In a recent interview with T Stone of the radio show "Sonic Boom" on Real Rock 100.3 The Fox in Rapid City, South Dakota, JUDAS PRIEST's Richie Faulkner was asked what he thinks about Zakk Wylde stepping in for "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott in PANTERA's reformed lineup. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think there's only one guy that could have done that gig. He's the right guy for it. He's the only guy for it. The relationship he had with Dime over everything else. I mean, there's tons of guys that can play that stuff note for note for note, but I think the integrity that Zakk brings to that whole thing because of his relationship with Dime, I don't think there's anyone else on the planet that can do the gig like Zakk can do it.
"I don't think you need to play that stuff note for note," Richie continued. "I think it's all about what comes from the heart. People are sure to disagree with me there, but that's just my opinion on it. Dime played from the heart. It was all about emotion and passion. And I think as long as you put emotion and passion into that music, that's what it's about. Anyone can learn notes off a page, but if you don't have the passion and the emotion, what have you got with that music?
"So, Zakk's the guy," Faulkner added. "It was always gonna be Zakk. It always should have been Zakk, and it's gonna be fucking amazing. It's gonna be great… PANTERA were fantastic, and to hear those songs again, it's gonna be off the charts, man.
"The Internet is one reality, and then reality is another reality. And it's gonna be off the hook."
In July, it was reported that Wylde and ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante, along with PANTERA's surviving members, singer Philip Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown, would tour as PANTERA.
According to a report by Billboard, Wylde and Benante's involvement in the project has been approved by the estates of PANTERA's late co-founders, Dimebag and drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott.
Zakk discussed his participation in the PANTERA celebration tour during an appearance on "Sunday With Ola", the YouTube program hosted by Ola Englund, the Swedish guitarist, record producer and owner of Solar guitars. Regarding how his involvement in the PANTERA tribute came about, Zakk said: "There's always been talks about it, for years, especially when Vinnie was still alive. And it was just, like, well, I'll just wait till that day comes. 'If you guys decide you wanna do it, you know I'm always gonna be here for ya.' Phil called me up one night, and he was just, like, 'Zakk, I was talking with Rex. We're thinking about doing this. We were wondering if you would wanna honor Dime.' And I was, like, 'Of course, man.' How could I say no? So now, it was just, like, 'All right. Well, send me the songs for the setlist so I can start learning this stuff, man.'"
Wylde told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" about how he planned to approach the PANTERA gig: "You approach it the same way as you do when I'm playing with Ozzy. Obviously I've gotta learn [Randy] Rhoads's stuff and I've gotta learn Jake's [E. Lee] stuff, and when I was doing the [BLACK] SABBATH stuff, you learn it and do it as faithful as you can. Charlie's gotta learn all of Vinnie's parts. You approach it as if you're in a cover band. When we do the ZAKK SABBATH stuff," referring to his BLACK SABBATH cover band, "I don't start changing lyrics midway through 'War Pigs'. You learn the songs — so that's what you do."
PANTERA recently played seven shows in Mexico and South America and will next headline a number of major festivals across North America, Europe and Asia, and stage some of their own headline concerts. They will also support METALLICA on a massive North American stadium tour in 2023 and 2024.