EXCLUSIVE: Pantera’s legend is as large as the state of Texas itself. Turning metal on its head in the 1990s with their major label debut ‘Cowboys From Hell’, they ruled the next decade, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest metal acts of all time. The undisputed heavyweight kings of groove metal, it’s a long way from where they started, as Texan glam wannabies, With original front man Terry Glaze at the helm, they released three long out of print independent albums, that though rough around the edges, contain their fair share of hidden gems. We caught up with the affable Glaze for a chat about those heady days and the roots of Pantera. Out for blood; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Terry, it's a big pleasure to have you on eonmusic today.
Yeah, yeah. Help spread the word.
First off, let's just go right back. I wanted to chat to you about when you first came to know the Abbott Brothers.
I had a little band when I was a junior in high school back in Bowie high school, in Arlington, Texas, with my friend Tommy Bradford, and we wanted to play with the best drummer we could find, and the best drummer in our school was Vince Abbott. So we got together and jammed. We did instrumental versions of, I think we did some Rush songs off of '2112'. We jammed in the garage and we liked it, and so we tried to get him to play with us. We had a singer Donnie Hart, and the agreement was that we would take his little brother Darrell who was in middle school. We weren't really interested in a young kid in middle school, but we reluctantly agreed, thank goodness. We were lucky enough to do that.
You were the guitar player, originally, weren't you?
Right, and Darrell played guitar. This was about the same time that the first Def Leppard record came out, and we would play harmony solos, and we would we both play guitar. It was fun, and that's how we learned when we were in 11th and 12th grade in high school.
You were dual guitarists, but was it clear to you even then, just how good Darrell was as a guitar player?
When we first started out, he would take a solo, I'd take a solo, and sometime early on, he kind of locked himself in his room, and then kind of came out fully formed, like a butterfly. All the sudden, he could play Van Halen's 'Eruption'. Now there's all kinds of little kids all over the planet, and they can play 'Eruption' with YouTube, and all of these things, but back then all we had was a cassette player, and it was not obvious to us.
So that's how things got started.
We started playing. Their father [Jerry Abbott] was a recording engineer, which was super exciting. We got to record twenty, thirty, forty originals - awful, terrible songs - to learn how to do it, and then we did our first record, which was 'Metal Magic' .
Did you play any guitars on that first release, or was it purely Darrell?
I played guitar on that record, and then we started playing live and we wanted to be like Van Halen, and so I started moving more towards being just the lead vocalist. By that time, Darrell could do anything. We used to play like, three sets a night, usually. We'd play like an opening set of covers that were what was on the radio; songs that girls would dance to. By the second set we were playing a set of originals, which nobody knew, and we had pyro and fire and smoke, and it was pretty bad ass to be 16, 17, 18 years old and doing that, you know? Then the last set was usually stuff that was heavy; UFO and Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and then Metallica came out, and then that became a big influence on everybody. So that was the early days.
You mentioned 'awful, terrible' songs; are they in the vault? Would those songs ever be released?
There are awful songs that we buried in a shoebox out in the backyard, and hopefully they will never see the light of day! I have all kinds of awful recordings that I would never share with anyone. It's like, I write songs and everybody says; "oh, I love your songs"; I write a million awful songs. I just show the good ones. Yeah, we're not going to put out the awful stuff.
What are your memories of working on 'Metal Magic'?
I remember that Vincent and Darrell's dad [Jerry Abbott] was the nicest guy. He was our first manager, our first sales guy, he supported the band, bankrolled the band; I don't think I would be where I am if it wasn't for their dad. He mentored us. And Vince was recording in the studio a lot. What I remember was, on nights when no one was in the studio, we would go in the studio and he would kind of teach us, and we learned the ropes of how to record. You know, that's really how I became the singer; I was writing songs, and I wanted to sing my own songs, and at that point we went from a five-piece to four.
It sounds like you have very fond memories of that time.
It was such a great experience, and, you know, to fall into that in your first real band where you have, arguably one of one of the greatest guitar players of all time, and, you know, him and his brother Vince; like Van Halen, just a connection that you can't purchase, you can't buy. We played together for so long, and all we did was practice and play shows at the skating rink or play parties. Back then, our parents would come with us so we could get in the bars to play. The drinking age in Texas at that time was 18, so that meant 16-year-olds with fake IDs! So it was the Wild West! It was a great time to grow up and be a rock and roller.
One thing about Pantera that's so consistent is the first album cover was absolutely awful, and the last album cover [2000's 'Reinventing the Steel'] was absolutely awful, as well!
