Interview With Chelsey Yeager Vinnie Paul's Longtime Girlfriend April 8th, 2020 • Interview #162
Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Chelsey. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at Metal Pulp And Paper. Such an honor to be talking with you today, we appreciate it. Most fans of Vinnie’s will know this, but there might be a few that don’t, but you were Vinnie Paul’s, one of the founding members of Pantera, Damageplan, and HELLYEAH, longtime girlfriend. So, when did you first meet him?
Chelsey Yeager: I met Vinnie in the summer of 2013. A mutual friend of ours invited me to a 'Sunday Funday' pool party at Vinnie's house. Once we were introduced to each other, we were inseparable after that. He was in the middle of the Gigantour, and he would come home periodically. When he was in town, we would always go out to concerts, dinners, get-togethers, etc. and things just escalated into this beautiful relationship. There was never a dull moment in our time together.
MPAP: After meeting him that day, were you expecting to see him again? Did you ever imagine that you’d wind up to be lifelong friends?
Chelsey: Vinnie was happy go lucky. He put everyone first, but himself. He loved putting a smile on people's faces. He was the epitome of a great man. Once I was feeling sick, Vinnie said he'd go to the store to get me medicine. Before he left, he asked if there was anything else he could get me. I sarcastically said, "yeah, a unicorn." Low and behold, he came back with a toy unicorn! Since then, anytime he saw anything unicorn, he'd get it.
MPAP: When he wasn’t in the studio or out on tour with his band HELLYEAH, what was day to day life like when you were with him behind the music scene? What were some of the things you both enjoyed doing together?
Chelsey: He really enjoyed having 'Sunday Funday' parties at his house. If he wasn't cooking, he'd order food. One time we went to Jack in the Box, after ordering the cashier asked if we could come inside to get it since it was a hundred dollar's worth of food and she felt it was too much to be waiting in line for. Another time, he ordered pizza for a group of us, and instead of using his address, he accidentally used a friend's address. The mistake was caught, and we eventually got the pizza. When the pizza arrived, Bridog came around the garage with a Halloween mask on, vacuum cleaner in hand, and scared the delivery guy! Those are just some of the crazy, funny, wild and random nights we'd have.
MPAP: Moving forward, everyone all over the world loved Vinnie; there is no denying that, and of course, it was well known that he wanted everyone around him to have a good time as well, but just like that, poof, in a blink of an eye; he was gone. When Vinnie passed away, did you look at life differently after that? Did you see and feel everything differently? Everything had to be harmful after that, right?
Chelsey: I absolutely look at life differently. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I did do some heavy drinking. I didn't want to leave the house. I was scared to leave; it would cause extreme anxiety. I went into immediate depression, and there were countless days I didn't want to get out of bed. I was so mentally drained the first months after his sudden death. Vinnie didn't sit around and sulk every day over Dime's passing because he knew that's not what his brother wanted for him. I know that's not what he wants for me. I now truly understand his words, "don't sweat the small stuff; you got to keep on keeping on." He lived life to the fullest every day, there's no doubt about that, and it took me some time to realize it.
MPAP: Did you feel instant anger and rage, or even hatred towards God, or the powers that be out there because Vinnie’s life was taken away from everyone way too soon?
Chelsey: Of course, I felt instant anger... the greatest man on earth and love of my life was taken from me suddenly, and there's nothing I could or can do to bring him back. It's still that way, but over the course of time, it's gotten a little easier. I still don't understand 'why me,' and I never will.
MPAP: Now some time has passed, have you at any time found peace? Can Chelsey take the next step and move on and move forward with life in general?
Chelsey: In time, I have found some sort of peace. It's been a bumpy road to get to, but it's gotten easier. I'm at a point in my life where I now see a light at the end of the tunnel. It's not as bright, but it's there.
MPAP: Rita Haney, who was Dimebag Darrel’s longtime girlfriend, and Dimebag was Vinnie’s brother, who was also taken away from us way too early, was probably a rock and a shoulder for you to cry on, correct?
