INTERVIEW: Phil Anselmo on Pantera, punk rock, NFL football

Phil Anselmo

LOS ANGELES, January 21, 2014 — Phil Anselmo is a heavy metal icon, having been in bands such as Pantera and Down, among others. Recently Anselmo has started a new band called Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals. Wells On Music spoke with Phil Anselmo back in August to talk about his bands, punk rock music, and NFL football.

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Kevin Wells: In July, you released Walk Through Exits Only, your debut album with The Illegals. Why did you feel the need to start another band outside of Down?

Phil Anselmo: If you look at Down, we’re made up of three different bands, EYEHATEGOD and Crowbar and whatever the f**k Pepper’s doing, you know, he does a lot of different things. So, we have this flexibility of freedom and dead time is lame. Instead of starting some f***ing other band, you know, branding it with a name and having to have people buy into a whole new name, this is something I wanted to do for the long term and something I can do long term because I don’t want any other f***ing projects. That’s the beauty of having a solo band. I can really do what I want. So, Walk Through Exits Only is one expression of music. We have another EP coming out in October that’s really completely different than anything that I’ve put out. And then we’re gonna get even more different and base it off the f***in’ mood I’m in, you know? Jesus, It could be an all-acoustic, spoon-playing, flute-playing f***in’, oh man, any type of f***in’ music. I can do it if I feel like doing it. The only two bands I’m in right now, tangibly that I’m going to be working with and putting out records with is Down and the solo band. So, it’s easy.

KW: Will Down be releasing any new material this year?

PA: Not this year, probably first quarter of next year.

KW: What made you start Housecore Records?

PA: Well, you know, I’ve been through the f***in’ fold, major label hostage f***in’ contracts in the past where, I guess, when you’re a young man and you get offered a record deal that’s for seven albums, you feel flattered because you’re ignorant to the fact that if they want seven albums, that’s a f***in’ big chunk of your life if you add the touring and all that s**t in there. So, I’ve been through all that f***in’ stuff. I wanted to make a label that was really musician friendly, and we do one record at a time. As long as you deliver that record, you can turn around and f***in’ put out a whole other record with some other a**hole label. So, you have that freedom. That’s really why I started Housecore, just for the freedom of the musician.

KW: Can you tell me a little bit about the Housecore Horror Film Festival?

PA: We’re gonna be showing some f***in’ really killer old classic films and we got some great guests. Special guest directors, Jim Van Bebber here from the States and Jörg Buttgereit of Germany of Nekromantix fame, and the ever popular Coffin Joe from Brazil is going to be coming down and showing a lot of his stuff and bringing some really rare artwork that he’s done in the past that, f**k, I’ve never seen this s**t. So, I am looking forward to that. We have some awesome bands, really, really killer f***in’ bands playing. Amongst those bands is really, really legendary f***in’ horror prog-rock band, Goblin, whose done a lot of scores for Lucio Fulci in the past and Dario Argento. They’re gonna do a regular prog-rock set of their stuff and then on a separate night, they’re gonna actually score Argento’s Suspiria. So, that’s gonna be f***in’ tripped out.

Amongst that, you know, I’ve been receiving submissions from lesser known [directors]. The submissions that I f***in got from these lesser known directors are really, really, really interesting, man. Horror, right now, I can’t single out everybody because there’s really some good f***in’ directors out there and good movies out there, but there is also a lot of s***ty movies and really, really horrific, bland, overdone with CGI remakes. And then there’s the f***in’ found f***in’ footage films, which is just about as boring as anything. Honestly, I got these lesser known directors that really give a s**t about the genre, you know? I can’t wait for people to actually see these motherf***in’ films because I think these directors have an amazing future ahead of ‘em. Really, it’s a gigantic event. It’s a giant undertaking. I’m hopin’ for the best and I hope people come out and f***in’ support the thing.

KW: You are currently also writing your autobiography, what might fans be surprised to see in the book?

PA: There’s a lot of stories and a very, very interesting journey to f***in’ even get to the Pantera chapters. It took quite a while and quite a lot of different craziness in my life to even f***in’ get to the point to where I was able to join Pantera. So, a lot of s**t happened before Pantera and then obviously the Pantera days were f***ing insane in their own way. Since the death of Dimebag and the breakup of Pantera before that, a whole lot of s**t has happened, as well, both horrific and pretty damn f***ing good.

