With a book in the pipeline, a Horror Festival to organise, and a solo album due to drop later this year, time is at a premium for heavy metal legend Philip Anselmo. As it would seem from our recent conversation; however, the vocalist wouldn’t have it any other way! Check out part 1 of our lengthy two part interview with the vocal legend.
Hi Phil, thanks for your time. How’s life treating you at the moment?
Phil: Everything is pretty fucking sweet my man! I still have to deal with the shitty daily struggles that everyone else has to deal with, but I’ve got no complaints and people would certainly complain if I was lay there doing nothing.
I was going to say with Down coming over to Europe, your book, your solo album and the Housecore Horror Fest, you’ve got a pretty busy schedule.
Phil: Absolutely. We finally got the fuckin’ book deal sorted so it’s heads down for that now as if I haven’t already got enough on. [laughs] There is so much to that side of the story that I want to fuckin’ say. Firstly though, can I say that is is not just a fuckin’ Pantera book. Yes, that is one chapter of my life and people want to know about it, but it’s not the only chapter. Also, I’d like to say that I know about Rex’s book and I don’t want this to turn into a pissing contest. I’m not out to offend anybody. I’m not out to shock or upset people, but I just want to put my absolute fucking story out there.
First up though, you’re heading back to Europe and we’ll be seeing you back at Download Festival with Down. With all the other stuff you’ve got going on, is Down going to be on a backburner after the festivals?
Phil: On the contrary my friend. We’re hammering out music for the next release and we should, and I say, should be ready to release something early next year.
Check out the song “Witchtripper”
Is the new Down material traditional Down?
Phil: Yeah, pretty much and I do like to use the term moods but, really, it’s just going to be straight raw, unpolished fuckin’ Down. There might be a couple of curveballs in there just to mix it up, but I’m putting my foot down to make sure there aren’t too many of those.
Before that though we’ve got your solo album to look forward to…
Phil: Oh man, that’s a whole different fuckin’ animal. This album is the beginning of many different expressions of my take on extreme music. Yes, it could be classed as a heavy metal album and that would be the safe route. I wrote most of the material on this album three years ago and, now I don’t mean this to be disrespectful because, still to this day there are the most amazing Pantera fans out there from 15 to 50 years old, and there are elements to the record that I wrote for that audience, but there is so much more to this record. I can’t really say much more until it is out there though. I’ll leave it to the press to rip it apart.
You’re quoted as saying “I don’t see anybody screaming about the same shit I do”, is it a personal record?
Phil: Yes, very personal. These days I’m in a way better place than I was back then. In general I have a lot of joy in my life but it is those small things that eat away and become a build up of angst and become big things that I still find really difficult to talk about in words. Even to my woman, my family, my fuckin’ friends, it’s hard to express myself so it feels really healthy to get it out musically. I would say on this record I nailed the shit out of the darker side of my personality.
What stage is the album at and what can fans expect from it?
Phil: It’s recorded. It’s partly a concept and part theory. I’m itching to pick up my guitar again and get my chops into writing stuff again. I know everyone says it but, now that this record is done, I want to out do it on the next one. That will be a whole different album.
Do you think it will surprise people?
Phil: I don’t know? You know what though, part of the beauty of doing a solo album is that unbridled freedom you have to do whatever the fuck you want. I could turn up playing a fuckin’ Ukelele and singing like Tiny Tim. I won’t because that would be fuckin’ horrific, but you know what I’m saying? With a solo album, you have that freedom to express yourself however the fuck you want.
You mentioned a concept. Can you elaborate on that?
Phil: All I can say on that is that the last track on the album will lead into the very next track I put out in the future.
Cryptic. Okay, moving on, you’ll be taking your solo show out on a tour. Have you thought of a set list? I’m thinking that there are a good portion of your audience who will want to hear certain songs from your past…
Phil: And they may very well hear certain fuckin’ songs from my past! That’s a very interesting question, but I’m not at liberty to give away too much about it except that we are planning on running through the full record from start to finish which is about forty to forty-five minutes. Other than that it depends on a lot of things as to what makes it into the set but I’ll just say that there could be a few fuckin’ surprises along the way.
Phil Anselmo Gives Advice for Metal Bands
And any plans to take your solo show outside America to Europe maybe?
Phil: No plans yet but, to be honest, the whole thing is still at an infantile stage so who knows? A lot of it depends on how people react to the record. If the UK fans and the European fans love it then, fuck, why not, I’d fuckin’ love to do some solo shows in Europe and the UK. I’d fuckin’ love that.
Next on the agenda, the Housecore Horrorfest in October. How did that happen?
Phil: Laughs I ask myself that daily. How the fuck did I end up doing this? If I’m honest it was the mastermind of Corey Mitchell who is a good friend of mine and a true crime writer. The story is that he visited my house and he was stunned, amazed, gasping for air when he saw the library of horror I have dating back to the fuckin’ 1900’s. Anyway, he turned to me and said it would be a fuckin’ sin if I didn’t throw a horror festival. I love the idea!
It’s no big secret that I’m such a fan of the genre. You know what though, my life is funny. I’m a simple guy. I like music, boxing and horror. Everything I put my heart into comes back to meet me with some of the most amazing things. Like boxing, I’m emailing the heavyweight champion of the World then the next thing I’m at the funeral of boxing legend Emmanuel Steward. We’d became close friends, we’d discuss fight plans. He’d call me before fights to discuss them. We became really close friends.
Just heading off in a tangent briefly. On the subject of boxing, would you agree that it is good for kids to get involved with something like boxing or martial arts to get them off the streets and channeling their aggression?
Phil: Yes, absolutely, I think that is a great idea and concept. Emmanual Steward did that. He ran a gym in Detroit called Kronk Gym and it produced World Champion after World Champion, but it was also about getting kids off the streets and doing something productive.
That’s why I had to do something when my lady told me that Kronk Gym was closing down and they were taking donations to keep it open. I called them up and wrote them a cheque which they told me was more than anything that one single person had donated. They told me it blew them away but, to me, it was just money and money comes and money goes, but I had that connection and I wanted to help something I believed in.
The Horror Fest is the same although I have no interest in actually making horror movies I’d like to point out. In fact I don’t have the time or the desire. I just love watching them and, like I said, I put my heart into horror and, look, next thing I’m doing a horror festival.
What can horror fans expect from the festival?
Phil: Oh, it’s going to have everything from music to movies to legendary, infamous horror directors. I don’t even know if I’m going to make a fuckin’ dime from this. Money is not an issue though, I have funds in place, I have the participants in place, I have the bands in place. As long as people have fun and have the shit scared out of them then that is all that matters. One thing I would like to point out though is it’s not just a festival for metal fans. I know the two go hand in hand and there will be metal bands playing but I want this to be a celebration of horror. As for the future, who knows? I know I’m a long way from calling it an annual event at this moment in time.
Part two of the interview will see Phil talk in more depth about his love of the horror genre, what scares him and the long-awaited Phil Anselmo book.