Chelsey: Rita is a huge rock for me. She's the only one that truly understands every emotion that I feel and try to deal with. I truly see her as a big sister, and it's a bond I wouldn't trade. She's always there for me when I need her. MPAP: We are coming up on two years since the passing of Vinnie. Obviously, June 22nd, and every day since that day in 2018 has always been hard, but is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Was there anything that helped you cope with the loss that maybe you can share with others that might be grieving for someone that has just recently passed away?
Chelsey: There's not one thing that's helped me cope with his loss. Time is the true healer. Whatever amount of time that may be. There's no minimum or maximum on that. My friends have been constant in my life. They've forced me to go to dinners, movies, or just hang out. They've never judged my breakdowns and crying. It took over a year and a half, but what helped me was going back to working out. It's what I was doing before he passed and getting back into it that has done wonders for my day to day life.
MPAP: Five days before his death, Vinnie’s final performance took place at The Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas. He was working on HELLYEAH material and had finished his drum tracks for the next release. Did you two have anything planned to do before the new album was released and before he would go out on tour to support it?
Chelsey: After Vinnie finished his drum tracks for the new album, we had plans to do some traveling to places we hadn't been to together for some vacation time, such as the British Virgin Islands. We usually would head off to our favorite spot in Cabo, but we wanted to switch it up a bit.
MPAP: Some of your memories with Vinnie are more than likely private, but I’m sure there are a ton of stories of him that you could share with everyone? Will there ever be a time you might sit down and write a book about your life and time with Vinnie? Not a TMZ tell-all book, but just a book about the life and times and special memories you had with Vinnie?
Chelsey: I'm not sure if I will ever write a book, but I haven't written that idea off. I'm sure his fans would like to hear more of Vinnie's music and funny antics.
MPAP: Did marriage, or even having kids together ever come up in your conversations?
Chelsey: We both did not want kids, but marriage was talked about. We could go with or without being married, it wasn't a huge issue for us, and I was always okay with what we had. MPAP: Months before Vinnie passed away, he had mentioned to the media that there was enough Damageplan material that was recorded before Dime’s death to make another album. The only thing he said that was missing was only the vocals. Vinnie said that he did not know what to do with the tracks, but he often thought about having some of Dime's favorite singers like Rob Halford of Judas Priest or Chris Cornell of Soundgarden to record vocals for the songs, but he did not have time to do it because he was focused on his band Hellyeah. Do you think those recordings will see the light of day anytime soon?
Chelsey: I can't say for sure if those recordings will ever see that day, but it would be epic to have Rob Halford on there.
MPAP: Vinnie also had plans in the works at some point to be able to publish a cookbook of his favorite recipes. Most of his fans, especially his bandmates, and usually anyone that was out on tour with him, knows he loved to barbecue. He lived for that. Is there anything you can tell us about if his cookbook is now in the pipeline to be released someday?
Chelsey: His cookbook that he titled Drumming up an Appetite with Vinnie Paul is in the works. There are over 120 recipes that are saved and pictures to follow that will be in the cookbook as well. Not sure on an exact date when it will be finished.
MPAP: So, 2020. A new year, a new decade. What’s next for Chelsey? What are your plans for your future?
Chelsey: I'm still putting one foot in front of the other and continuing this thing called life. I'm not sure what's next for me but, I'm buckled up for whatever else life has to throw at me.
MPAP: As we bring this interview to a close, one last question to ask. This may be hard to answer, or even think about right now, but is there love after Vinnie Paul?
Chelsey: There will never be a love like Vinnie Paul, and I'm not sure there ever will be. I'm in no hurry.
MPAP: We wish to express our deepest sympathies with metal devil horns held up high and strong for Vinnie and of course for his brother Dimebag, and for every other metal titan in the music industry we have lost over the years, are there any final words you’d like to say about Vinnie or anything else?
Chelsey: If I could tell the fans anything about Vinnie, it would be, keep his music and spirit alive. Cheers!