Daryl "Bobby Tongs" Arnberger, who was one of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott's closest friends and an official videographer for PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN, recently gave a two-hour interview to the "Landry.audio" podcast in which he went into detail about PANTERA's early glam days, the arrival of singer Philip Anselmo, the changing of the band's sound, Anselmo's drug addiction, how Philip's DOWN side project affected PANTERA, PANTERA's breakup, Dimebag's gradual frustration with DAMAGEPLAN, and Arnberger's current relationship with the surviving PANTERA bandmembers. You can now listen to the chat below.
Speaking about Darrell's desire to reform PANTERA in the months leading up to the guitarist's untimely death, Arnberger said: "Oh, yeah. He would have. The last time I saw him was in November of 2004. I was about to go back out with SLIPKNOT or [MARILYN] MANSON, one of the two. And I went over to his house. I was just talking to him briefly about everything. He was, like, 'We're gonna go out and do this [DAMAGEPLAN] tour through December, and I'll see you for Christmas and everything. After that, we're gonna have some new shit going on. And it's not gonna be this. Whatever it takes, we're gonna get these guys back together and do it right.' … He was saying he was gonna do everything he could. He was pretty much done with what they [DAMAGEPLAN] were doing at that point. He wanted to move on and go back to PANTERA."
Asked what it was about DAMAGEPLAN that was irking Dimebag shortly before the band's final tour, Arnberger replied: "He didn't think the other guys were as into it. He obviously didn't feel the magic as much as he did with the other two guys," presumably referring to Anselmo and PANTERA bassist Rex Brown.
Arnberger also revealed that he never read Brown's 2013 memoir, "Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story Of Pantera".
"One of my friends … told me one of the first quotes in there was something about Vinnie being fat, and all this shit," he said. "And then he talked shit about Darrell in the first chapter. And it's, like, there's no way that Rex can talk shit about those guys. It's obviously a pile of shit, and I didn't read it. I didn't read it. I don't wanna read it. Everybody's told me enough about it. Through the years, everybody's told me what a bunch of horseshit it was — people that were there and people that know. And even Rex himself has said it wasn't meant to be that way. He was telling me some shit about it. But I don't know. I didn't read it."
Arnberger went on to say that he still has a cordial relationship with both Anselmo and Brown.
"[Philip has] come a long way since [the end of PANTERA]," he said. "I've seen him a bunch since Darrell died and since Vinnie died. I've seen him once since Vinnie died, actually. But anyway, he's come a long way. He's not doing drugs. He's expressed his apologies and everything to everybody. I know Vinnie would never forgive him. Darrell, I'm not so sure — Darrell might have. But I'm not one to hold grudges, 'cause there's no reason for me to hold a grudge against Phil or Rex or anybody. I mean, there are a [lot] of reasons, but I choose not to."
Three years ago, Dimebag's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney told the "Talk Toomey" podcast that a PANTERA reunion "definitely" would have happened had Dimebag not been taken from us.
"[Darrell] had already made the effort to get on the phone with Rex on his birthday, on August 20th, in 2004, and had made plans to speak with him again," she said. "So, yeah, definitely. Because I know how, in his heart, he was PANTERA — he always would be. No matter what it was called — DAMAGEPLAN or what — that was always what was inside of him. And I know the things that he was feeling when he came home. He felt he had something to prove. He didn't wanna do those things with [DAMAGEPLAN frontman] Pat Lachman. Pat had already been causing issues and there were problems. I have several voice messages from [Darrell] that I still have of things that he left and was telling me about the things Pat was doing out there. And he was, like, 'Man, I don't wanna work with this dude. I wanna fire him. I just don't want people to think we're difficult to work with.' I mean, that's just how he felt. So, yeah, I definitely believe that [PANTERA] would be standing on stage together [again]."
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 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.