Q&A with Vinnie Paul
This interview had its time restraints since Vinnie had ten more after me. I didn't get him to talk about the live album which he's working on now, with plans for a '97 release date. Or that cool break in the last song at 3:13 and doesn't kick in again until 5:02 and builds in volume to past 13 until it ends at 5:33. The album begins with a scream and ends with a scream.
Sheila Rene': (The first thing I hear is Vinnie chuckling) I'm just waking up with Trendkill.
Vinnie Paul. Well, alright.
SR: How much time do we have first of all?
VP: We've got about 15-20 minutes. I'll keep an eye on the clock too since I have ten more of these to go today.
SR: They still have you as the point man, the spokesman.
VP: I always do the press.
SR: I know, you and I have had some great talks over the years.
VP: Yes, we have.
SR: Guess what honey? You're coming to MY town December 5 with Biohazard and Neurosis.
VP: Alright. You're in Austin now.
SR: I've already seen Biohazard three times so far this year. They love playing Austin,
VP: Cool. They just opened up for us on our whole tour in Australia and New Zealand. It was a lot of fun and we like the guys a lot. That's why we're bringing them back out with us in the U.S.
SR: I've been looking forward to seeing Neurosis. So, thanks for bringing them with you.
VP: They're good, they're good.
SR: Is there a number one message to your fans on this album?
VP: Well, it's a statement from us that we aren't going to bend or conform to what the musical climate is today. We're not going to change our sound or our style or our look to become more popular or fit in with the radio or the alternative MTV-type of scene. We just want to make records for ourselves and for our fans. That's what we did.
SR: Yeah, I'd have to say that this is maybe the angriest album you've made with some of the softer tunes. Sometimes a whisper can cut you down quicker than a scream...and we've got some whispers here.
VP: Absolutely. Oh, yes. I think we wanted to make a really broad record this time. I think it's probably the broadest Pantera record. It takes you on a true roller-coaster ride. It has peaks and valleys and the most hardcore/hardcore side of us and then it also has a new deep/dark, moody/melodic side that hasn't been heard on previous records.
SR: Oh, yeah. 'Suicide Note Pt. I' is maybe one of the prettiest songs I've ever heard. I love that voice.
VP: Cool. Oh, yeah he can sing.
SR: Was it easier making your first record in your own new studio? No dollars clicking off every hour.
VP: I would say easier in the aspect that it was more comfortable. We could all continue to do what we wanted to do with our personal lives and make a record. In the past, we were cooped up in the studio and you have to forget about being a person. No hourly rate. If we didn't feel like working until 3:00 a.m. in the morning we could show up at 3:00 a.m. and work. If were doing something in the middle of the day and it wasn't cutting it or the vibe wasn't right, everybody could go about their way and do something else and come back later without it being like you said...a big nightmare of an hourly rate hanging over your head?
SR: Tell me all about your new studio. Is it buffed out?
VP: It's not real buffed. It's in Dime's backyard. When he moved into his new house, it was an RV storage garage. We just turned it into a rehearsal studio and brought all our live gear that we record live with so whenever we want to do a live album, we have it. We started demoing all the material and it sounded really good. I called Terry Date up one day and asked him what he'd think if we just got some gear in here and turned it into a real studio. He told me that he had always wanted to do something like that and he thought it would be great. He came down and we spent five week, at least, getting all the right gear and trying to get all the bugs worked it. We got it all in there and went to work. The only difficult thing was the bugs. There were always bugs. Things we had to figure out and work out, but eventually, we got about 99 percent of them knocked out and we made it on through it and it's ours for good. We can always work there so it's nice to have.
SR: I love it when a band can really get into control of their career like this. Are you going to keep the studio to yourselves or will you be letting other folks use it?
VP: We've already done some demos for some of our friends around town here. It's definitely something that we'll use to help our friends. It's fun. I did a couple of one-day demos recently that was ten or eleven songs that really turned out good. It's a pretty happening studio.
SR: What is that sound that you open with on 'Drag The Waters?'
VP: It's just a cowbell. A plain old cowbell. I bet you could find some just hanging on the walls down in Austin.
SR: On a lot of these songs such as '10's' and '13 Steps To Nowhere' and 'Suicide Part I' there seems to be more than one voice.
VP: Right. There's a lot of double tracking, three tracks on the vocals and some things for textures and to give it a different feel, a different vibe from say Far Beyond Driven where it was pretty much everything with a vocal track straight across. It's extremely raw and straight up record from start to finish. This record is a little more polished, a little more studio'd out.
