ZAKK WYLDE Says He 'Feels' DIMEBAG 'All The Time' On PANTERA Tour: It's 'Him Pushing This Thing Along, Willing It To Happen'

April 6, 2024

In a new interview with Ultimate Guitar, Zakk Wylde spoke about the decision to tour with a reformed version of PANTERA, also featuring surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass),alongside Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) on drums. The lineup has reportedly been given a green light by the estates of PANTERA's founders, drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.

Zakk said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I feel [Dimebag] all the time. Even when we were getting ready to do the [PANTERA tour in 2022], [the early] rehearsals, and they were just figuring out how we were gonna do this, there'd be signs all over the place, whether [it was] a license plate that would be, like, '333' [three being Dimebag's favorite number], or I'd run into like a Dimebag license plate in the middle of nowhere. It was just, like, him just pushing this thing along, willing it to happen. So he's just always around. When we were in New York, just like signs, when we just did [a headlining show at] the [Madison Square] Garden [in February 2024], my wife Barbaranne was, like, Check this out.' Something came up and it just reminded us of Dime, and I was like, 'Wow, that's crazy.' Or we would look on our phone and it would be '333'. It's just these signs everywhere. And I could see Dime just doing it, going, 'I hope these idiots realize it's me sending these signs.' [Laughs]"

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.

During a recent appearance on "Drinks With Johnny", the Internet TV show hosted by AVENGED SEVENFOLD bassist Johnny Christ, Zakk was asked how he, Philip, Rex and Charlie all "came together to decide that this was the right time, the right group to pay homage to the mighty PANTERA". The guitarist said: "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."

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."

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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