How Zakk Wylde + Charlie Benante Plan to Approach Pantera ‘Reunion’ Shows Musically
The idea of Pantera "reunion" is something that's been discussed for the better part of the last decade, and now it's coming to fruition, with it recently being announced that Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante would be sitting in with Pantera's Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown on shows honoring the band's legacy. But it's no easy task living up to the riffs and beats that brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul created with the band, and both Wylde and Benante shared their hopes for the upcoming trek with SiriusXM host Eddie Trunk on his Trunk Nation show.
Wylde told Trunk (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), "It's gonna be awesome ... When Vinnie was still with us, it was always rolling around that, 'Zakk, would you honor Dime and all of us get together and do this thing?' And I said, 'Fellows, whenever you wanna do this thing, I'll be over here waiting in the dugout and in the bullpen. And just call me when you need me and I'll learn everything and we'll go do this.'"
The guitarist revealed that it was Anselmo who called and asked if he would take part in the run, with Benante revealing he first was called about the possibility of a tour last December with things starting to "become real" in January or February of this year.
Realizing the expectation that comes with this tour, both musicians shared that the desire is to be as close to the original sound as possible. "You approach it the same way as you do when I'm playing with Ozzy. Obviously I've gotta learn [Randy] Rhoads's stuff and I've gotta learn Jake's [E. Lee] stuff, and when I was doing the [Black] Sabbath stuff, you learn it and do it as faithful as you can. Charlie's gotta learn all of Vinnie's parts. You approach it as if you're in a cover band. When we do the Zakk Sabbath stuff. I don't start changing lyrics midway through 'War Pigs'. You learn the songs — so that's what you do."
Benante added, "I can't go do this as the drummer from Anthrax because it would be a different sound completely. So the way I'm gonna do that is if you close your eyes, it's gonna sound like it's Vinnie, basically. And that's how it's gonna be… The sound is gonna sound exactly like him."
As for their involvement, both have vested interests in honoring their respective friendships with the Abbott brothers. "My friendship with Darrell goes a long way, and I love both of those guys so much. So, for me, it was a very emotional thing to do this. That's what it's all about — it's all about those two guys and doing it… I don't wanna see anybody else doing it but me, 'cause I'm gonna do it right," says Benante.
Wylde adds, "Whenever [the idea of doing a tribute has] come up, you're celebrating the guys and you're celebrating all their achievements and their greatness. And that's what it is. 'Cause everybody was just, like, 'How can they call it a Pantera reunion?' And I go, 'Well, it's Phil and Rex getting back together,' 'cause they haven't played together for a while. I go, 'It's a Pantera celebration.' That's what it is. It's no different than Mitch [Mitchell] and Noel [Redding] from 'Experience Hendrix' asking Eric Clapton to come out and sing and play Jimi's [Hendrix] stuff and honor him, and they're gonna go out and honor Jimi Hendrix. To me, it's the same thing. With Ozzy, we honor Saint Rhoads every night. Every time we're playing 'I Don't Know', 'Mr. Crowley' — everything — you're honoring Randy. To me, it's an extension of that. You're honoring Dime, you're honoring Vinnie and you're honoring Phil and Rex, all the guys, their achievements, what they achieved as Pantera and all the mountains they conquered. That's the way I look at it. That's the way I've always looked at it.
While news of the tour broke earlier this month, Benante revealed that he's not exactly sure when the first date of the run will be. Reports have suggested that it will probably come in 2023.
Talk of a Pantera reunion started circulating with the potential for Zakk Wylde to be involved in 2012, but at the time Vinnie Paul shut down the possibility, stating, "Without my brother being part of it, it just doesn't make any sense." That was a position he maintained until his death in 2018. In recent years, Anselmo has started revisiting Pantera's music with his band the Illegals.
Stay tuned for the eventual tour details when they become available.