Earlier this month, the metal world was rocked by Billboard reports revealing that Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown will be re-forming Pantera for a 2023 tour with Black Label Society guitarist Zakk Wylde and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante filling the roles of the founding Abbott brothers, Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul. While Anselmo and Brown have yet to weigh in, Wylde said that he thinks the quasi-reunion is "a beautiful thing" and that it will be about "celebrating Vinnie and Dime's greatness."
Now, Benante has shared his piece about how the tour came about and how he plans to approach it during an joint interview with Wylde on Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk.
"I can't go do this as the drummer from Anthrax because it would be a different sound completely," Benante said, as transcribed by Blabbermouth. "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."
While the announcement of the tour and Benante's inclusion came as a massive surprise to fans, Benante said that he was initially approached about the possibility of some shows with Pantera last December. "I was talking to Philip, and then he just mentioned this. And I said, 'Oh, yeah, sure. Whatever.' And then it became real about January [or] February…To this day, if it happens, if there's one show that's played, great."
"[Anthrax] go back a long way [with Pantera] — '86, maybe even '85," Benante added. "We played a show at a place called Cardi's in Houston, and Pantera were the opening band. It was in [April] '86. Helstar was on the bill. It was the first time we met them. 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."
Wylde has been a suspected fill-in for Dimebag for years, and mentioned that the potential of honoring the late guitarist was something that was on the table even when Paul was alive.
"The fellas have always. . .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?,'" Wylde said. "And I said, 'Fellas, 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.'
"Throughout the years, there's always been rumblings about it, so it wasn't until, obviously, now…I was speaking on the phone with Phil — we might have been all on a group call — but Phil was just, like, 'Zakk, would you honor Dime and would you play?' And I said, 'Yeah, Phil. Of course. I've always said I would. Of course.' I said, 'If you guys wanna go do it, then let's do it.'"
He also echoed Benante's words on how he plans to approach these shows ("as if you're in a cover band") likening his place in the group to his time playing with Ozzy Osbourne.
"You approach it the same way as you do when I'm playing with Ozzy. Obviously I've gotta learn Rhoads's stuff and I've gotta learn Jake's [E. Lee] stuff, and when I was doing the 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."