Dimebag Darrell: Animal House
GW I take it that your main axes on this record were your signature model Washburns.
DARRELL Definitely. I didn’t even think of trying out “old faithful” [his blue lightning-bolt Dean]. That guitar 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.
GW Your chops always seem razor sharp. Do you still practice a lot when you’re not writing, recording or touring with the band?
DARRELL 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 a 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.
GW 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?
DARRELL 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 fourhour photo shoot for a Guitar World cover, you’ll find me jamming in my four-track room here at Camp Strapped or jamming with my friends. That’s the fun we have, just staying musical and shit
GW Speaking of musical endeavors outside of Pantera, can we ever expect to see a solo Dimebag album?
DARRELL 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 fucker 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.
GW Despite its sales, Far Beyond Driven was pretty much ignored by radio and MTV. The chances are high that The Great Southern Trendkill will suffer the same fate. Does that bother you?
DARRELL Fuck no! We’ve been around and we will be around regardless of that shit. We’re an honest band that just does what feels right to us and tries to do our best at everything we do. And hey, if you wanna play our music, then play it. If not, that’s fine too. I was never let down by the fact that Vulgar wasn’t played a lot on radio or on MTV. I thought we made some pretty good videos last time out, but fuck, MTV ain’t gonna make or break Pantera.
GW Has the success of your previous albums put extra pressure on you?
DARRELL It depends. It kinda comes and goes. To an extent it’s almost up to me how much pressure I feel because I’m the type of dude that always expects more from myself all the time, anyway. I have a certain idea in my head of where this band is heading and for me to be satisfied I have to hit that mark. I guess that’s where the real pressure is. It comes from within. So, it’s up to me to screw my head on and get serious with myself and my music, because no one else is gonna do it for me. No one outside of this band is gonna come up with those bad-assed riffs, no one else is gonna do shit for us from a musical standpoint.
GW Do you pay much attention to what is going on around you in the Nineties rock world?
DARRELL Yes and no. I’m aware of what’s going on around us musically, but it doesn’t really concern me because it ain’t gonna affect us in any way, shape or form. I’m into what I do and I know what’s right. I don’t know how to put it any other way, except to say that I feel confident that we can hold our own and move forward.
GW A lot of so-called “experts” have declared metal dead. As you’ve often described your music as metal, I take it you don’t agree.
DARRELL Fuck no, man, it’s definitely not dead, at least not for us. I know for a fact we can sell out a concert anywhere in the world right now and I know that we have diehard fans that know we ain’t gonna let ’em down. Unfortunately, metal as a whole definitely ain’t on top right now. I can remember when heavy metal was flamed up and boiling but it just comes down to the fact that there’s not a bunch of bands putting out good shit right now. It’s been a long time since something new has come out and blown me the fuck away, that’s for sure.
GW What was the last thing you heard that blew you away?
DARRELL Old or new, man? I keep on going back to my old records and getting a nut on. Like Go for What You Know by Pat Travers—good God, that’s the shit right there! That’s what I’m into. A band that can get up and do it live. Pat Travers and Pat Thrall [the two guitarists on the live LP] complement each other perfectly on that album. And, of course, I still jam on my old Judas Priest and Van Halen records. I’m trying to think of the most recent thing that beat me down in the dirt. It was probably Master of Puppets.
GW And that album is a good 10 years old now!
DARRELL Like I said, man, there’s just not enough ass-kickers out there tearing it up right now! But metal—or whatever the hell you wanna call it—ain’t all used up. I don’t know why everybody thinks they need to make their shit sound like somebody else’s and follow what’s currently considered cool. Try playing with some new ideas, dude. Go buy a new pedal or one of my guitars or something. [laughs] Get a new attitude on and get inspired. Fuck what’s “hip,” brother—trendkill!
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