Dimebag Darrell: Cra-Z-Boy
GW This is the first record that you’ve made at your home studio.
DARRELL I built a studio in my house. It’s just a little box. It was my original dream to buy a house that had an extra barn or something that I could renovate so I could have a room to jam in with friends and with the band. I just wanted to keep my chops up while we had some down time. Vinnie dragged all the live recording gear into my practice room one night. We started doing demos and they came out pretty good. The next thing I knew I had my carpenter down there. It had already been through a three-month process of being soundproofed. All we needed to do was build a control room. I had my boys come over and build a 6x8- foot guitar box for my amps so there’s some air for the mics but the sound is isolated. We did the same thing for Rex’s bass. Everything is sitting out in this open room that isn’t even all that big. Instead of driving an hour to Dallas to go to a studio and sitting there, trying to get pumped up again after driving, it’s so much cooler to have everybody come to my house.
GW What did you use to record the album?
DARRELL We did it on a 48-track Otari Radar hard disk recorder. My dad turned me on to the Radar. He said that we could do anything we wanted with it. It’s a lot easier than rolling the old tape and splicing things together. You can do all of that inside the box. I’ve got Mackie boards that give me 100 channels of mixing, quite a bit of outboard shit, and our amps and our drums. We just have to plug it in, make sure it sounds kick ass, and then we go.
Vinnie Paul and I produced the album, and it was co-produced by our boy Sterling Winfield, who engineered 99 percent of everything. It was just we three. We did things on our own terms. It was like having your nuts on the chopping block, but that’s not such a bad place to be if you can slide your sack off the block before the blade comes down. There’s not a better feeling than knowing you beat the chopper.
GW Your guitar tone is more lively on this album.
DARRELL Dude, it’s a battle to capture the live sound on tape. The signal has to go through a lot of shit before the listener finally gets it. It’s easy to lose that live feel by the time the guitar goes through all that. It’s easy to sit there and get your guitar sound close to a final mastered sound when you’re recording it to tape, but by the time it’s gone through everything else it can end up sounding skinny or flat.
The trick is in the mastering. Mastering is the final stage, and a lot can get fucked up if you’re not careful. When you get to mastering you’ve got to find the magic mix that works once it goes through all the compression and EQing. We worked with Howie Weinberg, and he’s a fantabulous dude. We told him what we were going for, and he did what he does by his own ear. I guarantee that this is one of the loudest, if not the loudest, CDs you’ll ever hear. It’s loud and stormin’, on the verge of breaking open. We rode it right to the edge, and then a little bit over it.
GW How do you feel about the new styles of heavy rock that have become popular over the last four years?
DARRELL A lot of people think metal is metal, and that’s all it ever was and that’s all it ever will be. Let’s put it aside and just strip elements from it. Let’s rap over it. Let’s turn on the record scratcher. Let’s do all this crap to try to form some kind of new music. But it’s not really new music. It’s just ripping pieces from music that’s already been done and piecing it together in a different way. But it’s diluted.
When you get something that’s pure it’s 10 times as powerful. It’s like the difference between non-alcoholic beer and real beer. They’re promoting it like it’s beer and it’s not beer! Get the real deal.
A lot of dudes play a sevenstring guitar that’s tuned to an open chord, and they’ve got just enough strength in the first finger to chord it. There’s power in that, and I can see how somebody can get off on that. But, if you want to make the guitar sing and talk for you, grab a hold of those high notes and bend that fucker over the neck. Pull it down and wiggle it until it won’t wiggle no more. Pull that vibrato bar, feed it back and throw it through the fuckin’ amp. That’s expression. That’s speaking how you feel, if that’s how you feel. Now, if you only feel like lifting your finger up and down on the neck, that’s cool too, and you should enjoy it if that’s all you feel.
A lot of people have sevenstring guitars, yet they only play two or three strings. If you’re only going to use three strings, why not just use a three-string guitar? Scott Ian of Anthrax has a four-string guitar, so he tells it like it is.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t play a seven-string. It’s just that I’ve never needed one. Most dudes who play seven-strings don’t sound any different than someone playing a six-string that’s tuned down.
GW Pantera is making a bold statement by calling this album Reinventing the Steel.
DARRELL Every record we put out has a bold statement. Folks say, “You people from the South talk a mean game.” Yeah, but we back it up, and we ain’t even halfway where we’re going.
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