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Dave Grohl is thisclose to finishing a new Foo Fighters album. “It’s the record that we’ve threatened to make for a long time,” he says. “We’re finally doing something that’s surprising even us.” But on Thursday afternoon, Grohl is 100% focused on late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott, who is being honored that night at the eleventh annual Dimebash at the Observatory in Anaheim, just down the road from NAMM. (Abbott was shot to death by a fan during a show in Columbus in 2004.)

Grohl is pulling double duty on this afternoon: the multi-instrumentalist is performing and then barbecuing for the VIP crowd. But mainly he’s in attendance to pay tribute to Abbott and support Abbott’s longtime girlfriend Rita Haney.

Variety caught up with Grohl and Haney, who shared memories of Abbott and spoke of Pantera’s enduring influence.

This is the eleventh “Dimebash” and it’s just a way that you can bring new elements in to the event.
Dave Grohl:
I remember we were all fans of Pantera, and we would watch those, Pantera home videos, and we’d think, “Dude, my God, that band is just like the people that love that band.” And you’re watching them like, “Man, so much fun, holy s–t.” And it seemed like the connection that they have with the audience was…
Rita Haney: So personal.
Grohl: Real and personal and pure. And so to do something like this where it’s to break it down into a backyard barbecue, it just makes it perfect.
Haney: … But to have him serve it to you too, that’s something that like you were saying how the music industry’s changed. People never could get that close to someone before. …  Darrell was all about cooking. He loved it.

What were his specialties?
Haney:
He had really good barbecue sauce. He had a shrimp sauce that he would do, it was called murder shrimp of all things. I’m like, “Great name, Darrell.” I’ve got this little booklet where he wrote down stuff that he’d come up with in the kitchen. And that’s what it’s titled: murder shrimp. But it really relaxed him to cook. You come off the road where you’ve got something all the time 24/7. Your mind’s still going and you’re still spinning, but you’re sitting at home. People always thought he was cocktail-ing and boozing all the time. But when he’d come home, he wasn’t drinking at all. So what do you do with your time? How do you relax? And cooking was just one of those things. And that dude liked doing dishes. His other favorite thing was going to the grocery store in the middle of the night. He’d take the lettuce and yell, “Go long,” and he’d throw it to the stock boys. If they caught it, he’d give them 100 bucks. He just had fun all night.
Grohl: That’s how I actually started doing this. When I broke my leg we stayed on tour for another eight months. And then all of a sudden the tour was over, I  couldn’t f–king walk and I had nothing to do. And our bass player, Nate, bought me a smoker. And so I thought, “Okay, I’m just going to do this.” And in a way, sitting around and staring at temperature gauges for 14 hours kept me from losing my mind.

Would you ever, for one of the Dimebash events, give Dave the recipes to cook?
Haney:
Yeah  I’d love for you to do some of Darrell’s sauces or some of those.
Grohl: F–k yes! That’s a great idea.

Dave, what do you remember about first meeting Darrell?
Grohl:
It was in the ’90s.
Haney: It was when we were all out [with] Guns N’ Roses, so that had to be 1993 or 1994.
Grohl: It was crazy because at one point, we were so obsessed with those f–king home videos that you even felt like you knew the crew. … The way that the Foo Fighters work and run our organization has a lot to do with [what] we learned from the Pantera camp. You want to host a party, you want to make sure that everybody’s having a good time backstage. You want to be a great band, you want to make sure everyone has a drink. You want to make sure that the fans are included.
Haney: It’s all about hospitality.
Grohl: Yeah. And they really set the bar super high for every band. We really felt like that. They were the f–king coolest.

Talk about what this event means to you and having the support in the industry.
Haney:
We sold out without even announcing a lineup. They kept hounding me going, “Are you going to announce a lineup?” I just kept putting it off because I want when people hear “Dimebash” that it not be about who’s playing or whatever. It’s about Darrell, so you show up. But you also know that we have a reputation of throwing a damn good party, like he did. We want to keep it in that aspect. He was about unity and bringing people together for fun.

What’s that metal song that you would want to do with everyone up there as an all-star finale?
Grohl:
Listen, I happen to think that “With Arms Wide Open,” by Creed, is one of the most amazing songs of all time. And I’m not kidding.
Haney: The worst part is that I believe you.
Grohl: It’s true. I have a real soft spot for “With Arms Wide Open.” And I would have no problem getting down on that.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misidentified the city where Abbott was killed.