by Steve Patrick
– Senior Columnist —
Even while he was the frontman of the massively successful band Pantera, Phil Anselmo was always staying busy with offshoot musical projects like Southern Isolation and Viking Crown. Some of those side projects (Down and Superjoint Ritual) ended up getting the bulk of Anselmo’s attention around the collapse of Pantera and, in the case of Down, became his primary band.
Anselmo also founded Housecore Records which continues to put out some of the most intense music heard by human ears and that’s mostly because it’s the kind of stuff that Anselmo listens to himself.
In more recent times, Anselmo has branched out into the horror movie festival industry with his the annual Housecore Horror Film Festival. Festival co-creator Corey Mitchell convinced Anselmo to organize a Superjoint Ritual reunion at the 2014 edition of the horror fest. This reunion has now not only led to a July 2015 tour alongside Housecore Records family members Child Bite and King Parrot, but Anselmo has stated the band (now known as simply “Superjoint” for legal reasons) is working on new material.
Anselmo was gracious enough to speak with Hardrock Haven despite having just played both the Amnesia Rockfest with Down in Quebec and then HellFest 2015 with Superjoint in France in the week leading up to the interview. The jet-lagged metal legend spoke of the reactivation of Superjoint, the next Down EP, his next solo record, his least favorite record that he’s made lyrically, and his thoughts on the Confederate flag controversy.
Read the full interview below:
Philip H. Anselmo: Yeah.
HRH: Hi, is this Phil?
Philip H. Anselmo: It sure is.
HRH: Hey, how’s it going buddy? This is Steve with Hardrock Haven.
Philip H. Anselmo: Hey Steve, how’re you doing bud?
HRH: I’m hanging in there. I hear you’re in the studio.
Philip H. Anselmo: Nah, hell no. I just got back home from Canada and Europe. One show with Down in Canada and a show with Superjoint in Europe, so I’m pretty far from the studio now. (laughs)
HRH: Ah, I was told this was a studio number, so I just assumed…
Philip H. Anselmo: Oh, yeah, you are calling the business.
HRH: I gotcha, well hey that sounds like a pretty busy schedule. It was Hellfest in Europe, right? How did that go down?
Philip H. Anselmo: It was killer, man. It was killer. It was hot as hell, but it was killer.
HRH: How does it feel to be back in the saddle with these guys playing the Superjoint stuff?
Philip H. Anselmo: Well, truthfully I was skeptical early on and I kind of put Superjoint…I guess I wasn’t really thinking much about it at all until the Housecore Horror Fest part 2 when everybody was saying, “Man, Phil you oughta do something special. You oughta get Superjoint back together…etc, etc, etc.” And I was like, “Ahh no, no, no, no. You know, I’m passed this. I’m done with this. I’m moving forward.” But sure enough…one of the, if not definitely the strongest fighter in the whole bunch of them was Corey Mitchell, rest in peace, but he really, really wanted Superjoint.
So I said, “Well, let me ask the guys.” Jimmy (Bower) was into it, Kevin Bond was into it, we knew we were going to move on from our previous drummer anyway, and we had a pretty good idea that Hank (III) would be busy and what not so we had Blue (José Manuel Gonzalez) and Steve (Taylor) from the Illegals, my band, so they were ready to go with it man.
So it was like “let’s see how it goes” and we got in the jam room and it was fun, you know?! It was fun, so honestly since we’ve been back at it it’s been a fucking blast and shit, you know, I’ve even started writing some new stuff so it feels productive too which is better for me all around. Anytime you can be productive as well instead of just playing the same old songs and what not…you know, we’re writing new songs on top of it so, shit man, that’s a bonus.
HRH: Absolutely it is. How long did it take you, Jimmy, and Kevin to get Blue and Stephen up to speed on the songs?
Philip H. Anselmo: Man, we jam all the time on the road as much as possible, so everybody kind of knows each other’s language and what not and we’re all pretty clued-in. So truthfully they got up to speed real quick, man.
HRH: Well you mentioned this already that you’re working on new Superjoint material. How many songs are we talking and do you have a timetable, I mean, any plans on putting it out?
Philip H. Anselmo: Uh, it would have to be some time next year because…oh shit, I’m booked for the rest of the year man. I’m probably…at the best case scenario…going to take December off, but that probably won’t happen. We’ll probably be writing the new Down in December from the last conversation I had with the boys, but that’s no big deal. So, as far as anything new coming out, I would take a peek at next year, but as far as any set dates or anything like that…absolutely not. But it’s there. It’s there to be had and it’s there to be recorded. And a lot of it’s there for me to be scribbling lyrics already so there’s definitely locomotion going on.
