Pantera - Phil, Dime, Rex, Vinnie
Here’s one that will take some time to read. This is a series of interviews that took place between 2004 and 2007, each time with a different member of Pantera and each time with a different vibe. It’s one of the rare times I was able to interview an entire band at different times, representing different bands at the time. It was also a rare situation where I was able to visit with members of a legendary band during what turned out to be a historic time in their existence, even if they weren’t together at the time. I love Pantera. Always have, always will. And, just like many rock fans out there, often lament what could have been while at the same time celebrating what was.
For a little background, I was asked to interview singer Phil Anselmo as part of an Ozzfest tour feature that was put on by Digital Noise Network. I was beyond excited to get the opportunity. This was early in my adventure in interviews so I wasn’t quite the chatterbox I became and Phil is, to put it mildly, a very intense dude (Note: I ended up interviewing Phil three more times, each time becoming more and more just casual conversation than interview topics. Those will be posted later. For now, this is just about the first interview). At the time of the interview, Pantera was in a state of indefinite hiatus while all the members pursued their own thing. Phil was with Superjoint Ritual, Dime and Vinnie were with Damageplan and Rex was with Down. Interviews were popping up in major magazines that would highlight (sometimes unfairly) hostile words from Phil towards the Abbott brothers, stoking an already volatile situation. My intent going into the interview with Phil was not to push too hard on that topic, even though it could’ve been gold to capture an angry statement towards Dime and Vinnie. I was always the type of journalist that supported the musicians, not one who wanted to participate in tearing them down. That is why our conversation is more generic than bombastic.
The interview with Dime came next and it became one of the most haunting conversations I had ever been a part of. In the month or so between the two interviews, things had really become unstable between the Abbott brothers and Phil and, once again, I had an opportunity to participate in that back and forth (almost entirely run by journalists who would get breakout quotes of hostility and run with them). I chose not to stoke that fire but did ask questions about the status of Pantera and offered up quotes from my interview with Phil to get reaction out of Dime. Not so that I could blow him up in an article (the article I wrote was simply about Dime’s new band and how excited he was about it) but to see his perspective. You’ll even notice in my final question that I let him know that he still had something in common with Phil. It was also an immensely entertaining conversation. Dime didn’t just run through the questions, he exploded on them. He was such an extreme personality that he checked into the hotel as Emmitt Smith (yes, I had to ask to be connected with Emmitt Smith when I called the hotel). Imagine that, being a celebrity and checking into a hotel under a name that was even more famous than your own. Dime was tragically gunned down on stage just seven months after our conversation.
Dime’s death was, and still is, one of the most confusing and tragic things to ever happen to a band. It makes no sense and never will.
A couple of years after his death, I was shocked to find out that a biography about Dime put together by Vinnie Paul was released and it featured quotes from my interview, with my name and the Great Falls Tribune added to it. It will always be something that makes me proud to have been a part of.
In 2007, I was able to interview bassist Rex Brown during a tour cycle for Down. His perspective as the one member who wasn’t an Abbott brother or Phil Anselmo was interesting. Rex stayed with Phil as part of Down.
The final piece of the interview puzzle happened in 2007 when I was scheduled to interview the band, Hellyeah. Initially, I was set up to interview guitarist Tom Maxwell and much to my excitement (and terror), Vinnie Paul was the one who called. All my questions were written down expecting Tom but, luckily, I obviously had some background on Vinnie tucked away in my brain and I was able to adapt. It was a nice conversation and one that gave me yet another important perspective to a band that I adore.
Vinnie and Phil were never able to patch up their relationship as Vinnie passed away in 2018.
So, here they are, the series of four Pantera flavored interviews from The Culture Shock days. If you have an issue with f-bombs, you may want to stop now ...
Interview with Superjoint Ritual/Down/Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo, done while the band was in Tampa Monday, March 29, 2004 for Ozzfest.
What’s up man?
What’s going on?
You in Florida today?
How’s the road been treating you?
Beautiful man, cannot complain.
Right on. You’re about to lead your third different band into Ozzfest. What’s the biggest draw for you when it comes to this festival?
Say again, what’s the biggest draw?
What, to you, does Ozzfest mean? Like I said, this is your third band. The only person that’s probably played Ozzfest more than you is probably Ozzy himself.
That’s fucking true. To me, it’s always a fucking awesome, fucking opportunity. Especially for Down and Superjoint fans. Pantera, you know, we had the pedigree and the time and the fucking record, etcetera and the major label machine behind it. With Superjoint especially, you know, we’re on an independent label and once again we’re in a position to … it’s like the more we play live, obviously that really the only other fucking outlet for people to hear anything realistic about Superjoint Ritual you know. Being a live band is something I’ve been used to dealing with my entire fucking career, so, I’m comfortable with this and the Ozzfest is a shitload more people than we’re fucking used to playing for. A lot of these motherfuckers, I know that our music is different for the time that we live in, but I think it’s high time there be a hard core band that fuckin’, you know hard core heavy metal type band, you know, really leaning toward the hard core of yesteryear like Agnostic Front and fucking Carnivore and Discharge, etcetera, etcetera, Black Flag, you know. I think it’s time for a band to make a statement like that and fucking help fucking punch a hole in this fucking awful music that’s out there today.
Do you think this is the heaviest Ozzfest that you’ve seen as far as the lineup of bands?
Definitely. But, the only thing that confuses me on this is, how is the fifteen, sixteen year old today gonna feel about a band like Judas Priest. A band that’s been broken up for at least ten years. A lot of the kids don’t know there fucking music. They missed it. They did not grow up with Judas Priest you know. Hopefully their reputation and their fan base which would be a lot of older people, shows up in full support and make it great for Judas Priest because they deserve it you know.
I wondered that too, man. Cause like you said, the younger generation they’re gonna be getting the shit beat out of ‘em all day long and Judas Priest is gonna get up there and they might go off and take a beer break or something at that point.
Oooooh. That would suck.
So, dude, I saw you at Denver Ozzfest back in 2002 with Down.
I could see a genuine passion and tons of confidence in your performance, as if you were trying to connect with each and every one of the Down fans in the audience. What do you expect from a crowd when you’re up there giving it your all on stage?
I like to see a thousand percent back, you know. And a lot of times you’re gonna see, uhhh, a lot of people standing there staring because they’re fucking curious and I understand that, you know. They’re not gonna be going absolutely crazy because they’re curious and they wanna watch you and check you out and see if you’re the type of band that they’re into right off the bat. I understand all of that shit. Being on the main stage at Ozzfest, I expect a lot of that because of the seats. Because of our time slot. Because of how far away we are actually from the open crowd and fucking the grassy fucking parts of those outdoor arenas. It’s all seats until it hits the lawn, you know. It’s like … you know it’s gonna be different for us.
I remember at one point, you got really mad, you were calling out people cause they weren’t jumping up and down. As you did that it was as if the true Down fans got more amped and pumped up and the people who were just there to just check out another band on Ozzfest kind of got pissed and walked away. Is that your way of saying “fuck you” to everybody who’s not there to see you guys and filter everybody out so the fans of you guys are actually sitting there watching you?