You're welcome [laughing]! We loved the the Iron Maiden album covers, and I think that that was our young attempt at something like that. And, you know, it's come back; I think it's almost amazingly great now, because, you know, you go all the way from so terrible, to circle back and now, I mean, everybody knows it. One of our friends did that, and I'm looking at it right now and it makes me smile every time.
So you have the albums framed up on your wall?
Right here. I have those vinyl frames in my little recording studio. I have those three Panteras and the Lord Tracy record, right in front of me.
Moving onto the second album 'Projects in the Jungle' , and it contains a great track called 'All Over Tonight'.
Yeah, Darrell was coming into his own. I don't play guitar on that record. That's one of my favourite songs. That was you know, it had some Def Leppard in it, and had a bunch of just really cool stuff we'd been listening to. You listen to your heroes and you kind of emulate them as you're learning how to find your own voice, so you can hear all the Mötley Crüe and the Def Leppard in that record.
Darrell's playing is so nuanced, even that early on, in that song's riffing.
Incredible. Darrell's tones are amazing! You know, if these records ever get properly released, I've said before, the music sounds the same; it's just a different singer. You know, I'm easily the worst person on the record! And, you know, back then, that's how you did it; all our heroes had high ranges like that. Like I said, we were young kids trying to figure it out. Yeah, I'm very proud of that record. I like a lot of the stuff on that one.
Where did that title 'Projects in the Jungle' come from?!
Projects, um... their father was writing a lot of lyrics. Vince and Darrell would get together and write music and their dad would write a lot of the lyrics, and I think that's where that came from. I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but it was heavy and cool. You know, on the first record, there's a there's a song called 'Heavy Metal Rules'; rule number one, rule number two! I think that was their dad do it. It's, you know, you try to figure it out; Quite Riot on MTV, and you're like; "Oh, look at that!"
The band in Texas was huge at that time, and I think that those outside of the state and certainly in Europe, wouldn't have been aware of that; you were the big fish in a relatively small pond, weren't you?
That's how I see it. We really, very rarely went out of Texas. Texas is so huge; it can be a fifteen hour drive from east to west, and a fifteen hour drive north to south, and so the markets didn't really overlap. So we could play Houston, and then play Dallas and then play San Antonio and play Fort Worth. We played Shreveport and Oklahoma City, but yeah, we we basically stayed in Texas.
About that time, when bands like Metallica and Megadeth and Anthrax and Slayer were starting to bubble up, you would see independent magazines, heavy metal magazines, like in Europe, and they didn't know about us. You know, some bands were in New Jersey living in with their parents; we were in Texas living with our parents, Metallica is living in a basement here, you know? So we were all kind of happening across the United States. And we would try and get copies of what everybody else was doing. We just felt like; "somebody's got to be the next one; why not us?"
It was around that time when you first met Metallica.
James [Hetfield] and Lars [Ulrich] came to Arlington to hang out a couple of times. They would come over and hang out with Darrell and and they would jam and everything. But nothing was ever going to happen with them and Darrell, because Darrell and Vince are a package. Same thing with Megadeth there; it wasn't going to happen. So, you know, thank goodness.
The next album 'I Am The Night'  arguably contained riffs that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the later albums.
Well, like I said, I think Darrell was probably fully formed. And he was influenced by his his peers, but he was moving at a quick rate, and as far as I'm concerned, better than any of the other ones. And so, as their career went on with the records, I think his his tone and technique is is very consistent. He's just trying to push the envelope. Also, it sounded to me that he wasn't trying to repeat himself. Yeah, one of my most favourite guitar players of all time.
Wikipedia states that you left the band as your "glam approach did not fit the band's developing style"; that's not entirely correct, is it?
It's not how I remember it. I also think that it's always it's a strength, when you have people with different influences bringing different things in, as opposed to every single person be an exact clone of each other. You know, the two hours a day on the stage was the best, and unlike many other bands, it's the other twenty-two hours of the day where you might struggle, but I loved playing with those guys, and it was an amazing experience, and I wouldn't be here today without it.
You used to room with Vinnie, didn't you?
Yeah. You didn't want it room with Darrell or Rex. They didn't sleep.
Too much partying?
Not too much; the exact right amount!
You touched on the reissues of the albums, and when I spoke to Rex he said; "the brothers were against it, I'm against that it's not going to happen". What's your feeling on it?