These days, man, you know, it’s like I’m ten years clean from any f***ing hard drugs at all and f***in’ haven’t touched a drop of whiskey since 2001. Honestly, there’s a big, I guess, educational, if you want to put it like that, portion of the book that shows there’s somewhat of a ray of light even at the f***in’ lamest part of your life or the lowest part of your life. If people can learn from me, good, good for them. It’s gonna be an interesting book.

KW: You died 17 years ago from a heroin overdose. Are you completely sober these days?

PA: No, hell no, I’m not completely sober because I like to live life. I’ll have a couple of beers, and that is the truth, man. It’s literally a couple of f***in’ beers. A six-pack or something like that just beats the living f**k out of me anymore. It’s like, waking up with a hangover is f***ing lame. As far as grass goes, for god’s sake, I can’t wake and bake anymore. I got too much s**t to do. If I do smoke, I’m more of a midnight toker, kind of like that old song goes. I’ll do it now and again, for sure. That’s about it.

KW: I read a while ago that you wanted to bury the hatchet with Vinnie Paul. Any progress there?

PA: You know, it’s strange. We just played the New York area and Pantera management was out there and of course the subject will come up. I guess the best news that I’ve heard was when the Pantera management people met up with Vince the last time, he was in really great spirits, which is good to hear. I don’t think anybody can judge Vince’s decisions right now, you know? The guy witnessed his brother being shot to death on stage. It’s very f***ing tragic for anyone, I’d imagine. So I don’t try to judge Vince on that level at all, you know, and really, he’s the captain of his own ship right now.

Honestly, if the day comes where we can all sit down and hash this f***in’ thing out like gentlemen, that would be a fantastic day, not only for me and Rex [Brown], but I think for the fan base in general. You know, I’m a music fan and I hate reading about some of my favorite bands arguing or not getting along, or some sort of discord within the band. I hate reading about it. Once again, I think it would mean a whole lot to a lot of people if we were able to bury the f***in’ hatchet. It’d be great, but today, in August 2013, I’m still not holding my breath. So, we’ll see…we’ll f***in’ see.

KW: How much influence has punk rock had in your life and music?

PA: Well, you know, obviously when people look at my body of work, it’s a general heavy metal outlook or they look at me and say of course I’ve done heavy metal my entire career in some way shape or form, something metallic. When I think to myself, “punk rock,” I think of attitude. I think of a lot of attitude. And I think, if anything, that has been an influence to me over the years it would be the punk rock attitude to where the music, the talking and image and all that f**ing other s**t comes absolutely second. It’s about as simple as that.

S**t, man, when you say “punk,” a lot of people mean hardcore, but to me, punk is Ramones or, you know, something that’s not as, you know, ugly distorted guitars like a band like Discharge or something like that, which is pure hardcore in my opinion. Punk is an attitude and great f***in’ songs. What would you call the Misfits, you know? What are the Misfits? Are they hardcore or are they punk, you know? Danzig is singing his a** off on the s**t, you know?

KW: The Misfits are tough to categorize because the early stuff is more rock, like 50s influenced, and then stuff gets harder and faster as they progress.

PA: That’s why they call it punk rock. I might classify ‘em as a punk band myself. You ever heard Johnny Dole and the Scabs?

KW: I have not.

PA: Aw, come on, punk rocker, get with it, man. Johnny Dole and the Scabs and any Black Flag, f***in’ Necros, Gang Green, Bl’ast!, Bored Youth, Raw Power. F**k, I played with Raw Power before when I played guitar in EYEHATEGOD at CBGB’s. And then I loved that old Cryptic Slaughter, f***in’ JFA, Devoid of Faith, Iron Claw, Crippled Youth, The Testors. I like The Testors.

KW: What do you think about the multiple Black Flag reunions?

PA: I don’t know. I don’t know what to think of it, you know? For me, I love the early Black Flag, but really, the Rollins version was my favorite Black Flag. It really is. I don’t know. I’m torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool.

KW: I’ve always been more of Keith Morris fan than Rollins, for sure.

PA: Keith Morris, yeah, f**k yeah. Have you heard Cut the S**t from Boston?

KW: You got me again. You’re killing me.

