Hellyeah singer Chad Grey laughs when asked if he plans to give blood after he gets back home after his band’s 23-date North American tour ends March 8 in Atlanta, Ga. The metal group – which also consists of former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, bassist Kyle Sanders, and live guitarist Christian Brady – recently teamed up with the American Red Cross to promote blood donation among their fans. “Maybe I will. I’m not scared of it,” Grey tells Samaritanmag.
American Red Cross Biomedical Services “is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the United States, collecting and processing approximately 40 percent of the blood supply and distributing it to about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide,” it says on its web site. The Red Cross also plays a leading role in protecting the safety of donors and patients and increasing the availability of blood."
It’s late February, and Grey, formerly with the math rock band Mudvayne, is on the phone from Columbia, MO, killing time before soundcheck for that night’s show. There they will undoubtedly be playing tracks from all four of their albums, including their latest, 2014’s Blood for Blood.
With a title like that, it made sense for the band’s management to suggest a tie-in with the Red Cross. The virtual donation campaign, which started in January (a.k.a National Blood Donor Month in the U.S.), has so far seen 374 Hellyeah fans (371 at the time of this interview) pledge to give blood to the cause, according to the ever-changing figure on the campaign landing page.
People can also contribute financially if for some reason they cannot or don’t wish to give blood themselves. Hellyeah has been promoting the initiative via their Twitter feed and interviews.
“Heavy metal kind of has this stereotype that we’re all bad people,” says Grey. “We went back and forth with our management about how we could be proactive on a platform where we could promote our record.”
That platform was the online Hellyeah ‘Blood For Blood’ campaign. Fans who signed in could find their closest Red Cross via an online tool. All pledgers or donors will receive a signed Hellyeah poster, and will be entered into a draw to win other signed merchandise, tickets, and a meet ‘n’ greet package.
The rules are simple: 1. Pledge to give blood OR make a financial donation to the American Red Cross via this campaign. Take a photo of yourself giving blood on Instagram (or a screenshot of your donation). 2. Fill out the form at this link and add your photo to the gallery.
“I don’t think people really realize how much in need people are. It’s like 38 percent of Americans are eligible to give blood and only 15 percent do,” says Grey (Ed. note: the American Red Cross actually estimates that “less than 10 percent” of eligible Americans donate blood.) “And they have to keep stockpiling for emergency situations and stuff like that, for earthquakes and hurricanes. Suddenly they find themselves in an emergency situation, and it’s not meant to be taken lightly.”
STORY CONTINUES AFTER HELLYEAH PROMO VIDEO:
Why does Grey think people don’t give blood as readily and frequently as they should or give at all?
“Why don’t people do it? Because there’s not enough awareness about it. People don’t realize it until it’s too late, until maybe they get in a situation where maybe they need it, and it’s not stockpiled, and they’re like, ‘Oh, damn.’ You know what I mean? This whole campaign, this whole promotion, really does, on a level, raise awareness to a new community than would normally go and give blood. That’s 371 people who maybe never thought about donating who just went and gave blood. We got 371 pints out blood out of this.”
Giving blood is “not a personal situation at all” for Grey, but he says that the Blood for Blood campaign is a great way for Hellyeah to both bond with the band’s fans and to give metal a good name.
“I believe in heavy metal music as being a family. I really do. It’s saved my life more times than I care to count,” he says. “I like to let people know how important it is for us when we’re on stage, the community that is heavy metal. And anything you can do to sort of tether yourself to your fans and bring them into the experience I think is great.
“We had 371 people donate. It’s just amazing that heavy metal kids would do that. It’s such a fist in the air for the metal community and the Hellyeah fanbase, which is growing all the time. I think if you want to talk about the personal aspect of it, that is the personal aspect of it.”
The landing page for the Red Cross/Hellyeah promotion notes that 15,000 blood donations are needed daily to keep up with demand. Several fans have indeed posted pictures of themselves to the band’s Instagram account, their sleeves rolled up or posed outside a Red Cross donation centre. The response from the Hellyeah fanbase has obviously pleased Grey.
“It’s amazing, man. Literally, I was going through the images, and it’s clear and evident that they are all metal kids, the way that they’re dressed. You’ve got this pretty Goth girl and you’ve got this rugged dude laying there. It’s almost such a yin and yang situation. You don’t necessarily expect those people to be doing that, but it’s so exciting. That’s what I love about the togetherness of our community, and it goes back for years and years and years, generations of metal kids.”
While Hellyeah’s efforts to get metalheads to give blood to the Red Cross is just beginning to address America’s blood donation needs, Grey thinks it is a strong start to informing the community about an important cause.
“It’s just pulled us closer together,” he says. “And I think this will spread. I really do. I think it will raise awareness in the community. Not that they won’t do it but it will make them think about doing it. I think the potential for growth here is amazing.”Air Jordan