Well you know, like I said, I think that it would be a great thing for everybody to get to hear more Darrell, and so that's where I stand with it. As far as what the band with the brothers, how they felt? That comes up even to this day, doesn't it? So, you know, people change their minds, and business opportunities happen and what are you going to do?
With the success of the band in the '90s, there must have been companies clamouring for the chance to reissue those. Have you any idea why it's not happened?
I don't have access to those tapes. Some of these tapes, someone in the estate does, and so that's it, you know. It's pretty boring. It's just you can't reissue it without access. Now you'll see them all over the planet; I bought, copies of CDs that that are pressed out that are that are not legal there, you know, bootlegs but, you know, that's the only way to get copies of all this stuff now.
You'd obviously love to see them rereleased.
It would be amazing. You could do a big box with everything, and it would just be cool. You know even though it was so long ago, it doesn't seem that long ago sometimes. It was a lot of fun. It was a fun time.
Moving on, and so obviously you did leave the band; what did you make of 'Power Metal' , their first album with Phil Anselmo?
To be honest, I put a band together really quickly that turned into Lord Tracy. What I remember back then was they were doing their thing, and I was doing my thing, and we were both so into what we were doing I wasn't really that aware of what they were doing. So when they finally got a record deal, I was pleased and happy, for I want everybody to be successful. My band Lord Tracy was out touring at the same time that they were out touring the 'Cowboys' ['Cowboys From Hell', 1990] record so it was really cool that all of us were able to be doing what we wanted to be doing. It was really good.
Obviously, 'Cowboys From Hell' was where things really started taking off for Pantera.
My favourite Pantera album is 'Vulgar' ['Vulgar Display of Power', 1992]. Around that time, Lord Tracy was playing in Dallas one night, and Darrell came out, and after the gig, he goes; "you want to hear the new record?" I was like; "yeah!", so we went out in his limo, and he had a cassette tape of 'Vulgar' before it came out, and he played me that. I just remember him air-guitaring to 'Mouth For War', and he was looking at me and he was like; "Van Halen, right?!" I thought it was the coolest thing. So really, 'Vulgar' is when I really reconnected with what they were doing.
That's the record where they invited me out. I went with Darrell to a couple shows. I was living in Southern California and I went out to see them over, I think, in Orange County. And then I jumped on the bus and went with them to San Francisco for a night. So for about 48 hours, I got to see what it had turned into, and it was it was so powerful. Their shows, it was just everybody in the show as one, and I thought it was an amazing, amazing band. They were so good.
Did it surprise you them when they they got the first ever heavy metal Billboard number one album with 'Far Beyond Driven' ?
Nothing surprised me. Those guys; Vince, and Darrell and Rex, they they worked for everything they got. And think about the time we put in, you know? I guess Rex started playing with us in '80 or '81, but you know, ten years of bustin' your ass to make it? They put their dues in and put that 10,000 hours that you have to become an expert or 20,000 or 100,000 or whatever it is, because that's all we did was just play. We lived it.
You speak so warmly of the brothers; you I mean, you obviously counted them as friends as real friends.
Sure. I mean, everybody. I've been lucky to play with so many great musicians my entire life, even to this day, and I just say, you know, I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world.
We obviously have to talk about the tragedy of Dime's passing. What do you remember? It must have been horrific for you to hear that.
One of our best friends, Buddy Blaze [Webster], called me the middle of the night and told me, and you know, just a void and hole in your stomach developed immediately. I was at the service in Arlington, and the show thing that night, and you know, it didn't feel real to me until the next day when I went back to the cemetery and I saw the dirt. That was when it felt real, the finality of it. You know, my grandparents are buried in that same cemetery; my father in law's right over there; my grandma's right here; Vince and Darrell are right there. So every time I go back to Arlington, I try and stop by and pay respects, and see family and reconnect. So it's very personal.
You spoke with Vince last, I believe, around the time that they were working on the Damageplan album .
I was playing a show, I think Lord Tracy, I'm not sure. We were playing in Dallas and Vince came to the show and I saw him in the crowd; yeah, big smiley guy with a cowboy hat on! I hadn't seen him in years, and I touched base with him, and the first thing I said was; "where's Darrell?!", and he said; "he's passed out!" From what I remember, they had just come back from a press tour of Europe for Damageplan. I got to hang out with Vince for only for too short of time, and you see old friends like that, and it's like going to high school reunion. It brought back the memories and it was really good. I hoped that maybe we would get together sometime but It just didn't happen. I mean, next time I saw Vince was at Darrell's funeral.
And then Vinnie Paul passed away in 2019.