Not really. It’s just how I felt at the time. Fucking, I gotta be honest with you man, I don’t bullshit an audience man. If they’re not meeting the quotient, you know, I’m going to fucking let ‘em have it. That must have been one of the fucking crowds. So fucking whatever, you know. That’s how I’m going to fucking berate them yes. As far as weeding out the fucking people, no, I have no true system or anything like that.
What does Superjoint give you as an artist that Pantera or Down never did?
It’s kind of hard to lump down into that equation because of the wide open opinion … fucking, uh, I guess fucking focused on the task at hand, the type of music that Down does, we all know very well. That always came very easy. You know, writing Pantera music was an easy thing. Pantera had it’s own style. It was really hard to draw from other bands after awhile because we developed such a distinct fucking style that you know, by the second, third album, it was like, there’s no way I can call it anything but Pantera music. The difference between, say take Pantera and Superjoint is, with Superjoint, I have the utmost freedom to create anyway I choose, and with Superjoint Ritual I choose obviously the more hard core route. With Pantera, fucking, it was a whole lot of give and take between the four of us and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s a four-way collaboration. There’s certain things that I may not have been absolutely happy with or thrilled with musically. I would definitely put my ten cents in and things would change most of the time, but when they didn’t I’d have to pretty much live with it and if the other guys really liked it or were fighting for it, this particular part of a song or something, I’d have to give in and fucking say ‘alright, you know, I’ll let it slide’ you know. In the same breath, I’m sure there’s some vocals or whatever that they didn’t like either that I liked and thought worked real well. They wanted to use something different. We both probably had our differences you know.
At this point in your career are you finished with those other two bands, and you’re just gonna focus on Superjoint?
Yeah. For the time absolutely. That’s all I can fucking envision.
When did you get your start in the music business? What was the thing that put you over the edge that you said, ‘this is what I want to do for a living?’
Once again, that’s a question that … there’s no way I can answer it the way you put it. But I will tell you that being a singer in a rock and roll band, a heavy metal band, a hard core band, whatever you want to call it. It was something that I’ve always known from, I guess, the youngest age I could possibly been, since collecting memories, I knew I was gonna be a singer in a rock and roll band and that’s all there is to it. I didn’t want to be a fireman or a fucking policeman or whatever kids wanna be when they’re kids. I always knew in my heart that at the end of a certain number of years that’s exactly what I’d be doing and that’s what I’m doing.
What’s your biggest motivation, with this band, with Superjoint Ritual when you sit down to write lyrics?
It depends on what’s happening around me, really. I wanna be blunt and I wanna be to the point. And I don’t wanna bunch of fucking poetic nonsense going on. All in all, I definitely want people to interpret the lyrics the way I feel they should be interpreted. But, if there’s a specific lyric in mind and someone wanted to know, Phil what do you mean by this? I’ll answer depending on what the question is, you know.
As a lead vocalist, you’ve got some of the most dedicated fans out there.
How much do they mean to you, these fans that follow you from band to band and just dig your music?
It’s fucking why you continue to live. It’s why you continue to fucking do what you do, man. Do it at a break-neck pace. It’s everything. Without the audience, what’s the fucking point, you know?
What do you do besides make music, like as far as hobbies and things like that?
Collect horror films and watch boxing. You know, work out. Shit like that.
Are there any bands out there? Up and coming bands that you’re really digging right now?
No? (laughs). If you could share the stage with any bands past or present, in their prime. Your ultimate festival show, but you’re playing along.
I’ve played with everybody, pretty much. I can’t really think of a band that … well, there’s one band, a couple bands that I like. I don’t know how it would go over as a show. There’s bands that I dig that I haven’t played shows with, but as far as legendary bands, fuck, I’ve played with Black Sabbath, Judas Priest. I tell you what, the original Van Halen, I’d definitely play a show with, that’s one thing I haven’t done. Did I already say Judas Priest?
Fucking Metallica. Megadeth. Fucking name more, I’ve played with them.
I saw the other day that Van Halen …
AC/DC. Go ahead, Van Halen what.
I was gonna say, the other day I saw Van Halen’s gonna be touring this summer, but they’ve got Sammy back in the lead on that.
Boy is that horrible. That is fucking miserable. That sucks.
At least it’s not Gary Cherone right?
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I don’t care really. Sammy Hagar with Van Halen is fucking sun tan oil drip bull shit crap music.
Dude, I remember you saying at that Ozzfest that you’re the King of Metal. I’ve been saying that for years. A few years ago when my buddies were sitting there listening to Deftones and Coal Chamber …
Yeeeeaaaaaahh. Stop it.
I popped in some Pantera and was like ‘this is where it all began.’ This is where it all began. This is the guy who started this.
You bet your ass. You bet your ass. That’s the fucking truth too.
Do you feel like you get the credit you deserve from, I don’t know, the media, I don’t know who else to credit. Or other bands that are out there right now?
Other bands, like my peers and all, absolutely. When they fucking are in my presence and shit they are absolutely fucking polite. Uh. Absolutely fucking humble and they all tell me, ‘man, I fucking have been listening to you for years,’ and ‘you’ve done so much for me’ and this and that and this and that ‘you’ve influenced me so much.’ They let me know, you know, and that makes me feel really fucking good. As far as magazines and whatnot, here and there I’ve had some magazines fucking give me some very good props, but I’ve had so many cheap ass fucking buuuulll shit fucking swipes taken at me by the media that you don’t know who to trust. It’s like, thanks for saying something nice about me this week, but you know, next week, if I fucking happen to do something politically uncorrect are you gonna fucking hang me by a fucking god damn rope again? It’s like what the fuck you know?
Well, Phil. I definitely appreciate you talking to me.
I appreciate the fucking opportunity.
I’m honored to talk to you and I’m gonna do my best to let everybody know to check you guys out.
Hey man, that’s absolutely fucking perfect and I can’t thank you enough.
Enjoy sunny Florida and the road and I look forward to seeing you on Ozzfest this summer man.
All right big bro.
Have a good one.
Take it easy.
Damageplan/Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, interviewed while the band was in Portland, Oregon, for a show Friday, May 7, 2004. Call was placed to a local hotel where I had to ask for an alias - Emmitt Smith.
Rock and roll. Who is this and what are we doing?
This is Pat Douglas and we’re doing an interview man, what’s up?
How the fuck are you Pat, it’s Dimebag.
I’m in Montana, Big Sky Country.
We’re in similar parts of the country. You’re in Oregon today, aren’t you?
Hell yeah. So what’s going down man? Just askin’ ya some questions.
Sure what kind of magazine are we doing it for?
This is for an internet website called digital-noise.net and it’s also for the Great Falls Tribune.
Let’s blow it up.
You guys are coming up to Calgary next week, which is just slightly north of here.
