MESHUGGAH's TOMAS HAAKE: 'PANTERA Was An Important' Band 'Early For Us'

April 12, 2024

In a new interview with Drumtalk, the video magazine launched by German drummer and filmmaker Philipp Koch, MESHUGGAH drummer Tomas Haake spoke about how PANTERA's classic 1990s albums influenced his band's early sound. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "PANTERA was an important thing early for us, I think, 'cause they were one of those bands there in the early '90s when everything was just grunge, grunge, grunge and all over the place. And they were one of the bands that, at least in Sweden, were doing great and were still selling a lot of albums. But metal kind of died down for a few years there… The 'fuck you' approach of that band was so over the top that you laughed at it, but it was also, like, 'Yeah, that's a pretty hard band.'"

He added: "'Far Beyond Driven', 'Vulgar Display Of Power' and 'Cowboys From Hell' as well, those three albums, I think, they should be on any metalhead's shelf. If they're not, you're missing something."

Haake also spoke specifically about PANTERA's Vinnie Paul Abbott, calling him "another influential drummer. He had a particular style that's not the easiest to emulate," he said. "He wasn't trying to fill every single 16th note with something. Now [PANTERA is] out touring again, and [current PANTERA drummer] Charlie Benante does a great job of it, and they're using the same sounds and samples, so the kit itself sounds PANTERA, so he does a great job of it. But it's definitely… I don't know. [Vinnie Paul] had a particular swagger when he played, and it's a shame it's gone, man."

Back in July 2018, a month after Vinnie Paul died, Haake told Finland's Kaaos TV about the PANTERA drummer's passing: "I was stunned at first. Obviously, he was way too young — only 54, I think. Yeah, it definitely came as a shock. I mean, I don't know him that well, but, of course, over the years, we have run into each other and we have hung out and had beers and talked about life and music and stuff. So it's definitely a sad loss. And what can you say? Too early."

Haake went on to say that the first time he "actually met and hung out with" Vinnie Paul "and talked to him" was around nine or 10 years ago in Australia. And although MESHUGGAH never toured with either PANTERA or HELLYEAH, "we have run into [HELLYEAH] and we played a lot of the same stages around the same time at festivals and stuff like that," Tomas said. "So we definitely ran into them a bunch of times."

According to Haake, PANTERA's music had a "huge" influence on MESHUGGAH in the early years of the Swedish band's career. "I mean, during the grunge years, if you wanna call it that, early '90s, where metal kind of just dipped down and there was not much going on, you had METALLICA, of course, 'cause they were always big, but other than METALLICA, PANTERA was the only band that kind of just got stronger through those years. And for us, early on in our career, they had a huge impact. Of course. Definitely."

Asked what, in his opinion, made PANTERA's music so special, Tomas said: "I don't know. They certainly had a unique style of drumming, unique guitar playing, unique vocals — the best metal singer, probably, on the planet. So just the combination. The songwriting was excellent. It was really brutal, beatdown music and had little hints of hardcore, a little bit of older hard rock, if you look at their early years, before the [major-label] PANTERA stuff. So, I don't know… It was just a really cool mix. Also, their productions really kind of stood out and everything was really clear — you could really hear everything. So [it was] just a combination of all those things that made PANTERA a great band."

Haake also talked specifically about Vinnie Paul's drumming during his time with PANTERA, saying: "That was one of the things that stood out early on too. He had some things that he did, both with his feet and hands, that were kind of a new thing and that I think a whole generation of drummers kind of snipped off on and started using a little bit — where you do, like, three hits on two bass drums, and stuff like that. So definitely signature Vinnie Paul stuff. They basically shaped a whole generation of musicians, for sure, in metal — there's no doubt."

MESHUGGAH's ninth studio album, "Immutable", was released in May 2022 via Atomic Fire. The follow-up to 2016's "The Violent Sleep Of Reason" was recorded at Sweetspot Studios in Halmstad, Sweden; mixed by Rickard Bengtsson and Staffan Karlsson; and mastered by multiple Grammy Award winner Vlado Meller (METALLICA, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, SYSTEM OF A DOWN). Luminokaya once again created the cover artwork.

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