Philip H. Anselmo: Up Close and Personal
Interview conducted July 2013
By James Currie
Phil Anselmo: Up close and personal with the Metal Icon on what 2013 has in store for fans.
Unrated Magazine gets up close and personal with Metal Icon, Phil Anselmo about what the summer and fall of 2013 has in store for him including a first ever solo career, everyday highlights, horror movies, festivals, and hitting the road again on the "Technicians of Distortion Tour."
Anselmo is carving a new nitch for himself today. The former front man of Pantera is taking the world on with his first ever solo effort. Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegal's will release, Walk Through Exits Only on July 16th, 2013.
With a fresh and clean mind and body, the summer / fall tour in promotion of his new album is looking good. Not only for Anselmo fans, but therapeutic for himself as well as he describes the process.
Walk Through Exits Only was recorded over a three year period in New Orleans on Anselmo's own label, Housecore Records. It is produced by Anselmo and Michael Thompson.
This new musical venture brings Anselmo back to the front with his signature agro-screams, in your face sonic booms and heavily distorted, down tuned guitars. Blistering drums by Jose Manuel Gonzales, shredding guitars from Marzi Montazeri make this album one to notice. You can't help but feel pleasurable pain in each eardrum begging you for more track after track.
So how did this come to be? What's new with Phil? We asked him personally to find the answers.
James Currie: So Phil, thanks for chattin' with us and happy belated birthday. June 30th. Good date and easy to remember. My sisters is the same.
Phil Anselmo: Well thanks a lot man. I appreciate that. You know so many others have that date as well including Mike Tyson. (Anselmo is a huge boxing fan).
JC: Nice. Did you do anything special for it?
PA: Yeah, as a matter of fact I did. I went to Greece. Went out to eat great food and one of the best things happened while I was there. We did a gig with Slayer. I was invited to join them on stage and we did an old Pantera "hit" together. It was one of the highlights for sure.
JC: Sounds like a freakin' fantastic time for sure. Don't know many folks that can say they jammed with Slayer on their birthday. Pretty damn awesome to say the least. So now that you're back in the States and at home, how's NOLA been treating ya? What a resilient, historic proud town you've got there in New Orleans.
PA: It's always good to be home. We're getting back to hurricane season through so we'll see. Everyone's on their toes. Certain areas are coming back. Some are still hurtin' so... New Orleans is New Orleans. We're still here and we'll see what happens next. It's the nature of the beast. It's a fantastic city with fantastic people and food, but we're all privy to this thing called Hurricanes. Our coast has been chewed away a little each year since pretty much the dawn of time.
JC: I hear ya and found a new respect for the area after visiting myself for the first time this year. I can't agree with you more. I'm just glad that they keep on keepin' on it would be a great loss to see it all gone.
And you've got another great contribution to the area with the release of the new album, Walk Through Exits Only. I have to say, it's pretty brutal. Much like one of those hurricanes tearing through my speakers. You don't let metal fans down. This is one of the hardest, heaviest albums of the year. What brought this out? What made you decide it was time to do a solo project?
PA: Ah man, thank you very much. Well, I'm a fan man. I'm a gigantic fan of extreme hardcore and heavy metal or anything you consider extreme music, black metal, death metal... For me, it just dawned on me. It was something that I wanted to do. I'm very well versed in what's out there and the underground scene and know that the extreme scene is pretty much dominated by it's innovators and leaders and whatnot, but there is also a lot of clutter as far as bands that really just want to copycat what their favorite bands are, so my whole goal was to put this record together that could stand next to any band that would be considered extreme but to be very, very unique and withstand on it's own without having to sound like something or someone else out there. For me, music is an exploratory thing every time out to a certain degree and I wanted to make a record that was unique unto the genre. I didn't want to copy anything. I wanted to build a record from rhythmic busts so to speak.
JC: Well, I think you accomplished that and I think the fans are going to find out soon enough here shortly.
PA: Well I hope so, but you know, only time will tell.
JC: So how did you pick this band / line up?
PA: Really it all just started with me, a guitar and amp and a recording apparatus. I wrote the songs about 3 years ago. I just put my head down and just wrote these fuckers man. Then I chose the guys that would eventually be in the band you know and had them execute the best way possible and add their own nuances and such. My guitar player Marzi Montazeri, I've known him since the late 80's, and this was a project that we always talked about doing together. I knew what Marzi could bring to the table. He's always had his own sounds. These sound scape things and more atmospheric work. With that being part of his reputar, I wanted to use that because I thought it possibly could be a great element for extreme music. I wanted Marzi to be Marzi.
