Former EXODUS Guitarist RICK HUNOLT Supports PANTERA Comeback: 'They're Doing It Because They Wanna Play The Songs'January 21, 2023
Former EXODUS guitarist Rick Hunolt has weighed in on the fact that PANTERA's surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass) have united 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, are headlining a number of major festivals across South America, Asia, North America and Europe and staging some of their own headline concerts. They will also support METALLICA on a massive North American stadium tour in 2023 and 2024.
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 in 2021 said Wylde wouldn't tour with PANTERA if a reunion were to happen. It's unclear what changed his mind.
Hunolt discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in an interview with "The Chuck Shute Podcast". After host Chuck Shute said that it will be "cool to hear those songs played live" again, Rick said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "That's exactly why they're doing it. You know, there's money involved — of course there is. But who cares? Honestly, if you talk to Zakk or you talk to Charlie, they're doing it because they wanna play the songs.
"Have you seen the crowds [from PANTERA's recent concert] in Chile, in South America?" he continued. "Oh, get on YouTube. [Laughs] Dude, they are insane crowds. I mean, as far as your eye can see, the people are just jumping up and down. It's ridiculous."
Hunolt also reflected on his first time sharing the stage with PANTERA, which happened in the summer of 1990 as part of a three-band package also featuring SUICIDAL TENDENCIES.
"They [PANTERA] were crazy, and then we [in EXODUS] were crazy, and then we got together and it was crazy — for real," Rick said.
"I'll tell you a little story about touring with PANTERA. So it was us and SUICIDAL and PANTERA. But PANTERA didn't join the tour until about two shows into the tour. So we had already done a couple of shows with SUICIDAL, and then they [PANTERA] were gonna join the tour. And then we were gonna flip-flop with PANTERA who supports SUICIDAL. And at this time none of us had ever even heard of PANTERA. They had [a few] albums out, but we had never heard of PANTERA. So PANTERA shows up. And I wanna say the show was in Minneapolis, at Prince's club. And PANTERA shows up, and they're setting up for soundcheck. And me and Gary [Holt, EXODUS guitarist] were in the back of the club, hanging out and just talking. And Dime plugs in his guitar and starts playing, and me and Gary looked at each other and said, 'Holy crap! This dude is insane.' And we were, like, 'Oh my God. Listen to this dude play.'
"We became really, really dear friends with all of PANTERA," Hunolt added. "And it was amazing to watch, from that to how they blew up. I don't know why, but PANTERA just blew up — they kind of left us in the dust, bro. But it was fun to watch. And Dime was just the most incredible guitar player. Unbelievable."
Last month, PANTERA played seven shows in Mexico and South America. The band will next headline the 2023 "comeback" edition of Japan's Loud Park festival. The two-day "limited" event will take place on March 25 at Intex Osaka in Osaka and March 26 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City near Tokyo.
Brown was forced to leave PANTERA's Latin American tour after testing positive for COVID-19. Filling in for him at some of the shows was CATTLE DECAPITATION bassist Derek Engemann, who also plays with Anselmo in both PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS and SCOUR.
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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