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.
Posted by HLPAPG
When did you get into rock and metal?
That goes back as far as I can remember. The first rock song I really loved and would wait to hear on the radio so I could sing along was ‘Little Willy’ by Sweet. That was in 1972. I was four. I still love that song. And Sweet.
Which artists have you interviewed in your time?
In 1994, Hustler magazine sent me to Lollapalooza to see who’d talk to us. Green Day ran away, Jennifer Finch from L7 told me off, James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins pretended he had somewhere to be. Nick Cave was really gracious, however, and gave me a great sit-down one-on-one. Perry Farrel was very cool, too.
Who are your favourite bands?
I have tattoos in honour of the Butthole Surfers, the Melvins, King Crimson, and Meat Loaf. So that’s a good roster to start with. I’m also planning some Alice Cooper ink.
Beyond that, it’s not a surprising line-up. Metallica, KISS, Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa, the Sex Pistols, and Ted Nugent form the base. Most of what I like arises from that swirling pool. Right now, my favourite band in the world is The Devil’s Blood, from the Netherlands.
Tell me about your Metallica book… how long did it take you to write and research?
If You Like Metallica… is a reference book that connects more than 200 bands, movies, books, artists and other cultural elements to Metallica. It spans from the dawn of rock to what’s going on right now and topic-wise, it’s all over the place. Entertainingly so, I hope. Backbeat Books gave me the opportunity to write the book in June 2011 and I turned it in just before December. It was a lot of work!
If You Like Metallica… by Mike McPadden (Backbeat Books)
From garage rock to the avant-garde, indie pop to hardcore punk and, of course, all shades of metal, If You Like Metallica… illuminates the sounds and styles that influenced and have been influenced by this band, in addition to nonmusical elements such movies, books, and cultural iconoclasts. Just as Metallica expanded heavy metal to new meanings and new possibilities, If You Like Metallica… expands being a fan of the band to an education and a treasure hunt that, put as bluntly as a devil-fingered salute to the face, rocks.