MTV: Fans, friends and other musicians have said a lot of wonderful, warm things about him since he passed, but is there anything that people don't know or aren't saying about Dime that you would want the world to know?
Paul: I knew him better than anybody and I don't think there's anything I can say that people didn't know about him. He was a just very open, very honest, very giving, very caring. That's the one thing that I can have peace from is that I know there wasn't anything that I didn't know about him and vice versa. We knew each other inside and out, and that's a pretty peaceful thought.
MTV: Where do you hear his influence today? Are there bands, are there songs that you hear and you're like, "You know what? There's a bit of Dime in that."
Paul: I'm telling you right now, it doesn't matter who it is ... Any metal band or any form of metal band will tell you Pantera was a heavy influence on them. When Pantera was a machine, it was untouchable, man. It was untouchable, and it had the magic chemistry that so many bands try to find, and that's where I'll leave that.
MTV: His tone and his phrasing and what he did with the guitar, it really redefined metal guitar and set the template for basically everything we've been hearing for the past 15 years or so. What was it like to be there as that sound was taking shape? You're hearing it before anybody else is hearing it. What's that like?
Paul: In the early, early days when we first started recording, he was always saying, "Man, I'm just not getting the sound I want." That's when I started engineering the stuff. I started learning stuff about it. And I got in there one day, and I was playing around with the guitar and he kept telling me what he was looking for, and he came in there one day and he was like, "That's it! That's it! Don't touch it." You know, and doing a little of this, a little of that, and in between the two of them, his tone became what it was, and from then on he always had it at his hand. That was one thing he was really proud of. ... There are people that he called trademark players, signature players. People like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Dime ... you knew it was them when you heard it come on, there was just no mistaking it. That's something that he really was proud of. ... Given the type of music that he played, known as heavy metal, he probably won't ever get the kind of acclaim as Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton or some people like that, but to guitar players, he was the sh--, and that's all that matters.
MTV: Is there a signature riff where if you were going to just take a snapshot, you could point to that sound and say, "That was it — that was Dime"?
Paul: If you wanted to look up the definition of Dime in the guitar dictionary, it's got to be "Cowboys From Hell." I mean, there's no doubt that that was trademarked. His staccato chuck that he did, the tone, it was nailed, it was nailed on that song and it bloomed from there.
MTV: Was there a point that, maybe you were still kids, maybe it was a lot further along, where you realized that he's really going to be one of the great guitar players, and that you're really creating something special?
Paul: He started joining these guitar contests when he was 14, 15 years old. He started winning and he was playing against guys that were playing in local bands that were 24, 25 and stuff like that, and it got to the point where he won so many of them that they said, "You know what? You're not in them anymore, you're going to be the judge now." He had people wanting to endorse him at an early age before we even had a record deal. That's when we knew.
MTV: While there is this material that you guys recorded together, he was, among other things, your chief creative partner. How do you start to create new music again?
Paul: You know, getting on with getting on ain't an easy thing. This is something I never in a million years thought I'd be faced with, and it's taken me this long just to get to where I can feel comfortable to talk. I know that music is in me and I want to play and I will do it again at some point, and I've had the fortunate opportunity of bands that we've known and toured with to have me up onstage and play with them. Disturbed, Anthrax, Black Label Society, Sammy Hagar.
MTV: There had to be a pretty lengthy period there where you couldn't work with any of the material you guys recorded or even think about it.
Paul: Man, I've been down to the studio where we recorded everything two times since then. It still has his brand new Krank amp sitting right where he had them, still has the police tape around it where he didn't want anybody getting around and touching them 'cause he loved the tone. It was really weird, man. I just, I didn't stay long. I walked in and ... it just ... it's pretty tough, man. It freaked me out and I just left. It's not good. I'll tell you the things that uh, make me feel good, is when I see him on video. It makes me feel like he's still here. That's another thing that I'm putting out on my label is the "Dime-Vision" DVD. It's something that he always wanted to do and it features his stellar guitar playing and all his crazy antics, and it was put together by the same people that he worked on the home videos with, so it has the same kind of vibe that he would want. I think it's something that will help a lot of people remember and celebrate his life. There were things on there that I'd never seen before. You know, the videos make me smile. Pictures usually make me sad, listening to the music bums me out, but when I see him on the video, it's like I could just reach right through that TV and grab him and give him a big hug, you know.
MTV: This whole thing must be such a long and difficult process. What was the key thing that you needed to go through to make this a little easier to even just start talking about it?
Paul: Time. That's all it is ... time, man. And it still feels like it's a couple days before December 8 last year. I mean, I've never had a year in my life go by this fast where it just felt like it was null, empty, unproductive, no goals, no future and just unimaginable sadness, you know? I've just had a lot of amazing friends and the support from all the fans, and that's been a big help. That's been a big help, so somehow or another we'll make it through this. I'm going to do everything I can to ensure that Dime's legacy lives on as long as it can, and at some point I'll get on with doing my thing too.
MTV: Is there a thought that sticks with you more than anything else? Not necessarily a memory of him, but sometimes when you go through something like this, something will run over and over in your head.
Paul: Probably the truest phrase that anyone came up with was [Dean Guitars founder] Dean Zelinksy, whom he had an amazing relationship with — Dean did all his guitars. He said, "He came to rock, and he rocked like no other." And that's all there is to it, man. That puts a smile on my face every time I hear it because it's true. No truer words were ever spoken.
For more on Dimebag Darrell's legacy, check out his peers' stories and memories in "Remembering Dimebag."