CHARLIE BENANTE: Why I Have Four Kick Drums On Stage During PANTERA Concerts

March 31, 2024

In a new interview with What We Did On The Weekend, PANTERA drummer Charlie Benante spoke about his decision to have no less than four kick drums on stage while he is performing with the Philip Anselmo-fronted outfit. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Basically, let me give you a little background on that. If there's a fan, kid, whatever, all the way across the arena, or wherever we're playing, and he sees the drums, and it just looks massive. So when I was younger and I would go see VAN HALEN, KISS, whatever, it was huge; it was larger than life. It made an impression on me. And it's kind of what I wanna do; I just wanna blow it up big. ['Dimebag'] Darell [Abbott, late PANTERA guitarist], that was his thing: fucking blow it up. So when I had the idea to do the four kick drums, and we were, like, 'Fucking leave it. It looks cool.' So that's it. I wish I had smoke coming out of my drums."

Back in December 2022, Benante, who has spent more than four decades playing in ANTHRAX, told Jonathan Montenegro's "My 3 Questions To" series about how long it took him to learn the PANTERA material that he is currently performing during the reformed band's run of shows: "I know these songs, and, of course, I've loved these songs for so many years. For me, I knew the songs, but maybe some of the songs I didn't know the little details in the songs, as far as the drum parts went. So I really started to dissect each song and approach it that way. I've seen Vinnie [Paul Abbott, PANTERA's late drummer] play these songs so many times, but sometimes when you record a song and then you start to play it live, it starts to take on a different — it becomes something different sometimes when you play it a live way. So sometimes they would even speed it up a bit. So I was trying to get these songs to a place where it's almost in the middle — somewhere like the studio version and somewhere like the live version. Because when you're playing live, the adrenaline is pumping. You're human, and we're not playing to a click or anything. So I always wanted to keep that groove going, 'cause Rex [Brown, PANTERA bassist] and I, we look at each other and we feel and we connect. And the connection he had with Vinnie is the same type of connection that I wanna have with him."

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

The band is headline a number of other major festivals across North America, South America and Europe and staging some of its own headline concerts. They are also supporting METALLICA on a massive North American stadium tour in 2024.

According to Billboard, the lineup has been given a green light by the estates of the band's founders, Vinnie Paul and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, as well as Brown, who in 2021 said Wylde wouldn't tour with PANTERA if a reunion were to happen. It's unclear what changed his mind.

Benante told "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" about how he prepared for the PANTERA live performances: "When I talked to Philip back in — it was, like, the end of December [2021] about this, that day, I hung up the phone and I immediately started to get my head into PANTERA mode and just figure things out. Because I knew these songs, but I didn't know how to approach playing the songs, how I'm gonna do this. And the one thing I wanted to do is I just wanted to play it like Vinnie. When the fans hear it, when anybody heard it, I wanted them to be able to close their eyes and I wanted it to sound like Vinnie."

Charlie also talked about his musical chemistry with Rex, saying: "That's the thing. I didn't know how we would kind of come together and when we would make the connection. But I've gotta be honest with you, when I went down to New Orleans in September [2022] and it was just me, Rex and Philip. And after the first day, Rex and I, we had such a connection, and he said to me, he was, like, 'Dude, when I close my eyes, I feel like it's Vinnie up there.' So that made me feel so good when he said that. And Philip said the same thing too. So I was so happy about that. Because, honestly, I really did my homework. We're talking these tiny little nuances — things that maybe people wouldn't hear — I'm putting 'em in there because it's important to me to deliver it just like Vinnie would."

As for his drum setup for the PANTERA show, Benante said: "It's a totally different configuration [to what I play with ANTHRAX]. I'm playing more like Vinnie's kit, the way Vinnie played it. I wanted to play a kit like that because it gave me a bit more of a challenge. And I can't add more drums to it, because I just wanted to have the two toms in the front — floor toms — so I'm just sticking totally to the way he had it, and I wanna play it exactly like he had it and it sounds exactly how he had it too. So that's how I approach this."

Charlie went on to say that he doesn't understand all the negative comments that have been directed at him and the other members of PANTERA for trying to keep the band's legacy alive.

"This was never a reunion," he explained. "How can it be a reunion without Vinnie and Dime here? Sometimes people will send me something, and I see things online, and it's so disrespectful to both Darrell and Vinnie, and it's totally disrespectful to us too. And it's just, like, 'Man, if you don't wanna come, you don't have to come.'

"One of the first things I said to Philip on the phone, I said, 'This, to me, is more on an emotional level than any other level.' This means a lot to me personally, to go out there and represent those guys and represent the PANTERA name," he continued. "And that's all I'd ever want for me. I don't care about it financially and stuff like that; this, to me, I had to do this. I didn't wanna see anybody else playing these songs but me up there."

Reflecting on his initial conversation with Anselmo about taking part in the reformed PANTERA, Charlie said: "I was so excited about it. I said, 'Thank you for thinking of me.' And they were, like, 'There was nobody else.' And that made me feel really good. Because they knew my relationship with Darrell and they knew my relationship with Vinnie. And I loved those guys, and I love these two guys just as much."

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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