Former PANTERA frontman Philip Anselmo says that the controversy surrounding his actions at a California concert three years ago is "ridiculous."
Anselmo performed the PANTERA classic "Walk" at the January 2016 "Dimebash" event at the Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood in honor of late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. As he left the stage, he made a Nazi-style salute. He appeared to say "white power" as he made the gesture, but later claimed he was joking about drinking white wine backstage and was reacting to the audience members up front who he says were taunting him.
Asked by U.K.'s Kerrang! magazine if he feels the "Dimebash" debate is something he has moved past, Anselmo responded: "I feel like it's ridiculous. I made an off-color joke and 'Boom!' — it's like I'm literally Hitler! I'm not. I take each individual one at a time, in the way that any logical individual will. I have love in my heart. Over the years, I've learned to take the first step with love and to put good faith first. I get along with everybody. If there's any doubt about my political leanings, people should get it out of their heads. I was raised amongst a dazzling [cast of characters] from the theatre, from the mental hospital, from all walks of life — all colors, creeds and kinds. It's absurd to me that anyone in this day and age would judge anyone by the color of their skin, their heritage or their religion. I'm a harmless guy. I'm a reactionary, not a troublemaker."
During the same chat, Anselmo was asked if he regrets how things turned out with PANTERA. "I don't really engage with dwelling on the past," he said. 'It's always brimming under the surface in my conscience. I live it. I think about it every day. I dream about it often — about the old days; the old times; about Dimebag. I wish Dimebag were alive today, of course. In my deepest of hearts, I know that he and I would've made up a long time ago. We were too good of friends for all of this."
In the days following the "Dimebash" incident, MACHINE HEAD's Robb Flynn — who played PANTERA songs with Anselmo at the event — released an eleven-minute response video in which he denounced Anselmo as a "big bully" and a racist. He concluded by saying that he would never play another PANTERA song again. ANTHRAX's Scott Ian, who is Jewish, released a statement on his official web site saying, "Philip's actions were vile" and invited Anselmo to make a donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Former PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, who hadn't spoken to Anselmo since the band's split in 2003, was dismissive when asked for a comment on the singer's white-power salute. "I can't speak for him," Vinnie said in a 2016 interview. "He's done a lot of things that tarnish the image of what PANTERA was back then and what it stood for and what it was all about. And it's sad."
In 2017, Anselmo blasted "false journalism in the metal community" for suggesting he was racist because of his actions at "Dimebash".