From the Archive: Dimebag Darrell Discusses Pantera's New Album, 'Reinventing the Steel'
Speaking of outlaws, have you been listening to any of the new metal bands, and did they have impact on how you recorded Reinventing the Steel?
We've watched what's gone on around us, and we've been like a steel rod in the center of it all. All these different forms of music have come along that are cool, but the worse thing we could do is go, "Oh, wow! Maybe we'd better get a little piece of that." The next you'd know, the record company would applaud us, and we'd start becoming something we weren't. What would that do to the fans who are sitting there rock-hard, waiting on the next piece of goods to come their way?
So we looked at that and said, "Up yours, motherfucker. This is who we are, and this is what gets our blood boiling." We realized that we were one of the only bands that stuck to our guns, so we decided to go ahead and kill this motherfucker dead three times over. And we did.
If you are honest and stay true to what you believe in, you can't fuckin' lose. I'm still the same cat I always was. I don't get all caught up in that rock star shit. I don't sit at home. I go out. I'll hang out with whoever, wherever and whenever, and probably drink them under the table, if I can. If I can't, then I'll have them drive me home. If you get ahold of something and that's your angle and what you're shooting for, don't bend. Watch, and it will pan out. Put your money in the stock market and don't move it, because if you fuck with it, you're going to lose. Don't try to get too much. Just take what you've got and let it be what it is. [sings] Let it be! Let it be!
Why are there just 10 songs on the album?
Do you really think you're getting more when you buy a CD with 17 songs on it? Kids think that, but they're kids. They don't know any better at this point. They ain't getting Black Sabbath. They ain't getting Led Zeppelin. They're getting what they're getting — a bunch of the same type of stuff through the whole CD. This album is only 10 songs, but they're all good. It's not 29, 17 or 15 songs, with just two good songs on it. We're old school. We cut the fat off of everything. There ain't one ounce of fat on this record. It's 10 solid ass-kickers. It was hard for us to pick the opener because there are 10 killer songs. I don't have to boast my own band up because it will speak for itself, but we're damn proud of it.
Every Pantera record is available on vinyl. Did you use a side one/side two approach when sequencing songs for this album?
We'll always think of our albums as records. I've still got a turntable and all my old Deep Purple records. But I don't scratch 'em. The only way I scratch 'em is when I get drunk and bump into them. And, trust me, they're all scratched. Actually, you should call that a scar.
How did you get Kerry King from Slayer to play on "Goddamn Electric"?
The song is about the vibe that we get when we crank up or play loud music, when we're in our element. Music heals the soul. It's goddamn electric. That's what we call it. Phil called me up with these lyrics that go, "Your trust is in whiskey and weed and Black Sabbath. It's goddamn electric." I said, "Dude, you hit it. You struck the nerve." The second time that line comes around, Phil sings, "Your trust is in whiskey and weed and Slayer." Phil was calling out all these bands that stuck true to their guns. They're our kind of guys.
It just so happened, when were getting ready to record that song last year, Slayer was coming through town on the OZZfest with Sabbath, and Kerry called me up. I said, "Dude, I'm bringing something out there, so get ready." I didn't let him know what it was. We brought a DA-88, a tape with a rough stereo mix of the whole tune on it, an SM-58 and a mic cord. I caught Kerry before he went onstage. He was warming up, and I said, "Do you want to play on this tune? We rag on Slayer."
Kerry's always pumped up and ready to kick ass on anything. They went up onstage and played their set. The whole time I was yelling, "Kerry! Rip it!" They were tearing it up. After the set was finished I saw the Marshall stack come rolling through the door, and here comes Kerry. We plugged him up. Vinnie was back there and he had it all wired up. He hit "record," and the first thing Kerry played was awesome. You can hear me at the end of the take yelling, "Don't touch that! Fuck, that's hot!" He recorded it right there on the spot, backstage at Starplex in Dallas, in a bathroom. Kerry packed his shit up and fuckin' flew somewhere else and jammed some more.
How did you get started on the album?
I'd accumulated a shitload of guitar riffs. The ideas get inside your head, and if you're smart enough to have a recorder sitting near you, you end up saving a lot of good ideas. Riffs just come out when I'm jacking around playing. I went back through those tapes, and there were a lot of them — more than I've ever had. I took it to the next step and went upstairs to my studio, which has a 24-channel Mackie board and some electronic drum pads. I started piecing stuff together, and that started to open up other doors. I had a bunch of ideas that I put together back to back, and I recorded them on a CD.
I sent one to Phil, and he had ideas and riffs that he wrote on the guitar. He's a hell of a player. He's in a league of his own with the death metal and black metal fast-hand rhythm playing. He'd hear a riff on the CD and he'd go, "That riff's cool, but that note has got to be sour." Or he'd tell me to bend a note up. He'd work on me, just like I do with him when he's working on his pipes.
On top of that, Rex brings in his ideas. He can always make parts fit together better. He's good with key changes. He's the backbone of a lot of our stuff. And Vinnie Paul always comes up with those over-the-top drum grooves where we build songs around him. How many bands write a riff around the drummer? We all milk each other. We get the best out of each other, and that's how it should be. We're all brothers.