ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian has once again 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 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.
Ian discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in a new interview with Michael Christopher of Vanyaland. Asked what his impressions were of Charlie's performances with PANTERA so far, Scott said: "Oh, man… we've known for a long time that if this was ever gonna happen, that he was gonna be the guy; just his relationship with those guys for decades. There was nobody else that should sit in that seat — if it was ever going to happen — he was certainly going to be the guy, just based on his relationship with Darrell, Vinnie and Phil and Rex. The fact that that's come to realization and it's actually happening and he's up there paying his tribute to Vinnie perfectly. It was amazing. I sat right behind him during the show in Santiago and just got to literally sit right behind him from the 'Charlie's eye view' and it was a lot of fun to get to see that."
Ian previously talked about the reformed PANTERA last November, prior to the band's first concert in Mexico City, in an interview with Primordial Radio presenter Dewsbury. Asked how he felt about Zakk paying tribute to Dimebag, Scott said: "Oh, man. You know what? The two of those dudes [Zakk and Darrell], they were as thick as thieves, those two guys. They were so close, there was definitely a bond… I won't go as far as to say… Look, obviously, Darrell and Vinnie were brothers. Zakk was probably as close as you could get to actually having a blood relation to Darrell. Those two dudes were, like I said, thick as thieves, man.
"As long as I knew Darrell, and I hate to ever say, 'I knew the guy and this is what he would want — I feel a little uncomfortable ever doing anything like that — but in this situation, I feel like I would make an exception because I would truly think Darrell, based on my many, many, many, many conversations over the years with him, would have definitely said, 'If I ain't here, you've gotta get Zakk up there to fucking fly the flag,'" he continued. "It just sounds like something Darrell would have said. So, yeah, I think Zakk is — he's the guy; he is the guy.
"And I think the other thing… Not to get too much into the weeds on this, 'cause I know there's a lot of people out there with a lot of opinions. That's how it is — because of the Internet, everybody gets to put their opinion out there. There's no editors anymore — it's just opinions. So if you want my opinion, this is a tribute, and that's what it is meant to be. This is a tribute to one of the best bands in the history of heavy metal. It's a tribute that also happens to have two of the bandmembers in it, along with two guys who, I don't think there's anyone better to be able to pay tribute to PANTERA than Zakk and Charlie."
As for how Zakk planned to approach the PANTERA gig, Scott said: "I hope Zakk just gets up there and does Zakk. I don't look at it as a cover-band thing. The reason you wantZakk there is because, well, first of all, his technical ability is on the level where he could actually play Darrell's solos. You have to be of a certain level of a guitar player to even be able to do that. Of course, Zakkcan do that. So, yeah, he's got that ability. But you also want it to be Zakk — you want it to be Zakk, not just him trying to cover Darrell. That's how I feel about it anyway. The reason Zakk is there is because he's Zakk, because of his personality, because of his playing. They could have just found a guy in a PANTERA cover band who could probably play it note for note, and if you closed your eyes, [it would sound just like Darrell]. But I just hope Zakk gets up there and pays his tribute to his brother and to PANTERA."
Asked what he thought about Zakk's recent admission that he was turning to guitar tutorials on YouTube while learning some of Darrell's more complicated parts, Scott said: "Yeah, well, why not? It's a lot easier than sitting there going back and trying to listen to something four thousand times to get it right. Someone's already done the work for you. [Laughs]
"When we [in ANTHRAX] were out on the tour back in August and September with [Zakk and the rest of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY], we would be in the same hotels a lot on a day off and I would see Zakk in the lobby or something. I'd be, like, 'We're going to get something to eat. You wanna go get something to eat?' He's, like, 'No. I've gotta go back to my room. I'm in Pantera University tonight.' So he'd be doing his homework. So I was, like, 'Oh, yeah. That's right. That's where you need to be. Yeah, I hear ya. No worries.' [Laughs]"
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. So… Anyways, I'm glad that the people who have decided to follow me in HELLYEAH do, and hopefully more of them will. And the ones that wanna live in the past are gonna live in the past."
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 is 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.