An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams

During the interview, Philip said he would like to become a Guitars For Vets ambassador - welcome to the G4V family, Phil! 🙂

Also would like to say thank you to Dirt Junior [DirtJunior.com] for letting me use his photos!
What does it mean to you to support our Veterans?
An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams
Photo by Dirt Junior [DirtJunior.com]

I doubt you and I would be having this phone conversation if it were not for them. Every ounce of freedom that we have in this country, whether people want to recognize it or not is due to the Veterans and what they’ve done, keeping America as free as it is. It’s a crazy world out there, man.

Sticking to the Veteran part of it… I just, once again… Any freedoms that we enjoy are because of what the Veterans have done for us. That’s saying a whole lot right there. I’ll just keep it short and sweet like that.

I could go on for a while because I was raised in a house with a Vietnam Veteran.

Really?

Yeah. One of my first memories as a kid, both terrifying and eye opening. So, I got a wake up call pretty early in life about the misery that war and the horrors of going to war.
Thinking about an individual signing up to fight for our country is a mighty stroke of courageousness.

Not only that, but they have so much passion about fighting for our freedoms, too. What we believe in at Guitars For Vets -- music has such a powerful connection with people and it heals. Our Veterans that go over seas, they don't really have anything but music...Music is what got a lot of them through.

Agreed. I’ve heard from many Veterans that music keeps them sane, it keeps them grounded, it keeps them aware that there is a freedom waiting for them back in the United States. War is Hell, literally. Music is at least, in conditions like that, I think that it’s a grounding thing. For a lack of better words… It brings a bit of calmness to the hectic times that are around them, in all hours of the day, 24-7.

Yeah. It's the only constant. I've talked to many Veterans and MANY of them are huge fans of your music and have said that without your music, they might not have made it out there.

Agreed. I’ve heard from many Veterans that music keeps them sane, it keeps them grounded, it keeps them aware that there is a freedom waiting for them back in the United States. War is Hell, literally. Music is at least, in conditions like that, I think that it’s a grounding thing. For a lack of better words… It brings a bit of calmness to the hectic times that are around them, in all hours of the day, 24-7.

Yeah. It's the only constant. I've talked to many Veterans and MANY of them are huge fans of your music and have said that without your music, they might not have made it out there.

It’s amazing, you know? I feel like, when I hear stuff like that, it’s like… The way I look at it is, if it weren’t for the Veterans who have fought for our extensive freedoms here in the USA, I feel like I am just…What I do, and everybody around me, all of the musicians…We’re just the biproduct of a great freedom. Really, it’s like, we work hand-in-hand, but putting ‘the chicken and the egg’ into perspective, you’ve got to put the Veterans first, man. If it weren’t for them, we would be secondary. Once again, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation, if it weren’t for them.

I know... What kind of a country would we have right now if it weren't for them. It's crazy to think about.

It is a politically crazy time and everybody, depending on where you lay, wherever you sit on the “overton window”. Everybody’s screaming and standing and mad. Everybody wants it their way. I think over the next few years, we’re going to see some changes, both good and bad. We are American. We can roll with some punches. But, don’t fuck with our freedom. Especially something as freedom of speech, I see that getting argued. It’s like “give me a break, man.” Even the people that are bitching and moaning about “no free speech” – they wouldn’t even have the option to voice that opinion for their dream to come true. I can understand with the fighting and the violence and stuff like that, I understand that very well… But hate speech and all, I don’t believe in any of that shit.

People are so sensitive now...More people just need to be open minded... If everybody would just smoke pot all at once, I guarantee you we would all have world peace for that moment in time. [laughs]

An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna WilliamsActually, my step-father used to say, “if we could get all of the world leaders together and everybody drop a half-hit of acid, we’d be a whole lot better off!” [laughs] I’ll stick with what you said about the weed. And I agree 100%, man. And, the older I’ve gotten–God I’m old! I would just say… Put love first, put love first, man. Open your brain up and I think that when we do and it’s tough for young people to hear that because it does sound like a bunch of hippie-hippie-bullshit, but if you do put love first, normally, in my experience, you get love back. It’s the calmer thing, what you put out there, you get back.
I do believe in that to a certain degree.

Now, don’t get me wrong, things do fall out of the sky and blindside you, but that’s life, and that’s going to happen. As far as other people, like different sides of the political lines, I think over the last bunch of years, we’ve seen people lose friendships and marriages fall apart, just over politics. Really, it’s like, hey man, we are all American and we should be just, as far as an identity, what choice do we have, but to say, “hey, we are Americans. We are Americans. And as long as we’re here, if we lock arms and work together, things will get better.

Hey man, I’m for peace, love, understanding and a bowl of weed like you were talking about, I’m all for it.

[laughs] It opens the mind! It makes everything make sense...Gives you another type of freedom.

It slows things down enough for you to be able to stop and enjoy and live in the now. That’s the thing that you’ve got to learn how to do! Some people be blessed and have that gift of living in the now, but hey I’m guilty as anyone for sitting around in a beautiful, beautiful safety of my own house and with beautiful weather outside with nothing but love and beautiful things around me, but I’m sitting there worried about some tiny fucking thing that I cannot control right at that very second.

Yeah, I’ve been totally guilty of that. So, when my mind drifts these days to some pointless little squabble that my brain [laughs], I actually just say “stop!” And just fucking stop and step outside, take a deep breath, walk the dogs, do something productive, and you know, enjoy it, man.

With Guitars For Vets, we truly believe in the healing power of music and the purpose of this interview is to inspire Veterans -- or anybody for that matter, who may be going through a dark moment... You are able to take human emotion and translate it into this incredible music and it takes people's minds off of what they are going through. I know you've had a lot of your dark times highly publicized...What was a moment that you've had where creating music has really snapped you back into a good state of mind?

I can definitely say…[pauses] The Down III record was a very, very instrumental exercise of rehabilitation. It was after Dimebag had been murdered. And I had been through major back surgery that really, really was a battle to come back from that I’m not even sure I’m 1000% back from.

That Down record is a catch-22 for me in a weird way because it’s like I spilled so much of the guts and the memories and the experiences I had into those songs that it’s like when we go back to those songs, or when we had gone back to those songs, it’s actually too much of a reminder of the dark times. And as positive [laughs] as those songs are, it’s just very tough for me in that situation.

But I will say… The process of doing the record was productive as far as taking away some of that darkness and actually taking it, all the negative, and hammering it out into a fine energy. And I took that energy and I placed it into something productive. And I’m almost sounding like I’m saying the lyrics to Mouth For War, which, you know– it’s like Goddamn! [laughs] But, it’s true! It’s very true… And that was a very specific time.

I can say that most of the records that I do are combative of depression and stuff like that because it feels like my entire career I’ve been nursing one injury or another, is actually how it is… After a certain age– because I grew up in a very physical element of Heavy Metal, Hardcore that Pantera we– we kind of bridged that gap for the Heavy Metal and Hardcore attitude and image, or whatever people were seeing on stage.

So, that was a very physical time, so back then, I made every mistake in the book… Every rookie mistake in the freaking book, you know? I should’ve been… I should’ve been treating my body like an elite athlete and instead I was treating it like an elite drunk. And I was an elite drunk. And then with the injuries, I made all of the early mistakes with all of the pain medication and garbage that they want to feed you there. That’s a whole different subject.
And all of those medicines, by the way, are big time depressants. They are reminders of the problems that you’re going through, but on top of it, they give you a big cloud of depression that is thick enough to cut through with a knife. And to break through all that is…[grunts] It’s a war, it is a war inside of yourself, inside of your mind, and it’s rumbling under your flesh, it is true.

An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams
Photo by Dirt Junior [DirtJunior.com]

I just feel extremely grateful and blessed, for a lack of better words, for the fact that I do have an outlet. All of this depression and anger and ugly thoughts, ugly things, depression, period. Just wrap it up in depression. I do have an outlet for it, and that is music, and all of the things that surrounds music. Because like I mentioned earlier, I should’ve been treating my body like an elite athlete. When you come back from something like major back surgery…If you’re really taking your rehab seriously, you’re going to be working out a whole lot. I will say, when you get out there and you work out and you stretch out and you sweat and you hit the bag, whatever your thing is, that helps fight depression. And then when you get in the room with your guys, and you start inventing the music and putting the music together, that helps your depression. And then finally, when I get down and I’m by myself, and I’m penning lyrics, that helps depression.