SR:What was the first song you wrote for this album?
VP: Probably 'War Nerve' was the absolute first one.
SR: That one is extremely anti-media. I don't understand that.
VP: Well, it's not directed to the media in general. It's directly mainly at the European media and to the English-speaking people. They like to turn everything into a tabloid event. Obviously, if you ever keep up with what they do to Princess Di and all that good stuff you'll understand. They take rock and bands and run them into the dirt and make fun of everything they do. The only way we have of lashing back at them is through our songs and a lot of people like the U.S. media has been very good to us. It's not directed at the U.S.
SR: The fact of the matter is that the new CD figures coming out of Europe is that 44 countries make up more than 95 percent of the global music market. Japan is in second place with 18 percent and third place goes to Germany with eight percent.
VP: We've always done very well in all of those countries. We're part of those statistics.
SR: Yes, you bet. The tabloid-type media may be s**t, but the fans are there and buying. Latin MTV is my next investment in a media tool.
VP: MTV in Brazil and Argentina is really good. We've played there three times now and we always do MTV specials with them over there. They really blow them up and make a really big deal about the harder, heavier bands that play whereas here in the States you know you'll never see Pantera on MTV.
SR: Was it exciting to you when this record was released. You and Prong were one and two back and forth for weeks.
VP: Well, in '94 we debuted at #1 with Far Beyond Driven which we knew would probably never happen again. It was a huge accomplishment and for this record to debut at #4 in the U.S. while competing with Hootie and the Blowfish who've sold 13 million records, Alanis Morissette who's sold 18 million and the Fugees. For us to come in at number four and build to number one is still as good as a number one. It says a lot for the fans who were there in numbers to support this band and the record.
SR: You and White Zombie have been touring together now for some time and lovin' it.
VP: We've known each other since '89. We took them out with us in '92 on the Vulgar Display of Power tour and then to Japan with us in '95. This year both bands were planning on doing a summer tour and instead of going out and competing against one another, we decided to put together a co-headline package that would be a really good bill for the fans and that's what we did.
SR: This could almost be a concept album but I doubt seriously that you wrote it that way.
VP: No. No. The only concept behind the album was the title. That's a statement about ourselves.
SR: I may not have noticed how anti-drug the lyrics are if I hadn't know about Phil's almost check-out time. I'm wondering how it effected the band?
VP: Well, I can tell you this. I like to keep it short and to the point. It was something none of us were aware of. We didn't know it was going on. What happened to him, happened to him. He was dead for five minutes. We were fortunate enough that he was revived and it wasn't a very smart thing to do. It's an extremely dumb thing to do. Everyone of us sat down and we had a long meeting about it. It's something that's never going to happen again and hopefully other people that think taking drugs is cool thing to do, or something cool to try, will learn something from what happened to Phil. It's not cool.
SR: This whole album lays out how stupid it is word for word. That's my whole point.
VP: Yes, right. Exactly.
SR: It's so strong in that respect.
VP: That's one reason why it was a shock to all of us. Fortunately, like I said, he's still here and we're moving on. We're past it and in a weird way we've taken something really negative and turned it into a positive and made us stronger as a band. Stronger as people and we're going to continue on.
SR: Outstanding. As much as I like 'Suicide Part I' for the great voice, I love 'Suicide Part II' for the final screaming, frustrating finish. Some great drumming there.
VP: It's just really frantic drumming and it's really uptempo.
SR: I have been into every one of your websites recently. I think you've got the most of any band. How involved do you get as a band in that process?
VP: We're not personally involved with all of them. I would probably be the closest to them and I don't have time to keep up with all that stuff. When Walter O'Brien sits down and starts putting the one together from the management website he'll run it by me and I'll run some ideas by him. I'll check it out and all the merchandising stuff is handled by Dime pretty well. A lot of the other sites are by our fans and that's really cool.
SR: Vinny, if you had time would you be a surfer?
VP: I've done it from time to time. It's fun to get on there. Usually when I get on there and start rapping out with people, they don't believe it's me.
SR: Look for this on www.hardradio.com. It's the new alternative to lousy rock radio. They've gone from up to three million hits a month.
VP: Hey, that's some really good news.
SR: Thanks for your time Vinnie. I'm so happy to have this ready in time for the debut on Halloween of a hardcore internet magazine, called HighWay, with my friend Tambre' from Frisco.
VP: Okay. That's good news. I appreciate your interview support over the years. We'll be looking for you in Austin in December.