CHARLIE BENANTE Defends PANTERA Comeback: 'VINNIE PAUL And DIMEBAG Would Be All For' Their Music Being Performed Again

December 29, 2022

Charlie Benante says that "it felt right" for him to take part in PANTERA's comeback more than 20 years since the last time the band performed live.

Joining the ANTHRAX drummer in PANTERA's reformed lineup are surviving members Rex Brown (bass) and Philip Anselmo (vocals),along with guitarist Zakk Wylde (OZZY OSBOURNE, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY).

According to Billboard, the lineup was given a green light by the estates of the band's founders, drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.

It was first reported in July that Anselmo and Brown would unite with Wylde and Benante for a world tour under the PANTERA banner.

PANTERA recently played seven shows in Mexico and South America and will next headline a number of major festivals across North America, Europe and Asia, and stage some of their own headline concerts. They will also support METALLICA on a massive North American stadium tour in 2023 and 2024.

Benante opened up about his participation in PANTERA's return during a new appearance on the "Talk Is Jericho" podcast, hosted by wrestling superstar and FOZZY frontman Chris Jericho.

Charlie said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET) "I had found out [about PANTERA playing shows again] towards the end of December [2021] — maybe it was the beginning of January [of 2022] when Philip called me up — and I immediately said, 'Yup. I wanna do it.' It just felt right. For some reason, with Darrell and Vinnie being gone, I, myself, missed these songs. You can listen to 'em all you want, but I think having them being performed in front of you and being performed the right way, it really resonated with a lot of people once they really found out that this was gonna happen."

He continued: "We always joke about if THE BEATLES, if John [Lennon] and George [Harrison] had still been here, would there have been a reunion. And I think the first thing I said was it probably would have been at the first Live Aid. The thing about Vinnie and Dime not being here anymore, and Philip and Rexare here, I think those guys felt, 'I wanna go play my songs again too.'"

Benante went to say that he knows "that there's die-hard fans who have their issues with" him, Wylde, Anselmo and Brown performing under the PANTERA name, "but for me and Zakk, we're just honoring our friends, to be honest with you. That's what we're doing," he explained. "And that's it. I enjoy playing these songs. When I look down at the setlist and I see the next song coming, man, I get so excited. So, for me, it's so great to be doing this. And seeing the reaction… I mean, you saw the videos [from the shows in Mexico and South America]. The people are just loving it. So why would you even be so negative about something when you see how much fun people are having and the joy that it's bringing? … We couldn't even ourselves; that's how loud it was. It was so loud. I've said this with ANTHRAX too, when we've come down [to South America], that sometimes you just wanna stop playing and just take it all in. And that's one thing that the fans in Chile, you didn't see a lot of [people holding up their phones and filming the show]. You just saw them in the moment enjoying it. And that was one thing that I was just applauding."

According to Charlie, "celebration" is the best way to describe what the new PANTERA lineup is trying to accomplish by bringing the music back to the live stages across the world. "I think that's the most accurate word you can use for this thing, because it is a celebration of the music and the vibe that these guys created," he said. "Vinnie and Dime would be all for it. And I know there were issues with those guys in the past, but, man, it's 2022 now. You can't hold on to grudges all your life. You've gotta let shit go and you have to just say, 'I'm gonna enjoy this. I wanna hear 'Cowboys From Hell' again. I wanna hear 'I'm Broken'.' That's it. Just come out and celebrate it."

As for all the naysayers, Benante added: "I did say something about two or three weeks ago about how I thought it was disrespectful for people to say the things that they were saying, because I felt that Vinnie and Dime, if it was the opposite way, they would be probably doing this too, 'cause they'd want their music to live on. That's the thing, because there's two generations who never have seen PANTERA. And this isn't the PANTERA that started this whole thing… Yes, it's Philip and Rex, and it's myself and Zakk who are filling in for Darrell and Vinnie. And we're just trying to play these songs as best as we possibly could play them."

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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