From the Archive: Dimebag Darrell and Zakk Wylde Discuss the State of Metal and Dissolution of Pantera
Here's an interview with Zakk Wylde and Dimebag Darrell from the March 2003 issue of Guitar World. To see the cover — and all the GW covers from 2003 — check out our 2003 GW covers gallery.
“Okay, Zakk, it’s time!”
As the morning sun begins to break over the Texas hills, Dimebag Darrell thrusts the keys to a waiting sports utility vehicle in Zakk Wylde’s enormous hand.
All through the night, over countless shots of Blacktooth Grin — the particularly potent and tasty mixture of Crown Royal and Coca Cola that flows like water at Dime’s Arlington-area compound — the Pantera guitarist has been psyching up Ozzy Osbourne’s right-hand man for this very moment. Zakk once nearly destroyed a large metallic Christmas tree placed on Dime’s decked-out lawn, and now that the holidays are here again, Dime just won’t be satisfied until Zakk finishes the job.
While Zakk loudly and repeatedly plows the hulking vehicle into the tree, a bespectacled gent in tie and khakis looks on with resigned amusement. A driver for the local limo service, he’s been summoned to take Zakk to the airport in time for the first flight of the day back to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Zakk is in no hurry to leave. He’s too busy shredding the bottom of the driver’s SUV on the tree’s twisted metallic corpse.
"My truck sure looked nice today," the driver says, "before I brought it over here." He shrugs. "Of course, this sort of thing happens all the time at Darrell's. It's okay — he always pays for it."
Crazy shit seems to happen whenever Zakk Wylde and Dimebag Darrell get together. Zakk's rough bark bears ample evidence of a New Jersey upbringing, and Dime's drawl is pure Dallas. But these guys are bonded by a mutual respect that's totally impervious to geographical differences — and each is impressively capable of egging the other on to perform incredible feats of derring-do, be they musical or alcoholic.
The two met in the late Eighties, around the time that Zakk signed on for his initial tour of duty with Ozzy, and Pantera were first wowing headbangers across the land with their vicious brand of Texas metal. But their hard-working, hard-rocking, hard-drinking, straight-shooting aesthetic still resonates deeply with metal lovers everywhere: not only was Zakk voted Most Valuable Player in this year's Guitar World Reader's Poll but Zakk and Dime finished in the two top slots of the poll's Best Metal Guitarist category.
Don't expect either of these longhaired wildmen to rest on their laurels, however. Having spent much of 2002 on Ozzy's most high-profile tour to date, Zakk has begun mixing a new album from his own band, Black Label Society; titled The Blessed Hellride, the record should hit the racks sometime in spring 2003. The follow-up to 2002's highly acclaimed 1919 Eternal, The Blessed Hellride, Zakk promises, will be "some serious sick shit."
With the future of Pantera currently in limbo (singer Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown have spent 2002 touring with Down, and Anselmo is preparing to return to the studio with Superjoint Ritual), Dime and drummer brother Vinnie Paul have busied themselves with New Found Power, a crushingly heavy project featuring the powerful vocals of former Halford guitarist Pat Lachman.
The brothers have also recorded Rebel Meets Rebel, a country-metal offering, with legendary country-western outlaw David Allan Coe. The album is due out in 2003, as is Riffer Madness, a veritable encyclopedia of Dime bag licks and lessons compiled by Guitar World contributing editor Nick Bowcott. "I just don't want anyone to think that ol' Dimebag Darrell's been sittin' here on his ass," Dime says, chuckling.
In an hour or so, Zakk will stroll down to Dime's garage studio to lay down an incendiary, off-the-cuff solo on one of New Found Power's latest tracks. "I didn't think it would be a problem or nothin'," Dime will say, admiring his pal's spontaneous string-bending display. "He's always so ready to go, man!"
But right now, as Dime's saintly girlfriend Rita pours a round of Zakktooth Grins (a Blacktooth Grin with ginger ale substituted for Coke, as per Zakk's preference), the two friends are convening in Dimebag Manor's memorabilia-packed living room for an animated Guitar World summit on guitar playing, the current state of rock and the future of Pantera. Pull up a chair, grab a cold beverage and try to stay out of the line of fire.
GUITAR WORLD: Guitar World's readers have voted Zakk Wylde Most Valuable Player and Zakk and Dimebag Darrell Best Metal Guitarists for 2002. What do you think that says about our readers?
ZAKK WYLDE: That they love heavy shit and drinkin' booze — that's why they like us!