OVERKILL's JASON BITTNER On PANTERA Reunion: DIME And VINNIE 'Are Looking Down And They're Quite Happy With What's Going On'
July 25, 2023
OVERKILL and SHADOWS FALL drummer Jason Bittner 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.
Bittner discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in an interview with Pod Scum. Addressing the negative feedback from some fans about Anselmo and Brown playing shows under the PANTERA name without the Abbott brothers, Jason said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "What it comes down to, and I'm not gonna be one of those guys to say, 'Well, 'cause I knew Dime and Vinnie…', but I knew Dime and Vinnie… What it is, is a lot of people who don't know these guys, who didn't know these guys who just talk shit: 'Oh, Dime and Vinnie, they wouldn't want this.' I beg to differ with that. I think that the two of them are looking down and they're quite happy with what's going on."
Jason went on to say that Wylde and Benante are absolutely the right musicians to step in for the Abbott brothers. "It's one of the greatest guitar players and one of the greatest drummers to ever play rock and metal," he said. "So, give me a break."
This past April, Bittner's OVERKILL bandmate Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth also threw his support behind the PANTERA reunion, telling Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio: "I'd love to see it. When it comes around here, I'm gonna go. I think it's just a great thing. The original band itself was just so groundbreaking with regard to how they morphed into that 'Reinventing The Steel' vibe. [From] 'Cowboys From Hell' on, it was just amazing. I think if anything deserves to be celebrated, especially with original members there — at least 50 percent of them, obviously — this is the project or the event that needs to be celebrated and seen."
While he was alive, Vinnie Paul had repeatedly dismissed talks of a PANTERA reunion, telling Germany's EMP Rock Invasion in 2014: "People are selfish, man. They want what they want; they don't care what you want. And it's unfortunate that people go, 'Oh, wow, man, they can get Zakk Wylde to jump up there on stage and it's PANTERA again.' No, it's not, you know. It's not that simple. If Eddie Van Halen was to get shot in the head four times next week, would everybody be going, 'Hey, man, Zakk, go play for VAN HALEN. Just call it VAN HALEN.' You see what I'm saying? I mean, it's really selfish for people to think that, and it's stupid. It's not right at all."
He continued: "They call it a reunion for a reason. It's called bringing the original members back to what it was. So there's a lot of these things that they call reunions that aren't really reunions. They've got one dude from the band floating around in them, you know. That's not a true reunion. With PANTERA, it'll never be possible."
He repeated those same sentiments a few months later, telling PlanetMosh in a separate interview: "Without Dimebag Darrell, there is no [PANTERA] reunion. And that's all there is to it. We were a very influential band, and we touched millions and millions of people with that band, but it's over. People really have to come to grips with that, and that's all there is to it. If all of us were still here, then the possibility would truly be there, but since it's not, you know… It's selfish of the fans to want something that they can't have. And they don't ever understand that, and I get it. There's things I want in this world too. You know, people in fucking hell want ice water, but they're not gonna get it."
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 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.
Dimebag's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney in 2011 called on Vinnie and Philip to settle their differences in honor of Dimebag.
Vinnie, who was Dimebag's brother, and Anselmo had not spoken since PANTERA split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinnie suggested that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag's killer.
Haney told the producers of "Behind The Music Remastered: Pantera" that she forgave the singer after they found themselves unexpectedly face to face at a concert in California.
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