HRH: Excellent news. I’ve also read that you’ve got some new Illegals material that you’re working on.
Philip H. Anselmo: Oh yeah.
HRH: Is that in front of the Superjoint stuff…or how do you keep this stuff straight? I’m always impressed with your output.
Philip H. Anselmo: That is probably the toughest question I’ve been asked all day, but shit you know there’s obviously some bands that trump others. You know, we’ve definitely got to write this new Down EP which is…I guess gets more complicated by the day now that Pepper (Keenan) is jamming with C.O.C. here and there and no telling what that’s gonna turn into. We’re saying that oughta come out…uh you know, hopefully friggin’ next year, but then again there might be a little oversaturation of The Kid. (laughs) But you know I use a different, I guess, style of singing with each band and I try to and that’s what all this delving into music is anyway man. Just one big exploration. And each band should sound way different than the other band and that’s where I’m at man…taking different styles and different types of extremity and making them unique, you know?
HRH: Absolutely, it’s good to be able to tell those apart and I think you pull that off great. Is that difficult on your voice to switch back and forth between styles?
Philip H. Anselmo: It can be because…shit man, that’s just three things that we’re talking about. I’ve done, oh God, a lot of different styles this year with a bunch of different motherfuckers and I guess we will be eventually talking about some of that stuff when it comes to some sort of fruition, but I guess it takes practice, you know? And that sounds fucking fickle as shit, but the more you do it, you know, like flip-flop the styles…whether it be 2 hours of death metal and then 2 hours of real singing like something I might do in Down, but anytime I say “real singing” coming from me it’s debatable, but you’ve gotta keep your chops up so to speak.
The older you get…my birthday is in 5 fucking days, goddamn man…the older you get, the more you need to stay on top of it man and I think I did damn well with the Down show and I think I did pretty good with the Superjoint show 2 days later because I’ve been practicing both styles pretty fucking religiously there for about a month and that’s a good start, but I can always do fucking better man.
HRH: Well that’s good to always strive for that. You’re going to be out on tour with King Parrot and Child Bite…
Philip H. Anselmo: Damn right.
HRH: …on the “It Takes Guts Tour”.
Philip H. Anselmo: Literally.
HRH: I live in Ohio, so I think our stop is in Cincinnati at Bogarts so I’m looking forward to that.
Philip H. Anselmo: Do you have a gut or do you have a 6-pack?
HRH: What did you say?
Philip H. Anselmo: Do you have a gut or do you have a 6-pack?
HRH: Oh I have a gut. I have the whole keg. (laughs)
Philip H. Anselmo: Well then…(laughs) you my friend are welcome to come! It’s totally “it takes guts” literally.
HRH: Excellent. Well speaking of Child Bite, you did an Anal Cunt tribute EP with them. How did you end up singing on that? I know they’re with Housecore obviously…
Philip H. Anselmo: Well I mean those guys are insane and they’re fun and hilarious and I’ve known them for a long time. And they asked me if I felt like doing it and I said, “Sure!” I just wish I would have been, I guess, better prepared vocally even though, you know, imitating Seth Putnam (laughs) it’s like “which way do I go here?” But it was fun.
I guess on the Child Bite front, they just got through recording their new record with us over here and that’s another record I’ve got to fucking mix real soon here and that’s going to be called Negative Noise and it is fucking awesome. That and the new Author & Punisher is coming out…Tristan Shone’s first record with us in 5 days and I’m looking forward to that. We’ve got a lot going on over here, man.
HRH: I know you mentioned this earlier, but Housecore Horror Film Festival III is coming up also later this year. I’m sure you’re getting excited about that.
Philip H. Anselmo: Yeah, in November. It’s awesome man.
HRH: I know this is unfortunately the first year without your partner in crime (Corey Mitchell)…
Philip H. Anselmo: Yeah, like you say, it’s bittersweet, it is what it is, but I’ll tell you one thing. Corey Mitchell, of all dudes, he wanted this festival to grow and grow and grow and never to…I guess, take root permanent root really anywhere. Corey was a huge dreamer and he’s talking about “Well, what we can do is we can start here in Austin, then we can go to a different city every year, then we can take it on the road in Europe, and then…” And I’m like, “Whoa man, slow down, slow down.” Either way, this year will definitely be a big tribute to Corey and he definitely, like I said before, would absolutely 1000% want us to…put it this way, it would be an insult to him if we didn’t continue on. He was the hardest worker out of all of us. So we gotta carry on in his name so that’s exactly what we’re doing.