How satisfying is it to be back on the road again, tearin’ it up?
Man it is fucking, just completely awesome, completely beautiful man. That’s my only love in life, is fucking playing fucking music, you know. That’s where I belong.
These past few years, what have you been doing with yourself? I’ve talked to a few bands and it seems like you’re doing a lot of helping hand stuff, checking out bands, hanging out in Texas. What have you been doing the past few years?
First of all, we were trying to figure out what the deal was with the whole Pantera thing when that started going down and you know once we started catching a drift that other cats didn’t want to participate anymore and that we were out of a band, we started putting music together man. Mainly all I do is jam. I play guitar, fucking hang out with friends that love music. Friends in bands. We go out and get drunk. We watch bands, we get drunk. We stand in front of the jukebox and fucking raise hell. I don’t play golf, I don’t play baseball. There’s nothing else. I don’t work on cars. There aint nothing else. There’s music and that’s it.
You’re a notorious partier man. I interviewed Trevor from Unearth last month and he told me a story of you guys getting him wasted on one of their first nights out on tour.
Yeah. He came up and told me that he prides himself on drinking everyday and he was ready to go and he was ready to fire up. I started lightin’ him up with a couple doubles man. Next thing I knew he had to get carried out and then I found him out in the parking lot sitting in the car passed out and we woke him up and gave him another double and he’s kind of eased off ever since just a little bit you know.
Is that like a ritual you guys like to do to bands you take out?
No. I mean, look, we’re gonna be raisin’ hell. We’re gonna be drinking a shitload. We’re gonna get stupid and break shit and have fuckin’ fun. I might go down in flames and somebody has to give me a helping hand to the car. We aren’t actually trying to do it maliciously or anything to try and hurt somebody. We just get around each other and we start raisin’ fucking hell and the shit starts flowing and at some point you just can’t go no fucking further ‘cause we definitely ride it to the fucking red line.
Let’s talk a little about the new album. It’s one of those records that goes … you’re listening to it, it goes in one direction and boom you kind of flip around. Tell me a little bit about it.
Well that’s mainly what we wanted to do there towards the end. Like Pantera “Reinventing the Steel” was getting pretty much … trust me I love everything that we ever did with Pantera and I thought it was fucking a totally bad ass fucking band. Me and Vinnie intended doing Pantera forever. We could never ever foresee the end of Pantera coming and the way it came down was even more of a shock. It’s still not a good taste in anybody’s mouth. Mine or Vinnie’s or the fans. We all just got hung out to dry, that’s all there is to it. Anyway. Towards the end. Now that it was called the end, “Reinventing the Steel” and that shit was getting more one-dimensional. Once we knew that was a done deal and we were moving on, that’s what we wanted to do is, take all the shackles off, cut the fucking boundaries. Cut the you can’t do this, you can’t do that, or that aint cool. Fuck all that shit. My musical background and the shit that I listen to is fucking as wide as David Allen Coe and Merle Haggard to fucking Kings X, to Black Sabbath to Steely Dan. Dude I listen to all sorts of fucking shit. I’m a music lover. You don’t have to just like one particular brand of music, you know what I mean? When people start … it’s just close-mindedness whenever people start telling you ‘that sucks’ or ‘that sucks.’ You know if you don’t like it, fuck it, don’t listen to it. In my situation, me and Vinnie aren’t just capable of doing one kind of music. We’re not limited in our capabilities are on the guitar and the drums. We got a lot to offer. We wanted to break things wide open and get really diverse. Give you some fucking depth man. It’s cool if you do one thing and you’re really good at it. Like I said, we got a lot more to offer than that and we really give the listeners something to listen to. I think out of the record we did “New Found Power” it will fucking light you up right out of the chute, but it’s not the same thing over and over and over. Where it gives you a chance, it actually grows on you and it lasts longer than a one dimensional record and that’s what we wanted to you know.
Did you have people lined up to help you out? You got Zakk on there, you’ve got Corey on there. I mean a couple of amazing talents. Did you guys go into it with people asking to help you guys out?
No. Not at all. It was never a charity case or anything like that. Like ‘oh man, we need some fucking credibility.’
(laughs) I don’t mean it like that.
(laughs). I know. But no, those things man, once again, that’s just fucking buddies in rock and roll getting drunk, listening to tunes. We have so much fucking fun with each other man. We all want to be a part of each other and everything they do with their bands and what we do with our bands. Zakk was down and we were doing a cover shoot for Guitar World and we got done with the interview and the photos and he had about thirty minutes or an hour before he had to leave for the airport. We were jamming the tracks, we’d been drinking, raising hell and I don’t even remember how it got brought up, but somehow or another, somebody said ‘Zakk outta play the outlead on that’ Zakk’s like ‘fuck, I’d love to, let me fuckin’ play guitar, let’s go.’ The studio’s right behind my house. We literally got the idea on the spot, walked down there, plugged up a guitar, tuned it by ear. Luckily my engineer was there and he fired the board up. Zakk went to work and blazed three leads and just fucking blew us the fuck away. And then of course, we just kept getting drunker and he missed his flight and so he was there for another three days. We played him “Soul Bleed” and he wanted to put some backup answer vocals on it. We just turned on the mic and let him go. The thing with Corey was, we were hanging out in front of a strip bar, listening to Stone Sour, that’s when he came through with Stone Sour. We were playing him some of our newer shit, you know. And you know, some how or another, there was another great idea from a bunch of drunk rock and rollers that Corey should do something on it. Fucking, we love to have Corey. He’s like ‘fuckin’ send me something dude, I’m out here, I’m busy right now, but when I’m done, send me something, I’d love to be a part of it.’ We sent him “Fuck You” and he sent the motherfucker back and it blew us the fuck away man. There’s actually another song on there man, that’s track number 15 on the Japanese release, on the import and it’s on the “Punisher” soundtrack and it’s called “Ashes,” and that was another one of them deals, Jerry Cantrell is one of our bloodbrothers, you know and he comes down for every Christmas and Thanksgiving. And he was down on Thanksgiving and we were playing this fucking, we were trying to come up with the extra track for the Japanese record and the “Punisher” soundtrack and he heard it and started singing melodies and I was like, here lets give him the full track and the microphone and let him go to work. Man, it was just kind of meant to be. It just kind of fell in place. None of it was preplanned.
Describe for me the chemistry you’ve shared with Vinnie through all these years.
It’s the most amazing, fucking best friend I could ever have. My honest true brothers. A lot of brothers and sisters have an animosity and they’re always trying to outdo each other. Suzie got straight A’s and you’re failing with D’s, you know, it’s a comparison kind of thing. It’s a competition for a lot of brothers and sisters. For me and Vinnie we grew up together and at a really early age, that was our common bond is a fucking love for music. Our dad played music and he totally supported us. We both tried to play drums. Vinnie got better than me, so I got a guitar. It’s the same Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen story. That’s how it all started and we both always strived for the same goal. We keep each other in check and everything. We really don’t fight about shit man. We really don’t fight about jack shit. We’ll keep each other in check, but there aint no animosity towards each other or any kind of competition at all ‘cause we’re both going for the same goal. Fuck man, I talk to him everyday. If we don’t go out every fucking night, we do everything together. He’s the greatest person in my world, man.
