Vinnie Paul - Pantera
On the phone with David Lee Wilson - 2000
So, you are putting together a list of "true metal" bands for the year 2000 and you say that you are having trouble coming up with more than a handful of names? I empathize, there really isn't all that much out there that is getting any reasonable amount of attention anyway. Did you have Pantera on your list? Top of the hit parade you say? Well, yes come to think of it they are about the only ones who are currently recording and touring that have any kind of track record with the hard and heavy. I must say, as hopeful as things are beginning to look with the deluge of Iron Maiden inspired groups from Europe, Stateside we are just simply plagued with an endless bunch of Vanilla Ice wannabes.
Hey, since nobody else is saying it I will, "fuck Kid Rock and the midget he rode in on too!" If I have to hear one more Fred Durst clone blat on about growin' up hard in "the hood" I am going to puke. I am a micrometer away from walking into my local record store and burning the fucking thing down. The only thing that stops me from striking the match is the fact that though I might take out a few hundred copies of DJ Yo-Dog and the Paleface Crew I would end up getting the new Pantera in the bargain and that would be a terrible loss indeed. "Reinventing The Steel" is typical Pantera, which is to say that it is heavy, fast and loud all in extreme amounts. In its first week of release it went straight to number four on the charts which only goes to show that there is still a strong metal heart beating in America's music buying chest after all. Pantera gives us all reason to be hopeful that heavier days are just around the corner and this new collection of ten head bashers may just be the best that the Texas foursome have ever committed to disc. Their contribution to the "Heavy Metal: 2000" soundtrack rates as one of the heaviest numbers ever to be part of movie making history and their scheduled reappearance on this years Ozz-Fest is sweet relief from another summer of crappy tours with crappy bands. Vinnie Paul has provided the beat for the only American metal band that really matters anymore and during a day filled with interviews for the world's press he found the time to call in this report to the metal faithful.

DAVID LEE: I have been listening to this new Heavy Metal soundtrack a whole bunch lately and your contribution to it is definitely the best thing there. After hearing it on disc do you regret not holding it for your own album?
VINNIE PAUL: Not at all. We were in the middle of doing our record when they called us and asked us to be a part of the "Heavy Metal" soundtrack. They sent us a clip from the movie where the people go "immortally insane" and so we wrote the song specifically for the movie. It was something that had a totally different vibe from "Reinventing The Steel." It was a lot more slow and doomy kind of thing and it was something that would not have had a place on "Reinventing The Steel" so, I am glad that we did find a place for it. It worked out perfect for us.
DL: Have you seen the full movie yet?
VP: Yeah, I have seen it.
DL: Is it good?
VP: It's OK. It's not as good as the first one.
DL: Yeah, well, the first one has twenty years of being referred to as a "legendary movie" so maybe in time. . . On to your record, why was it that the steel needed to be reinvented in the first place?
VP: It is pretty simple, because it is no longer "the steel." The bands that are out today that people consider as metal may have metal elements but they are also Hip-Hop or Rap and they do a lot of other things that are not really representative of metal. There are not many bands out today that play music that is 100% played by the band, do you know what I mean?
DL: Absolutely.
VP: There are a lot of tapes and loops and samples and record scratching and shit like that and, for us, we have always been a very straightforward, honest and traditional band. We are an alternative to the alternative in a sense because there is nobody out there that does what we do.
DL: No click tracks for Pantera then?
VP: Fuck NO!
DL: You will be playing the Ozz-Fest again this year and because you will have to make it a more streamlined set are you eliminating the jamming part of the show and sticking to just recreating the songs live?
VP: We just finished our tour in Europe and we did a lot of jamming and a lot of spontaneous shit but on Ozz-Fest I guarantee you that no matter how long we have on stage there will be plenty of spontaneous action. We will have the set and know what we are going to play, or maybe we might not know what we are going to play, it just depends on the situation. Jams arise through us clowning around backstage with other bands and whatever else we can come up with.
DL: I can't tell you how cool it is to see a band like yours be able to stray from a straight, sterile set and have some genuine spontaneity. I produced a Pantera show back in the "COWBOYS" days and that was definitely the vibe around the band, as I recall, you didn't even have enough tunes for a full set and just jammed on covers with the support acts and that was really, really cool for the fans to see.
