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Interview with Pantera

5.31.00

When you’re a fan of a band for over 10 years, you become so awestruck after a while that you never imagine that you could ever just chit chat casually with one of the members. That’s how I felt all this time, anyway. That is, until I picked up the phone and heard the warm, obliging Southern drawl of Vinnie Paul of Pantera on the other end of the line. Talking with him was a pleasure, and he had no problem fielding questions from every writer on Earth all day long, and still being completely genuine in his replies to mine.

I’m no voice interpreter, but if I were, I would say that Vinnie is relaxed, comfortable, enjoys his life and he lives it to the fullest at any and all opportunities. I could almost picture his big, teddy bear frame kicking back with a tall glass of Diet Coke and chuckling with me over thoughts of starting his own boy band. (Read on for details!)

So, Mr. Paul! How are you?
Excellent.
It’s such an honor to finally meet you, sort of.
Nice to meet you.

Where are you calling from?
At home, in Dallas.
So you’re not touring currently then.. are you on a break?
We just got back from Europe, we got a two week break, then we go to Japan and then we start the lovely Ozzfest in July, so..
All right! That’s where I’m gonna be!

I know you’ve been doing interviews all day, and I know you’re probably tired of talking by now – so I thought I might begin by giving you the chance to talk about anything you haven’t been asked about yet.
Boy. I’ve been asked about just about everything under the sun!
I’ll bet. Shoe size… that sort of thing?
(laughter)
Well, we had a lot of fun in Europe for once, so you know, the shows were all sold out. A lot of good times that we had over there, and we’re glad to be back in the States and we’re just looking forward to the Ozzfest.
Good.

What elements are required to be a good drummer?
Well, obviously you want to be a good timekeeper, you know. The metronome is the most important element of a drummer. But uh, something that a lot of drummers today don’t really do is come up with creative parts. I like drummers that are creative. The type that really do more than what they’ve heard someone else do before, you know.
I know your style is very innovative.
Yeah. I still get in there trying to figure things out that I don’t know how to do. And nobody else can figure out how to do them once I figure out how to do them!
Well, I consider you the authority on this subject, so I had to ask.
Right on. Thank you.

What’s your secret for keeping up your energy and your health while you tour?
Well, it’s definitely Crown Royal.
(laughter)
Seriously?
No doubt about it.
Intravenously or…?
Naw, naw.. We don’t do that. We DRINK. I’ll tell ya, the best thing about being on the road is playing the shows, you know. And uh, as long as you feel good enough to get up and play, you know, then whatever you do afterwards, you can wreck yourself and party all day before the next show.
Are you guys still partying as hard as you ever did now, or are you mellower?
HARDER.
Really?
Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I still feel like I’m a 17 year-old kid. Actually, being that it’s been almost exactly a year since the last touring that we did until this touring, you know, that’s a lot of time to be at home and uh, there’s not a lot of things to do and you do a lot of drinking and it helps pass the time.
Does it?
Oh yeah.
And you’re just like, beyond hangovers at this point?
It’s been so long since I’ve had a hangover.
(laughter)
I don’t know what it is with these people, you know. If you just take two aspirins before you go to bed, you don’t have a hangover.
That is the remedy. I know this, at least. And water by the bed.
The ultimate trick for anybody that’s gonna drink is that you’ve gotta drink a lot of water.
Alcohol does dehydrate you.
Oh yeah, if you drink a lot of water though, it won’t even damage your liver.
Dr. Paul is in the house.
(laughter)

Why do you think Pantera has succeeded despite adversity?
Well, I just think it’s because we go and we play live. We don’t depend on the radio, we don’t depend on music television to broadcast us to the United States of America, we go do it ourselves. And I think we’ve always stayed true to ourselves, and true to our fans, and never become a “sell out” or anything like that, and they’ve always supported us and that’s why we’re still here.

How would you describe the personalities of your band mates to someone who might not be familiar with the Pantera monster?
I’d say uh, well, you know, I’m the glue. You know, I’m the one that holds it all together. Phil is definitely uh, personality-wise, he’s one of the most eccentric people you’ll ever meet.
Seriously?
Yeah. On the same token, he’s also one of the most intimidating people you’ll ever meet.
You’re kidding.
You know, off the stage, away from the music he can be the funnest person in the world to hang out with you know, he’s awesome.
Hmm.
Dime is definitely the creator. He’s the one that comes up with all the awesome guitar riffs, and that kind of thing. And then Rex is just like, the backbone. He’s just like that solid bass sound.