I’m sure you get asked about this all the time, so forgive me for doing the same. About a month ago I did have an interview witih Phil Anselmo and I talked to him about what he gets from Superjoint that Pantera could never offer him. I’ll just read you a quote that he said to me. He said “it was a whole lot of give and take between the four of us and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s a four way collaboration. There’s certain things that I may not have been absolutely happy with or thrilled with musically. The difference between say take Pantera and Superjoint is, with Superjoint, I have the utmost freedom to create anyway I choose, and with Superjoint I choose the more hard core route.” Do you think that’s what caused that whole thing? That Phil just wanted to do the same thing. What do you feel about the whole situation?
(laughs). Dude. I’ll tell you this dude. It’s not a musical thing really that is why that dude took off and left. It’s not, dude, I can’t even begin to put a finger on it. I know some shit that nobody fucking knows. Look dude, when you’re a brother with somebody for 12 fucking years and you do everything in the fucking world together and you build this band from nothing to what it is and whatnot and then you just up and just don’t want to be around those people all of a sudden. There’s some weird reason floating around. It goes even further than egos or something like that. I can’t even. I don’t really want to get into it. This whole thing needs to come to rest period. It’s not just a musical thing. It could be anything from fucking addictions to anything you can fucking dream up. Me and Vinnie have a fucking standard level. When somebody feels paranoid or something to be around somebody that knows. When you know one of your brothers are gonna tell you the straight truth and you don’t wanna have to face it and you run from it. That’s all I gotta say about it. You can build your own conclusion. There’s nothing that Pantera incompetent of doing musically, period. There’s nothing that we can’t do at all … or that we couldn’t do, or that me and Vinnie couldn’t do. So whatever.
I appreciate you commenting on it. I’m sure you get it all the time. I did have a chance to talk to him, so I was curious about both sides. It’s obvious what happened. That leads to my next question. Do you guys feel a relief now that it’s put to bed and you’re on to your next project and you’re doing successful with that?
Man, you know. I’ll tell you this dude. Me and Vinnie were the heart and soul of Pantera. You watch the fucking home videos. You see who’s driving the fucking thing, who’s the fucking life of the fucking party and who’s the hellraisers. Me and Vinnie never had a problem with any fucking band in this business. We don’t care. If it’s not our cup of tea, not our style of music, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean those are uncool people. In his situation he sees that in a different way. He chooses to attack anything that he doesn’t like and he chooses to try to degrade anything that’s not his way and then once you agree and try to go his way with it, then all of a sudden you’re ripping him off. It’s a no win situation. Yeah, it’s a weight lifted off our shoulders. The cat used to never be that way. He’s went through some definite changes through his life. I damn sure don’t know who the dude is now. Even though I’d been with the dude for 12 years. So there you go, go figure. It’s not the Phil I know from way back in the day. And, dude, when some dude just up and just won’t let you get in contact with him at all and dude this is coming on three years that he’s stayed completely out of contact with him by his choice, there’s something. Something’s funky. You know what I mean?
Do you feel like it’s been difficult to try to get people to try and separate the two bands? You’re trying to get out with Damageplan and get this thing rolling and obviously I’m sure every where you go there’s references to Pantera.
That’s not the case at all, you know. It might have been the case for him. He went around and got on the microphone in every city of every fucking state in this country and try to dog Pantera out and talk fucking down about Vinnie and Dime for no fucking good reason and people didn’t go for it man. People didn’t like it man. We love our fucking Pantera family and all the fucking army that we created and all the fucking army that we created and all the fans that have been behind us. We embrace those people. Everybody knows the fucking truth. Anybody with two fucking eyes and two fucking ears with any kind of vision to see exactly what happened and what went down. Dude, there has been zero Pantera backlash coming at us. We’ve played almost everywhere so far and zero Pantera backlash and matter of fact at the end of the set, I let the crowd know that me and Vinnie never turned our backs on them. And you wanna hear some classic shit, we do it and pound out a couple of the classics, man. We never turned our back on the Pantera fans. We never, ever, period. We planned on doing it for life. I’m not saying we’re goody two shoes, whatever, on the other side of the stick. I’m just saying from our fucking angle, we never fucking meant … I thought we’d be the Rolling Stones of heavy metal, but it just did not work out that way in other people’s mind. It’s nothing to do with Dime and Vinnie, man, and I want my credibility to stay clean and Vinnie’s to stay clean, ‘cause we aint ever fucking attacked the Pantera fans, we embrace ‘em, dude. There’s so many people that got Cowboys From Hell tattoos. Fucking wearing Pantera shirts to this day proudly and that’s cool man. There’s still Vinnie and Dime fans inside there, I guarantee you. Like I said, we embrace ‘em, we get up there and blast that shit. We play it better than Pantera fucking played it.
Now that you’ve had a couple of months to watch Patrick on stage, what are your impressions of him as a front man?
Of course, he was a guitar player before, so he never worked on his front man skills. He’s a straight up honest dude when he gets up there, man. He’s been nothing but fucking great and everybody’s comments have been nothing but, that dude kicks fucking ass. Dude, his singing skills are fucking amazing. You know, just like anything, you gotta go into your own. I think he’s working in real fucking well, I feel real comfortable with him and I think he does a fucking hell of a job. At least he’s honest and he’s not up there filling anybody full of bull shit or preaching down their fucking neck about anything. I know when we’re done playing a set as Damageplan, them motherfuckers got their asses worked over the coals. They didn’t get just a couple of songs and a bunch of this and that. They fucking get their ass flipped from one side down the other and they leave that motherfucker knowing they got their money’s worth. That’s what feels fucking good when we leave that night. We sign every fucking fan’s everything. We do fucking FYE signings. We do in stores before the fucking shows, any town that wants one we do ‘em at the gig. We meet the fucking fans any fucking where any time. We get up, we play our fucking show, we do the FYE signing, people that buy the CD and wanna get their shit signed, we all sit down at the table, walk them through one by one, take photos with ‘em, sign everything they want. When it’s done we walk out to the bus and there’s usually a hundred, two hundred people standing around out there. We stay out there until everyone out there get everything they fucking wanted. That’s the way it should be man, straight up right at fucking street level with the fans. If you ever become too fucking big and too godly and you’re above the fans, how could you ever relate to ‘em if you’re fucking above that shit? It just doesn’t make sense. Me and Vinnie never ever went to that place, we never will and that’s what keeps us connected.
If you could share the stage with any bands that ever played, past or present, but you guys are on the bill, what would those bands be?
I’ve already done all my dream bands. KISS, we’ve done KISS, Black Sabbath, we got to do that Sabbath reunion. Those are my two all-time tops. I’ll tell you the one band I never got to share the stage with, it would have to be fucking Van Halen. With Sammy or Dave.
