HELLYEAH ~ These New Kids on the Block Aren’t Exactly New
As Band Prepares to Headline the Blood For Blood 2015 Tour, FlashWounds Talks with New Bassist Kyle Sanders
“Super group” is a term coined to describe the result of established musicians from existing and usually extremely successful bands coming together to form a new band. These new bands allow the musicians to stretch their proverbial creative wings and collaborate with talent outside their primary bands, but are often short-lived or only sporadically “active,” more side project than anything else.
Occasionally, however, the new collaboration is so damn good that it becomes a full-fledged musical juggernaut in its own right When that happens, all bets are off…When that happens, you get HELLYEAH, who blow mere “side project status” out of the water.
As driving forces from heavyweight bands Mudvayne, Nothingface and the almighty Pantera, HELLYEAH’s members are no strangers to the scene and to legions of fans, but this legitimate super group is going through a bit of a renaissance a good 10 years into its journey on the strength of its recent opening slot on the Five Finger Death Punch/Volbeat tour (check out our coverage here and here) and the haunting video for the band’s first-ever Top 10 radio single “Moth” off the 2014 album Blood for Blood. This new wave of attention has introduced a whole new audience to the band (terrific for the guys, but a little humorous to those of us who’ve embraced HELLYEAH as part of our hard rock world for years) and as this super group prepares for its first headlining tour in early 2015, I got new bassist Kyle Sanders, formerly of Bloodsimple, to weigh in about the tour, being that “new” guy, and the band of brothers that is HELLYEAH.
FW: So, what’s it like being the new guy?
Kyle: Ha, I’m asked that a lot. Actually I’m not really new, I’ve been around the band since it started. I’ve had a long-standing friendship with the guys so this was a natural fit for them and me.
FW: How did that relationship come about?
Kyle: My old band Bloodsimple opened for Chad (Mudvayne) in Philly and after that we were the first band signed to Chad’s label, BullyGoat Records; from there I got to know Tom (Maxwell) and the rest has just been a great friendship up until I joined the band this past year.
FW: How were you asked to join, was it just a call like, “Hey man, you want to be in the band?”
Kyle: Actually [laughs], that’s pretty much how it went down. Tom called me around this time last year, I thought he was just saying hey, then he started telling me about Greg (Tribbet) and Bob (Zilla) leaving and was like, you want to play with us?
FW: Did Tom elaborate on the split?
Kyle: My understanding was Chad, Tom and Vinny wanted to keep the momentum going from the success of Band of Brothers and get right back into the studio. The other guys weren’t as gung-ho so it was presented to them that “Hey, we’re going to get going on the new material,” and Greg and Bob decided to move on.
FW: So the position of bassist became available. Not a bad Christmas present…
Kyle: [Laughs] Yeah. Tom sent me the tapes of the new record and I loved it. It was heavy as hell but there were some newer things for the band like “Moth” which completely blew me away. I had always loved Nothingface and knowing Tom had written the entire new album I knew it was going to be good.
FW: So this feels like a permanent gig and not just a hired gun scenario?
Kyle: Absolutely. I wasn’t just told to play the existing bass lines, Tom and Chad told me to learn the line but feel free to add my own touch to them. I never felt like I was here to just play bass.
FW: How’s it feel to be holding down the rhythm with an icon like Vinnie Paul?
Kyle: You know, it never really hit me until we were on stage, I looked behind me and was like, “Oh God…I’m playing with Vinnie Paul.” Everything up ‘til then was so casual, we all get along so well it never really occurred to me.
FW: I take it that camaraderie makes things easier on the road and will help with the upcoming tour.
Kyle: We are like brothers. It’s such a natural fit and we are so excited to be headlining our own tour. When you open, you only get to play about 30 minutes and you really want to be up there so much longer. Now we get to play an hour plus and that makes everything that much more fun for us.
FW: What are you looking forward most to on this upcoming tour?
Kyle: The first and last shows of the tour are going to be awesome. We open the tour in Vegas and end in Atlanta, which is my hometown. I’m really looking forward to all this tour has to offer for the fans. They’re the ones we do this for and it’s their support that keeps this train rolling.
Check out our article on the band, the tour (including dates), and their video for “Moth” here , and as always, stay tuned for our Front Row Pics when the guys come to Mohegan Sun at the end of February.
Special thanks to Kyle and J. Roberts