PHILIP ANSELMO: 'I'm In A Great Place In My Mind'

Dr. Abner Mality of Wormwood Chronicles webzine recently conducted an interview with Philip Anselmo (DOWN, PANTERA) about the upcoming Housecore Horror Film Festival, the singer's lifelong love affair with horror and his upcoming solo album. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

Wormwood Chronicles: Putting something like [the Housecore Horror Film Festival] together cannot be an easy thing. What are some of the logistics of putting together an event like this?

Anselmo: That's a very interesting question. I think a lot of things are still in the works. We're trying to work with numerous sponsors on it. Don't get me wrong, we've got a lot of questions to be answered...and asked! But we do have commitments from a lot of amazing, over-the-top shit that I would have never fuckin' figured. We've got directors like Coffin Joe from Brazil. As a matter of fact, I was just on tour with DOWN in Brazil and he came out to the show and we met. He brought me these priceless fuckin' autographed posters and books and stuff like that. So he's committed to coming down and he's bringing some never-before-seen artwork that he's done, certain crazy films that I've never even heard of. It was wild just finding out about the guy. He's done so many different films in so many different genres... everything from soft porn to horror to children's films. And then I've got a guy like Jorg Buttgereit coming down from Germany, who made the infamous "Nekromantik" films. To me, that's an amazing fucking thing, man, because he's showing "Nekromantik" on 35mm along with "Nekromantik 2" and another film that he did called "Schramm". In the late '80s and early '90s, I was naturally with PANTERA, my band at the time, and we did a lot of touring with WHITE ZOMBIE back then. I got very close with Rob and Sean from WHITE ZOMBIE. I remember one time we were in Los Angeles and I was in their apartment. This was before either one of us was making much scratch. Rob said, "I know of this awesome video store." I said, "Let's make a deal. You buy me a video that you want me to watch and I will buy you a video I want you to watch." He bought me "Spider Baby", which I do adore, with Lon Chaney and whatnot and I bought him "Nekromantik 1", because to me, that movie was fucking extreme. And of course we all know Rob Zombie's story from then out out. But that story always sticks out in my mind.

Wormwood Chronicles: Phil, there's been a lot of trials in your life. How important has horror been in coping and dealing with these trials?

Anselmo: That's a strange question, but you know what? I'll make it personal. I could be in the worst humor in the world. If I'm coming off a tour and I'm exhausted and I just don't want to be bothered, I could always go into my room, in my own atmosphere and my own element, and put on a horror film and slip away, into this beautiful world that would take me away. It would take all my previous anxiety-ridden thoughts and put 'em on hold for a while. Right now, I'm comin' off a couple of days where I've watched about 10 horror movies in the last 48 hours. I'm watching submissions to the Housecore convention on top of films where I just take a break and watch something on Netflix. That's shit's getting a little weak, though. I could go on about that, but whatever. There are still certain surprises on Netflix but not many. Man, I am a horror film...and I use this term very, very loosely... junkie!

Wormwood Chronicles: Let me switch gears now. What are you up to musically? I believe you have a solo album coming out?

Anselmo: Yessir, I do.

Wormwood Chronicles: Is this allowing you to do a few things you haven't been able to before?

Anselmo: You know, the general audience that has stuck by me for 30 years, they know my work with PANTERA, which was very heavy metal and metallic. But we were way more diverse than people think. We did material from "Cemetery Gates" to "A New Level" to anything off the last album we ever did, "Reinventing The Steel". We had a lot of variety. Since that is now defunct for all the obvious reasons, I've done so many projects that have gone under the radar. I've touched on black metal a bit, back in the early '90s with CHRIST INVERSION...

Wormwood Chronicles: VIKING CROWN...

Anselmo: Yeah, but I never took that shit seriously. That stuff I did in 20 minutes and laughed about it, but it wound up getting put out. I hear bands today that are obviously recording with drum machines and it doesn't sound far off from what we did. I was kinda surprised when I went back and listened to the first VIKING CROWN and I was like, "Wow, this has withstood the test of time." And then I play in ARSON ANTHEM, where I just played guitar and it was more hardcore, with Mike Williams from EYEHATEGOD singing. But I think the most important band after PANTERA that people know me for is DOWN, which I'm still an active member of. Now DOWN is very much a genre band in my opinion. It's based on BLACK SABBATH and what they brought to music...tempo-wise especially, with slower and heavier the better...but we also have what I call a LYNYRD SKYNYRD influence. We sing about our heritage, we sing about our whereabouts and where we're born. That's what what people know me for. With the lyrics for DOWN...well, I'll put it this way. Little do people know but songs from the first album like "Stone The Crow", which comes across more as a smooth rock song than heavy fuckin' metal...I wasn't even singing real lyrics on that fuckin' record! Eventually, though time, they became real lyrics. [chuckles] People start mouthing them for you and they become real. I loved that part of DOWN! I can be abstract within DOWN and really let the listener decide for themselves what I'm talking about. I'm a wordsmith, I love words, I love how words look when they're put together. I'm a list-maker, man...that's kind of a strange thing in life, I've come to find out. List-makers...they have a different knowledge about them, a different air about them. No matter what you're compiling, you're still a list-maker! List-makers, unite! Now, with my solo record, I am very point blank with the lyrics and I don't leave much room for mystery at all. In its own right, the lyrics are very, very extreme, without necessary following any rules. I don't want to be lumped in...and shouldn't be, by all rights...with death metal or black metal or sub-genre of that. I understand those genres already fuckin' exist and I didn't want to be a copycat at all. I wanted the extremity of what music has to offer and then there was a little part of me that wanted to flash just the slightest bit of what PANTERA might have executed. Not so much what they would have sounded like, but what they would have executed as far as tightness and deliberate deliverance. Now I've got an excellent lead guitarist working with me who really is a fucking amazing player. I've said this before, I wrote all of these songs, I wrote every fucking note, every signature, every bit of this record BUT! But... I let this guitar player of mine, Marzi Montazeri, put his fingerprints all over this fuckin' record. I would hear something that he would do and I would say, we've got to use this, we've got to do it. I've known Marzi since the '80s and he was one of the only guitar players that I ever heard Dimebag really rave about. Dimebag was a gifted, unbelievable lead guitar player with magic in his hands as far as using vibrato and the feeling he played with. He would listen to other heavy metal guitar players and think they were slackers, to say the least, but when it came to Marzi, it was kinda mind-blowing that he was giving this guy props. In my mind, that meant this guy must be pretty fuckin' good! Well, 25 years later, Marzi and I have always talked about creating music together. I can think of no other or no better executor than Marzi to play this stuff I wrote for my solo record.

Wormwood Chronicles: It sure as hell makes me really interested to hear it!

Anselmo: It's an angry record, man. It's a very angry record. What I want you to understand is, I'm in a great place in my mind. I'm at ease with who I am, I'm at ease with where I'm going and I've come to terms with what I've done in the past. You may not get that after hearing my new record, but that's the truth, that's where I'm at. I guess, basically, what I did was write a record based around that particular type of anger that I had and I channelled it. For me, that's the proper way to show that type of angst instead of going out and getting in fucking trouble, like I used to. I haven't thrown a fuckin' punch in years, for damn good reason, because I know people just want to egg me on just to sue me. They want to call the police. I'm not playing that fuckin' game anymore, I'm not stupid, you know what I'm saying?

Read the entire interview from Wormwood Chronicles.

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