Up Close and Personal with Pantera: An Interview with Joe Giron, photographer of A Vulgar Display of Pantera
“There was never a time that I didn’t have direct eye contact with each member of the band. They were always playing to the camera. Especially Dimebag, who always encouraged me to get up close and personal. ‘Son, get up here and getcha a pull,’ he’d say.”
Lesser Gods is excited to publish A Vulgar Display of Pantera on September 13, the first-ever authorized visual history of Pantera. The book has been years in the making and is a breathtaking, comprehensive look at one of the world’s most legendary metal bands. Joe Giron, the book’s photographer, shared his thoughts about his decades-long relationship with Pantera with Howie Abrams, author of Finding Joseph I, Lesser Gods’ forthcoming oral history about the life and times of legendary punk vocalist H.R. from Bad Brains. Click here to learn more about A Vulgar Display of Pantera!
Howie Abrams: How did you initially become aware of Pantera?
Joe Giron: I first saw the band in November 1982, but it didn’t click in my mind until 1983 when the band did a “house” gig for the summer at the Roxz nightclub in Fort Worth, Texas.
How did your relationship with the group originate and develop?
I photographed the band during a concert performance in the spring of 1985 for the newspaper I was working at. It was for a feature story on the band. After the band saw my work in the newspaper, they contacted me to do more work with them. That led to a long-lasting personal and professional relationship.
Tell us about your connection with Dimebag Darrell.
Dimebag was always taking stock of me in the early days as I was someone who was like them in terms of looks, musical interests and creativity. But he also knew that I had “book smarts.” I saw an extremely talented musician who wasn’t afraid to let it all hang out and who had one goal in mind, which was global domination for him and the band. I admired that drive and his fearlessness that he would not fail at that endeavor.
Did you prefer photographing Pantera in a static environment or while they were performing live?
I was always torn as to what gave me the most satisfaction photographing Pantera. As a rock photographer, you constantly have to shoot portrait sessions in order to stand out from everyone else. That’s how you develop “your style.” Having said that, Pantera were an amazing live band and it was such an adrenaline rush photographing their concerts. The main reason was that I was so close to the band and they trusted me implicitly. They allowed me to roam the stage freely. Their stage was my stage.
You must have some great stories about some of your encounters with the guys.
What stands out to me the most was how relentless Dimebag was in wanting to have fun… usually at everyone else’s expense. That is why he carried a video recorder with him 24/7. He wanted to be able to goof on you, in one way or another, and then be able to capture the prank or your reaction. Hanging out with the guys was a non-stop traveling circus of laughs, booze and destruction.
Is there anything specific you set out to convey about the band with A Vulgar Display of Pantera?
Having been let into this band’s inner circle, both personally and professionally, I want A Vulgar Display of Pantera to be a visual testament to the legacy of the band. I hope it conveys who the band were, how they evolved through the years, how they lived their lives and how they dominated the concert stage. It’s also my personal homage to my good friend Dimebag, who inspired me in countless ways with his relentless pursuit of creativity.