“It’s Asinine to Think We Could Re-Create Pantera Without Dime”, Vinnie Paul

Russia’s Darkside web site recently conducted an interview with HELLYEAH/ex-PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott and HELLYEAH vocalist Chad Gray on November 17, 2010 in Oslo, Norway. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Darkside: Both of you have been in the music industry for quite a while. What would you say was the most valuable lesson that you have learned along the way?

Vinnie: Probably the most valuable lesson anybody should learn is never piss on the people on your way to the top, ’cause you’re gonna have to see them on your way down, some day. That’s a very valuable lesson. And another lesson is to try to learn to be sort of business-minded. You know, it’s called the music business. We’ve all gone into it, ’cause we love the music and a lot of people end up with nothing at the end of the day, after they’ve done all of this great music, ’cause they never learned any of the business side. So to be able to pick up on some of that is helpful for sure. Don’t just say, “Well, I’ll just let my accountant handle that.” Still, to this day, I pay my own fucking bills, they come to my house, they don’t go to some dude in L.A. and he does it. I wanna look through them, I want to make sure there’s no bullshit.

Chad: The first thing he said about not pissing on people on your way up… I’ve always been the kind of person who has really kept my feet on the ground. I know that he has been that kind of person, too. I think that’s why the respect level that we have for each other was so high right from the get go. It’s ’cause when we met each other — there was no bullshit, there was no ego. It was like wow, this is fucking amazing, ’cause it’s really hard to find it in this business. HELLYEAH has been very humble. MUDVAYNE saw a [certain] level of success: we have three records out in the States. We make money when we go out in States, we sold almost six million records worldwide and that’s a big deal. HELLYEAH is like starting over in this new world that we live in with downloading and so on. It’s been really humble; it’s been fucking awesome, too. It’s really taking me back to be able to live a life and make a climb for 10 years and then turn around and come back and start all over again. It just makes you really appreciate all of your work, where you kind of end up. It’s been really awesome for me. I never saw the level of success he saw. It’s a testament to the headspace of HELLYEAH and what we are. I don’t know many people that could do what we’re doing right now, how we are living our lives right now.

Darkside: Vinnie, I have read some speculations online regarding the possibility of you ever re-creating PANTERA without Dime [late PANTERA guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott]. I don’t know what triggered these speculations, but what do you have to say to these people?

Vinnie: It’s ridiculous. Dime was such a huge part of it; it would be just completely asinine to even consider that. I think it’s pretty disrespectful from people to even suggest it. He left an amazing legacy and it’s gonna be left untouched, it’s beautiful, it’s pristine and I wanna leave it that way. I am really proud of what I do with this band [HELLYEAH]. Of course, the history of PANTERA speaks for itself. I want him to always be known as “the dude,” you know. Period. Forever.

Darkside: Yeah, but the comments I have read were actually criticizing you as if you have ever said that this was possible.

Vinnie: No, no, I have never said this was possible. Not me. Might’ve been some other clowns that used to be in that band, but not me. (laughs)

Darkside: There are many young bands these days who act kind of arrogant, thinking that they basically make history in a way, even though for real they just make noise. And then there are you guys who have actually made history, but you are really down to earth. So what helps you keep your feet on the ground?

Chad: It’s probably that statement that Vince made. That’s the greatest thing I have ever learned and I learned that from Ozzy from this “Decline Of Western Civilization Part II” [documentary], where he says that. Don’t fuck with people on your way up, ’cause you’ll meet them on your way down. I remember watching that whole documentary and I was like, “That’s it!” I was probably 17 when I saw it, way before I have ever done anything, but I always kept that in my head for some reason. It’s all gonna go away, it all ends. Here today, gone tomorrow. If you got the attitude like, “I’m the fucking shit” for the here today, what happens when you’re gone tomorrow? You’re gonna look like a fucking fool, when you’re working at the record store or flipping fries. Hang on to your integrity as a person. It’s just a fucking job. We love our job, but it’s a job.

Darkside: What is it about music that you love so much, what gives you goosebumps?

Vinnie: It’s just creating it and performing it, you know. There’s not a bigger rise in this world than hear the crowd [roar] when the lights go down. If you can’t get up for that, you can’t get up for anything. That’s what it’s all about — performing. You look out there and whether it’s 500 people or [playing] Donington [in front of] 100,000 people or Monsters of Rock — half a million people, you’re making these people happy and they’re into it.

Chad: For me it starts [when] we start writing something, putting something together. I listen to a song and I’ll listen to it over and over. A lot of times you’re kinda holding on, you’re trying to figure it out so you know where to go with it. The more I listen to the song as a singer and a writer, the more I familiarize myself with it, the more I tend to just unconsciously let go off the song. Then it’s just in my head, and all of a sudden here comes the melody, here come the lyrics, everything just starts coming in. And I love that feeling when I start writing and everything is just pouring out, I am so fucking excited, I can’t wait to get behind the mike. So you got that one moment. Then you get the moment of getting behind the mike and actually hearing it. And then you get on stage and there’s this fucking energy, like what Vince was talking about. We’ll get on stage tonight and there are all these people, they’ve never seen us here [in Oslo]. And if everything is really cool and everybody’s being really open-minded and everybody really wants to give it a shot, there’s this energy exchange that happens. We’re giving them something and then they go, “Waaaah!!” and they give it back. And then we go, “Oh yeah” and we give it harder and then they give it harder. And the next thing you know everybody is fucking partying and fist-pumping and drinking… We fucking bring it pretty hard and I think that’s what people receive from us. They see that we are very passionate about what we do. It’s a real fucking thing, you can almost touch it. The big thing with us is honesty, we’re not out to fool anybody. We just want to share our music, and if you like it, take it; [and] if you don’t — [that’s] okay.

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