Dimebag Darrell: Animal House
Pantera holes up in Dimebag Darrell’s beer-soaked home studio and emerges with The Great Southern Trendkill, its loudest, rowdiest album to date.
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 Hooters 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 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 in his backyard. Everything but the vocals on Pantera’s new album, The Great Southern Trendkill, were recorded here. (Vocalist Phil Anselmo tracked his parts in Trent Reznor’s New Orleans studio.)
“It started off as a jam room,” explains the guita rist as we stroll across the brown, unmanicured lawn toward the makeshift recording complex. “But then we decided to do our demos he re, so we brought in so me gear—three Tascam DA-88s and a little Mackie board. The demos were so tough and lethal sounding t hat we were like, ‘Man! That’s almost it, right there.’ Then we got hold of an M CI500 console—the board we’ve used to record all our albums—and we were set. It’s a full studio!
“At any 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!”