Sara Meek of All Access Live conducted an interview with HELLYEAH guitarist Tom Maxwell on February 15 at the Cotillion Ballroom in Wichita, Kansas. You can now watch the chat below.
Asked if there was ever a time when he had doubts about HELLYEAH‘s future, Maxwell said: “Oh, fuck yeah! Definitely! When we came off Gigantour a year and a half ago, two Novembers ago, before we did this last record [‘Blood For Blood’], I really thought that… I didn’t even know if I wanted to do it anymore, because of the climate. The infrastructure was falling to pieces, and it wasn’t by anything I was doing, or Vinnie [Paul Abbott, drums] or Chad [Gray, vocals], but the two other guys that we had to part ways with [referring to bassist Bob ‘Zilla’ Kakaha and guitarist Greg Tribbett]. It just wasn’t cohesive anymore, and it was just destroying us. And changes had to be made, man.”
He continued: “When we went in to go do this record, that’s when all the shit hit the fan. If anything, it really buttoned us up a little bit. We had to, like, ‘Alright…’ I looked at it like, ‘This could be the last fucking record I ever record’ — you know what I mean? — ‘so I’m gonna make it badass.’ And because of that, and because of the strength of the music, it was almost like seeing color again. I felt like for a long time, I felt like this black mass. And I’d climb out of bed, and I’d go to the closest and I’d put on my skin. And there was depression and all that. Thanks to my doctor at home, he gave me the right medication to get that right. [Laughs] But the record just turned it all around, man. And we got Kyle [Sanders, bass] in the band, and we got [Christian] Brady [guitar] in the band, and we’re all happy, man. Everybody’s positive and we wake up, and everybody can’t wait to play, and we get off stage and we’re happy. And it’s just, like, okay, now we have light again.”
HELLYEAH‘s fourth album, “Blood For Blood”, sold around 17,000 copies in its first week of release to land at No. 18 on the Billboard chart. The band’s previous effort, 2011’s “Band Of Brothers”, opened with 19,000 copies back in July 2012 to debut at No. 19.
Maxwell and Gray revealed in a separate interview with Loudwire that the band came close to breaking up before it finally parted ways with Tribbett and Kahaha. Maxwell explained, “They just pretty much had a lot of other stuff going on in their life that just took the focus of the band away, and for us to continue, we had to part ways with them. It was a toxic situation that almost broke the band up. They just couldn’t get it together and it was a very painful time for us, it was very emotional, but I think, you know, with the love we have for each other and the band, we needed to kind of do the worst case scenario and part ways with them.”
Maxwell told The Pulse Of Radio that both Kahaha and Tribbett had their own specific issue that were hurting the group. “I don’t think Bob ever really was as passionate about this band,” he said. “He never became a full member or anything like that. It just didn’t gel, so it was just time just to part ways, you know. And with Greg, I think he had just a lot of stuff that happened to him in his life in recent years that really affected him and became distracting for us and we just couldn’t go forward.”
Gray said that the recording sessions for the band’s new album, “Blood For Blood”, were emotionally volatile, saying, “This is such a heavy record on so many levels — it’s not just the anger, the frustration, the angst, but its also the helplessness that we felt.”