From the Archive: Dimebag Darrell Discusses Pantera's 1996 Album, 'The Great Southern Trendkill'
And how many rhythm tracks did you record per song on Trendkill?
Just two. I used to try four, twelve or whatever. But less is definitely more, man. If you do too many it just gets cluttered up. The best thing to do is get two guitars doing a tight double and then turn the fuckers up!
As your music is so physical, I'd imagine that you record your parts standing up.
Yeah, I'd say that 97 percent of what I did on this album was done standing up. It just feels right that way. I mean, you don't go to war sitting down!
Do you record using headphones much?
I don't mind 'em but they can make you too particular sometimes, and they also get in the way if you're really fired-up and going for it. I mean, it's difficult to throw down hard when you've got these big fuckin' cans on your head and a huge-assed chord dangling across your back! So, most of the time when we're recording we use live floor monitors instead.
You've got a killer, brittle rhythm tone on this album. Have you changed your basic setup at all since the last record?
Kinda. I ended up using the old, carpeted Randall RG-100 head I recorded Cowboys From Hell with.
What happened to the Randall Century 200's you've been playing through for the longest time?
When we were jamming around and doing the demos I didn't bother to hook up my normal rig; I just wanted something that would do the job. So, we dragged in a bunch of my old shit and set it up. In addition to my RG-100 stack, I used an old Furman PQ-3 parametric EQ, which has a different gain structure from the PQ-4's I've got in my main rack, my blue MXR 6-band graphic EQ and a cheap little Boss Noise Gate. Then, when we did the demos, I was liking the way everything was sounding so I thought, "Don't fuck with it, there it is!"
You've got a huge pile of effects boxes in the studio. Aside from the ones you've already mentioned, what other units did you use?
I hooked up my MXR Flanger/Doubler every once in a while and I used an E-Bow for a real smooth, continual sustain on "10's." I also used one of those little Korg Pandora boxes for a weird, fluttering sound on a short passage in "10's" and a Lexicon Vortex for the shimmering, breathy tone on my theme-like lead in "The Underground in America."
I also used a Roland AP-2 Phase II pedal, a KorgAX30G, a Digitech Whammy pedal, of course!, a Boss CE1 Chorus and a bunch of old Electro-Harmonix shit -- a Small Stone Phaser, an Electric Mistress Flanger/Filter Matrix, a Little Big Muff and a Soul Preacher Compressor/Sustainer. I also used a Korg G1 on the demos and some of that made it on the record. If l can't beat a part of the demo we'II just extract that small section and use it. The G1 is a bad-sounding little unit, man.
There's some wah on the record, too.
Shit, I almost forgot about that! I used my Vox Wah on the earlier part of the recording and then Jimmy Dunlop sent me one of his rack-mount units [Crybaby DCR-1SR]. Man, that thing is incredible, you can literally get whatever you want out of it. I also really like the idea that you can run a bunch of Wah pedals all over the place on stage with it so you're not always tied to that one spot. The only uncool thing about it is that Rex [Brown, bassist] will be dicking me off every night 'cause he'll be jumping on my pedals all the time!
I take it that your main axes on this record were your signature model Washburns.
Definitely. I didn't even think of trying out "old faithful" [his blue lightning-bolt Dean]. That motherfucker is in a coffin right now! I'm real proud of how my Washburn guitars play and sound. I couldn't be more happy or hooked-up better.
Your chops always seem razor sharp. Do you still practice a lot when you're not writing, recording or touring with the band?
Yeah, I've always worked on my chops and shit. Nothing feels better than knowing that, no matter where you go, if a guitar is put in your hands then you're ready to rip. I'm never not playing the guitar. Every different type of guitar I pick up -- electric, acoustic, 12-string -- brings something different out of me. That's how "Suicide Note Pt. 1" was written. Washburn sent me a 12- string acoustic and all of sudden there it was -- another influence and another piece of inspiration. I wrote that riff the very first time I pulled the 12-string out of its case.
Considering that Pantera is obviously a tight, family-type unit, did it bother you at all when Phil Anselmo went off and did the Down album and tour?
No, not at all. Phil 's a musical guy and he likes to stay busy. That's what he does, he jams all the time -- just like me. Hey, when I'm not making records, touring, doing interviews or getting jacked-off in a four-hour photo shoot for a Guitar World cover, you'll find me jamming in my four-track room here at Camp Strapped or jamming with friends. That's the fun we have, just staying musical and shit.
Speaking of musical endeavors outside of Pantera, can we ever expect to see a solo Dimebag album?
One of these days I should probably put out my own record and call it Dimebag: The Original Four-Track King! I was the first dude to buy a four-track that I know, and I've been abusing that motherfucker daily ever since I got it! I'd write a song about anything and everything that happened to me. If I got ripped off at the liquor store, I'd come home and record a song about it. If a close friend had something crazy going on in his life that he was tryin' to keep low key so he wouldn't get busted -- like cheating on his girlfriend or something -- then, of course, I'd have to bust his chops by writing a song about it and then blowing it up in front of him and a crowd. [laughs]
I always take the thing on the road with me, and I've got a library of literally thousands and thousands of four-track tapes. Some of the stuff is hilarious to look back on 'cause they are pieces of my life that I've completely forgotten about but are stuck in stone on tape. If I ever did release a record of this shit, it would have to come with a booklet explaining what was going on and have a glossary in the back for all the fucking lingo! Joking aside, though, Pantera is it for me right now, and I'm looking forward to going out on tour again.