Is anybody in the band married?
Rex is.
Rex is married?
He’s the only one who’s married.
He’s the only one who isn’t single and swingin’, huh?
Well, I’m the only one who does that now. Everyone else has got their girlfriends. So you’re talking to the right person.
(laughter)
Okay. So you’re still the wild man.
I’m 17 years old!
(laughter)

How’s Big Val?
Big Val is no longer employed by the Pantera organization.
He’s not? For how long?
Well, this occurred during the break. He decided to get married.
Awww.
And uh, he has other things that are more important, and other commitments that he has to take care of. So, unfortunately he’s no longer part of the entourage. But the new guy, Krusher Kenzie, is awesome, and he’s doing a great job and you’ll see him out on the tour.
Okay, I’ll have to look for him then.

So, what comes to mind when you hear the words ‘boy band’?
N’Sync. That’s what comes to mind. I think it’s like the New Kids On The Block, or the Osmonds, you know. Something along that line, except it’s the year 2000. They don’t write their own songs, they don’t choreograph their own shows. They’ve got someone telling them what to do, and whoever is telling them to do it is making a Hell of a lot of money!
(laughter)
Maybe I ought ta fuckin’ put one together!
(laughter)
That would be an interesting little project, I think.
I’d get a bunch of little hoodlums.
I’d go see your boy band!
I’d make it off the wall!
(laughter)

What’s your absolute best childhood memory?
My absolute best childhood memory was when I got my ass kicked, and this kid beat me up with a metal lunchbox.
What?!
Yeah. He beat me up with a metal lunchbox.
Wow.
That’s when lunchboxes were made out of met tull. (Vinnie emphasizes and enunciates “met tull”.)
Yeah.
Hell, I was riding my bicycle down the sidewalk towards my house and I didn’t know this dude had it in for me, and I road right by him and he whacked me right in the face with a..METAL..lunchbox.
(laughter)
And proceeded to beat me more after I fell off my bike.
Oh my God!
That was my most exciting childhood experience.
And that was your best one?
Oh yeah.
I’m afraid to ask what the worst one was.
The worst was when they told me Santa Claus wasn’t real.
Aww. Yeah, the big lie.
That’s right.
Well, how old were you when the lunchbox incident took place?
I was in the first grade.
Have you seen the lunchbox guy since?
Naw, I haven’t seen him. He was a lot bigger than me, too. He got me good.
You think he’s still bigger than you?
Oh, without a doubt.
Really?
Oh yeah.
He’d probably be afraid now, if he knew who you were, and that you beat things up for a living.
Naw, he probably tells all his friends he did it to me.
(laughter)
That’s his claim to fame.

Do you think you’ve accomplished what you set out to accomplish as a musician, or do you feel like you’re still working towards that?
Any kind of dreams or accomplishments that, at one point and time, seemed like a dream have been accomplished. We had a number one album, and there are so many people out there that are big, successful artists that never have a number one album. That’s a huge accomplishment. Platinum albums in something like 14 different countries or something, I mean, we’ve done all that, and now the main thing I want is just to keep having fun playing music, and to keep doing it, you know?
Cool. Are you a rich man?
I don’t have to worry about where my lunch money comes from.
(laughter)
Good deal. It’s great to see good things happen to good people.

Can you cook?
Oh yeah, I love cooking.
Really?
Yeah, the cooking channel is one of the five channels I love to watch on TV.
What are your specialties?
Emeril Logasi’s my boy.
Oh yeah! I love that guy, he’s awesome!
Let’s see, what did I make over here that was good. I had crab legs the other night. Full on, uh, sea bass, with chopped onions and crab meat and garlic all on top of it, roasted in the oven. It was fantastic. You know, I like to make fajitas…. All kinds of stuff.
I thought I might post a Vinnie Paul recipe.
Aw man, okay. Something that’s really out there… Let’s see. Well, you know, I made this dish the other night. It was really good. All you gotta do is get some rice-a-roni, this is “Vinnie’s take of Paella.”
Okay!
(laughter)
Rice-A-Roni, you throw some seafood in there, a little hamburger meat, and then cover it in cheeeeeese.
Ooooh…cheddar cheese?
Any kid of cheese. As long as it melts.
All right.
And it’s good.
Sounds like it.
And if you really wanna kick it up a notch, don’t forget the jalapenos. (Vinnie pronounces it holla-PEN-yuhs.)
So you like it spicy then?
I like all the good stuff, yeah.
And what would you like to drink with that, sir?
To drink? There’s really only two things that I drink, and that’s water and Diet Coke. And I do like Iced Tea.
Not a beer drinker?
I love to drink alcohol, but beer… the way I look at it.. all that space in that beer can – that’s about six shots. I’d rather have six shots than 1 beer.
(laughter)
Okay, so Diet Coke or water with the Paella then.
Yeah.
Okay.