As far as drums go I was gratefully offered the drummer from ;Warbeast. A very young but respected guy named Jose Manuel Gonzales; everybody calls him "Blue," like the color. He's very raw. The type of kid that was raised on 4/4 Death Metal and Thrash. So working on doing different time signatures and abrupt changed and shit like that took some work. A lot of demoing for him and really, for me to get comfortable with what he was doing and now it's a lot of practice for him to get comfortable with as well.
To build this thing from the ground up was a challenge. Just pickin' the right people, that was really just half the battle. Coming up with it all organically here it's only fitting. It's kind of like poetic justice. Which was another thing. I didn't want the lyrics to be humdrum, run of the mill average, paint by numbers, thrash or death metal lyrics to be. I wanted them to be more of a reflection of my personality, my sarcasm to my obsub, tongue in cheek style of expressing myself.
JC: It can be really hard to "gel" with guys in a band and I think you did it well.
So, you self produced this with Michael Thompson right? What else have guys worked on?
PA: Me and Mike did the last down E.P. Which I guess is what you fellas are calling the "Purple E.P.". So that's where we really developed something well together. We work really well together in the studio. He's a really creative guy and all, but at the end of the day everything had to be, "my call" ya know. I wanted an ugly sounding record. I didn't want a big produced album with glossy production or anything like that. I wanted it to be very real and ugly sounding.
JC: And this was done at your recording studio right, Housecore? Your home studio in New Orleans right?
PA: Well actually the studio itself is called, Nodfuratu's Lar. (Housecore is the record label) It got that name way back we recorded the second Down recording days. I guess Pepper (Keenan) named the studio (laughs). But anyway, yeah. It was recorded here at the Lar.
JC: Cool. And the first single that you released from, Walk Through Exits Only is "Usurpers Bastard Rant." An in your face, knock out track and my favorite.
PA: Ah, you see, everybody has there own pick from the album and I'm glad you like that one. For me, that's a special song and I really love the rhythm of that song. It's very tripped out rhythmically.
JC: And the rest of the album does not let extreme music fans down.
PA: It's an attacking fucking record from start to finish and really adgitated riffs ad trippy time signatures. For me, there's no way you can listen to it like once or twice and think you've got it pegged. You need to listen to it and realize that it's pretty deep and that it has a great hook. Take the first few words from the title track. I say, "It's ruined, it's ruined, it's ruined. Everybody ruins music, not just me" It's not just a line, it's a hook. Something that sticks in the head. I'm a big fan of a giant hook. I wanted to show there are different ways to write big hook songs in very non traditional ways. To still write a memorable song in a unique way.
JC: So where do you still get that passion, that aggression to write that powerful hook song from? How are you bringing that out?
PA: Well, I'm a music person. A music fan first. It's all in me. It's just a matter of mood and inspiration. And when I sat down to do this I was very, very inspired.
PA: Well there really is no single thing. It's not one band or two bands or anything single thing. I've got a wealth of extreme music. A library or catalog under my belt. I watched it all develop. From technical write to the whole production aspect of music. I was there starting in the 80's right in it all. I'm very well versed in it all. It's a matter of knowing what's out there and not ripping it off on purpose. I did not want to do an album that has been done before. Something that at least has the chance to be considered a unique stand alone album. A lot of time in the business. To write something that was maybe not hits, but songs that you've not heard before.
JC: What's the plan for the tour? What can we expect this time out?
PA: I'm the type of guy that no matter what fucking band I'm in I like each show to take on each personality. Aside from playing each of the 8 tracks off the record and a couple tracks off the split with Warbeast, we have some specialties so to speak. I'm not gonna give away the specifics on those suckers right now, but for me, they would be some crowd favorites and for me some of my personal favorites from bands that were very influential in my life. It depends on the mood and the crowds. My intentions are to make each show as organically unique from each other as possible.
JC: Cool. I'm glad you're not saying anything specific about what to expect because for me, I want the surprise live and in front of me.
PA: Ah yeah, yeah, it should be a lot of fun and a lot of variation.
JC: So you're coming here to Chicago in August. How's your heath, your back and ACL specifically? Are you ready to tear up the road again?