That’s a three-pronged attack at the depression angle. I know that there are other people who do not have this outlet. I think the only advice that I can give, or the only advice people could take away from what I’m saying is to get outside, break a sweat, get some fresh air…Get your workout in, is what I’m saying! Get your damn workout in and then take a look at your problem. Getting that fresh oxygen to your brain is paramount. It’s huge. You got to do it. And especially for the people out there who want to turn their lives around. I’ll tell ya, I’m guilty of all of the depressive factors here.

One of them is complacency. Sitting, living through it, and feeling depressed and thinking that ‘this is as good as it gets’ when it’s really not true, and it takes something as simple as just stepping out of the front door and walking to even tweak it, and minimize it. That’s the worst thing, is the complacent depressive, you know? People that want to actually punch a hole in that depression, the people that will take your advice, get out, walk, work out, rehab, write their emotions down on paper; whether you’re a good writer or not, just scribble it down. Once that pen hits the paper, you can take off from there. What you get out of that is, what you make. Once again, you might not be, you might not feel like you’re a great writer or anything. That’s not the point. The point is to spill your guts one way or another. Get that oxygen to your head, and go!

I can completely relate to all of this.
An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams
Photo by Dirt Junior [DirtJunior.com]

I think a lot of people can! And I just…That’s another thing. Because we’re human, I think that there is some sort of knee-jerk reaction, an automatic guard that jumps up, or pops up for a person when there might be doubt or questions or even a sense of, how do I put this…A sense of an imperfection in one’s life, you know? Everybody’s like, trying to be the best person that they can be. But as human beings, we are absolutely imperfect. And I think that just opening up about it and talking about it, is a lot more productive than bottling all of that shit up inside and feeling like you’re the only person alive that feels this certain way. It’s not true. It’s not true. Talk about it.

You have this sense of the world that not a lot of people have.

I’ve been around the world, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen how different countries operate, different people feel about different things. It’s out there. Really just to strip away all the…What people see from a distance. They can see, just an example here, they can see a picture of me and relate, “Ok, there’s Phil. He’s wearing a fuckin’ PORTAL shirt, he’s got tattoos, and this and that. But underneath all of that, there is the imperfect person who is constantly struggling and battling to just be…To just exist, period.”

I do know that just because I’ve had success at what I’m doing, that’s all well and good, but there’s no fuckin’ way I could just step into someone else’s shoes and be as effective or more effective than that person themselves. It’s like, yeah, I can write a pretty song and all, but at the same time, I have no problem admitting the imperfections. I think that because of, I hate using this word, but because of the ‘stigmatization’ — is that a word?

It is now, if it's not! [laughs]

Right! [laughs] Because of that stigmatizing thing that is mental depression and stuff like that, it brings out– like I said, people, they recoil from ‘Oh my God, that perfect ride!’ Oh, no no no…Not me. When in all reality, we’re all in the same freaking boat. Keeping your brain open, putting love first, and knowing that I am no fuckin’ better than anyone else walking around today, above the ground alive, walking around.

I think that it keeps you humble, it keeps you straight forward, and it also, it opens other people up, man. It opens other people up to the fact that maybe they can talk about certain problems that they’re having. And that’s what I– if there’s anything anyone can gleam from anything that I do, is just try and be real, try and be honest with your problem, with yourself, and keep pushing forward, man. Like I say, we’re all in this together until we’re not.

Talking about depression and things like that, now I'm going to get into your music... With Choosing Mental Illness As a Virtue, you released that almost a year ago, how do you feel you connected with this album, especially with the title that it has?

Well. [pauses] I guess I’m recognizing the fact that yeah, I am imperfect. And yes, I do suffer, and I have suffered with the bleakness of life. But at the same time, I’m not willing to throw in the towel and give up. So, in other words, I have no choice but to embrace whatever demons that I have and round them up and hold them in a Goddamn headlock while I march through this as honestly and as purely as I possibly can. In other words, take that negative energy and twist it on it’s head and do something positive through it. Don’t let it work against you, like it does, like it wants to. Don’t let it have the upper hand. Fight, fight, fight.

