Words and interview Dave Mullins.
HELLYEAH are an American heavy metal supergroup featuring members from bands such as Mudvayne, Pantera and Nothingface. In 2014, the band parted ways with guitarist Greg Tribbett and bassist Bob Kakaha. They were replaced by guitarist Christian Brady and Kyle Sanders (ex-Bloodsimple). Their latest album Blood for Blood (2014) has been well-received reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart. Ahead of their Australian tour in August I had a chat with Kyle Sanders.
Dave Mullins: So you guys are heading off on the Blood for Blood tour starting at the end of the month, you’ve got a huge amount of dates ahead of you and then Australia in August, are you pretty excited to get underway on that?
Kyle Sanders: Man, you have no idea. We’re extremely excited, we’ve been trying to get back there for a long time. On the website and Facebook, people have been asking “When are you coming back?” This record came out in June of last year and we’ve been waiting this long to finally make it happen. So yes, to say we’re excited – we’re beyond excited to get back over there. It’s one of my favourite places to go anyway so the fact that we’re getting back over there and doing a lot of dates is a really great thing.
Dave: You’ve toured pretty extensively over the years, how do you not lose your mind when you’re away from home for so long?
Kyle: That’s a good question, we just wrapped a tour, two days ago, of Europe and we’re all home right now for about ten days. I guess sometimes you could use a little more, or a little less, but it’s those little breaks at home away from tours where you have to take advantage of it, I think everybody just does their own thing. I spend a lot of time outdoors, just trying to get my head straight, keeping your home life steady and then you’re back on tour. You just gotta be able to find that balance in your life to be able to make both sides work.
Dave: I know you’ve been to Australia before, definitely with Bloodsimple, is there anything you’re looking forward to doing while you’re here? Or is there anything you like or don’t like about Australia?
Kyle: Actually there’s nothing I don’t like about it. The last time I was there was with Bloodsimple, it was 2008 I believe, so it’s long overdue. It’s one of my favourite places to travel to, mainly because every city we go to is near the water, you know every city is close to the ocean – which I’m a huge fan of, so given the fact that we’re doing this again hopefully on the off days we’ll be able to take a trip and go and stare at the water for a while – that’s probably the way I’ll keep my head straight. When you’re around the water there’s a different attitude, a different vibe of people, it’s a happy kind of place.
Dave: Absolutely, we have some great beaches in Perth too. You’ve been a member of the band for a bit over a year now, we’re there any big challenges in stepping into an established band, learning the songs or anything like that?
Kyle: Not really, I’ve known these guys for so long that it was kind of just a perfect fit, it wasn’t like going into an awkward situation where you’re not sure of the different ways people are thinking and acting. I knew everyone very well so it was really comfortable coming in. And playing the new record, they basically gave me the freedom to play it in my own style, it wasn’t learning it note for note like “this is the record, this is how you have to play it” it was just “take your own take on it”. It was my attitude and style of playing, just take that and do my own thing with it, which was exactly what I did. So it wasn’t uncomfortable at all, it was a very smooth transition for me. Playing the songs, the older songs which I knew pretty well anyway, it’s just taking my own flavour and style and being myself still, trying to make it a better band overall.
Dave: That’s cool man, exactly what we like to hear. Something that has come up recently, back in March Chad released a statement about the song Hush and its connection to the NoMore movement, and that’s really awesome, a band taking a strong stance against domestic violence and sexual assault. Is that something the band discussed or is it Chad’s personal fight?
Kyle: No it wasn’t discussed, that song has really taken on a life of its own. Chad wrote that lyrically from a personal standpoint, you know, from what he went through and that’s just what it was on the record, and now that’s we’ve made it this far – it’s been out for over a year, the fact that we’re releasing it now as a single. We did a video and NoMore is behind it, it’s kinda just taken on its own legs, taken off on its own and reached a lot of people. Chad just writes from the heart, writes from experience, no matter what comes of it, he’s true to everything he does. So the fact that it’s taken on a life of its own, all of these people are coming out so thankful that THAT song is there and there’s an outlet for it and people can speak out without being scared or ashamed, or whatever it is. It’s a pretty beautiful thing, the life that song has taken, the way it touches people, and people out-pouring their emotion. It’s a pretty awesome thing that the song has gotten to where it is now.
Dave: And I think it’s great that you can do that, that a band can present a positive message.Something I see a lot on the internet when I read interviews with you, I always see comments about hot sauce. The rumour is you make a killer hot sauce, is there any truth to that?
Kyle: Oh absolutely it’s true! I cook a lot at home anyway, I started just making it on my own, for my own personal pleasure, and for family and people were like “hey you should sell this” I haven’t really taken it to the next level, taken it that serious or put a business plan behind it but everywhere I go I tend to start taking cases of it and just kind of give it away to people who are really into that kind of hot sauce flavour, and can appreciate it. I’ve really gotten good feedback from it. So when I am home, it’s another passion of mine. I dabble a little, I have it online and a couple of stores around where I live, so it would be really great if that all took off. You know it’s one of those things, it’s like music, it’s a passion – if you love what you do, it doesn’t really matter what happens. But the fact that words gotten around, that people are into it makes me really want to get into it more
Dave: That’s cool man, I’ve been known to dabble in it myself and sell the occasional bottle at shows, it’s one of those things that once you get into it, it’s pretty addictive.
Kyle: It’s cool to take it on tour because people will just buy anything with the band’s name on it, but other people buy it, just because it’s hot sauce – they’re like “I really wanna see this, is it really good? Is it really hot? Does it taste good?” So it’s good to get all these opinions and feedback from people who are just truly food lovers. You know, to get an honest opinion, not just because it has the band’s name on it. I only want the honest feedback of what people think about it. So it’s cool to talk to people… about food.
Dave: Yeah man, you’ll have to check out some of the local sauces, it’s really taken off in the last few years.
Kyle: (laughs) yeah it’s hard to fly with, but I’m definitely gonna try to bring as much as I can, just spread it around down there.
Dave: Sounds great, before I let you go is there anything you want to say to the Australian fans who are waiting to see you in August?
Kyle: We’re just extremely thankful to be coming back. Seeing all the feedback and love from fans saying “you’re finally coming back” and they’re so excited, but they don’t realise that we’re equally as excited to finally get back down there. So we’re itching to show Australia the new lineup and new music. There’s a new breath of fresh air in the band now, so it’s good, it’s gonna come across that we’re gonna keep coming down there and kicking ass, and thankful to be able to come back.
HELLYEAH are hitting our shores in August with the following shows presented by Metropolis Touring :
Thurs, Aug 20: The Studio, Auckland NZ
Fri, Aug 21: Bar Bodega, Wellington NZ
Sat, Aug 22: Bedford, Christchurch NZ
Tues, Aug 25: The Gov, Adelaide SA
Thurs, Aug 27: The Metro, Sydney NSW
Fri, Aug 28: Eatons Hill, Brisbane QLD
Sat, Aug 29: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Mon, Aug 31: Capitol, Perth WA