The gig of course went to Zakk Wylde, who was long-rumored to be the band's first choice, but Tremonti's comments show that Pantera members Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown were open to other options to make their tribute tour happen.
Tremonti tells Overdrive that Brown presented him the chance to audition in a brief conversation the two had "a number of years ago" when they crossed paths at the U.K.'s Download Festival.
"He was talking about a possible Pantera reunion," Tremonti recalled. "He looked at me and said, 'You should put your name in the hat,' and I was like, 'No way, man.' You have to be a certain type of personality to take on that role. It's not just about the playing, it's very much the personality, and [late-Pantera guitarist 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott] had a huge presence."
Tremonti continued, noting that Wylde — a longtime friend of Pantera — has significantly more credibility in the heavy metal world than he does. While he could perform Darrell's parts, Tremonti is convinced he would make for an awkward fit in the vulgar display of power of a live Pantera show.
"Put it this way," Tremonti continued. "Nobody's gonna flip off Zakk Wylde onstage. They very well might do that to me, but there's just no way I would put myself in that situation."
Longtime Pantera producer Sterling Winfield confirmed in a recent radio interview that Wylde was, in fact, among a list of guitarists the band entertained. He named no other players, except to say that they "would not have been a good fit" and that the band "kept circling back around to Zakk."
Brown revealed in 2017 that he, Anselmo and drummer Vinnie Paul (who passed away the following year) had come "close" to reuniting, thanks to a godfather offer from a promoter.
In 2020, the bassist again expressed interest in performing Pantera music with Anselmo, but he also cast doubt in a since-deleted Tweet on the notion that Wylde was a no-brainer replacement for Darrell.
Wylde is joined in the newly formed Pantera live band by another longtime Pantera ally, Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante. Wylde himself called his inclusion in the shows an honor, and confirmed that he would be touring with several pieces of gear that were personally given to him by Darrell.