Awesome. I’ll tell you two things. I’ve interviewed 70 bands in the past year or so and I’ve asked them all that same question, and I’ve asked them all that same question, and you wouldn’t believe how many of ‘em say Pantera in that.
(laughs). Cool man.
Just for your information too. When I asked Phil that same question, Van Halen was there too. So you still got something in common.
Right on man.
Current Down and former Pantera bassist Rex Brown, interviewed Thursday, September 6, 2007, while driving to the airport in Los Angeles.
Hey, can I speak to Rex?
This is him.
Hey Rex, how’s it going? This is Patrick.
Hey bud. How ya doing?
Doing great. Where are you at?
I’m in a car driving down the 405 in L.A. to get to the airport.
Where are you headed to?
I’m headed back to the ranch in Texas.
I’m up in Montana. Big Sky country.
Right on. We’ve got a little in common there, son. What’s happening?
I’m kind of surprised here. We’re talking just as the opening game of the NFL is getting underway. You’re a football fan, right?
That’s what I figured.
Go Saints. I have to say that. I’m a Cowboys fan at heart, but the other four guys would probably whoop my ass if I didn’t say ‘go Saints.’
I was wondering if you’d converted.
They’ve got a pretty good team this year. They had a damn good team last year. I thought they were gonna go. They’re so young, they still have a chance. I hadn’t really seen the preseason stuff. We’ve been real busy. Just got back from Australia. Really didn’t have a chance to see any of the games.
It’d be really difficult for me to convert. I’m a Broncos fan and I’ve got three different logos tattooed on my body. I’m stuck with them.
You must love the fucking Broncos then.
So, how good does it feel to be back on this ride with Down? You’ve got the touring you’ve already done and the upcoming record release.
It’s really cool. It’s taken two years to get the thing back together and kind of moving and getting everybody in the same head space. Shit a lot of stuff’s happened in the last few years. You’ve got Katrina and we’ve lost a lot of loved ones. Trying to put all this together and keep it a really concise and very focused … what am I trying to say? You know when you listen to a record like ‘Back in Black’? It’s a fuckin’ record. You wanna hear the whole thing. You don’t wanna stop at just one song. We consciously tried to do that with this one. Have you heard it?
Oh yeah. I’ve been listening the shit out of it for the past two days.
Absolutely love it. I’m a Down fan from back in the day and it’s different than the other ones in the sense that it seems more personal. It’s straight up southern metal though. It’s good shit man.
I ain’t taggin’ it. I ain’t taggin’ shit. I’ll just say that it’s a fuckin’ damn good rock and roll record.
You have to have southern pride that goes with it, but we pride ourselves from being from the south and the whole bit, but I wouldn’t call it a southern record because it really doesn’t sound like the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd. We’re trying to start our own little niche here.
You can listen to the new album and realize that there’s nothing out there that sounds like Down and there’ll be nothing like it after. Basically you know when you’re listening to it, that it’s Down.
Yeah. It’s kind of funny ‘cause people will ask me ‘who’s influencing you guys these days?’ First of all, pretty much us. That’s who’s influencing us. We just wanted to put a record together that’s real cohesive. A real positive message. Phil’s singing his ass off. It’s the best he’s sang in twenty fuckin’ years. I mean, the cat can sing and he can also bark like a dog. This record is what we’ve been striving for as a band for a long time and now it’s finally coming to complete fruition to what this band needs to be.
It’s cool that you mention that you don’t try and sound like anyone else because you can tell. The great bands feed off each other and don’t have to rely on another band’s sound.
Right. And it’s a process. I mean, the second record, we had some skeleton tracks that we had laid down and the whole bit. I’d gone down and jammed and we had some stuff. We kind of got in the mode of ‘let’s go down to the fuckin’ barn.’ For the second record. Just rent a shitload of fuckin’ gear from Nashville, bring it down and just make a fuckin’ record together. Well we did that in like twenty-eight fuckin’ days and it was a hell of a ride. But, this is more focused and we really wanted, like I said before, to be really cohesive and just killer.
Like I said, I’ve been listening to it nonstop since I first got it. It was cool because when I first put it in ‘3 Suns and 1 Star’ kicks in and just starts pummeling you and it just gave me goosebumps. How excited are you for Down fans to hear the new collection of tunes?
I think it’s a must have. I don’t think there’s anything out there that’s like it. It can transcend to people that like older rock and people that like younger stuff. Phil and I were in one of the most influential metal bands in the fuckin’ ‘90s, so you still have that metal influence, but this band can go anywhere. We can play anything from guitar ballads to southern rock to whatever the fuck we wanna do. This record is more focused on … this is where Down really needs to be. This is exactly where Down needs to be and there’s no misconception that it’s an awesome record.
This band has become one of those bands that people get really excited about when you have tour announcements or rumors of songwriting and ultimately the album releases. I’ve already heard people talking about it as being one of the most anticipated albums in metal this year in rock and roll. Do you guys feel like you’re sort of carrying a torch right now?
I’ve carried the torch before and it’s cool to carry the torch but at the same time, at the end of the day, it’s more about the songs and about going out and playing live and having the kids react to it. That’s really what it’s all about. As far as … Phil went through the ‘I’m the king of metal’ and all that kind of shit and that was cool, but that was then and this is now. We’ve all matured a whole lot and gone through a lot of shit and basically tried to make the band now compared to five years ago is completely different. Even though it’s the five of us, it’s just more. It’s hard to describe. It’s more cohesive and just where we wanna be right now and keep this thing going. This isn’t a side band anymore. This is the real deal and that’s what it’s gonna be.
It’s interesting that you mentioned that. I saw you guys live back in ’02 and it was on Ozzfest in Denver. It was one of those shows where there was a point where you guys stopped a tune about four times. As a Down fan, I loved the fact that you guys were calling out the crowd. I got it. But, Phil was really laying into the crowd.
Yeah, if he keeps coming back we’re gonna stop the show. He’s the one with the microphone. How are you gonna do it? If the crowd ain’t gettin’ into it, they better get their ass into it. They paid the money. That’s what needs to happen (laughs).
He definitely called ‘em out for just standing there.
Sometimes you gotta do it.
It was memorable.
What kinds of pressures do you face when you enter the studio knowing that whatever you guys produce, it’s gonna be put on a microscope not only by die hard fans, but critics?
For me personally, as long as the song, personally me playing wise I don’t have a problem whatsoever. As long as the song is where it needs to be. Putting all that together, remember you’ve got five different guys from four other bands that are all pretty headstrong about the ways that we’ve put all of our different collective songs together in the past. It’s not a butting head so much as trying to get as collective as you can. Does that answer your question?
Definitely. I ready where you guys started writing this record when Katrina hit. What was it like for the five of you in the aftermath of that storm and the subsequent chaos?