PA: I probably have another two weeks of hitting the old bag and liftin some light weights and such, but other than that, you know I feel fucking great man. It's been since what, 2006 when I had major back surgery. Seven years down the line, there's always some threshold of some pain but you roll with it. There's a lot of doing what you're supposed to do with a lot of stretching, work and shit like that. A lot of maintenance, but I'm doing pretty fucking good man thanks for asking.
JC: Good to hear. Is there anything specific your looking forward to seeing or doing out on the road?
PA: Honestly I like the fact that we are playing some intimate places with true fans. Even the bigger places, I wouldn't mind if they moved them to smaller places. I like playing the intimate smaller gigs especially when you have people that really know the music and come out to support what your doing. At least you know that these people aren't just a bunch of fucking hipsters just wanting to be at the right place at the right time. You want muther fuckers that actually know the songs and enjoy what you do. I'm looking forward to that much of it for sure. Weather it be 100 people of 150 thousand people. I don't care. (If there real fans) bring it on.
JC: Excellent. I agree. Well, hey man, let me switch gears on ya real quick, I understand that you are a huge Horror fan? You host a festival of Horror and have a pretty massive personal collection as well. Can you tell us a little about that?
PA: Oh man, yeah, (laughs) sure. It's a big festival at the end of October.
JC: Are you going to be touring with it?
PA: No but it's a one off thing, but it lasts for three days. Maybe 4 with all the pre show parties and bands activities. It's a GIANT undertaking I'll say that. It started off as something very small but once word got out it became this big fucking thing. People came out of the woodwork. It was very unexpected. People in bands and directors and just people that wanted to be part of this thing. It started because honestly, my horror collection is fucking really, really ridiculous. It's like a library inside of a haunted house. Thousands of fucking VHS tapes everywhere and DVD's and whatnot. So in a way it like a dream come true, but you know what I want is for those who actually buy there way into this thing, I want them to have a blast. And I want the people who are part of it to have a blast as well. I'm going to bite my tongue on the word, "Annual" until we have this one under our belt. We'll see how it goes but once again, it's a work in progress.
JC: I hear ya. I'm a huge horror fan myself with quite the collection as well. I enjoy those festivals as well. I'd be looking forward to it if I were closer for sure. I'd like to see you hook up with one of those conventions and tour with it.
PA: Well, I'm leaving all avenues open for sure. I think that anything is possible. If the right offer and circumstance comes along, we'll see. It's would be great to a part of one of those more established film festivals. I'm a fan. I have zero aspirations to be one of those horror directors or anything like that. I think it would spoil it for me as a super fan. I'm the type of guy that just wants to sit on my fat ass and watch a bunch of horror films. It's relaxing for me. At my age at fucking 45 years old, it's not like something's gonna scare the living shit outta me or nothing. It's more of a style thing. More of a fan of directors, actors and atmosphere and nostalgia.
JC: Do you have any new movies or bands that you are excited to see or talk about?
PA: That's pretty open, but well for me, I'm not one of those that's a fan of all the gigantic remakes. I'm burned out on the "found footage" movies. Burned out on possession films and shit like that. It's just boring at this point. But as far as new bands go, I'm sure these guys are sick of me talking about them but, there's a Death Metal band out now that I cannot stop fucking quit listening to, from Australia, called, Portal. I think that they are the greatest modern, Lovecraftian, Death Metal band I've ever heard. Their new album is fucking treacherous. Genius man. I can't say enough about the guys.
JC: I've GOT to hear this band.
PA: It's an unforgiving listening to man. You might go, what the fuck does Phil hear in this, but the more you listen to it, the more you get from it. They incorporate a lot of unique instruments in it. It's a perfect companion piece with HP Lovecraft works.
JC: Well Phil, we're about out of time here, but I just wanted to thank so much for taking the time to talk. Looking forward to seeing you live at the House of Blues in August. I'm going to be there with fucking Hells Bells on.
PA: Spread the fucking work my young brother.
JC: I CAN NOT WAIT. Three weeks away.
PA: Anytime man, I'm easy. You've got my number. We'll have a beer.
For more info on Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, check out the following links:
Other related links:
The upcoming tour starts July 31st, 2013 in Tulsa, OK and runs through August 20th in Atlanta, GA .
Here are the dates and locations.
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals are: