Dimebag Darrell: The Rough Rider
GW That’s a cool section, but it sounds like the feedback is being effected somehow.
DARRELL Good ears, dude. I discovered pure feedback wasn’t quite enough, so I added a DigiTech Whammy Pedal to the equation, which helped produce a sound that was completely fucked up!
GW I hear the DigiTech Whammy Pedal on several other tracks. You used the pedal’s harmonizer feature on the solo for “Strength Beyond Strength.” How did you have it set?
DARRELL I don’t really know! Like I said before, I don’t really have any training in theory, so I just kept turning knobs until I found the most wicked sound. Actually, there are two guitars playing that lead. One is play ing the lead without effects, another guitar is doubling it with the Whammy Pedal, and both are going through one of those little 10-watt Marshall heads to produce what I call my “fry sound.” It’s the sound that I get on my eighttrack demos.
GW Is that the Whammy again on “Becoming”?
DARRELL Yes, sir. I’m using it on the rhythm part. I depress it on the third beat of every other measure to produce what Phil calls the “step on the cat” effect. It’s too bad that you noticed it was a Whammy Pedal, because we were going to tell people that we were abusing an animal to produce that sound—you know, “We were jumping on a cat, then we simply plugged a cord up its ass and threw a little EQ on it.” That was one of the songs that started with Vinnie’s incredible drum groove.
Because I used the Whammy Pedal on the rhythm part, I decided to use it on the lead as well. The only thing I had between my guitar and my amp was my Dunlop Wah and the Whammy, so like an idiot I decided to try and play my solo using both effects simultaneously. I figured it was going to sound horrible, but everyone started saying, “That’s cool, dude, that’s cool.” So I kept it, and then I doubled it and it was done!
I know some of your readers are going to rag at me and say, “Aw, dude, anybody could’ve done that.” But let me tell you, I’m the kind of dude that would do that. And on the record, not at “show and tell.”
GW When I first heard “Becoming,” I thought, Someone is actually coming up with some new sounds.
DARRELL Noises, dude! Tones and noises!
GW While we’re on the subject of rude noises, what’s going on at the beginning of “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills”?
DARRELL I was standing next to Vinnie, who plays drums really hard, and I was slowly moving my volume knob to see how far I could go before the guitar started feeding back. I had my guitar running through an old MXR flanger, and my intention was to just make a little bit of racket in the beginning of the song. Just by chance, the pickup started picking up Vinnie’s snare drum and it popped the gate open. So the drum is actually triggering the guitar, and that’s what you hear.
GW Are you playing any chords?
DARRELL Naw, I’m just standing there drunk, fucking around with my volume knob. [laughs]
GW Let’s talk about a solo where you do let your fingers fly. The double-tracked lead on “I’m Broken” sounds like an homage to Randy Rhoads.
DARRELL All right! You heard that? That’s right on the money. People always ask me about my influences. I learned about doubletracking leads from Randy—especially the way he played them. He played them tight but loose, so they would flange just a little, and that’s what I tried to do on “I’m Broken.”
GW Was Randy important to you?
DARRELL Fuck, yes. If he was still around, there’d be no telling what that cat would be bustin’ off. To me, Eddie Van Halen was heavy rock and roll, but Randy was heavy metal.
GW I know you’re a fan of vintage effects pedals, like the MXR flanger. Where do you get them?
DARRELL Pawn shops, man.
GW Where are the best pawn shops?
DARRELL The best ones are anywhere where the owner doesn’t know the value of his merchandise. One time I was checking out some guitars, amps and effects at a pawn shop and the store owner unintentionally gave me a defective chord. So I plugged it into an effect that I wanted and started kicking the box around so the chord would crackle. As soon as I got the store owner’s attention, I started pretending it was the effects box that was broken. I started cursing and calling the effect a “no good piece of shit.” He said, “It was working fine three weeks ago. We gave up 30 bucks for that thing.” So I said, “Well, it can sit here and rot then. Nobody’s gonna pay for this thing.” In the end, the dude sold it to me for five bucks!
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