ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino recently conducted an interview with Philip Anselmo of PANTERA about the 20th-annviersary reissue of the band's classic 1994 album, "Far Beyond Driven". A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
ARTISTdirect.com: "Far Beyond Driven" feels like PANTERA at its purest or most unbridled. In some ways, this is the rawest spirit of the band.
Anselmo: That's an interesting way to put it. It's hard for me not to endorse the way you put it, but it's also hard for me to endorse it. I think, at that time, we were all very much on the same page, so to speak. Let me side step really quickly and just remind you. PANTERA had a lot of success before I was in the band. When I first joined the band, I was singing fucking tracks on "Power Metal" after two weeks of being with them. Then, we wrote "Cowboys From Hell" all throughout the rest of 1987 and 1988. We had been playing those songs live. We had been through a lot up to the point as far as personalities go and getting to know each other. Becoming a trusted member and true singer for this band was a process to where I didn't have the rest of the band peeking over my shoulder like, "What are you writing about?" By the time I got to "Far Beyond Driven", it was, "I'm going to write what the fuck I'm going to write". So, I was very comfortable at the time. I guess the rest of the guys were like, "Leave Phil alone. Let him do his job." [Laughs] It felt so fucking natural.
ARTISTdirect.com: Were those "Far Beyond Driven" sessions particularly intense?
Anselmo: Well, I knew that's what I wanted. There was a lot of speculation out there about what type of record we were going to make. I definitely had a chip on my fucking shoulder because there was no way in hell I was going to go the fucking commercial route. At the time, I think we were very aware of other heavy metal bands that had found a little bit of fame and taken that "commercial route," so to speak, with their music. I very much instilled that there was no fucking way I was doing that into the other guys. I think they were on board quite a bit. It's like when you have a favorite band, you follow their entire career, you wait anxiously to buy their new record, you open up it, you put it on, and it's a letdown. That's a shitty feeling. We knew what our fan base wanted. We were very focused on delivering what our fan base had come to know and come to know of us. A lot of people like to say we did things in reverse. Meaning, we didn't start out this heavy fucking band and get more commercialized. It was kind of the other way around. That was the main focus there. When I laid my vocals on that fucking record, I wanted people to feel the fucking spit on their faces coming out of the speakers. [Laughs] I meant every fucking second.
ARTISTdirect.com: When was the moment the whole vision of "Far Beyond Driven" crystallized for you?
Anselmo: Well, ever since I joined the band, it was recognized that one of my strongpoints, for sure, was not just song structure, but the way an album flows. In other words, that's synchronizing songs as far as which one would go first, second, third, fourth, and so on. I always need to see what we have before I put them in order. I had to wait and see exactly what we had. You've got to take into consideration that "Planet Caravan" fell from out of nowhere. We had originally recorded that for a BLACK SABBATH cover record. Through label politics, of course, we couldn't be a part of that record. We were sitting on top of "Planet Caravan". I thought it would be ironic to end such a blazing record with something that, to me, people would think would be the last song PANTERA would ever cover. Considering there are so many heavy BLACK SABBATH songs out there, we would pick that one. I just knew the musicianship in PANTERA. These guys were the most fucking talented band I've ever been around and talented group I've ever worked with in in my life. They could play anything. When they took an influence and made it their own, it was a special fucking thing, man. I had to consider that shit, "Are we really going to put this song on there? Is this the right thing to do? Is this the wrong thing to do?" At the end of the day, I'm happy as shit with the tracking and how the record flows. Once again, that's a strongpoint for me. I guess that was a first-round knockout right there. I felt good about it then. I still feel good about it.
Read the entire interview at ARTISTdirect.com.