My mother always told me all that matters is health and happiness; you can't buy either one of them. When I had interviewed Tom Maxwell of Hell Yeah, he was having a little time off of the road after an injury. Little did I know that I would be seeing Tom perform at Mayhem, sitting with his hoof in a boot, and I surely did not expect to have my own health issues after covering Mayhem, but life happens.
Even though we were both excited about Mayhem, we had to talk health matters for a bit. “I shattered my ankle,” Tom said. “I wound up falling off back, hurt both sides of my ankle, had surgery, was in the hospital for three days. I went home on the third day.”
Still, he had a chipper outlook on the whole ordeal. “It's amazing. I'm not in pain. I had a surgeon in Germany. Flawless. My podiatrist looked at it back home and was super impressed by the quality. There's swelling and discomfort, and it may continue to swell into next year.”
He had mentioned, “even though I'll be back on the road, I'll be sitting down at the pedal board and throwing down as hard as I can. I'm at stage left usually, but I'll switch sides with Christian, hang out with Kyle. Plus, since I'll really be concentrating, I'll play the way we wrote it. Most of the time, sitting live is easier to play.”
His upbeat advice: “if you're handed lemons, make lemonade.” We chatted about the bands on Mayhem, how he had played with White Chapel previously. Hell Yeah had been playing the “Blood for Blood” record with some previous shows, but they are looking to promoted the new record now.
Our conversation changed upon reminiscing about how the Mayhem Festival last year coincided with a festival that Hell Yeah had played in Wisconsin, Rock USA Oshkosh. The Milwaukee stop of the Mayhem Festival was at a ballroom adjacent to the Ambassador Hotel, and Tom surprised me with his knowledge of the area. “I'm familiar with the Ambassador Hotel,” he said, “we tried to find the haunted room.”
Of course, the Ambassador Hotel is where Jefferey Dahmer had killed one of his victims, but Tom clued me into a darker past of the area, including the ballroom where Mayhem had been held. “Kids drown in the pool there, and in the 40's, it had been a shelter for neo-nazis. It has an insane history.”
We swapped stories of haunted history, then got back to the music. “I've pretty much been touring since last year. We have Mayhem, then Australia. We'll tour the album 16-18 months. Concentrate. In September, we'll come back, breathe, then me and Vinny will start out laying ground for the next record later this year, release next year.”
Like fueling up a tank, replenishing, this is the work of an honest record. They'll get deeper in songs. Music is like a machine taking them into battle where they will rage on for thousands across the globe.
In any battle, there are fallen heroes. We chatted about Dimebag for a moment, as I had brought up how he had collaborated with unexpected types, like from the country genre. I questioned Tom on whether this type of activity continued when working around his brother Vinny.
“We're involved with a lot of stuff. There's always fun people who want to collaborate. Usually, it's the same genre. We've not been approached by any country or jazz musicians to collaborate, but we're not pigeonholed,” he detailed.
He shared about the band comprised of his buddy Tommy Sickles from Nothingface. “Todd and Jason; one record, fun ways to keep grounded. There was one circulated of a string section that did a cover of “You Wouldn't Know” with nothing but cellos and violin. I'd love to add that to some of our music.”
As far as his biggest musical fantasy, Tom dreamed of headlining Download in a form of musical world domination, changing career for the better, pulling in 80,000 fans, and being supported by bands like Nine Inch Nails, Motley Crue and Ramstein. If you missed them on Mayhem, you can still check them out online. Visit www.hellyeahband.com, www.facebook.com/hellyeahband, and www.myspace.com/hellyeah.
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