Vinnie Paul “was never behind” the idea of Pantera reuniting, says former bandmate

(Image credit: Rob Monk/Metal Hammer - Getty)

Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul “was never behind” the idea of the band reuniting, according to a new interview with his former Hellyeah cohort Chad Gray.

Paul co-founded Pantera in 1981 with his guitarist brother “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, their ranks eventually filled out by vocalist Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown. The band split in 2003, and Darrell died after being shot onstage in December 2004, aged 38.

Paul later passed away in June 2018, aged 54, of heart disease.

Anselmo and Brown reformed Pantera without the brothers in 2022, with Black Label Society singer/guitarist and ex-Ozzy Osbourne player Zakk Wylde filling in for Dimebag and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante filling in for Paul.

The reunion has proven controversial, not only due to the absence of Paul and Dimebag but also as a result of Anselmo publicly screaming “White power!” and throwing a Nazi salute onstage in 2016. The vocalist reportedly made similar white supremacist outbursts onstage in 2001 and 2004.

The reunion has been promoted as a tribute to Paul and Dimebag, despite a long-running rift between Paul and Anselmo that lasted until the drummer’s passing and stemmed from the vocalist telling Metal Hammer in 2004, “Dimebag deserves to be beaten severely.”

Now, Gray, who performed with Paul in groove metal band Hellyeah from 2006 to 2018, has revealed to Jesea Lee that the late drummer never wanted Pantera to be reactivated without Dimebag.

“I know what it is, and I know some levels of the intention are true and pure,” Gray said of the reunion (as transcribed by Metal Hammer).

“But I also know, from sitting in on a million fucking interviews with Vinnie Paul […] there was always some clown interviewer setting himself up for failure, being like: ‘So, what’s the deal with all the mutterings we’re hearing about the Pantera reunion?’

“Vinnie would literally go, ‘My brother’s dead,’” the singer continued.

“That’s all he’d say and they wouldn’t say another fucking word. That’s the way Vinnie thought about it: Pantera was done because his brother was dead. When I hear that, and I hear how passionately he said that, and I know how much he meant it – he didn’t care! Vinnie didn’t need the fucking money. Vinnie’s whole heart was in Hellyeah.”

At the end of the interview, Gray reapproaches the topic of the Pantera comeback, adding: “Thank you for allowing me to say my piece about where I’m at with it.

“I hope that people understand that I was best friends with one of the fucking men that made that band happen. He was never behind it, man. He was just never behind it, so it’s hard for me, because I have a lot of respect for Vinnie Paul and I have a lot of respect for Dimebag Darrell.

“It’s cool,” Gray concludes. “Let it be the tribute thing, or whatever, but really question how much longer it goes and what else happens with it. Make sure we’re giving love and respect to those two fallen brothers, man.”

Hellyeah have been on hiatus since 2021 and Gray is currently focussing on his nu metal band Mudvayne, who reunited the same year.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.