CHARLIE BENANTE On Reaction From PANTERA Fans To Seeing Band Play Live: 'Some Of Them Are Crying Because It's A Part Of Their Youth'

March 23, 2024

Charlie Benante has once again said that PANTERA fans who have attended the band's recent shows have embraced the opportunity to see the songs performed live more than 20 years since the classic PANTERA lineup was last together.

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 2022 that Anselmo and Brown would unite with Wylde and Benante for a world tour under the PANTERA banner.

Benante opened up about his participation in PANTERA's return during a new interview with Australia's Heavy, conducted at this month's Knotfest Australia festival. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We get people coming, we see them after the show, we see them during the VIP meet-and-greet things, and some of them are crying because it's a part of their youth. And they never thought they would hear these songs in this environment again. And it's the same thing for me. When I'm playing, I'm looking down at the setlist. I get excited about the next song coming up. It's good."

Charlie also addressed the negative comments he has received for his participation in PANTERA's comeback without Dimebag and Vinnie Paul. He said: "It's more important to — again, like I said a little while ago about hearing these songs again… Some of these people who were negative at the at the start of this whole thing, my whole thing was just, please shut up for a minute and just wait. If you don't wanna come, don't come. But if you do wanna come, and just come and then witness it, and then afterwards you can say, 'Fuck this. This was horrible.' But that hasn't happened. A lot of people are so positive about it and they enjoy it.

"There's no way I was gonna make this a bad, bad decision or a bad kind of vibe," Benante explained. "It had to be meeting my standards. It's gotta be killer. It's gotta sound like PANTERA. And that was it. There was a lot of homework that went into it. So for people to insult and say this, that, and the other thing, it's, like, well, that's not true. That's not true right there."

After one of the interviewers noted that most of the complaints center around the fact that the new PANTERA lineup is not "the real thing", Benante fired back: "What band is the real thing? What band is the real thing right now? Give me one band.

"Things happen. Life happens sometimes," he continued. "I went to see U2 about a month and a half, two months ago, and the drummer wasn't there. But I enjoyed the shit out of it anyway. It was just great.

"People online, they got those Internet balls and they have to talk shit. They can't exactly show any restraint. 'No, I have to push that 'enter' [key],' you know what I mean? It's, like, fuck you. Let me come to where you are. Let me just fuck with you all day."

Benante previously opened up about his participation in PANTERA's return during a February 2024 interview with "THAT Rocks!", the YouTube series hosted by Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson. Speaking about some of the criticism he has received for his involvement with PANTERA, Charlie said: "People had their preconceived notions of what they were gonna think: 'Oh, I don't dig this without Vinnie and Dime.' And of course… What do you think? We don't know that Vinnie and Dime are not with us anymore? But when we start playing the songs and you just see the faces in the crowd, all that shit goes out the window, the negative stuff that has been said.

"Man, that's all I ever wanted to do, is just come and do this and make people hear these songs again," he explained. "And that's what it's all about, really. It's about the music."

Asked who was in charge of making the decision to use the name PANTERA for the new lineup instead of calling it a tribute or naming it something else, Charlie said: "It wasn't me. [Laughs] For us it was about the celebration of the music and Dime and Vinnie; that's what it was about since day one. No one called it a tribute; no one called it a reunion. It can't be a reunion. This is a celebration of the music of PANTERA. Come and enjoy it. And that's it. That's all could do."

Benante also talked about his personal connection to Dimebag and Vinnie, saying: "Yeah. I loved those two guys, man. You never think that certain things would ever, ever happen, and then when it does, you sit back and think, like, 'How did this happen so fast? How did this time just slip by?' And Darrell's been gone for a while now. But it doesn't change how we all miss him and feel him.

"Every show that we play… [Longtime PANTERA engineer, bass tech and friend] Sterling [Winfield], who used to work for PANTERA — still does, in a sense. The first show, he came to Mexico City and he brought me one of Darrell's wristbands and a pair of Vinnie's gloves that they used. And every show that I've played so far, I wear the wristband and Vinnie's glove is in my pocket because I feel like they're with me. And I do that for every show, and I'll continue to do that for every other show we play. It just has significance."

Benante previously discussed his involvement in PANTERA's comeback during an interview with Consequence. Addressing the negative comments he has received for his participation, Charlie said: "I don't go [online] looking for [people's negative comments about it]. There's people that send me, 'Hey, did you see this?' And I'm, like, 'Why did you send me this? Why ruin my day?'

"I think the people who do these things, these comments, I don't even think they realize how much of an effect that they could have on people," he continued. "And whether or not you hate the situation, or whatever it is, why can't you find some sort of restraint? Why do you need to say this thought that you have? Can't you just hold it in and maybe be, like, 'I'll keep my thoughts to myself.' No, they've gotta tell you. I've never seen more of it in my life than I [did] in these past couple of months about just people judging."

Regarding his personal approach to playing the parts originally written and recorded by Vinnie Paul, Charlie said: "I just spent a lot of time on Vinnie's parts and more importantly the tone that Vinnie had because I wanted it to sound like PANTERA. That was my thing. And my drum configuration is different from the ANTHRAX one because I wanted to challenge myself to play those parts like he played them in that configuration, which, to me, was more important than anything. But yet people still have to find some problem in that."

According to Benante, the initial rehearsals for the PANTERA comeback tour were "an emotional thing" for Philip and Rex "too, because they hadn't played as a group, those two hadn't played together in a long time, playing PANTERA songs. Yeah, they played [together] in DOWN, but this was an emotional thing for them," Charlie said. "And I remember after the week of rehearsals that we did, saying goodbye was weird, because it was an emotional thing; we really kind of bonded, the three of us. Zakk wasn't there at the time. But for me, I knew I had done something right."

Up until his passing, 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.

Vinnie passed away on June 22, 2018 at his other home in Las Vegas at the age of 54. He died of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease. His death was the result of chronic weakening of the heart muscle — basically meaning his heart couldn't pump blood as well as a healthy heart.

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