From the Archive: Dimebag Darrell Discusses Pantera's 1996 Album, 'The Great Southern Trendkill'
Here's an interview with Pantera's Dimebag Darrell from the June 1996 issue of Guitar World. To see the Dimebag cover, and all the GW covers from 1996, click here.
A man’s home may be his castle, but for Pantera's Dimebag Darrell, it's also a fully stocked rock and roll playground.
Part crash pad, part recording studio, part wet bar, Sir Dime's palace is littered with Gold and Platinum records and a hard liquor collection that would make a Hooter's bartender blush. A large Seagram's 7 display plaque hangs behind the television, a Coors Light keg sits in the living room, and Washburn Dimebag signature series guitars lurk, ready for action, in every room. There's even a cheap nylon-string acoustic in the bathroom.
"Yeah, nothing feels better than knowing that I can put a guitar in my hands at any time and rip -- even when I'm taking a crap!" laughs the purple-goateed cowboy from hell. "I guess you could just call me a shithouse poet!"
Located in a sedate Arlington, Texas, suburb, Darrell 's home on the range is clearly a source of pride. And despite the dorm-room atmosphere, the house represents the twentysomething Dimebag's first tentative step into (gasp!) adulthood.
"I've always wanted a place to jam," he says. "So, when we had some time off after our last tour, I'd decided that I'd do myself right for a change. Instead of-spending all my money on beer and tattoos, I thought I'd buy something that's worth a shit for once."
Decked out in an Ace Frehley t-shirt and baggy shorts, Dime leads me to a converted RV garage that stands in his backyard. Everything but the vocals on Pantera's new album The Great Southern Trendkill (East/West), was recorded here. (Vocalist Phil Anselmo tracked his parts in Trent Reznor's New Orleans studio.)
"It started off as a jam room," explains the guitarist as we stroll across the brown, unmanicured lawn towards the makeshift recording complex. "But then we decided to do our demos here, so we brought in some gear -- three Tascam DA-88's and a little Mackie board. The demos were so tough and lethal sounding that we were like, 'Man! That's almost it, right there.' Then we got hold of an MCI5OO console -- the board we've used to record all our albums -- and we were set. It's a full studio!
"At the time, we were looking at having to record in Dallas, which is 45 minutes from my place. And I've gotta tell you bro, I wasn't into that idea at all. Y'know, you wake up, you get your dick hard, you jump in your hot rod. But, by the time everybody's made it to the studio, somebody's hungry so you go out and get a bite to eat. That leaves you all tubbed up and unmotivated. So you sit around and watch the big screen TV, play pool and drink beer. I didn't want that to happen so we just did it here."
As expected, Dime's studio has a dark, homey, practice-room vibe. The tiny control room is packed with state-of-the-art gear. But, ominously, in the middle of the floor there is an eerie chalk outline of a body. Was this the scene of a grisly murder? Did a recording engineer cross the line?
"Naw, that's just where I collapsed one night after a heavy session," Darrell laughs. "I'll sleep anywhere!"
After pointing out some of his favorite toys in the humongous pile of beat-up effects pedals he “dicked around" with while making the album, we walk back to the house and settle down in the game room. Darrell sticks a rough-mix tape of Pantera 's eagerly anticipated fourth album into his stereo system. "I'm sorry that I don't have any final mixes yet," he grimaces as he hits 'play' and cranks the volume. "I only finished recording the last of my lead shit yesterday."
As the music kicks in, Darrell pours each of us the first of many Black Tooth Grins we will imbibe during our talk. It is Pantera's official drink of choice, consisting of a healthy shot of Seagram's 7 and a tiny splash of Coke.
"Our fans know that we ain't gonna let them down and we haven't," he bellows over the music. After 11 tunes and as many shots later, all I can do is stagger and agree. Yes sir, once again, Pantera has delivered the goods.
GUITAR WORLD: Describe Pantera today and how you feel the band has evolved since the release of Cowboys From Hell seven years ago.
Right off the bat I'd say that all of us are more in tune with ourselves and each other than ever before. We've been evolving as Pantera the band -- we're not just another one of those groups where one or two guys are in the spotlight. We're a fuckin' band in the truest sense of the word. It takes all of us. We all go over each other's parts together and make sure that we think it's the shit. We give each other a flame -- we rile each other up.
How would you describe The Great Southern Trendkill compared to your previous three major-label releases, Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven?
It's almost like a "best of," man. Some of the riffs on it date back to our Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display of Power periods. Hell, a couple of ideas even go back to before we got signed. For example, when we were still playing small clubs, I used to play a 20-minute solo that consisted of everything from Eddie 's "Eruption" to Randy's "(Revelation) Mother Earth" -- plus whatever else I felt like throwing in. A regular part of my solo featured a long-assed, "sing-along" type lead section, which has ended up in a new song called "Floods."