I got a phone call in middle of the night; turn on your phone. Just awful.
There's only you and Rex left now from the original band, and there's some great footage available of you and him jamming 'All Over Tonight' on stage in 2010.
Those two guys in that band - I think that was Arms of the Sun - they were putting out a record, and Rex played bass on that record, and they were doing a show, and they said; "you want to come out sing a couple songs?" I was like; "yeah!", but my thought was; "what are the guitars going to sound like?", but I thought Lance and another guitar player together, two guys almost made [it sound like Darrell]. But it was so fun. It was such a blast to try and capture a little bit of magic in a bottle like that. Those were the two songs that I loved and I wanted to do, so it was a great experience. There were other people that got up to jam that night, too, but yeah, it was really cool to have people from our hometown come out, you know, in the front row. It's nothing I would want to do every night but it was really cool to just get to do that. Yeah, it was badass.
I mean, with the 2022 Pantera reunion, there's nothing to stop you going out and performing the material from the early years.
I could do any of that, I just choose not to. You've got to go forward. Yeah, I don't want to try and sing like that anymore; I'm an old man!
When you saw that the reunion or whatever we want to call it was happening, what were your own feelings about it?
I just feel kind of the same way I feel about Van Halen; I love a Van Halen. I love Eddie. I love Darrell. You know, that's how I feel about it. It would be difficult for me to think that that was Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen, and Alex is still alive. Imagine if Eddie and Alex are gone, and then it was Van Halen; it's just hard for us old people. But you know, man, more power to everybody to get to celebrate the music, and get together and have fellowship, I especially think about all the young people who never got to see them; now they get to finally go out and celebrate those songs. That means so much to them, and that music means so much to a lot of people around the whole planet. So more power to them to celebrate music. Anything that gets people out, live together for rock and roll, that's a good thing.
Are you still in touch with that camp, with people like Rita Haney, Dime's partner?
Yeah, I'm friends with Rita, same thing with a lot of that crew. Some of the people that are on the tour I'm very good friends with so yeah, best of luck.
Bringing thigs right up to date, what's happening with you currently?
Well, a lot of different things. I live on the east coast, and when COVID hit and all the tours got shut down we all got stuck in the house and most of us got depressed. Eventually, I started reaching out to my heroes to see if they would play and remotely record on some of my songs, and crazily, some of them have. So for the last two years I've been recording here and there, tracks go to other parts of the planet, and then they come back. And I've been collecting original music.
One of my bands is called Raised by Gods. It's a duo with my one of my best friends, Mike Harrington, and he's on the West Coast, and we're a rock and roll duo. We've done two albums, and we just finished a new song. Both our daughters went through cancer recently, and we tried to write an inspiration fight song. And it doesn't have to be just about cancer, but we have a new song coming out, called 'Toughest Motherfucker'. That's ready to go, and hopefully we'll get that out sometime soon.
I also have a new project called Evel Frehley. The name came from half Evel Kinevel and Ace Frehley; two things that we love! That started just before COVID, and we've finished those. We've got five singles out over the last year doing that, and they're available any place you're stream or buy; iTunes, it's everywhere.
And just recently I'm putting together what's going to be a vinyl release by Lord Tracy of the demos from 1991 that would have been the next album. I'm really pleased with that. So solo, Evel Frehley, Raised by Gods, and Lord Tracy. There's a lot of stuff going on.
You mentioned reaching out to and recording with some of your heroes; what can you tell me about that?
Tony Franklin played on a couple of my songs. He was the bass player in The Firm with Jimmy page. He's one of the greatest of all time. David Grissom has been playing guitar on some of my songs. He's down in Austin. Just two of my heroes. And one of my best friends, Neil Kernon is a recording, producer, mixer, engineer from the oldest days. If you were to look him up, he's done everyone; Dokken, Queensrÿche, heavy stuff, but my favourite stuff he did was Hall & Oates.
Exciting times for you!
My favourite band is Cheap Trick; that's probably why I play music. When I was in middle school I saw Cheap Trick, and I looked up and I thought; "well, I can't be Van Halen, and I can't be in KISS, but maybe I could do that!" Really my whole time I've just wanted to sing songs and play rhythm guitar.
But before we go, I 've got to say though, that my biggest inspiration for everything that I do in life is Dwayne down in Louisiana and Alabama, and my good friend Scott Silvey. But Dwayne comes first, and then my friend Scott, he'll be the second most important person with all things rock. [laughing] I was drinking with them like, two days ago. They told me I just say that.
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