PA: Awwww, man. Check out Cut The S**t, man. They’re f***in’ brutal. For a new band, they’re brutal. We could talk about this s**t for years, man. Poison Idea, Jerry’s kids, Ill Repute, f**k, I got it all.

KW: There’s an Ill Repute documentary in the works.

PA: Really? Wow. That’s a little known fact. I’m actually helping out with an Agnostic Front documentary that’s coming out. I don’t know my role in it yet, but I’ve known Roger [Miret] and the guys for a long time and they’re really one of my favorite bands, especially Victim In Pain f***in’ era. That s**t has always been close to my heart. I adore it, but yeah, man, anything to help those guys, a f***in’ awesome band. Very influential in their own way. The correct attitude as far as the way things should be viewed, you know, gut level, street level way, you know, of skinhead thinking. They were blue collar skinhead, anti-racist, which is how it should be, really. I think their message within songs, like United and Strong, is impenetrable. I love it.

KW: Would you ever considered starting a punk band?

PA: I’ve done a hardcore band before with Mike Williams of EYEHATEGOD called Arson Anthem and really, that’s my take on hardcore. Hardcore, for me, is more than just beat repeated over and over again. That music’s fine. Believe me, I’m as big a Discharge fan as the next guy, but still, it’s been aped so many times and relied on so many times. People tend to forget hardcore is also Greg Ginn and a lot of the moody, slower stuff that he did on My War, Slip It In and s**t like that is a very big influence. I was a guitar player in Arson Anthem. I took those influences and utilized ‘em very much. Maybe that record’s kind of misunderstood, but, man, it shouldn’t be.

KW: You’re a big Saints fan. What do you think about the Saints this year?

PA: They look good against the Raiders, but we’re in the NFC South where there’s the loaded Atlanta Falcons and f***in’ Tampa Bay has definitely beefed up their secondary because they know they’re going against Drew Brees and that disgustingly named Matty Ice [Matt Ryan]. How f***in’ cheesy is that? Jesus Christ. The f***in’ Panthers, I f***in’ hate ‘em, just as much as I hate the f***in’ suck-aneers. So, I don’t know man, it depends.

Everything in football depends on injuries and s**t like that and being healthy at the right time. I think, as far as the NFC goes, you know, you’re really weary. Everyone needs to look to the west. Seattle is looking like beasts. The 49ers are always gonna have that massive f***in’ defense and tricky f***in’ offense. The read option s**t, you know, whether defenses can really zero in on that, I’m not sure because the 49ers really, really mix it up pretty f***in’ well. I don’t know, man. The Saints, I don’t know. I don’t know. We got a lot of young players that need to step it up and we got a lot of older players that need to play their f***in’ a**es off and stay healthy. Man, I don’t know, it’s only two games into the preseason. We’ll see, man, there’s a lot to clean up. There’s a lot to get better at. You know, f**k it, we’ll see. Well, what’s your team, man?

KW: I’m from Los Angeles. I’m a Rams fan that could never quit. I tried, but I just couldn’t do it.

PA: I’m watching the Rams play the Packers right now on NFL replay. I like the Tavon Austin pick. That’s a good pick, man.

KW: Yep, and they finally have a solid offensive line.

PA: They’re looking better and even defensively they’re looking little better, man. I don’t know. Out of that entire division, I’m totally pulling for the Rams. And partly, the reason why is the singer for Warbeast, Bruce Corbitt, is a gigantic Rams fan for some f***in’ reason. He adores the Rams. I thought the starting team looked pretty good especially against Aaron Rodgers and those goddamn f***in’ Packers, who are a dangerous offensive team.

KW: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about either you or your various projects?

PA: Not really, man. Just look for another solo EP coming out at the end of October, probably sold exclusively at the Housecore Horror Film Festival. I know that in September, it’s gonna be nose to the grindstone with Down, writing that new EP. We’re looking at a lot of options on the table right now. I guess the last thing I would say is big thumbs up to everybody who actually bought the solo f***in’ record. Believe me, with the contents on the record, I had no inkling that it was gonna f***in’ chart f***in’ in the top 40 on f***in’ Billboard. It’s like, my god, what is going on? It’s like a trip, man. Thanks a lot, you know. People are buying the vinyl. People are buying the CDs and that’s what’s important. Big thumbs up to them, really. And that’s really all I got to say.

Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music, and food. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

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