You have such an interesting, raw, and real perspective. Your lyrics are like that too, with every single band you've been in. You are incredible with writing. How do you feel you're able to bring your songs to life?
An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams
Photo by Dirt Junior [DirtJunior.com]

I get inspired by all kinds of music. The older I’ve gotten, once again, I’ve tried not to be a music snob. [laughs] There’s music out there that I don’t like, but I still have respect for because it’s done, it’s [inaudible], it’s gained its audience. There’s no arguing that, people like what they like. When it comes to music, like I say, it’s a lot like food, you like it, you love it, or you’re pretty indifferent to it. But I find inspiration in all kinds of music. All kinds of music. All different eras, all different time periods, including the modernity. I take those influences and I take the experiences that I have going on around me, a specific time in life and I apply them. I apply them to songs.

The Choosing Mental Illness record, for me, is probably one of it’s only kind that I’m going to do, as far as it stylistically goes. I do a lot of Death Metal style vocals on the record and I take that as Black Metal-Death Metal, stuff like that. That for me is fun because in all reality, I can sing as well. It’s like, doing different styles and trying different styles and doing different stuff. It feels good and it’s fun to do.

At the same time, when I take these– like, I mentioned it straight up, Death Metal and Black Metal, all those styles, they encompass a certain type of lyric/lyrical content and shit like that. Death Metal has it’s thing, Black Metal has it’s thing. But I don’t apply the same methodology, I don’t at all. Matter of fact, I think more about, in my opinion, more God-level, street-level, down-to-earth-stuff, no matter how I put it… Like, with the Choosing The Mental Illness record, I was taking a stab at a lot of the post modern type of jargon that you hear today and this is my way of slammin’ it back a little bit, messing around with that, in my own way. But you know, my songs are about real things, they’re not about religion or anything like that. I’m not a religious person at all, I’m a fuckin’ Atheist.

For me, it’s all about real reality and what’s surrounding me, that’s my thing. Stylistically, I can borrow and whatever, be influenced, and whatever, but at the end of the day, lyrically, I think that part of it’s pretty unique. It makes for a different kind of listen. It makes for a different kind of experiment with the music.

Everything you write, there is such an honesty, such a raw brutality to your music. Everything from Pantera to Superjoint to Down to the Illegals--everything. Your lyrics are just real. What do you feel has been the most raw, real, honest song you've ever written? Whether or not you have even shared it with the world yet, or if you wrote it before Pantera or whenever.

It’s funny you mention the had I released it or not yet, but I will say that the darkest, heaviest, most miserable shit I’ve ever written I have not released and that’s a band called En Minor. I’ve never put it out, man. And I still…I don’t know if I’m getting cold feet or not, man. It’s not party music, it’s not good time music. People are asking me to do gigs with it and shit like that and I just don’t know if it’s going to translate the way people might envision because they haven’t heard the music, it’s so hard for me to explain it. It’s heart-wrenching shit, man. It’s very hard for me to just explain and it’s also very hard for me to…It’s tough because no one’s heard it and I don’t know if people should fuckin’ hear it, man.

It is, I guess, the truest, darkest record I’ve ever done in my life and I’m just not sure about it. I’m not sure about it. I think the musicianship is great, I love the band I have surrounding me… I just… When I do a project, I go 1000%. So like, with the last Illegals record, it was a Death Metal style, Death Metal flavor of the moment that was really reigning supreme when we were writing the stuff. So that’s where I went with that and stayed true to it stylistically. The same can be said with En Minor.

Except…The way I sing on En Minor is completely bass… Originally, I was saying baritone. But then I was corrected and someone was like, “no, it’s really a bass vocal.” And really, that’s what I’m doing. It’s a comfortable style, it’s a different style than people I guess have heard me attack before. But it is what it is. And I’m just not sure– I don’t know how people would take it, I don’t know.

