Rex Brown says that the surviving members of PANTERA have been "close" to reuniting in the twelve years since the passing of the band's guitarist, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.
Talk about a possible PANTERA reunion intensified when singer Philip Anselmo regularly joined Zakk Wylde's BLACK LABEL SOCIETY to perform PANTERA's song "I'm Broken" during DOWN's 2014 stint on the "Revolver Golden Gods Tour". That buzz only got stronger after Brown joined the jam on May 23, 2014 when the tour swung through Texas.
In a brand new interview with Loudwire, Brown confirmed that substantial offers have been made to PANTERA to stage a reunion. Asked how close the members of the band came to accepting the offers, Brown replied, "Close."
"Well, I just speak for myself," he continued. "I mean, I'd love to get out there and play those songs again. And if everybody else was willing to do it… You know, I think the whole thing would be get us all in a room and get that water underneath the bridge all settled and make some music again. But it would be different. We'd be missing something."
Although Brown clarified that he was "not saying that there's ever been any talks at all" about a PANTERA reunion, he repeated that he would be willing to reconnect with his former bandmates and perform the music that made them all famous. "I never say 'never' on that kind of thing, and I'm tired of saying, you know, 'hell freezes over,' or whatever, but at the same time, life is getting too short," he explained.
"Would I do it? I just saw Phil not long ago. We're all doing our own things.
"I'd get up there and do it for fucking nothing."
Back in 2015, John Reese, the producer behind the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, revealed that he approached the three surviving members of PANTERA about resurrecting the band for an appearance at the event, explaining that "it would be badass to see PANTERA out there." He said: "Do I think it's going to happen? I have no idea. I know that a heavy, heavy tragedy happened and there are some hard feelings, but it's up to those three dudes to decide if they ever want to do something or not. If they would decide to do I would support it wholeheartedly and I would do whatever I could to be involved. But it's up to them."
Dimebag's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney in 2011 called on ex-PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott and Anselmo to settle their differences in honor of the guitarist, who was shot and killed by a crazed gunman while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at a Columbus, Ohio rock club in December 2004.
Vinnie, who is Dimebag's brother, and Anselmo have not spoken since PANTERA split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinnie indirectly blamed Philip for Dimebag's death, suggesting that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag's killer.
Wylde has consistently said that he would be open to taking part in a hypothetical PANTERA reunion with him filling in for Dimebag. He explained in a December 2014 interview: "It's definitely a good time [whenever I get to play PANTERA songs with Philip Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown]." He continued: "I mean, if somebody was to say 'a reunion,' I'd go, well, it's a reunion of Phil, Rex and Vincenzo [drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott]. But I'm just saying, for me, it's just… it's me going in and honoring and paying tribute [to Dimebag] at the same time."
Wylde added: "Whenever we've gotten together and jammed on the tunes… and Vinnie sometimes is at BLACK LABEL gigs and Vinnie has gotten up on drums and jammed a BLACK LABEL tune. And between HELLYEAH, we've all [toured and played] together. So it's always a good time whenever we're all hanging out together. But, like I said, whenever… 'Cause people always ask me, 'Is it ever gonna happen?' You know, that's all up to the fellows. But I love the guys. [And] I'm just a phone call away."
During a 2014 interview with Matt Pinfield of Fanpass, Anselmo said that "the situation would have to be correct" in order for a PANTERA reunion to happen. "There would have to be a meeting at a table — or without a table — between Rex, Vince and I, and there would have to be a bigtime understanding between the two of us [Vinnie and Philip] before anything happens at all," he said. "Otherwise I think… There is a great percentage of me that says, 'This generation deserves it. Let's do it.' And then there's a reservation in me that says, 'You know what, man? Legacies get passed down. This, that, the other. Maybe we should leave it alone and just let it be part of lore and the history and whatnot.'"
Later in the chat, Anselmo once again spoke about a hypothetical PANTERA reunion, telling Pinfield, "If there was ever a proper presentation, like, okay, PANTERA is back together, Zakk's on guitar, that would be a massive feeling. That would be outrageous. And I would go to war. I would be in the best shape possible."
Vinnie Paul has repeatedly shot down any talk of a hypothetical PANTERA reunion, telling Brazil's Wikimetal back in 2014: "The bottom line is they call it a reunion, and that means to bring the original members back, and we can't bring Dime back, and he was such a huge part of PANTERA. I don't wanna damage or tarnish the legacy of him or the band. We had 14 amazing years together and it's time for everybody to move on. And I have definitely moved on in my life. I don't live in the past. I like to live for today and what's coming up tomorrow, and I love what we're doing with HELLYEAH. And that's my focus and that's my goal, man."
Vinnie Paul later weighed in even less enthusiastically on the subject, telling Revolver magazine: "If you had an ex-wife, and it was a pretty bitter split, you might not ever want to talk to her again. Who cares if everybody in the family and your friends want you to say hello again? It's your choice whether you want to do it or not. And I think a lot of people are selfish. They say, 'Oh, he oughta just kiss and make up with Phil and everything will be cool. And then they can go get Zakk Wylde and everything's gonna be great.' No, everything's not gonna be great."
During a June 2016 question-and-answer session in Louisville, Kentucky, Anselmo was asked if he thought Wylde could fill Dimebag's shoes in PANTERA. Anselmo responded: "Zakk is such a badass fucking player, but I just think he's a different player, man — different style. And also, you've gotta remember, tonality comes into it — he has a different tone than Dime, you know? So there would be, I guess, so many things to tweak about what [Zakk] does to not fill [Dimebag's] shoes but actually play PANTERA parts. 'Cause there ain't no filling them fucking shoes."
Anselmo continued: "Make no mistake: Zakk Wylde is a fucking awesome motherfucker, down to earth, cool as shit, and can rip his fucking ass off. But I even said something to him after a show. I said, it's that grip. Nobody had Dimebag's fucking grip on that fucking axe — nobody."