HRH: Good, good. I know one of these years I’m going to have to make it down there.
Philip H. Anselmo: Oh my God! You gotta!
HRH: It’s tough for a dude with 2 kids in Ohio to make it down to Texas, so hopefully you do take it on the road at some point.
Philip H. Anselmo: Definitely and it will be…eventually one of these days. You know, in a different city each year or every other year. Something like that, so that’s what we’re striving for.
HRH: I know you gave an interview at another horror festival where you were signing and meeting fans…stuff like that…and you mentioned a “secret death metal project.”
Philip H. Anselmo: Ah damnit! I shouldn’t have said anything because obviously it’s not secret anymore, but I’ve got a couple of different projects that I’m not supposed to be talking about, but I will say (laughs) it’s some collaborations with some excellent musicians…oh God, from all over the damn globe, really. From certain bands that are themselves somewhat, I guess to a certain degree, out of the spotlight. I’m not going to use the word anonymous like I just did, but you know it’s like…it’s a couple different things, so I really didn’t give anything away.
HRH: Well in the interview you said they were “south of the equator” so that perked my curiosity.
Philip H. Anselmo: Ah, but then again there’s one from Europe and there’s a lot of countries in Europe. You know? (laughs)
HRH: That’s true, doesn’t really narrow it down. (laughs) Well we look forward to the details on that when you can talk about it.
Philip H. Anselmo: Yeah man, I’ll definitely light you guys up.
HRH: Well I’ve got a question for you that might be an awkward one, but the cover of Use Once and Destroy and a lot of Pantera’s merchandise has the Confederate flag on it. What’s your take on all this business…the backlash against the flag?
Philip H. Anselmo: Uh, I think there’s some legitimacy to it man. If it’s something that…you know, I guess…at my age, if there’s a symbol…it’d be like, you know, would we be flying the Nazi flag? I don’t think so because flags are looked at whether it be nationalism or symbols of something, you know? Truthfully you know it’s like…I wish fucking everyone would get along. I wish that more than anything, but we all know as logical human beings that that’s pretty much impossible. You know, everybody’s got different ideas about stuff.
Uh, and I think really where the use of the rebel flag or Confederate flag with us really came from was from our love of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and what not…shit like that, you know. There was never a time when it was okay to promote hate without a little bit of the tongue-in-cheek, you know. It was never this blatant thing unless I was completely out of my mind, which I was at points in time. I’ll own that for damn sure, but that was a long ass time ago.
I’m coming up on 47 years old…and I think that if it’s upsetting enough to people in general, you know, I guess…this is tough to say without taking any side…like I said, I can see where if people see it as a symbol of hate then…these days, I wouldn’t want anything to fucking do with it because truthfully…I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want much to fucking do with it at all and personally you know I would never…the way I feel and the group of people I’ve had to work with my whole life, you know…you see a Confederate flag out there that says “Heritage, not hate.” I’m not so sure I’m buying into that, you know?
But I can look at any…people can point out flaws in any social group, any ethnic group, any ideology and anything like that and that’s once again because everybody has different ideas about things and at this point in time I just wish everybody would chill the fuck out man and realize, you know, maybe a good dose of love, for lack of a better word, would do us all friggin’ a lot better instead of pulling sides, taking sides. You know everybody wants to have a firm stance on things, but maybe sometimes we should sit back and listen for a change. You know?
HRH: I think that’s solid advice. I was just curious. Preparing for this interview I was listening to the Superjoint records and there it was (the cover) sitting in front of me and I thought, “I wonder what he thinks about that” so…
Philip H. Anselmo: Yeah, well, in hindsight you know what I would have not used it. And the second record, honestly I don’t think I would have even put it out. Truthfully. That’s how I feel right now. Either that or I would have called it something completely different. It’s uh…regrettable, these days.
HRH: Yeah, that’s a good point. I didn’t really consider that…yeah, the title (A Lethal Dose of American Hatred).
