(PCM) We recently caught up with HELLYEAH guitarist Tom Maxwell at the Camden, NJ stop on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival to chat about the overall plight of the American rock festival, HELLYEAH’s evolution to this point and what is next on the horizon for the band later this year. You can view our video interview below.
When discussing the plight of touring rock festivals such as Mayhem, Maxwell told us, “I think the traveling festival is probably gonna die — unless some new bands emerge or something like that start… unless they start branching out. I think they’re gonna just die because you can’t compete with… You have all your radio stations coming up now, popping up, and they’re putting on their festivals, in their town, and it’s all over. And they call it, what is it? ‘Loudest Month.’ And it can continue on, with more stations that get behind doing that kind of thing. Which I think is cooler anyway, because the radio stations get fully behind it, they’re pumping it non-stope; it’s like feeding water to the masses. They’re just soaking it in, and they’re there. Every radio festival that I’ve ever been to has been f**king cool — even in the States. They’re picking up exactly what they’re doing in Europe. Now, in Europe, those festivals are part of culture now, and that’s what needs to happen here.”
He continued: “In today’s climate, whether it’s money or the lack of interest from the public in music… ‘Cause there might be something else in the next month that you’re saving up for. I think that that’s the way it’s gonna go. I think the traveling summer tours are a gamble, man. The promoters, they’re putting a lot out on the line, and there’s a lot of competition. And, like I said, you can’t have the same bands coming back every year, every other year. It’s just, like, ‘Oh, really? Pizza again?’ You know what I mean? It’s just stale. It’s the same bands.”
“I was expecting this year to have SLIPKNOT again, or something. I know it’s always AVENGED SEVENFOLD or SLIPKNOT and FIVE FINGER [DEATH PUNCH] and, you know… Who else is out there? It’s just very little bands that are available, unless you wanna just keep feeding them. And then [the bands] get to the point of, like, ‘F**k this! I’ll just do it myself.’ That’s what Ozzy [Osbourne] did [with Ozzfest].”
Maxwell added: “I think it’s got a bleak future — the traveling tours. Even when you’re not on a good tour like this, you really need a strong package nowadays. It’s, like, we refuse tours left and right, and with bands that have buzz, because we want a fresh look. You know what I mean? We need bands that are gonna make the show exciting and not be, you know, just, like, stale…
“We tried so hard in the past two years to turn this steamboat around, from the stigma that’s been with it, with the ‘southern-party-metal’ thing that I worked my ass off to kill with our new record [2014’s ‘Blood For Blood’] — and we all did; me, Chad [Gray, vocals] and Vinnie [Paul Abbott, drums], all three of us, just went into the studio and just crushed it with this record. And this is the path we want. And we wanna stay clear from anything that we were lumped in before, but we’re also open to new ideas, and getting other bands that might not seem to be in the same genre. I mean, it’s cool to branch out a little bit and [reach] a wider audience.”
Photography credit: Megan C. Brooks Photography