Interview with Neil Daniels
Posted by HLPAPG
Pantera is widely regarded as one of the most influential and revered American metal bands of the past 20 years. Although its output was relatively short – from 1983 to 2000 it released only nine studio albums – its impact on the metal scene since the band split up in 2003 is still felt to this day. Author Neil Daniels wrote Reinventing Metal to help shed some more light on this important group, chronicling their humble origins and their massive impact on the metal scene. Neil met up with The Midlands Rocks to talk about the book. Read the entire interview here!
I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a serious critical biography of this important American metal band. I pitched it to a number of publishers that I’d worked with before but only Backbeat, who I’d never worked with, saw potential in the book and after a long process it was finally commissioned.
If you look at the band from Cowboys from Hell onwards you see a short body of work that is vital to the progression and growth of modern American metal. They made a huge splash on the scene and throughout the 1990s, with Slayer they were the two bands that kept the flag flying for metal. Dime was also an incredibly gifted guitarist and obviously became one of the greatest in metal.
Before Cowboys they made fun party pop metal. Don’t forget they were just kids self-releasing their own music. Their live shows went down a storm and they were hugely popular on the Texas club scene. Dime – then known as Diamond Darrell – proved his worth very early on.
They have this whole hidden history that I was largely unaware of and I actually found this the most interesting aspect of their story, what was your approach to researching the book?
It took a year – about 6 months of research and interviews and then 6 months to get the book into shape. First I started with a chronology of the band’s history and then I build the research into it and the word count subsequently grows to the 80,000 that it was contracted for. It then took several months in post-production with edits, proofs etc.
Thankfully a majority of people are on Facebook. That’s the modern world, I guess. Some friends from childhood didn’t reply to my messages but many did. I also got in touch with some producers and record label people; some refused my requests for interviews, others didn’t. That happens especially with a band whose history is as complicated as Pantera’s. Some interviews were done by email; many were done on the phone. Stuart Taylor, Dime’s best buddy, was a massive help. I also spoke with ex singers Terry Glaze, Donny Hart and Dave Peacock and they were great. It was great to have Jeff Waters of Annhilator write a foreword and Brian Slagel of Metal Blade Records to pen an afterword.
You mention in the notes that you were met with some resistance when trying to secure interviews with some people who are associated the band. Was this the worst instance you have experienced so far and it is an occupational hazard of writing about bands and what goes on around them?
Sometimes the publisher’s prefer for the artists not to get involved because it gets too complicated especially regarding money so I try to dig deeper by speaking to roadies, producers, friends, etc. I’ve been met with some resistance but you deal with it and move on to be honest.
Your books are largely highlighted as being unauthorised by the artists and written without their co-operation. I guess the benefits of this are that you can provide a balanced and critical viewpoint…
Yeah, I think so and there is a stigma surrounding unauthorised books. It’s silly, really.