But eventually… It’s recorded, it’s written, and eventually I guess people will hear it… I just…I don’t know when the right time is. I’m sure all the guys in the band are like “NOW!!! NOW, IS THE RIGHT TIME YOU STUPID MAN!” But… We’ll see…

I do think it is some of the most painful stuff I’ve ever written and it’s definitely true as fuck. But if you look into the past, the stuff that I’ve done, songs like Suicide Note Part I and II are pretty miserable, pretty true, pretty honest. Then it depends of the band you’re looking at. DownDown has a lot of really, really– I mean, everything from the first album, Losing All to Bury Me In Smoke to Stone The Crow, all of that stuff has big messages in there of depression-liberation, depression-liberation, depression-liberation.

As you say that, the lyrics of Stone The Crow where you say "A life of handwritten pain" come to mind.

You’re all over it. It’s true. It’s funny, I listen to older stuff. I think to myself, when I was scribblin’ all of these lyrics down twenty years ago, I had zero idea that I’d be truly reflecting on the realism of it all. Where it’s like, “damn, this was real.” And, “Damn, this is and does happen and it came to pass.” It’s weird. It really is… It’s almost like reading a freakin’ fortune cookie… A de-failed fortune cookie. 

It’s an experience that I’ve noticed. When I cringe and go back and read old lyrics, I’m like, “Oh man…I was terrible!” Or, “Let me see how terrible these lyrics are.” And then I go back and I read them and I’m like “Damn! Well, at least I was telling the truth.” [laughs]

What are the lyrics that really come to mind? You have to be picturing a certain song, or a certain lyric as you're telling me this.

Well, Losing All [Down] pops into the brain, you know? It does. Losing All.
I’d have to have the lyric sheet in front of me, but I know that I’ve gone over those lyrics before and have been like, “Goddamn! These lyrics just fell out of my fuckin’ brain, and through my hand, and into a pen, and onto the paper…” And the little bit that I know that I was really doing a great summation of events around me and all the shit that’s gone on around me.

And I mean, on a lighter note and a more poking note, but still as true as it is, a song like Little Fucking Heroes off of the Illegals record. It’s fuckin’ true, man. It’s realistic enough. There’s not so much lamenting in that song as there is in observation. I can’t say that that song’s about mental illness initially, but it is a great starting point or a launch pad, so to speak.

It's amazing to hear all of this. In my view, we are all put on this earth for some sort of purpose--

None of us have to be here. [laughs] None of us have to be here. The fact that we’re here, you may as well do something with this shit. There are causes. There are real human crises, there are things that we can do to help things along and sometimes you might catch yourself hindering something in your life… And you just got to observe it, slow down, see where you made the mistakes, take a step back, look at it, observe it, consume it, understand it, and better yourself at the end of the process. That way, you’re bettering everyone around you, in a way.

As long as you keep your own shit together and you do the best that you can do, that…That will be contagious with people around you. The people that you surround yourself with, they’re going to notice, they’re going to probably…If the conditions are correct, they’re going to follow suit. Either that, or find another path in life and head off down the road if they’re not on the same wave length as you are.

The more positive shit that you do, the more people around you, it’ll rub off on them. And they keep you in line, they keep you in check, and they remind you of who you are at your best times. They’d be the first ones to tap you on the shoulder and say, “You’re not up to par, mister. Remember a year ago? I do. Get your shit together!” [laughs] And that’s a good thing, you know, to have people around you to love you enough to tell you to “fuck off” when you need it, you know? [laughs]

[laughs] That is very true. Going back to En Minor... It's funny, I was going to ask you what is going on with En Minor because I interviewed Jimmy [Bower] a few months ago and he was talking about it, telling me he was excited for it and couldn't wait for everyone to hear it...

Well, there you go…[laughs] There’s the band saying, “NOW IS THE TIME!!! YOU FOOL, PUT THIS RECORD OUT! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING ON?!” [laughs] Case in point.

[laughs] Well... You know sometimes... It's best to do things that make you uncomfortable. Sometimes the best things in life come out of the most uncomfortable things that you aren't so sure about...

Ah…Listen to who’s wise now! Maybe you’re right… Maybe you are dead right! Maybe I should just shut the fuck up and let people soak that music in. Maybe I should just do that. And I might.

It would be great to hear. Jimmy told me it was more mellow.

It’s not Heavy Metal at all. We have a lead cello player… There are three guitars, a piano player, a keyboard player…

Oh wow.

