November 18, 2022

ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello has once again weighed in on the news that PANTERA's surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass) will unite with guitarist Zakk Wylde (OZZY OSBOURNE, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY) and drummer Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) for a world tour under the PANTERA banner.

Anselmo and Brown, along with Wylde and Benante, will headline a number of major festivals across North America and Europe and stage some of their own headline concerts.

According to Billboard, the lineup has been given a green light by the estates of the band's founders, drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, as well as Brown, who last year said Wylde wouldn't tour with PANTERA if a reunion were to happen. It's unclear what changed his mind.

Bello discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in a new interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station. Asked how he and his ANTHRAX bandmates found out about Benante touring with Wylde, Anselmo and Brown under the PANTERA name, Bello said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I knew about it. Well, [Charlie] came to all of us [and told us about it].

"Look, you have to understand, we were very, very, very close with PANTERA," he continued. "We were family; that's our family. So if there's one guy in the world to play drums and pay tribute to this thing, it's Charlie Benante — right off the bat. He was very close with Dime, very close with Vinnie. We all were; we all were. So that's family to us.

"These songs should be celebrated. And having Charlie Benante play those songs, I think it's gonna be great for Charlie. People know Charlie is a great drummer, but the world doesn't know how great he is. I want people to [put] the spotlight on Charlie 'cause I want them to see what I see all the time — how great of a drummer he is. And I'm excited, 'cause I think Charlie's gonna do it the right way. So is Zakk. So I think they have the right band there. Remember — I'm friends with these guys; Rex, Phil, these are family members to me."

Frank, who is Benante's nephew as well as his bandmate, added: "So I think it's a great celebration. I'll be there watching it. I can't wait. I think it's a great thing. Can you imagine the people that haven't seen this are gonna see these songs live? That's a great thing. So I think it's great for metal. I think it's great to pay tribute to Dime and Vinnie. I'm looking forward to it. I think when people see it, they're gonna bug out, 'cause [the guys in PANTERA are] gonna do it right… I'm excited for [the fans], to be honest. I live through them, kind of. It's, like, 'Yeah, man, wait till you see this.' This music should be celebrated. We're part of this metal thing, this metal family.

"Dime and Vinnie, rest their souls — God rest their souls — but they would be happy, I think, seeing this, because Charlie and Zakk were family to those guys. So I think it's a big celebration. So I'm excited."

When Meltdown noted that he wasn't thrilled about Anselmo, Brown, Wylde and Benante touring under the PANTERA name, Frank said: "I get it. I totally understand. For me, it's a celebration. Because, look, I've seen PANTERA with Dime and Vinnie. So this is very much family to me. This is a tribute to this great thing that PANTERA was. So I just think it's very positive — there's no negativity at all — it's very positive that these songs that these guys made are gonna be celebrated now. People are gonna be able to see this. So, hey, I'm there."

While he was alive, Vinnie Paul had repeatedly dismissed talks of a PANTERA reunion, telling Germany's EMP Rock Invasion in 2014: "People are selfish, man. They want what they want; they don't care what you want. And it's unfortunate that people go, 'Oh, wow, man, they can get Zakk Wylde to jump up there on stage and it's PANTERA again.' No, it's not, you know. It's not that simple. If Eddie Van Halen was to get shot in the head four times next week, would everybody be going, 'Hey, man, Zakk, go play for VAN HALEN. Just call it VAN HALEN.' You see what I'm saying? I mean, it's really selfish for people to think that, and it's stupid. It's not right at all."

He continued: "They call it a reunion for a reason. It's called bringing the original members back to what it was. So there's a lot of these things that they call reunions that aren't really reunions. They've got one dude from the band floating around in them, you know. That's not a true reunion. With PANTERA, it'll never be possible."

He repeated those same sentiments a few months later, telling PlanetMosh in a separate interview: "Without Dimebag Darrell, there is no [PANTERA] reunion. And that's all there is to it. We were a very influential band, and we touched millions and millions of people with that band, but it's over. People really have to come to grips with that, and that's all there is to it. If all of us were still here, then the possibility would truly be there, but since it's not, you know… It's selfish of the fans to want something that they can't have. And they don't ever understand that, and I get it. There's things I want in this world too. You know, people in fucking hell want ice water, but they're not gonna get it. So… Anyways, I'm glad that the people who have decided to follow me in HELLYEAH do, and hopefully more of them will. And the ones that wanna live in the past are gonna live in the past."

Up until his passing in June 2018, Vinnie remained on non-speaking terms with Anselmo, whom the drummer indirectly blamed for Dimebag's death.

Vinnie Paul and Dimebag co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of PANTERA were stealing his thoughts.

Dimebag's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney in 2011 called on Vinnie and Philip to settle their differences in honor of Dimebag.

Vinnie, who is Dimebag's brother, and Anselmo had not spoken since PANTERA split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinnie suggested that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag's killer.

Haney told the producers of "Behind The Music Remastered: Pantera" that she forgave the singer after they found themselves unexpectedly face to face at a concert in California.

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