After touring the country early this summer with the heavy-metal onslaught OzzFest–playing alongside Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative and more–Pantera is again on the road. Appropriately, the band just released its first live album, Official Live101 Proof. Drummer and official group spokesman Vinnie Paul talked to The Onion about denying his glam past (the band disowns and will not discuss the three records it made prior to 1990), as well as the state of music today.
The Onion: How did the OzzFest go for Pantera?
Vinnie Paul: It was fuckin' awesome, dude. It was the funnest tour I've ever been a part of. It was a big bird-finger to everybody who ever said heavy metal was dead, because we did great; we were sold out just about every night.
O: How is heavy metal doing these days, in your opinion?
VP: I think it's making a big comeback right now. It's probably not ever gonna receive the kind of recognition it deserves. Generally, the big media like MTV didn't cover the OzzFest, but they were all over Lollapalooza. And the OzzFest outdid Lollapalooza coming and going.
O: This year, the focus of Lollapalooza was on techno and dance music.
VP: That's what happened with alternative music about five years ago: They just blew it up and said, "Heavy metal's deadthis is the new shit," and now they're doing the same thing with techno. Now that's the new shit, and before long, disco will be back. It's all a matter of whether you want to be a trendy person and follow what's going on out there, or you've got a mind of your own and can pick and choose the kind of music you like for yourself.
O: These new bands, like The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, rely heavily on the aggression and intense energy found in metal.
VP: No doubt about it. What they like is the energy, the vibe, the attitude, everything about heavy metal. But since metal's been deemed uncool, they figured they'd take it, throw a dance beat on it, and call it something else. In some cases it works, and it comes across really well: I think Nine Inch Nails is one of the few bands that does do it well. But a lot of them all start to sound the same. I mean, how many times can a guy talk with a distorted vocal over the fuckin' music? It's pretty old now.
O: How do you feel heavy metal is unfairly stereotyped?
VP: People think it's made for boneheads, people who are unintelligent, and that's not true. I've been out in our audience: I've been around heavy-metal people, and they're just as intelligent as anybody else, generally. That's just the way the media look at it. We had a number-one album in 1994, and that's impossible for heavy metal; we did it without MTV or radio stations. The main pop magazines, like Spin and this kind of stuff, said, "Pantera: overnight sensation," when at that point we'd been doing this for over 11 years. This ain't no overnight sensation.
O: You mentioned Spin magazine. How did you react to the story they did a year or so ago about the death of spandex-and-hairspray metal? They really took Cinderella and Skid Row to task, and said the only way you survived that backlash was by changing your image. They also printed before-and-after photos, including one of an early-'80s Pantera with makeup and glam wear. What did you think of all that?
VP: Well, all I can say is, let's look at a picture of their magazine 10 years ago, and look at what it looks like today. You'll find out they've changed quite a bit. It's grown, and that's what happened with Pantera. We all met in 1982 when we were a bunch of 14-year-old kids who didn't know anything except how to play music, and we wanted to emulate our heroes. That's where we started from. In '82, that's what was cool to do back then. That was the shit. We've grown, we've developed, we've found ourselves, we've turned into something, and we know what our musical direction is and what our musical goals are. It's a growing process. Anybody who likes to poke fun at something you did 10 or 12 years ago is really fuckin' naive to the fact that they've had the same character changes, too. But most of the music that was around in the '80sDokken, Metallica, all thatis so much better than the music that's out today, it's ridiculous.
O: Why do you think that is?
VP: In the '80s, people were interested in creating excitement visually along with the music. Now there are all these bands who stand there in a pair of ragged-out blue jeans looking like they just got out of collegethey're college preps or whateverand there's nothing to watch. Back in the '80s, people were looking for a good time and finding it. You could expect something visual instead of something that's gonna put you to sleep.