VP: We still do covers! We never want to forget the club days and or where we came from and what inspired us to do what we do. We still pay homage to them all, we did the cover of "Cat Scratch Fever" and we have done numerous KISS and BLACK SABBATH covers so, we still have all of that in our system.
DL: Is this Ozz-Fest tour a precursor to a full on Pantera tour?
VP: Absolutely. We had the opportunity to do our own tour or do the Ozz-Fest and there is no way you can turn the Ozz-Fest down. (laughs) You play a day, get a day off and play with all of the new bands that are out and you make a lot of good friends and a lot of fans. It was a great way to come straight out of the shoot and then start our own headlining tour.
DL: Will you start here in the States or over in Europe?
VP: We are starting in the States for sure.
DL: You had four years to write and record this record?
VP: It depends on how you look at it. If you consider three and a half years we were non-stop touring. . .
DL: Did you wait until you were off of the road and take time to get your collective heads together?
VP: We have never written any songs on tour but on this album, we were on the second leg of the BLACK SABBATH tour when we decided that, that would be our last time around the block, so to speak. We actually wrote "Yesterday Don't Mean shit" at a hotel in Toronto so we had a starting point for the record. That pretty much set the tone for the whole record and when that tour was over we knew exactly what the feel of the record was going to be. We knew that we would be able to just get on it and go at that point.
DL: You and your brother decided to produce this record, was that a weighty decision to make?
VP: No. You know, we co-produced all of the records with Terry Date and he is still a great friend and a great fan of the band. We have total respect for him, he is a great record producer but we started in on the demos and both he and we knew that at some point we would want to do our own record. He was working with The Deftones at the time and everybody here was comfortable with the way that things were sounding so we opted to run with things on our own.
DL: Every few years or so all of these metal magazines feel the need to rerun pictures of you guys from the days before Phil joined the band, how do you feel about that and is there material from those days that will ever be properly released?
VP: Well, there are four previous Pantera albums and the way that we look at it is, those were our demo tapes. At that point in time we just had the initiative to put them out as records and, come on, if you look at any band from that time frame they had the appearance that we had at that time. We were just growing up, I mean, the first record that we made was when I was just fifteen years old and I had no idea of what image and direction was all about. I was just trying to simulate my heroes which were at the time, VAN HALEN, JUDAS PRIEST, Iron Maiden and that kind of stuff. If you look at a picture of yourself ten years ago and compare it to what you look like now you will find that you have grown up and you have changed and you know what you like and that is what happened with us. We did our growing up on independent records and Elektra Records has offered us large sums of money to own the rights to those records and to re-release them but the way that we look at it is everything that we have accomplished has been since "Cowboys From Hell" came out in 1990 and that is really what we are all about and that is how people know us. Its part of our philosophy that "Yesterday don't mean shit!"
DL: Like you say, it is ten years on now and every band has a hump in the middle of their career, have you reached that hump yet?
VP: We reached the hump in '96. It was when a lot of bad things were happening and Heavy Metal was at an all time low. Phil obviously had his little run in with the drugs that was a tough thing for him and us all to deal with and to overcome. I just feel like, right now anyway, things are fantastic. The record came in at number four and nobody would have imagined that it would even get into the top ten. We are getting ready to start a new Ozz-Fest so, the hump is over. We are not doing this for money or for any other reason then we love to play this kind of music.
DL: I spoke with Cronos from Venom the other day and he has always exhibited a great deal of good taste and he told me that he is a big fan of Pantera, are you aware of how your peers view you?
VP: Yeah, Cronos was at our show in Scotland, they are always there. He gets up and sings "Walk" every time. There are plenty of them. The way that I look at it is this, the four biggest bands in my life, I got to tour with three of them. Judas Priest in 1990, KISS a few years ago in South America and we did Black Sabbath all over the US and Europe and the only one of those major influences that I have yet to tour with is Van Halen. I would never be interested in touring with them with the "fill-in" singers but if the rumors turn true and Eddie's health stays all right, look for Pantera to be on the Van Halen tour! (laughs)
DL: You gonna pull some strings eh?
VP: Oh Yeah!
Written by David Lee Wilson

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