Philip H. Anselmo: It’s fucking regrettable, yeah. It’s probably my least favorite of any album I’ve ever done as far as lyrical content, just the idea behind the whole thing because I’ve got a crazy sense of humor and I do do a lot of tongue-in-cheek shit man, but when something reads in black and white, people most of the time are going to read it in black and white. They’re going to take it at face value and I’ll say, that particular record is…it’s a tough one for me to stand behind, that’s all I’ll say, you know? And with that in the same token, that’s probably why the majority of the stuff that we’ll be playing is probably off the first record…not the second one.
HRH: Any chance that any of the new stuff that you’ve been working on might make an appearance in the live set?
Philip H. Anselmo: Absolutely.
Philip H. Anselmo: Absolutely, there’s a chance. There is a chance.
HRH: Very cool. Well obviously you were the vocalist for Pantera…can’t make it through an interview with you without mentioning that at least once. Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, and Far Beyond Driven have all had deluxe reissues. When can fans expect the same for The Great Southern Trendkill?
Philip H. Anselmo: I guess when it’s time. I mean, when did Trendkill come out? ’96? So, 2016 then.
HRH: So next year.
Philip H. Anselmo: Yes sir. They’ve all come out in accordance with the actual 20 year anniversary, so common sense says that’s when it’ll be out.
HRH: Makes sense. Do you think there’s enough bonus material for a second disc like the other reissues?
Philip H. Anselmo: I don’t know man. I will say I found something incredibly interesting the other day that I didn’t think existed anymore. It’s a damn shame that there’s no vocals on it, but it was absolutely Pantera jamming…working something up that we abandoned I guess for some reason or another. But I found it out of nowhere man, just digging through old cassettes, seeing what was what and I was like, “Jesus Christ! What is this?” So if I’m uncovering stuff still then, man you know there’s no telling…if I look a little harder…what we can offer to the public on this new re-release. ‘Cause I know any true Pantera fan would want to hear pretty much anything that we had to offer even if there was no fucking vocals on it man, you know? It’s Pantera…fuck.
HRH: Never say never…you could always lay them down. I don’t know how much there is…
Philip H. Anselmo: Fuck that. (laughs) Then you’re opening a big like uh…oh shit, you know? We gotta take a look at contracts, we gotta get the lawyers, we gotta do all this bullshit work that’s just way too tedious for me anymore, so I’ve got enough of that.
HRH: I also saw that you’re part of the all-star Metal Allegiance album that will be coming out soon.
Philip H. Anselmo: Yeah, I sang on that. I sang on that already. I did that a couple months ago. Took me about 40 minutes to write the lyrics and 40 minutes to record it. And (they are) a bunch of cool cats. I love all them guys that are a part of it. Once again, it’s another one for the repertoire and just another…I guess another side to the old vocals, you know? If you’ve heard me sing in the past in the vein of Down or even certain Pantera songs…it’s that type of vocal.
HRH: So maybe the chiller Phil Anselmo it sounds like?
Philip H. Anselmo: I don’t know about all that, but yeah, yeah, yeah there are some chill parts now that you mention it.
HRH: Was this the case where everyone involved just e-mailed in their parts or did you all record it in a studio?
Philip H. Anselmo: Well, you know, they…I’ll just say it flat out, it was like an e-mail from Alex Skolnick and he’s like, “Hey man, we wrote this song and we had you in mind. Take a listen and see if you want to be a part of it, whatever.” I listened to the track and I said, “Shit, this is easy work my friend.” And it was…it was easy work. Like I said, cool to be a part of it. Something different, you know?
HRH: Great, great. Well is there anything else in the pipeline that fans might not be aware of? I think we’ve pretty much covered the gamut…
Philip H. Anselmo: Yeah, you did a great job of covering everything man and I think we have covered just about everything man.
HRH: Anything you’d like to say to Superjoint fans that are looking forward to the shows on this tour?
Philip H. Anselmo: Yes. Bring your fucking asses out to the fucking show. It’s gonna be an awesome show. We’ve got Child Bite who are great. We’ve got King Parrott who are horrifyingly great. An then we got…we’re like the ugly, grownup, ugly…twice…fucking uncle to all these guys playing these fucking Superjoint tunes. It’s fucking…man, you play that shit in a small club, it’s gonnna be…uh…it’s gonna be something something, that’s for sure. (laughs) It’ll be something, that’s for damn sure. But it’s gonna be a blast man, no doubt. Just get your asses out there and we’ll have a goddamn good time. Let the music do the talking. Enough of this puff!
HRH: Just like Joe Perry said. Well hey Phil thanks again for talking to us. Really appreciate it man.
Philip H. Anselmo: Oh brother, anytime man.