In a recent interview over at Rock of Nations, Skid Row guitarist Dave Sabo reflected on the current incarnation of Pantera, featuring Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante, replacing Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul. For clarification, Sabo is a manager of Phil Anselmo’s band Down as part of his work with McGhee Entertainment.
When asked about this new lineup and whether he supports Pantera, Sabo replied positively, saying that he’s behind it “a thousand percent.” However, he then proceeded to explain that he doesn’t see this as a reunion since this is “impossible.” He offered (transcript via Blabbermouth):
“And it’s not a reunion; it’s impossible for it to be a reunion. This is like a celebration, in my viewpoint, and I think theirs as well, ’cause I’ve spoken with them.“
“Philip and Rex and Charlie and Zakk are friends of mine, and I’ve known those guys forever. I first met Zakk at the music store in Toms River when he was 18 years old, so we have a history.”
“And I played in Anthrax for a short period of time, filling in. And, obviously, Philip and Rex, Pantera toured with [Skid Row], and I manage Down. So there’s very close-knit friendships there.”
Sabo then continued to explain that the current lineup performing under the Pantera moniker never considered it to be a reunion in the first place but rather a celebration. He said:
“When they first started talking about it, they never viewed it as anything other than a celebration of the legacy of the band, a celebration of the Abbott brothers and a chance to put that in front of as many people as possible so people can get a chance to witness this music performed by some of the original members of the band in a setting that is a one-of-a-kind event, in my view. And I love it. I love it.“
“Those guys are so invested in it too, and for all the right reasons. It came to a point where they decided, ‘You know what? It’s 20-some years. And this music has a life of its own. It’s our music.”
“Let’s go out, put a great band together and go out and perform it and remind everybody of this legacy and how great Vinnie and Dime were and still are, because their music lives on. I think it’s really special. And to me, that’s the show of the year — is Pantera.”
As far as the whole “reunion or not” discussion that’s been present online for a while, the band and people around them clarified that they never saw it as an actual reunion. And, Zakk Wylde also confirmed it last year in an interview with Ultimate Guitar.
When asked how did this whole Pantera revamping thing came to be, as well as whether he discussed it with Vinnie Paul when he was alive, Zakk said:
“The fellas… There was always word about that going around. And I just always said, ‘That’s up to the guys.’ It’s almost kind of like, the way I always viewed it, if Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding called up Eric Clapton because Eric and Jimi, they’re all friends.“
“And they’re just like, ‘Eric, we’re gonna get together, and we’re gonna go honor Jimi. Would you sing and play Jimi’s stuff?’ Of course Eric would do it. I mean, that’s his buddy. Of course, I would do it.“
“It’s like, ‘Zack, would you ever do it?’ It’s like, ‘Well, of course I’m going to do it. Why would I not?’ I’m going to do best job I can, obviously, but that’s not my decision, that’s the guys.“
“Back in the day with Vinnie, there were discussions, and then, after Vinnie passed away, I didn’t think anything would ever happen. I remember Phill called me one night, and was like, ‘Zakk, me and Rex would really love it if you would honor Dime.‘”
“And I was like, ‘Of course, guys, I would always be here to honor Dime and all your achievements.’ The way I looked at it – It’s just a bunch of friends getting together, honoring their buddies, you know what I mean?”
“It was so funny, because somebody was like, ‘It’s not Pantera!’ Of course it’s not Pantera. [laughs] It’s Phill, Rex and two of their buddies getting together to honor Dime, Vinnie and all their achievements. It’s a celebration of Pantera and all the mountains they conquered. It’s the way I look at it.“
Terry Glaze, Pantera’s original member from their early glam days, who first played guitar and then took over the vocals, also weighed in on the current lineup in a recent interview. When asked about it, he replied:
“I just feel kind of the same way I feel about Van Halen; I love Van Halen. I love Eddie [Van Halen]. I love [Dimebag] Darrell. You know, that’s how I feel about it.
“It would be difficult for me to think that that was Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen, and Alex [Van Halen] is still alive. Imagine if Eddie and Alex are gone, and then it was Van Halen; it’s just hard for us old people.”
“But you know, man, more power to everybody to get to celebrate the music, and get together and have fellowship, I especially think about all the young people who never got to see them; now they get to finally go out and celebrate those songs.“
“That means so much to them, and that music means so much to a lot of people around the whole planet. So more power to them to celebrate music. Anything that gets people out, live together for rock and roll, that’s a good thing.”
At the moment, Phil, Rex, Zakk, and Charlie are gearing up for their upcoming live dates that continue this March. Near the end of 2022, bassist Rex Brown contracted COVID-19 and was forced to sit out some of the shows. He was replaced by Derek Engemann who also worked with Phil on some of his other projects.