Michael Christopher of Vanyaland recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Vanyaland: With [PANTERA's 1994 album] "Far Beyond Driven", how did you approach it? Because [it's predecessor] "Vulgar Display Of Power" quickly became one of those landmark albums up there with "Master Of Puppets", "British Steel" and "Rust In Peace"; there must have been a certain degree of pressure going in to record it.
Vinnie Paul: The only pressure we felt was the pressure we put on ourselves. We didn't let any kind of record company pressure or anything like that affect us. We wanted to make the most extreme record we could make; we came up with the title "Far Beyond Driven" before we even wrote one song for it, and that kind of set the tone for the whole record.
Vanyaland: Where were you when you found out that it went No. 1?
Vinnie Paul: We were playing the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. We were holding our breath, kind of figuring that we'd be in the top 10 — maybe the top five if we were lucky — and there was an outside shot we'd hit No. 1, who knows? Our record company president called us and said they wanted to have a meeting with us at the Roseland. About an hour before doors opened, they pulled us into a room and said, "We just wanted to let you know that the album went No. 1 in the United States of America…" and we thought that was it, that it was going to be the end of the meeting. We jumped up and down and high-fived and just went crazy. Then they said, "And also, here's your platinum records; it's not platinum yet, but it's gonna be." That was our first platinum record that we were ever given and we were really, really blown away and we went out and had a helluva show and then went out and did 312 more that year.
Vanyaland: A lot of people don't remember, but at that time many were saying the genre was dead. Even traditional metal bands were trying to get on the radio, obviously METALLICA was the biggest one a couple years prior with the Black Album. Was it a validation of sorts that that type of music was still relevant?
Vinnie Paul: I think without a doubt. MTV hated us. Radio hated us. There was no mainstream media that covered us except the heavy metal magazines. The fans made the album No. 1, they went out and bought nearly 200,000 units (the first week) and that said words above all the other things commercially. I think it really did validate heavy metal and hard rock and PANTERA was one of the few bands that called themselves "heavy metal" and embraced the word. Like you said, at that time, the word was almost a bad word; it was looked at as uncool and we kept the flame burning bright and carried the torches high as we could man.
Vanyaland: In the PANTERA catalog, from "Cowboys" on, where do place "Far Beyond Driven" in terms of importance?
Vinnie Paul: Ah, man, it was huge, you know? It took us from being an opening act to being the headliner, and we were really all about playing live. The studio was something that we did and we were proud of, but the band built its reputation from playing live and that's what we were all about.
Vanyaland: Obviously the time has passed, but are you content with "Reinventing The Steel" being the swan song of the band?
Vinnie Paul: Well…my brother envisioned PANTERA as being THE ROLLING STONES of heavy metal and going on as long as we were going on, you know? It's unfortunate that [his death] was the end of it, but I think it was a great record and probably the most anthemic record we ever made. We really felt that when it came out it was misunderstood and it took a while to grow on people. But it's one of my favorite PANTERA records.
Read the entire interview at Vanyaland.