Number one, you couldn’t get in touch with anybody. Cell phones didn’t work, land lines were down. Philip and I were talking nonstop before that and then I didn’t talk to him for three months. I tried. I didn’t know where he was. I heard that he was ok and I tried cell phones and the whole bit. I think we’d spoken briefly, he said he was ok, he said he was in Houston and everything was cool. But, going back to your house with fuckin’ food and no power, it was literally … it was like a fuckin’ war zone and it still is. There just now getting water pressure back to the fuckin’ city. It’s kind of disgusting. This is in America. Building growth is horrible. It’s completely sickening is what it is. We don’t like to jump on this political bandwagon. Oh, the Eddie Vedder crap. We don’t like to do stuff like that, but it’s gotta be said that a lot of friends were lost, died. People that those guys grew up with. Mothers trapped in the biggest disaster in U.S. history. Getting over that process and trying to write music and us being brothers and having each others backs and somebody’s having a bad day, get through it and let’s make this thing positive. That’s the only way you can get out of situations like that.
Ultimately, once the five of you got back in contact, how hard was it to pick that spirit back up and continue writing music? Just our love of music and getting down there and taking maybe a little bit of that aggression out and putting it on tape and trying to piece it together and trying to figure out how we wanted it to fit. At a certain point, after you get so many songs, it becomes its own beast. That was basically how it came together. I would come down for like a week and then leave and then come back in a couple of weeks and Philip would be getting the vocal ideas and hell, I think he had the sequence of the record done like four months before we even got into the studio. It was one of those things that when you go through shit like that, music for us, that’s the thing that clears our heads and we just wanted to make this thing really positive instead of taking the negative crap out of it. Making it a positive, cohesive fuckin’ masterpiece.
The completed album becomes more of an accomplishment more than just a band writing a record. It seems like through all the hardships, it becomes a record of victory for all you guys. Describe for me the therapeutic nature in which these songs have been born.
I don’t know. When you read the lyrics, when they come out, you’ll understand a little better. The way that Phil phrases things. Instead of in the past where the ‘fucks’ and the barking and all that kind of stuff. We’ve all matured over the deal. It’s made for a more, I don’t know, I keep using this word cohesive, but it’s made us more of a band where we really trust each other and really have each others backs. Some of the lyrics are just about what everybody had to go through. Everybody having each others backs and getting through it. But, at the same time, it is also a rock and roll record. You have to go through some of these things that you go through in life and then you write songs about ‘em. It’s not all about dealing with Katrina and Dime and the whole fuckin’ bit. There’s still some good tracks on there that are up to your own interpretation. Whatever it means to you. If it helps you down the road, fuckin’ great. That’s what it’s all about.
I love how songs like ‘N.O.D.’ have these incredible tempo changes and transformations from sludgy and heavy to flat out metal. What is the most important aspect to songwriting, music wise, as far as this collective group is concerned?
People ask ‘where’d you get the influence for all this?’ We’re influencing ourselves. We’re grabbing what we’ve done for all these years in our different bands and trying to incorporate all that into one big fuckin’ giant monster. We’re more influenced by what we know in our hearts is what we want to put out. That’s what we’re doing. We’re not trying to sound like fuckin’ dark tone. We’re just being Down at this stage in the game. I couldn’t be more fuckin’ pickled about this record, you know.
A song like ‘Never Try,’ to me is very somber and bluesy but it also has a very inspirational message to it. Tell me about that song and the mood of the band when you recorded that particular tune.
We were sitting around and Pepper had this little riff that he was dicking around with in the studio and we were all trying to get in the room and he was like ‘ya’ll go away for a little bit’ and I came in there and sat down with him and we kind of put a structure to it and I think after I left, Philip put vocals on it and it turned into this little ditty that I think is really cool. In fact, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the record.
It’s one of my favorites too and like I said, it has that inspirational message to it. I don’t know if that’s what you guys were going for.
Dude, this whole thing is about positivity. It has nothing to do with negativity. It’s about getting through a lot of shit and making the best out of it instead of sitting and whining and being a pussy about it.
This is the second band that you’ve been a part of that is leaving a trail of historical music with every album release. What are your thoughts about the road that you’ve traveled thus far through rock and roll history?
I think it’s great. I’m overjoyed that I’m still decently at a young age … through all the (laughs) demons and addictions to be able to talk on the phone with ya. That’s very important to everyone in this band. We’ve got our shit together and when it comes to live, it’s gonna be brutal. You’ll see when we come through Boise, I believe. Where are we playing in Montana?
I don’t think you’re playing in Montana. If you’re thinking of it, you can get a good crowd and a good show at the Wilma in Missoula. You could fill a nice 2,000 seater for sure.
We’re into the 2,000-seat theaters. That’s kind of our deal. We like doing shit like that. I will pass that on.
I was down there in Missoula a couple of months ago and saw High On Fire ...
Great show. Great crowd. It was bad ass. We get looked over a lot ‘cause it’s Montana (laughs).
Well, you know what? There’s a lot of places that I haven’t ever played that I want to and I can’t remember if we’ve played … what’s the big town in Montana?
Billings is the biggest.
Right, Billings. I don’t know if I’ve ever played Billings before.
It’s still really not that big (laughs).
Right. Hopefully we’ll get there as soon as possible.
Going back to Pantera. That band has become as legendary a metal band as there’s ever been. How do you personally reflect on your experiences with Pantera?
I don’t know. In your 20’s, you fly by the seat of your pants. In your 30’s you figure out how to fly a little higher by the seat of your pants. The chemistry that we had between the four of us in that band was phenomenal. We were four completely different individuals. The brothers were completely different individuals (laughs). It all came together and it was a great ride, man.
Just a month ago, Drowning Pool played a show here in Great Falls and I checked it out and they busted out ‘Cowboys From Hell’ and it was weird because it was the most spastic the crowd had been all night. The place went nuts and everyone was singing along. It felt like the spirit of Pantera was in the room with everyone even though we all knew it wasn’t the real deal playing it.
That’s cool. A lot of bands are doing that and I think it’s great. I think it’s great homage and the whole bit. Shit, if they wanna do it, go for it. It won’t ever be like the four of us onstage doing it, but tear it up (laughs). Make the best of it. I think it’s cool. A lot of bands play ‘Walk’ and stuff and I’m like ‘good, ya’ll play that ‘cause we had to play that every night for fuckin’ years.’ (laughs). I’m like, god almighty.
Like I said, it was interesting because everyone in the room grew up on Pantera, so as soon as that opening riff kicked in, everybody goes crazy. It’s almost turning into a Zeppelin kind of thing as far as a lot of people were there and experienced it while it happened and now it’s gone away and you just have to remember it.
Yeah. Which, I don’t know if it’s remembered in a good way. We had a hell of a run. Dude, after twenty years, it’s like a fuckin’ marriage, man. It just gets sour and you gotta take different avenues and people grow apart and grow different and poor Dime. I don’t know what to say.
How hard has it been to recover from Dimebag’s passing? I know that’s a difficult question to respond to.
