Hellyeah’s Kyle Sanders Talks Dirt Fest, Mayhem and New Music

2015-08-07

Story by Anne Erickson

Kyle Sanders says Hellyeah plan to record new music at the end of the year

Hellyeah’s members may come from a handful of high profile bands — Mudvayne, Nothingface, and Pantera — but their connection with listeners has little to do with that pedigree. The band simply writes authentic, from-the-heart songs, and the fans appreciate it.

When asked about the success of the band’s singles “Moth” and “Hush,” off last year’s “Blood for Blood,” Hellyeah bass player Kyles Sanders says it’s the meaning behind those songs that connects with listeners.

“I think the music is great, but it’s the lyrics,” Sanders told Audio Ink Radio. “It’s so deep and heavy and seems to really be connecting with people. Everyone can really relate to one or both songs at some point in their lives.

We’ve been playing “Moth” out here at Mayhem, and to see the response from the whole set is pretty cool to see those songs really touch certain people. To see that people can relate to everything Chad (Gray, singer) is writing about is writing about is really cool.”

Hellyeah perform this weekend at Dirt Fest in Birch Run, Michigan. Ahead of the gig, Sanders spoke with us about why the band is excited to play Michigan, their recent run on Mayhem Festival and when to expect new music from Hellyeah.

Thanks so much for making the time to talk today, Kyle. You guys have been on Mayhem all summer. You actually wrapped up last weekend, right?

Yes, today is the last day, and we’re here in Dallas, and it’s hot! We’re wrapping it up today, and then we fly home for three days, and then we’re heading straight over there to play Dirt Fest.

How were the Mayhem shows?

It’s been awesome! Every night has been great for us. Attendance has been all over the place, and up and down, and is different every day, but every time we play — we play at 7 p.m. every night — it’s always filled in nicely and shows have been treating us very, very well.

What band were you most excited to watch on Mayhem?

Slayer, of course. I grew up a fan of theirs, and we’ve played many shows with them in the past but have never done a full tour with them, so just to be able to talk with them every night for this whole run has been pretty amazing.

Do you have any crazy stories from Mayhem?

It’s not too crazy. Actually, it’s been pretty stress-free and low key. Everybody out here is professional and has been through it and knows the game, so it’s pretty respectful and overall has been a lot of fun with all the camps. Just the heat has been insane sometimes. People get exhausted and lose weight left and right, sweating it out. It’s pretty nuts. Being here in Texas, the last three days have probably been the hottest shows of the run.

Hellyeah play the main stage at Dirt Fest this weekend. What do you guys like about playing Michigan? This area has always been a stronghold for Hellyeah.

It has been! We hit the Machine Shop and Flint as much as possible. The shows are always packed, and it’s always a good time. We only played one one-off show on this tour, and it was up in Traverse City, and it was a great show. I don’t know what it is. The shows are always super energetic and the fans love it and keep coming back. We were definitely thrilled to hear we were going to be a headliner on Dirt Fest.

Are you close with any of this year’s Dirt Fest bands?

Coal Chamber I’ve known for a long time, and I’m pretty sure everybody else in the band has known them for a while, so it’s going to be cool seeing those guys again. Also, Mushroomhead and Jasta are out there. We’re good buddies with Jamey Jasta. I’m looking forward to seeing all those people I haven’t seen in a while.

There’s lots of talk lately about rock being dead. What’s the vibe you guys get from the front lines as a heavy band really doing well in 2015? It seems that from your viewpoint, rock is not dead.

Oh, absolutely not. It’s funny, hearing that because that’s one thing Chad will say almost every night that obviously they haven’t been here. Every city we play in has been awesome. Whether it’s club dates or festivals. I guess whoever is saying that is in the wrong place at the wrong time, because it’s the opposite for us. Our shows are doing great. We’ve been touring solid for a year and a half. We’re about to go do another record and then go get right back out the first of the year.

What’s ahead for you guys coming up? Maybe plans for the follow-up to “Blood for Blood?”

Exactly! Mayhem ends today, and we all fly home for a few days before we fly into Detroit and drive to Birch Run for Dirt Fest. Then, we have a couple of other festivals and headline shows in the states, and then we go directly to New Zealand and Australia and Japan for close to a month, and then our plan is to take two weeks off to get home and get our heads straight, and then Oct. 1, were going to start writing for the next record and record in November and December. Then, we’ll start playing a headlining tour the beginning of January.

When do you think the new album will drop?

That’s a good question. It’s always up to the label when that happens, but we’re hoping it’ll be around the same time this one came out. “Blood for Blood” was supposed to come out in April or May, and it ended up getting pushed until June, so I’d like to see the same kind of release timing.

Thanks so much for chatting! Is there anything else you’d like to tell people?

Just that the band can’t wait to get out there to play. We couldn’t even announce this Dirt Fest show because we were on Mayhem, so we had to keep it under wraps for a while. People would ask, ‘When are you coming back to Michigan,” and we would say, “Well, we’ll let you know in a few weeks!” So, it’s good to let that out of the bag. We can’t wait to get out there and play a full headline set out there.

How to go: Dirt Fest takes place Friday and Saturday at the Birch Run Expo Center in Birch Run, Michigan. The 2015 edition features Hellyeah, Down, Coal Chamber, Fear Factory, Mushroomhead, Jasta, King 810, Upon a Burning Body, Beyond Threshold, Taproot, Heartsick, Kottonmouth Kings, We Are Harlot, Periphery, Starset, Eyes Set to Kill, Psychostick, From Ashes to New, DeverauX, It Lies Within, Red Sun Rising, Fit for Rivals, Another Lost Year and others. For more information, visit www.dirtfest.com.

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