Rick Florino of ARTISTdirect recently conducted an interview with Philip Anselmo (ARSON ANTHEM, DOWN, PANTERA, SUPERJOINT RITUAL). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
ARTISTdirect: ARSON ANTHEM is extremely brutal, raw and honest. The songs bear an intensity missing from modern hardcore and punk. What's the creative process like for this band? How do you compose these songs?
Anselmo: I'd mail cassette tapes of riffs I'd come up with to III [Hank Williams III] and Collin, and just give Mike a copy as well. A month or two went by and III drove his truck down to my place with his recording equipment and drums all packed-up in his truck. We wrote the majority of the songs (musically) during that first night. Everybody already knew all the parts from those tapes! The next day, we wrote the rest of the songs, and fucked with some different ideas. The next day we recorded. Mike sang the next night. III stuck around for the following day in order for he and I to mix a little. Then he split. All in all, "physically," it took three days to put together and record.
ARTISTdirect: The album feels unbridled and really free. Was this an especially fun record to make?
Anselmo: Yes. It was a very intense atmosphere, but extremely at ease as well. We knew that we expected the music to capture a specific sound, but until that happened, and it did, it was gratifying. We knew then, that the music that was being written was both flexible and tangible, and that's all we could hope for. We were going to be critical of ourselves, especially Mike and I. We were the oldest, and had followed the hardcore scene almost from its inception and watched it grow and die. Aside from a handful of current hardcore bands, we felt the need to express our interpretation of this type of music, because, to us, it's a sorely missing element within today's generic crop of two-chord bands that basically mimic the image of THE EXPLOITED, but fail completely to impress "true" purists with their music.
ARTISTdirect: Growing up in New Orleans, was there a strong hardcore scene when you were a kid? Or did you find more inspiration from the other East Coast scenes?
Anselmo: Both. In the early '80s, the N.O. underground scene was an incredible thing. There were numerous bands that played every week and weekend. It was a phenomenon that was slowly growing across the U.S. — especially when I moved to Texas, and the scene there was thriving as well. But to be completely honest, the N.O. scene was much more interesting and influential. The bands from N.O. were admittedly influenced by the East Coast sound. Out of all the bands from or around the NYC area that I could namedrop as probably the biggest influence to the N.O. sound would be CARNIVORE. If you take a peek into Pete Steele's resume, you'll find that within the NYC hardcore scene his name is legendary. He's penned many a great song for many a great band. SHEER TERROR was great too. They were like CARNIVORE meets THE RIGHTEOUS PIGS, who were an insanely great band from Las Vegas.
ARTISTdirect: The guitar playing has an almost black metal speed, and it's super-tight. Do you enjoy the chance to focus on playing rather than singing?
Anselmo: I love to play guitar. I've been writing my own songs on the axe since I was nine-years-old. I suck at leads. But I have my own style, although I haven't gotten any better at them for over two decades. My playing style on AA must be tight a la AGNOSTIC FRONT, and loose when necessary. On fast songs like "Hammer Them Out", I down-pick. Which is the correct way to play it. The lead guitar work is a bit repetitious, but when a song is under two minutes long, I don't have much room anyway. Thank goodness. But I've always contributed guitar parts to every band I've ever been in, so I'll always play the axe. Singing and playing have always gone hand-in-hand with me. I love 'em both equally.
Read the entire interview at www.artistdirect.com.
ARSON ANTHEM will release its self-titled debut EP on February 19 via Housecore Records; a label created by Anselmo focusing on Phil's side projects and other artists he believes in. The track listing for the effort is as follows:
01. Year Of The Fork
02. Doomed Morale
03. Bunker Life
04. Hammer Them Out
05. Wrecked Like Clockwork
06. Cops Shoot Coke
07. The Avoider
08. Sri Lankan Medication
Fan-filmed video footage of ARSON ANTHEM performing the song >b>"Sri Lankan Medication" in Nashville, Tennessee on December 13, 2007 can be viewed below.