I miss the dude everyday. The world’s a far less beautiful place without him. I remember the good times. I remember all the good times that we had. At first, it was such a shock that I didn’t really wanna talk about it. And, I still really don’t wanna delve real deep into it because this interview is about the Down music …
But I miss that dude terribly. Just a terrible waste of fucking … just the idiot. Sometimes I get to the point where I get really, really hateful. Just pissed off because of some asshole. Just some fuckin’ lunatic that really changed … I really don’t think that the guy really … I don’t know. I really don’t want to get into it, but I don’t think he knew how many lives he fucking changed by doing that. I think it’s a terrible waste of life and talent and breath and I miss, we all, Philip and I, we talk about him all the time. That’s our way of getting through it. After he passed, we talked every day on the phone until Katrina. We’ve come to closure with that part of it. The mourning and stuff. There is a song called ‘Mourn’ on the record and you should listen to it. That is about Dime.
I do appreciate you talking about it Rex. I’m a huge fan of both Pantera and Down. Just in the last three years, I’ve spoken with Dime and Phil and Vinnie and now you and I’ve talked to all you guys in Down except Jimmy. I love being able to talk to you guys and I love when you have new music out and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on all of it. You are sharing it with a fan of all the music.
Thanks for being a fan, man. That’s what it’s all about.
If you could share the stage as Down with any bands that have ever played, past or present, which ones would you choose?
Dude, we’ve played with all of our idols. The only band that we didn’t play with was Van Halen and I wouldn’t get on a fuckin’ stage with those fools now for anything. Dude, think about it, Kiss, Black Sabbath, fuckin’ if we shared a stage with anyone, if John Bonham was still alive, it’d be Led Zeppelin. There it is.
That’s all you gotta say.
There it is.
Rex, like I said, I’m a huge fan of the band and I absolutely love this album and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
Thanks a lot dude. I’ll see you later. Take care.
HELLYEAH and former Pantera/Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul, interviewed Tuesday, April 24, 2007, while in Dallas. The interview was supposed to be with Tom Maxwell, but Vinnie showed up instead.
Is this Vinnie?
Yep. That’s me.
Hey man. What’s going on?
Just fuckin’ watching it pour down rain right now.
This is cool. I didn’t expect you to be on the line. I expected Tom, but this is great.
Where are you at today?
I’m at home in Dallas, Texas.
Awesome. I’m in the wilds of Montana.
Dude, this has got to be an exciting time for you. What was your reaction with the album debuting and number nine with 45,000 units pushed?
Aw man, to be honest with you, I expected it to do as well as it did, but it definitely superseded the expectations of Epic Records, man. They thought it was going to do somewhere between 25 and maybe 30,000 and we almost doubled that, so it was very exciting for them. I expected it because I always knew the fans were there, but we’re really happy and we’re off to a great start. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
What do you expect a day on the tour bus to be like with you guys?
A good time, man. That’s the main reason I got back into this, man. I miss the good times and I wanna have some fun and I’m just looking forward to it man. We’re gonna drink a lot of brews obviously, we’re gonna play a lot of poker, we’re gonna play a lot of music and we’re gonna have some good times, man.
Let’s go back to the beginning. How do you get involved with the Mudvayne guys and the Nothingface guys and how did all five of you decide to get together and do this?
Aw man, it started off with those two respective bands touring together and then talking about doing a band outside of their respective bands and I guess last summer when they got done touring they were serious about it. They needed a drummer and the phone calls started coming and here it was, at first when I would get the calls, I was like ‘man, this sounds great, but I’d just launched my record company, we’d just released Rebel Meets Rebel, Dimevision. I don’t know if I’m really ready to get back into playing music.’ I guess persistence pays off because the calls kept coming and one night I just said, you know what, this sounds like a great idea, man. We made a plan, they came to Texas and the first eight days we were together, we wrote seven songs and this freight train called HELLYEAH was born from that fuckin’ point on man.
How did you feel when you first initially decided that you were gonna go for it? Did you feel reservations about it or was it something where you knew that you had to do it?
I told myself that I knew I was gonna play music again because I love it. It’s in my blood, it’s all I’ve done my whole entire life. It had to be the right situation. It had to be something that just fell into my lap and it had to be something I knew people were looking for. That’s basically what happened, man. This thing just fell into my lap and once we got started, I knew immediately it was the right thing and it was the thing for me to do.
When you first got together and started jamming on tunes and working with these guys, was there a sense for you that this was a therapeutic type of thing?
You know, in a way. I guess it was a big challenge at first. I knew going in that I played with the greatest guitar player ever in my brother, in my opinion and I knew I was gonna have to take it day by day, step by step and not do any kind of comparisons to anybody. I just had to realize it was a new way and new day and everything. Once we got going, man, I really, really felt comfortable. I really felt like we had a great bond with everybody in the band. Everybody put their cards on the table and we made an amazing record. I guess in that aspect, it was therapeutic. The first thing that really helped me come back to life, so to speak, was starting my record company. For eight months, man, I’ve never been in a darker place in my life. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I’d done everything in my life with Dime and here I am on my own left to carry the torch. Once I launched my record company and I got to work with Dime again with the Rebel Meets Rebel and Dimevision, that really is what helped me get back up on my feet. I felt like he was there. I was working with him. Getting to see him in all those videos and everything was just an inspiration to me to keep going. Those were the main things that got me going and of course, just getting back to playin’. Sitting behind the drums again, that was very important too.
Obviously there had to have been some kind of oddness to having a different lead guitarist. You and Dime were like one person and connected in such a way. What was the biggest difference with having a different lead guitarist and not necessarily having that unspoken bond that you had with Dime?
We had an amazing chemistry. If I was gonna do a drum pill, he would know the tag right along with it, or if he went into something on guitar. We just had that undeniable thing that brothers have. Almost an ESP thing, kind of like Eddie and Alex Van Halen. That kind of shit where anything on a spontaneous level, we both just knew where to go with it. Really, these guys, we picked up on it really quick, man. We had some unbelievable chemistry for people that have never played together before. Tom and Greg both are known as rhythm guitar players. That’s what they play in their bands and man I found out that they’re both fuckin’ really, really more than that. They’re killer guitar players man. They really did a lot of, what I’d say is pretty impressive guitar work on this record and I was really happily surprised to find out that they were that good of guitar players.
What kind of process did you guys go through as far as writing and recording the tunes?
I brought in kind of a new, old school technique to those guys that they’d never done before whereas when we got into the studio, we set up, we got the sounds and as we wrote the songs, we recorded them right there on the spot. You capture all the spontaneity, all the rawness, the liveness, the dangerousness of it. There’s so many bands that do these demos and then they get in the studio and try to reproduce it and they go ‘oh man, we can’t beat the demo. We can’t beat the demo.’ It’s called demoitise, is kind of what they call it. The reason why you can’t beat it is because you don’t have the same exact vibe as what was going on in the room that night. That’s something that me and Dime really picked up on awhile back and it was important to us. It was kind of like how they recorded the early Van Halen records and shit. They would have some ideas when they got in the studio but it wasn’t anything completed and they would just go from there and really kind of mold the whole thing from that point on.