Yeah. It’s a real delicate band, it’s very interesting, man. It is, it’s very interesting. I just..I just for the life of me, I can’t… I just can’t imagine being in a gig atmosphere with it yet. I can’t see it yet, I can’t feel it yet. But, maybe that’s my problem.

Maybe you don't have to even play any live shows.
An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams
Photo by Dirt Junior [DirtJunior.com]

When people hear the record and they like it, they’re going to want to see a show. That’s just how it is. It’s just in today’s climate of records, record sales, or lack thereof. You gotta go out and do the show. You got to get out… People have to see it to appreciate it. It’s once again… It’s a decision I’m going to have to make. I’ll probably end up doing a gig. Normally, that’s what happens.

Well, I'm excited to hopefully hear it one day.

You will. You’ll hear it. At least I can promise that I will put it out. I just don’t know when. It’s like trying to figure out… I got the Illegals going on right now and that seems very steady because everybody in Down is busy. Jimmy [Bower] is doing Eyehategod, Pepper’s [Keenan] doing CoC, Kirk [Windstein] is doing Crowbar, Bobby’s [Landgraf] doing all kinds of different shit– and Bobby’s in En Minor as well, so is Jimmy. It’s trying to find the right timing, you know? It’s one of those things where I’m totally going to have to I guess juggle my career. It’s like Heavy Metal early in the week, En Minor [laughs] on the weekend. Something like that! So, we shall see. It’s going to be interesting one way or another.

I'm excited, hopefully to hear it soon! This brings me to another question...Is there anything going on with Superjoint?

No, there really isn’t… Nothing going on with that, or Down, or I don’t know…How many other bands do we want to cover here? [laughs] But yeah, man.

I know, you pretty much have your own music scene going on. [laughs]

Well… [laughs] You got to do something, man.

Very true. Another thing... Everything you do in your life, like from Heavy Metal to any type of music, like you were just saying En Minor is not at all Metal, but you even have Horror in your life... You've had Horror film festivals and things like that. It's really inspiring to see somebody be able to do all of what you do.

Wow. Man. I appreciate that. The Horror film thing… It’s a gigantic blessing for me because all I’ve ever done is be a huge fan. I’m just a fan. I happen to be a megafan. I have a huge collection of films that I cherish and love, you know? And constantly I’m talking about film, and horror film– horror films, got to make that plural, with people all the time, constantly. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t watch a horror flick in some sort or another, I take the time to do it. And really, for me, what a blessing, man. Incredible. Fuck.

I’ve never been in a horror movie, I’ve never acted in one, I’ve never done anything for horror films. I mean, I did some musical stuff for Jim Van Bebber [film director] with his Manson flick [The Manson Family]. To me, not necessarily, a horror movie. For me, as a fan… I’ll put it this way… Horror films have given me more entertainment than the law allows, for God sake. So, I may as well give back some! It just feels right… It just feels right. And the same thing goes for music and boxing and all of the little things I’m into. I just… Once again, put love first. Horror films come second! Ha! [laughs] You never know.

[laughs] Are you going to have another Housecore Film Festival?
An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams
Philip Anselmo & Corey Mitchell

Everybody’s talking about it… I think that there’s some… There’s probably some things that we need to work out with… I had my partner pass away a few years back. So, I think there’s some legal stuff we need to go through. And that kind of puts a lot of the sales out of the film fest and just losing my main man, Corey Mitchell, that was his… He put his whole life into it, literally and figuratively, and I guess I’m trying to get the energy back… Trying to get the focus back to do it again. You’re not the first to ask about it. I think a lot of people want it again. But believe me, it’s a lot of work. It’s worth it though, it really is. At the end of the day, it’s worth it. To give back to something that’s given me so much, it just feels right. Yeah, man. The plan is to move forward eventually. I’m just waiting for the right time.

I know I'll be excited and speaking for every other horror fan out there, they will be too when that day comes.

I hope you’re right. I appreciate it too, I really do. It means the world.

It means the world that you create the music that you do. As you say, doing what you do for horror, giving back...This is what I do as a way of giving back to Metal because I enjoy it--I don't think too much is even possible. [laughs]

[laughs] No, you can’t.

