned down by every record company on the face of the earth. My brother told me that David called and asked him to audition and what did I think. I was like, “Man, at this point, no one can blame you for doing what you gotta do.” Our band was struggling. They offered him everything under the sun, and he came back and said, “Man, what do you think?” And again I said, “No one can blame you for what you gotta do.” He called Dave back and told him, “Unless Vinnie joins too, I’ve gotta turn it down.” He chose to stay with his bro, and I’ll never forget that. He chose loyalty, which is an amazing thing.
Q: Nickelback’s song “Side of a Bullet” is dedicated to you and Dime. Did you hear from them before or after it came out, and what do you think of it?
A: Oh yeah, for sure. Chad (Kroeger) has been a really good friend of mine for quite some time. It’s heartfelt, and they did a tremendous job with it.
Q: The Hard Rock Cafe on the River Walk has Dime’s Flying V in a case mounted on the wall. Have you ever eaten there and seen it, or is it too much of a crowd rush when you’re out in public around these parts?
A: I went there and saw Drowning Pool play and saw my brother’s guitar. There’s actually a lot of them in Hard Rocks around the world. We saw them in Amsterdam, Tokyo. He made that guitar, he made it his style.
Q: How huge was it for you when Far Beyond Driven debuted at No. 1?
A: It was amazing. It came out in 1994, and we knocked Bonnie Raitt and Ace of Base off the No. 1 spot, and people were like, “Who the f— is Pantera?” The press came out with “overnight success,” and we were like “Bullshit, man.” We’d been touring for eight years working our tails off.
I never thought I’d see the words Ace of Base in an article I’d be writing about you.
For sure, man.
Q: How was your NASCAR experience of sponsoring Derrike Cope, and do you plan on being a car owner someday?
A: You know, I dealt in it one other time before. Me and Dime were around the cars and garages in ’98. I just got re-interested in it. It’s awesome being at the track. Watching it on TV doesn’t give you the true vibe of being there. It’s amazing seeing 38 to 40 cars zooming around at the same time knowing that they’re all going 180 miles an hour.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring musicians?
A: I’d just say learn your trade. There’s so many people who pick up a guitar and play a couple chords, and then they’re in a band. Take the time to learn it, learn the ways of the business. Songwriting skills are the most important thing after that. Get a vibe for writing good songs. It’s good to listen to others, but then apply your own trade and style.
- WHAT: 99.5-FM Kiss Summer Swelter
- WHO: Buckcherry, Filter, Hellyeah, Drowning Pool, Atom Smash, Nothing More
- WHEN: 2 p.m., Saturday, July 24
- WHERE: Sunken Garden Theater
- TICKETS: $19.95 or $40.50, plus service charge, at www.ticketmaster.com
- OF NOTE: Flyleaf, which played Sunken Garden on April 30 during the 99.5-FM Kiss Fest, was originally listed on this bill but is not performing
- WHAT: Rockstar Energy UPROAR Festival
- WHO: Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Halestorm on main stage. Hellyeah, Airbourne, Hail The Villain, New Medicine, and Battle of the Bands winner on second stage
- WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 11
- WHERE: Concrete Street Amphitheater in Corpus Christi
- TICKETS: $43.75 general admission; $143.75 VIP package at www.ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000
- OF NOTE: Check out New York Hard Rock Music Examiner Elliot Levin’s review of the April 27 Hellyeah show here.
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