One song in particular that’s obviously unique to the album is ‘Alcohaulin’ Ass.’ You’ve got the two versions, the studio and unplugged. What’s the story behind the song? (the sound of rain in the background takes over the conversation).
Oh, man. Real quick story. We were in … dude, can you hear that noise? The fuckin’ rain is just fuckin’ poundin’ my house. Can you hear that?
Yeah I can. It’s crazy.
Fuckin’ insane, dude. The wind’s blowing about fifty miles an hour. Anyways, Chad and Greg were in working on some vocals late one night and of course, they ran out of beer, go figure. So they sent our engineer Sterling off to the store to make a beer run and while he was gone, Greg picked up an acoustic guitar and just started playing the riff and Chad basically wrote the lyrics in like five minutes man, and when Sterling got back, they were just like ‘drop everything, dude. Drop everything. Turn on the tape machine, right now.’ So, he hit it and that was the acoustic version which is actually on the Best Buy thing. They came back to the house and played it for all of us later that night and it just blew me away and I was like, ‘wow, this is cool.’ I immediately had this idea for this huge, arena rock anthem. So the next day we went down to the studio and just built on what they did with the acoustic version and turned it into a full-on, kick ass rock song. That’s really the story behind that thing.
That’s cool. So that acoustic version was a second take on the whole thing?
Actually, it was the first take (laughs). It was the real, raw version of it.
You guys look like you’re having fun. I think you’d be the coolest cats to hang out with and drink beers and play poker with and all that stuff. What’s the chemistry like between you guys?
It’s good, man. We’ve got a lot of things in common, we like to drink, we like to play music. We like to play a little poker. We like sports, all that kind of stuff. Plus, I think the main thing that really helped us from the beginning was, we had a bunch of mutual respect for each other coming from our respective bands. It’s one of those things that can sometimes turn into an ego thing. You can take several great musicians and put ‘em in a room together and they might not be able to write one song just because their egos or the chemistry’s not there or whatever. We were lucky that everything just fell into place and worked for us.
This is one of those situations where this can be called a super group. All the band members seem to be active in their other bands. How do you maintain focus on this band when the guys are still paying attention to Mudvayne and Nothingface is still hiding behind the shadows?
From the day we started this thing, we said we wanted this to be a real band, not just a side project. We feel like this band can definitely co-exist with everybody else’s pre-commitments. Kind of like Stone Sour and Slipknot. We just have to watch the calendar a little closer and make time for each instead of just being dedicated to one band. We plan on doing this thing until the end of the year as far as the success dictates and then everybody will go back to doing their own thing and then two, two and a half years from now we’ll get back together and do HELLYEAH, part two.
Other things you hear about when bands form super group is issues like conflicting management, labels and things like that. Were there any logistical problems for you guys when this band first started to form?
Na, man. When we got together we said right out of the chute. We’re not gonna tell anybody about what we’re doing, we’re gonna make a record and we’re gonna do this thing as a band. We’re not gonna have five, four different managers or whatever. We’re not gonna have two or three different labels. Obviously, I would’ve loved to have put it on my label. Everybody was down with that idea, but of course, Greg and Chad are tied to Epic Records and so they had first dibs on it. And of course, when they heard it, they fuckin’ flipped on the record, so they got it. That’s kind of how everything went.
Obviously right now, people are really curious about the situation on bass. Are there any candidates right now as you guys prepare to go on tour?
Oh yeah. We’ve got a couple people. It’s unfortunate about what happened there. We’re all gonna miss Jerry. We all love Jerry, but we just felt like there were some personal differences and we needed to make a change. The tour’s coming up and we’ve got some auditions that we’re doing next week and we’re looking forward to, whoever the new guy is, bringing him on and getting down and kicking some ass live, man.
Was it somewhat disheartening for you guys? You’re just starting this ride, the album comes out and then this already pops up. Did you want to nip this in the bud before things really got started?
I’m not really gonna elaborate on it, but it’s better to do it now than later. That’s what we thought.
What are your long-term goals with this band?
Man, I feel like it’s the type of band that can reach the masses musically, you know. The songs are anthemic. They’re gonna be fun to play live. I just think that the more people that get to see us, the better. You make music for people to hear, so why not have as many hear it as possible? That’s one of the reasons that the Family Values Tour looked really appetizing to us because we knew we’d be able to play to a lot of people and that was really important to us.
Let’s talk about that. How stoked are you guys to be on that bill and how much are you looking forward to it?
Aw man. It’s gonna be kick ass, man. That’s all I got to say. All of us are veterans of Ozzfest and we know what the festival vibe’s like and none of us have been a part of Family Values yet and we’re looking forward to it.
I had the privilege of speaking with Dime seven months before everything happened and I’ve interviewed more than 200 musicians and I still tell people that he was the most down-to-earth interview I’ve ever had. He was someone who made me feel like I was a good friend and that the conversation was important. Obviously time has passed, but what is it like for you now everyday when you think about how much Dime affected not just the people who listen to the music, but people that he spoke to on a regular basis?
I just think that everything he ever did, I have to look at it as inspiring. He broke the mold, man. He treated people of all kinds with the utmost respect and the most important thing in his life was making people happy. That’s what he cared about the most, man. He was a total entertainer. He wanted to put a smile on your face whether it was by playing his guitar, giving you his guitar pick, doing a shot with you. Whatever it was. That’s what really got him off, man. I think that he should be a great, I guess, I don’t wanna use the term role model. That’s kind of corny. Just a great inspiration to people on how to live their lives. Fuckin’ enjoy yourself man. The world’s way too uptight. He lived every day like there was no tomorrow. He never let a fuckin’ minute pass that he wasn’t trying to fuckin’, like I said, put a smile on people’s faces man.
In our interview, he constantly talked about you and the unspoken bond you had with each other. How have you been able to move forward and do things like HELLYEAH? What inspired you to just say, ‘I’ve gotta keep going with this?’
I just know that that’s what he wants me to keep doing man. I’ve done this my whole life. It’s what I was born to do. I’ve gotta carry the torch, man. I’ve gotta keep going. That’s all there is to it.
If you could share the stage with any bands, past or present, which ones would you choose?
I’m old school Van Halen, man. That band’s what got me going. Them and Kiss. I’ve gotten to tour with many, many bands that I grew up with and Van Halen’s the only one that I didn’t get to. Of course, over the past couple of years I’ve gotten the opportunity to go to Cabo and play with Sammy and Michael Anthony for Sammy’s birthday and that’s as close as I could get to it and that’s good enough for right now.
Just for your information, that was Dime’s answer too.
Right on, man. You know it. That’s what made us wanna go, man.
Vinnie, it’s been a pleasure talking to you man.
Unexpected, but I’m really glad you picked up the phone on this one (laughs).
Take care brother.