Another thing I was going to bring up... You have a love for Black Metal too. Here's the geeky fan part of me... When it comes to the band Mayhem, who did you like better as far as the vocalist goes?

Oh…Jeez, man. That’s tough, man. I like…The fabuless Atilla, there’s no way I can…He’s such an awesome dude too, Goddamn. Atilla is one of the nicest people you ever want to meet. But what’s the other cats, Maniac and?

Dead.

Well, yeah…I never met Dead, I met the other two guys, I like them both differently, man. I like them both for different reasons. So I’m going to go 50/50 on them cats, man. But I think Dead had a cool voice. I like his stuff…What was the name of that band that they did just before Mayhem… Um. Oh…Shoot.

I'm actually stumped on that one.

Nah, you shouldn’t be, it’s the… Oh man… Alright, I’m going to cheat… Let me see something here… ‘Cause I know that… Let me see if my memory works anymore… They had a song called “I know I’m Disgusting”. Fuck… Oh my God… Me of all dudes… BLANKING ON THIS old, early Black freakin’ Metal. [laughs] …Let me see… [pauses] …Alright, I’m cheatin’. [laughs] …Oh c’mon, man. [pauses] … Ok, one sec. [pauses] …Really. Why won’t it let me… Man… Alright, I’m thinkin’ now. My brain is on… Now I’m furious. Alright, alright, alright, alright. God. Damn. Everything. Ah…What the fuck! Where is the Goddamn thing?! C’mon Anselmo! What the fuck is the name of that band?! I can’t believe that we’re stuck here. I feel like I got a flat tire or something as I’m heading to the Slayer concert.

[laughs] Oh my God. Now THAT would be horrible!

It would suck. [sighs] Mayhem… What the fuck was the name of… GOD I’m blanking so bad right now. It was… [pauses] It was Euronymous and Dead… Alright, I am totally cheating right here… Ok, ok…Mayhem… C’mon… Just let my eyes see it. Euronymous, Euronymous, Euronymous, Euronymous… [pauses] [typing] Oh… Thorns… No, that’s not the band…But Thorns was good too, they were good. Fuckin’ unbelievable… I’m halfway through this page and they just skipped over to Mayhem. Where is… This is not…right. This isn’t right! What the fuck is the name of that… [mumbles] It’s officially bananas. Where in God’s green beard… Mayhem… What was pre-Mayhem? It will not fuckin’… Don’t go to Wikipedia if you ever want to… This is the first time in a long time that I’ve ever used it because I normally don’t give a shit about this kind of stuff, but it’s like…Man! It’s driving me nuts… Where in the fuck. I think it was pre-1991. Mayhem, Satyricon… [mumbles] [pauses]

….MORBID! Yeah! It’s the band Morbid!

Damn! That took forever. Jesus Christ, that was painful! I’m sorry about that!

[laughs] I honestly didn't know that! And I should have known that.

Yeah, Morbid was their first recording of that stuff with Dead and Euronymous. It’s pretty good, too.

I'm definitely going to check it out.

Yeah, it is like an EP that’s out. I don’t know if it’s out-out, but Death Like Silence Records or Euronymous‘ label and shit, I don’t know if they put it out. But yeah, I got that little EP. It’s pretty good.

I can only imagine all of the music you have, especially your Black Metal collection.

Yeah, man. I mean, I let it be known that Black Metal as a genre didn’t happen until 1991. Bands like Bathory, they were considered back in the day, they were just “Venom-cloned”, Celtic Frost was called Avant Garde Heavy Metal. Yeah, so Black Metal really wasn’t a genre specifically until ’91 and then as far as I’m concerned, I know Mayhem was probably one of the first, but the band that probably really put it all on the map was Darkthrone, for me, you know?

They embody what Black Metal is. I love the album cover for Transylvanian Hunger.

Yeah, they got that imagery and art– that Black Metal artwork over last couple decades always have been grim and great, I love it. It’s bleak, super bleak, man. I love it, I really do. Great imagery, great imagery. And yeah, Darkthrone, absolutely utilize that imagery to a some bizarre perfection, man. The way they stuck there.. There was something about… [pauses] I guess the whole package that Darkthrone intrigued a lot of people, whether it be the title of the band, or the name of the band, or the cover of the records. You know, it was intriguing. And to me, it really did harken back to the days, to the olden days when people used to have to get up, get in a car and go, actually physically buy records because they were intriguing.

