ZAKK WYLDE On Performing With PANTERA: It's 'Great Seeing People Taking A Trip Down Memory Lane' Every Night

March 26, 2024

During an appearance on the latest episode of "Drinks With Johnny", the Internet TV show hosted by AVENGED SEVENFOLD bassist Johnny Christ, Zakk Wylde spoke about his involvement with the reformed PANTERA, in which he is joined by the band's surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass),alongside ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante. Asked how they all "came together to decide that this was the right time, the right group to pay homage to the mighty PANTERA", the guitarist said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, BLACK LABEL [SOCIETY] and DOWN, we did some shows together in 2014, we did a tour, and it was great. 'Cause I've known Phil [who also sings for DOWN] and Pepper [Keenan, DOWN guitarist] and all the guys, and Jimmy Bower [DOWN drummer], Father Bower Power, over there for a while. It was just a bunch of friends going out doing shows together. And we did some PANTERA stuff then, and then Father Rex came out and we jammed 'I'm Broken' and stuff like that, and it was a lot of fun. And it's always been rumored for years. I just said that's always on the fellas. Me and Charlie are buds, and we'll be here to support our friends, whatever they wanna do. So when Phil called me up one day, he was, like, 'Zakk, you wanna get together and do this? We're thinking about me, Rex and Charlie and yourself, and we'll go out and pay tribute to Dime and Vinnie.' I was, like, 'Of course. I always said I would be there for you guys when you felt the time was right to do it.'"

He continued: "But, yeah, we just got together and did the rehearsals down in New Orleans and then we've been rolling ever since. We just did the [Madison Square] Garden and everything like that, with LAMB OF GOD and the guys and everything like that. So it was great. So just looking out every night and seeing people taking a trip down memory lane, the people that have seen the original PANTERA… When Phil says every night, he's just, like, 'How many people, this is their first time ever seeing PANTERA?' And all the younger people that never got a chance to see 'em [raise their hands]. It just really is a beautiful thing.

"I always say it every night, when we were playing the Garden, it's just like if Dime and Vinnie were right there on the side of the stage, I'd go, 'Look at what you guys created.' So it's really special. I think it's just a beautiful thing every night paying honor and tribute to Dime and Vinnie every night, Phil and Rex and Dime and Vinnie, this thing that they created that brings so many people joy. So, I just think it's a beautiful thing every night."

The reformed PANTERA is headlining a number of major festivals across North America, South America and Europe and staging some of its own headline concerts. They are also supporting METALLICA on a massive stadium tour in 2024.

It was first reported in July 2022 that Anselmo and Brown would unite with Wylde and Benante for a world tour under the PANTERA banner.

According to Billboard, the lineup has been given a green light by the estates of Vinnie Paul and Dimebag, 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.

Zakk previously discussed his involvement with PANTERA in a February 2024 interview with Chuck Armstrong of Loudwire Nights. At the time, he said: "Everybody in the whole camp, it's all great people. And it's crazy, because we've known each other for years, but you end up knowing, even with the crew and everything like that, all these people you've known for years — I mean, people that I've been with when I started with Ozzy [Osbourne] and everything like that. So, it's just a great time out there, man, for sure. And then, obviously, celebrating Vinnie and Dime every night, it's just awesome.

"The beautiful thing about music is, all the bands that we love, whether it's ZEPPELIN or [BLACK] SABBATH, THE ALLMAN BROTHERS or Elton John or PANTERA or whatever, everybody has their connection to that music," he continued. "That's the most powerful thing about music. I mean, you hear stuff, it just transports you back to when you were 13 years old, 14 years old, where you were and what you were doing when that music was going on. So, for so many people — it's amazing 'cause Phil always does it at like almost every night, he's just, like, 'How many people saw PANTERA back in the day?' And everybody, obviously, you have all the PANTERA faithful. And then he goes, 'How many people, this is their first time seeing PANTERA?' It's mind-blowing. I mean, I'd say it's almost like 60-40, 70-30 sometimes, where it's, like, 'Wow. That is amazing.'

"I never got a chance to see ZEPPELIN back in the day, so to see… When I went and saw the [Jimmy] Page and [Robert] Plant thing with the orchestra and everything, that was just amazing, because I never got a chance to see them back in the day. So, just the power of the music, to see it live was just… I saw 'em at Brendan Byrne Arena [in East Rutherford, New Jersey in April 1995] when we were working on [Ozzy Osbourne's 1995 album] 'Ozzmosis'. I got tickets and we went down to the gig that night, and it was amazing — 'cause I never I never got a chance to see it back in the day. So, it's pretty much the same, 'cause I know I was getting chills when I was watching it. So, yeah, it's a beautiful thing, man."

