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From the Archive: Dimebag Darrell Discusses Pantera's 1996 Album, 'The Great Southern Trendkill'

From the Archive: Dimebag Darrell Discusses Pantera's 1996 Album, 'The Great Southern Trendkill'

Speaking of lead work, my only grumble about Far Beyond Driven was that it didn't feature enough guitar soloing.

Well, there's definitely quite a few solos on this motherfucker! But beyond quantity, I think that I'm developing more of my own identity, lead-wise. My solos are more focused. Some of 'em even have a melodic, theme-like vibe in places -- like the one in "Floods." Also, I've gotten into doubling my leads, like Randy Rhoads used to do. I'm not panning them right and left in the mix: it's two right on top of each other. To a lot of people's ears it might sound like I'm using a chorus or a similar type of effect, but it's just me doubling my parts.

Yeah, there's definitely some guitar playing on this bitch, and once again man, there's a real live vibe in my rhythm work. If anybody wants to learn how to play these songs right, you can't just learn the main riffs and then merely repeat 'em, you've gotta listen real close to catch all the little techniques, slurs and bends that I put in there. I think it's the subtleties that really add to the depth of our material, much more so than having some outrageous lead guitar jack-off in every damned song!

While there's definitely more leads on Trendkill than on its predecessor, there are still areas where most bands would throw a solo but where you instead opt to lock in tight with the rhythm section and drive the riff home.

Hey, I love wailing out leads as much as the next guy but, as I've already said, only if it complements the track. And sometimes, that means not taking a solo. I don't want to come off like I'm trying to take away from playing lead though, 'cause I play fucking lead, man! I've worked hard on my technique, and it comes from the fucking heart, y'know. To me, though, playing what works best for the song is much more important than trying to impress other guitarists by jerking off all over the neck.

Sure, you can express yourself by stepping out as a lead player, but it's always truly something to see a live band jam together on a riff and hump it and ride it -- it's a jam session and that 's impressive right there, regardless of what type of music they're playing. And we do that kind of shit a lot. When we work a riff, it's not a lead break, it's a band break.

For example, there 's a part in "War Nerve" that was originally gonna have a lead break over it, but we weren't happy with the section I was supposed to solo over. Then, while we were working on improving the part under the lead, we came up with a riff idea that kicked so hard we said, "Fuck the lead, let's ride on this instead -- it'll kill motherfuckers when we jam on it live!" Basically, providing it's a bad-assed part, you're not gonna miss having a lead there. Pantera's a machine, and when we all throw down on a wicked part it sounds real fucking tough.

Is there slide work going on during the title track's solo?

Yeah. That's my favorite lead on the record. There's some nice stuff that shifts from speaker to speaker and, like you spotted, I even broke out a slide at the end, which was a completely spontaneous thing. I've done a little slide work on our music in the past to add some extra brassiness to a part, like on that riff in "Strength Beyond Strength," [Far Beyond Driven] but I've never really tried to use one up on the higher register of the guitar until now.

What made you decide to do it?

Riggs [drummer Vinnie Paul, Dimes brother] was cutting and producing my lead on "Trendkill," and towards the end he said, "Hey man, I could hear some slide in there." So, just for the hell of it, I cranked up the strings on my axe about half-an-inch off the neck, flipped it on the blues pickup, grabbed a slide and went for it. I totally winged it, but I'm a huge fan of Billy Gibbons so I've heard enough slide work to know how it should go. Using a slide is totally outta control because the frets won't save your ass if you're not in tune and right on the money! I have nothing but intense respect for people who can really take that motherfucker and keep every note in pitch.

Your solo on "Drag the Waters" also caught my ear.

Thanks. That lead's kinda like an old Van Halen thing where the band breaks to feature the solo. Actually, on this one I ended up keeping a lot of the original guide-track stuff I laid down while we were cutting the drums. It's funny, man, sometimes you record something that you plan on re-doing later, but then when you listen back to it you decide to keep it because you realize that it's gonna be real tough to beat! In other words, it's good enough. Hey, man, like the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

You mentioned earlier that a lot of your rhythm work is spiced up with subtle little slurs and tricks. How tough is it for you to double a part when there's so much going on?

It's just a question of kicking back and taking the time to double the part properly. Sometimes it may take a while, but it's definitely worth it. I always go for that live, honest feel when I'm going for that first rhythm track. I'll never hold back on a part just so it'll be easier for me to double it later on -- to my ears it sounds sterile if you do that. I always want to get that initial track kicking and full of slurs, squeals and feel. I'll worry about doubling it later!

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