I mean, back when I was a kid, we would just go looking at the records blindly without really knowing what the fuck we were looking at and what what looked the coolest, we would buy and just try it out. That’s what would happen most of the time when I was growing up. Fuck, I lucked out a bunch of times with that. I got Mercyful Fate’s first EP and shit like that, Nuns Have No Fun. Just doing that alone, you know, just looking at album covers looking for the most bizarre and weird shit. Darkthrone definitely, they gave you that “old school” feel to where you wanted to find out, “Hey, what is this band about?” So, big props to them on that, huge props.

…Hold on one sec. [pauses] …Alright, what else do you got for me?

There is a certain bond that you have with every band you've been in... Like, in the Illegals, you all look like you have this special bond, where you don't take being in a band so seriously, you know what I mean?

Boy, do I. Elitism. It’s boring, it runs its course… I get it, image is fine and all, I get it. It’s a ticket, I get it. Especially, take a look at Ghost. I’ll say right now, the main kid from Ghost, the main writer, the singer [Papa Emeritus/Tobias Forge]…Super talented. Super talented. Very, very pleasant, down-to-earth, cool motherfucker. I watched him and them grow from early beginnings to what they are today. We’ve had many, many frank talks about “the business” and whatnot. It’s good to know that his head is level and he sees what he does and recognizes it and still, he puts music first, really, and has all the fun with the image and all that shit second. Music first, all that stuff second.

There are always going to be bands who take an image and when you listen, it’s like, “Eh? Is it really all that special without the spikes and makeup and shit?” I’m really not sure. But there’s always going to be the bands that really stick out too in those genres. As far as taking image and taking yourself too seriously…To me, that’s to their detriment when you take yourself too seriously then even the small things that do happen on a tour or in the business, whatever, even the small things become gigantic because you’re trying to uphold this inhuman image. Not really for me, man. I’m all about the human mistake and the fault in humankind…It makes us all unique and beautiful and ugly and all those things, it makes everything. Give me a fuckin’ pair of loose fittin’ pants and a fuckin’ t-shirt any day over a pair of leather pants and a spike and a vest or whatever. At the end of the day, it’s music.

Very true. [laughs] I was going to ask... Going back to connection that you have with the Illegals--

Those dudes, yeah. To go back to what you were mentioning earlier. I am utterly fortunate to be working with such great people. The Illegals are just down-to-earth, mellow, sweethearts, man. I am just blessed to be surrounded by all those guys, I really am. There are some young guys there, man. Talented, talented fellas that are just behind me and in front of me and next to me and just fuckin’ 100%. It makes my heart kind of… I don’t know what you’d call it. I guess I’m blushin’, man. [laughs] It’s good shit, man. Those dudes are just so for-real, I can’t say enough great things about The Illegals, those dudes are just awesome.

You can really see it. The connection and the bond, there's an energy that just seems to radiate and you can also hear it through your music.

They are super passionate about what they do.

You can hear that. And also with every band that you have been in, you hear it too and you feel it live. I've seen Down, Superjoint, and The Illegals - it's just an experience and you can feel the bond, the love that everybody within your bands have for the music. It's really amazing.

Thank you. Especially these last couple weeks, I’m thinking about the holidays being over and work coming back up… Rehabbing these different limbs on my body, making sure I’m good and fuckin’ healthy and good to go for these shows. I get caught up in I guess worrying about how my skeleton is going to hold up over the long haul. I just… It takes my eye off of the stuff that you’re talking about right now. Gosh, it’s good to hear that people do see it and man, I guess I need to step back and take a deep breath and re-assess how great everything is.

Those are all of my questions... Would you like to add anything else?

Not really. I think we covered a lot of stuff. It was a damn good interview. I’ll be writing some tunes and I’ll be putting out some tunes to help the background of your life a little bit, to ease things up a little bit.

An Interview With Philip H. Anselmo by Jenna Williams
Jenna Williams with Philip Anselmo at the Down III CD release party at the Key Club in Hollywood - September 25, 2007. Photo by Dirt Junior! [DirtJunior.com]
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