Zakk was also asked if he would be open to working on new material with PANTERA. He said: "Nah, I don't think so. Whenever Phil says that and all the younger kids are screaming and yelling, when they put the house lights on and everyone's got their fists up in the air 'cause that's the first time [they're seeing PANTERA live], I just look at like Vinnie and Dime, if they were on the side of the stage, and go, 'See what you guys created.' So it's just, like, yeah, it's awesome. It truly is, man. But, no, I don't think [the plan is] to record [as PANTERA]. I mean, it'd be like if [Eric] Clapton was playing with [drummer] Mitch [Mitchell] and [bassist] Noel [Redding], honoring Jimi [Hendrix], they're not gonna go in and record [and call it] THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE with Eric Clapton. [Laughs] I don't think anything like that. Obviously, if we were ever to do anything, it would be under a different name. Like Jimmy Page, if he was playing with Paul Rodgers and everything, it's THE FIRM; they're not going out as LED ZEPPELIN."

Back in January 2023, longtime PANTERA producer Sterling Winfield, who is reportedly one of the people who control PANTERA drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott's estate, told Reckless Rock Radio 89.3 KNON FM about the possibility of the reformed PANTERA recording new music: "It's not unheard of, it's not blasphemous. I will say that it is entirely plausible, it is entirely possible, but at this point in time, I don't know that anybody's looking that far down the road. They've got a world tour to tackle, man, for the next two years, and they are gonna be busy doing that. Now, could it happen? Yes."

Asked if he "would be cool" with Brown, Anselmo, Wylde and Benante making new music together, Sterling said: "It depends, man. Again, it has to be done right, like this whole thing; the whole tour that's happening has to be done properly. And I don't really feel comfortable — if it were to happen, I would not feel comfortable calling it PANTERA. I don't think that would be classy. I'll put it that way. And I'll just leave it at that for now. [But] this lineup could make some very badass music. And the music is all that matters."

Back in 2016, Vinnie Paul said that he would eventually release music that was planned for DAMAGEPLAN's second album.

The drummer formed DAMAGEPLAN with his brother "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott after PANTERA's split in 2003 and released the debut DAMAGEPLAN album, "New Found Power", a year later.

Vinnie Paul told "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk": "The first [DAMAGEPLAN] record, I think, was pretty diverse. We wanted to do something that didn't sound exactly like PANTERA, and with [the material that was written for] the second record, it was really focused, man. I've got the demos and someday they'll come out. But I really feel like we had turned a corner. We'd been out, the fans had seen us, and they'd accepted the fact that this was our new thing at this point."

Anselmo and Brown spoke about PANTERA's return to the stage during an appearance on the seventeenth episode of "The Metallica Report", the podcast offering weekly insider updates on all things METALLICA. Philip said: "It's empowering. It is incredibly beautiful, and you feel so much love when you're up there. And if you take it in, it's a great feeling, man. These days, man, that's where me and Rex, you know, we get to dig the shows more."

He continued: "When we were younger, we were at war and when we were on stage; we were just angry and at war, man. Now it's — the songs are there. I can concentrate on singing the fricking songs, number one. Geez, that's a relief for me, man. I don't have to break my fricking body in part anymore."

Anselmo and Brown also talked about Charlie and Zakk being part of the PANTERA team. Philip said: "Them two dudes, so enthusiastic. And they got their damn thing and they got their own damn legacy, both of them, without us. It's an honor to play with them. They're the nicest frickin guys in the world, man. I'm just so... [Laughs] Zakk, he's a crack-up, man. He's a sweetheart. And fricking Charlie, we've known Charlie since '87, man. It's a long time."

Rex chimed in: "The way [Charlie] plays Vinnie's parts is uncanny. I don't think there's any drummer out there that could play the way that Vinnie did. I would close my eyes, because I was trying to get tight, and sometimes if I close my eyes, I can hear a little better; I think I can. And there'd be a tear of joy just coming down, because that was so close to what Vinnie and I used to play. So you have the foundation."

Philip concurred, saying: "The low end sounds so PANTERA, man. It's freaking me out."

When the interviewer suggested that PANTERA in 2023 had Vinnie Paul and Dimebag's "spirit inside it", Philip said: "Only thing I can say is, man, I know for a damn fact Vince and Dime would want us to do this, hands down. They would want the PANTERA brand or the legacy to go on. And I don't know what you believe in, but sometimes, you know, you would like to think that them old fellas are looking down on us, giving us the thumbs-up."

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. 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, 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.

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