Dimebag Darrell: Animal House
GW What made you decide to do it?
DARRELL Riggs [drummer Vinnie Paul, Dime’s brother] was cutting and producing my lead on “Trendkill,” and toward 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 ax 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 fucker and keep every note in pitch.
GW Your solo on “Drag the Waters” also caught my ear.
DARRELL 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 guidetrack 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!”
GW 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?
DARRELL 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!
And how many rhythm tracks did you record per song on Trendkill?
DARRELL Just two. I used to try four, 12 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!
GW As your music is so physical, I’d imagine that you record your parts standing up.
DARRELL 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!
GW Do you record using headphones much?
DARRELL 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 cord dangling across your back! So, most of the time when we’re recording, we use live floor monitors instead.
GW You’ve got a killer, brittle rhythm tone on this album. Have you changed your basic setup at all since the last record?
DARRELL Kinda. I ended up using the old, carpeted Randall RG-100 head I recorded Cowboys from Hell with.
GW What happened to the Randall Century 200s you’ve been playing through for the longest time?
DARRELL When we were jamming around and doing the demos I didn’t bother to hook up my normal rig; I 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-4s I’ve got in my main rack, my blue MXR six-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!
GW 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?
DARRELL 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 Korg AX30G, a DigiTech Whammy Pedal, of course!, a Boss CE1 Chorus with 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 I can’t beat a part of the demo we’ll just extract that small section and use it. The G1 is a bad-sounding little unit, man.
GW There’s some wah on the record, too.
DARRELL 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 onstage with it so you’re not always tied to that one spot. The only uncool thing about it is that Rex will be dicking me off every night ’cause he’ll be jumping on my pedals all the time!