In the year since Pantera and Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was gunned down while onstage at an Ohio nightclub, fans and friends have pledged that his life and his music will live on for years to come. Now it seems that Dimebag's legacy won't be limited to memories and familiar riffs.
"There's a lot of stuff in the archive that Dime has left us with," Dimebag's brother and bandmate Vinnie Paul told MTV News. Speaking on-camera for the first time since his brother's tragic death, Paul said that in addition to the oft-discussed collaboration that he and Dime recorded with controversial country singer David Allan Coe, there's a trove of previously unreleased Dimebag footage being compiled for a DVD collection and an assortment of songs that had been intended for the second Damageplan album.
"They were the best [songs] yet," Vinnie said of the tracks he and Dime had been working on. "We learned a lot from being on tour, we grew as a band, and we were about to make the [equivalent of Pantera's breakthrough sophomore album] Vulgar Display of Power for Damageplan. Basically, a band's first record is them coming together and really learning everything, and then after they're on the road and really become a unit, the next record slams. We were to that point, and it was coming, man. We felt really, really strong about it."
That material will have to wait, however, as Vinnie plans to roll out the Dimebag/ Coe collaboration album, now titled Rebel Meets Rebel, in March on his own Big Vin Records. The brothers and Coe worked on the project off and on for the better part of four years, and the result is "something that Dime was very proud of."
"It's the first thing that came to me since all of this happened, to keep my brother's legacy and everything he did alive," Vinnie said. "It's a fun record, that's what I like about it. It's not metal, it's not country — it's fun. Anybody that can smoke a joint, drink a beer, this record is for them. His Southern roots really come through big, and it's something that we were waiting on the right time to put out."
While the growth of Damageplan was the chief concern for Vinnie and Dime when trying to get the album's timing right, Vinnie was forced to confront a whole new host of previously unthinkable concerns after his brother's death last year. The months that have followed have been, in Vinnie's words, full of "unimaginable sadness." He said the idea of returning to music without his chief creative partner — and best friend — has been difficult to face.
"Gettin' on with gettin' on ain't an easy thing," Vinnie said. "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 [his amps], still has the police tape where he didn't want anybody touching them, 'cause he loved the tone. It was really weird, man. I just ... I didn't stay long. I walked in and ... I just ... it's pretty tough, man. It freaked me out, and I just left. It's not good."
Vinnie said that time has eased things a bit, affording him the ability to talk openly about Dime and his death, but emotions still run high and the loss is great. He's said he takes comfort in the support of friends and fans, and in the vibrant Dime who can be found in the video footage he's been combing through.
"The thing that makes me feel good is when I see him on video. It makes me feel like he's still here," Vinnie said. "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."
For much more from our interview with Vinnie, check in with MTVNews.com on Thursday, December 8, when we mark the one-year anniversary of Dimebag's death with an in-depth interview with Vinnie. Then tune into "Headbangers Ball" on MTV2 this Saturday, December 10, at midnight for a special Dimebag tribute edition.
For a feature where Dimebag's friends and peers remember the good times and great shreds, see "Remembering Dimebag."
Click here for more on the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell and the Ohio club shooting.