Would you like to see Pantera become like the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith, or would you rather pack it in before you become old and soft?
I’ve thought about it several times, and to me, I have a hard time picturing us being “The Rolling Stones” of heavy metal just because it’s too physically demanding, the kind of music we play. I can’t picture myself being 50 years old and up there playing ‘ “Fucking Hostile”. I mean, “Honky Tonk Woman”, that’s a different story, you know. We just all know that when the time comes, when it’s not fun anymore, or when people stop coming to see us, or stop buying our records – you know, we’ll know when it is. We can take a hint. And we’ll say “It was a long ride, it was a lot of fun, and we did a lot of things nobody thought we could do, and that’s that.”

Have you guys ever had a dead audience in your whole careers?
Not a dead audience. We’ve played places where we expected more out of them, or sometimes you get those audiences that will just stand and watch, you know. Not very often, but sometimes you do. That’s just the way it is.
It’s hard to picture Pantera ever having a dead audience.
Yeah, there’s never been a dead one. Just, like I said, some that just stand and watch.

I know you have hardcore fans in the U.S. and all over Europe, but do any of them compare to the crowds back home?
I think the fans around the world, whether we’re in Japan, Australia, South America or wherever, really react to the music very similarly. Whether they speak the language or not, they feel the vibe and understand it somehow. It’s pretty universal. Playing at home, if you wanna call home Dallas, which is our home, it’s our home town and our fans are fuckin’phenomenal. But, I feel like we’ve got 12 hometowns. Detroit is a fuckin’ madhouse when we play there, Chicago… and I always tell people the “official” rock n’ roll state of the entire U.S. is Ohio.
Really?
Doesn’t matter where you play. Akron, Cleveland, Cincinatti, Columbus, you name it – those fuckin’ people are sick!

Have you met the guys in Slipknot?
Yeah! They’re big Pantera fans, and we’re hoping we’ll get to do a little touring together.
That would be VERY cool. There would be some serous damage there.

Who is the most exciting person you’ve had a chance to meet because of being in the band?
Well, let’s see. I’m a huge hockey fan. And I’m friends with all the guys on the Dallas Stars. I wrote the theme song that helped them win the Stanley cup last year. They’re on a Stanley cup quest right now, as we speak. They’re right back at it, and uh, all the guys on the team are super cool. I have them over at my house quite often. It’s been something that’s been really special. Not only am I a fan, but now I know them all and they’re personal friends. So it would probably be those guys.
That’s very cool.

Well, I have a couple of things to tell you. I promised the guys in Full Devil Jacket that I would tell you that Pantera has been a huge influence on them.
Right on!
Jonathan Montoya said to be sure to relay a message to Dimebag any way I can, just to thank him for all the inspiration and that Pantera has major admiration coming from the entire band.
That’s cool.
They’re from Tennessee and Mississippi, collectively. And he said “you tell those guys in Pantera that the South is back, we’re gonna kick some ass!”
That’s right!!!

Also, there’s this other thing. I don’t know if you know, or if Philip knows, but in New Orleans, there is a 72 year-old man that lives in New Orleans, named Phil Anselmo.
Really!
Yes.
Wow!
I spoke to him on the phone by accident; it was kind of a fluke. One day we were just messing around while I was getting ready for this interview with you, and we searched Phil Anselmo on the internet, and it came up, listed in New Orleans.
Wow.
He was so nice, too. I asked him why he hadn’t changed his phone number, or made it unlisted because he must get all kinds of calls. He just told me he’s had that same phone number, and lived in the same house for most of his life, and that the Pantera fans that have called have always been so good, and so polite that he didn’t see any reason why he should change it. I asked him if he’d ever heard the band, and he said no – so maybe we should get some CDs or something out to him!
I’ll have to ask Phil about that.
Yeah, just thought I would mention that.
Right on.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you guys out here. We’ll have to have a shot of Crown Royal.
Hell yeah, let’s do it!
Thanks for talking to me, Vinnie.

An extra large and special thank you to Amy at Elektra, and to Skinny at Streetteam.net for all the goodies.

Lesa Pence

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