Phil Anselmo Talks Upcoming Down EP, Solo Album + More
Phil Anselmo was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Anselmo talked about the upcoming Down disc 'Down IV Part I - The Purple EP' as well as his own solo album, his own label Housecore Records and much more. If you missed Jackie’s show, read the full interview with Phil Anselmo below:
The first in a series of four Down EPs that are going to be released in the next few years is going to be coming out in September.
And it still doesn’t have a name, I’m leavin’ it to ya’ll man. Call it whatever you want.
From my understanding, the way that you’re releasing this first EP, it’s called ‘Down IV Part I - The Purple EP'?
Okay fine, I’ll buy that.
Instead of an entire album, Down is releasing four EP’s in the next year and a half so Phil, not having to come up with 16 to 20 songs all at once, how did that change how the songs were written?
Well really it took a lot of pressure off of any and all of us. When this question comes up I refer to the first demo we did in 1992 when we all flew into Texas with this idea in our heads and we had really no idea what was going come out of it. I had no lyrics, everything was just right on the spot and I think we came out with ‘Bury Me in Smoke,’ ‘Temptation’s Wings’ and ‘Losing All,’ which would be on the first record.
We took this approach with this record and honestly I have never in my life taken so much pressure off of myself to do a record. We didn’t know what we were thinking and the fact that it is six songs, I think that commanded all of our attention at the time and really to do a 10 or 12 song record – there’s no room at this point in my career at all for what would be called filler. I don’t want any filler, I want the songs to be direct, I want them to be unique and I think we did pretty well with this EP.
You’ve had a pretty prolific career with eight plus bands. What’s different about the satisfaction you get from down compared to your other bands?
Well truth be told, Down to me is a genre band. No matter what has been created from Down, whatever slot all the experts want to slide us into, that’s all fine but really know at the end of the day that Down has a very hardcore following, a cult following so to speak. We made promises in the past that we would do records in this certain time span and then five years goes by in between every release so for people to get new Down music it’s important to that fanbase so we never, never, never want to let those folks Down as far as releasing new stuff. So am I answering the question right there, Jackie?
[Laughs] Yeah I think you have.
Really? I think I lost it somewhere.
Basically the question was, what’s different about the satisfaction you get from Down compared to all your other bands?
It’s pleasing this fanbase. I may play in a lot of different bands but do they have this fanbase? No they do not, those are more self-indulgent projects that I feel like doing. Not that I don’t feel like doing Down, that’s not what I’m saying, the thing is Down does have a hardcore following. Outside of two other bands I’ve been in, everything else has been a small fanbase and or just me enjoying myself. Down is an obligation.
Down is now on your Housecore label?
No it ain’t. No I wish it was. It should be, it really should but you know to each his own but what the f--- you got to work with five different guys so it’s like being married to a bunch of sissies.
A few visits ago that I had a chance to spend some time with you, you were still having some issues with your back. All those years you were onstage with degenerative disc disease, it must have been agonizing. So now years after having surgery to repair the problem without the pain, how have you changed as a performer?
As a performer well I cannot be as particularly physical as I was in the past and yes it drives me f---in’ bananas and it’s frustrating. When you have this type of injury to your lower back which is really the center of your body, you’re always cognizant of it. I have titanium rods and screws and clamps in my back, if you were to ask me right now do I feel these foreign objects in my body? I would say “Absolutely yes I can.” There’s also conditioning of the mind and I like to call is a mental callus. It builds up over time, it’s harder and harder and you condition yourself to pain and honestly the more physicality, the more work put into it – I went through months and months of physical rehabilitation with a fantastic team right down the street and I still use those same stretching routines, core workouts today because it’s essential.
This might not sound like it’s part of this but it really is, the weather here in the Gulf Coast, in the Southern region right down here, when the pressure drops when weather becomes weather and becomes relevant, man I can have done nothing very special but the next day I’ll wake up and this weather has ascended upon us and it feel like I got in a car wreck the day before. So there’s good days and there’s bad days still. A lot more good days than bad days but once again it’s a conditioning thing and as far as performing onstage, I just have to be cognizant, I have to be strong, I have to be mentally focused and honestly I can’t hold back. When you hold back that’s when you f--- up, you got to do what you got to do.
Let’s talk about your Housecore label for a moment, I know you have a lot of projects that you do on that label and one of the bands from your label, Warbeast, is going to be going out with Down in September.
So is Haarp, Haarp is coming out as well. Both bands have new stuff in the works and Haarp by God, their new record called ‘Husks’ is coming out the same friggin’ day as Down. Whoa, a bit of a scheduling mistake there by not by Housecore. I’ll say this, Haarp, the new record is crushing and it deserves attention, it deserves a listen from everybody but also with what’s going on with Warbeast at the same time I cannot deny that I’ve been working on a solo record for quite a while now. Really everything’s tracked all that needs to be done is the mixing.
I think the first order at hand between Warbeast and myself is that we’re doing a split both of us, two songs and it’s called ‘War of the Gargantuas.’ I giggle because it’s a nod towards the 1960’s film, a Japanese film called ‘War of the Gargantuas.’ It’s, as many things have been throughout, it’s sort of an inside joke between both bands and very much worth it for the old intestinal f---in’ fortitude.
Either way I picked two of the most straight on songs out of my solo stuff, the full length is pretty chaotic – sometime next year I would say March at the latest we’ll get some solo bulls--- going your way. Other than that it’s Haarp first, Warbeast with the split, with myself then Warbeast the actual record. We’re mixing this record right now called ‘Destroy’ and it’s a thrash friggin’ masterpiece and we’re mixing that sucker right now then my solo record. So yes we’re busy, I’m going crazy over here.
Obviously you’ve put out music on the label you are on and you’ve sang on. What’s the benefit and what’s the downside to overseeing that part of releasing your own music?
Oh Geez. We talking specifically about the solo stuff?
Yeah or anything that you’re on, putting out a record on your own label that you happen to be singing on, on any of your projects.
I think with the solo record there’s always pressure. I’m not putting pressure on myself at all, once again because it is what it is. I’m not going to say it’s the savior of any friggin’ genre of music, I’m not going to pump it up to be more than what anyone could expect because it’s going to be dare I say a difficult listen for some people. Yes I do expect a lot of people to get it and dig it but at the same time it is not an easy listen. It is a minefield, it’s different and that’s all I can say. I’ll let everybody else be the judge of what is.
I think that’s great about what you do, you’re putting out what you want to put out artistically.
That’s the way it should be though. Jackie, you cannot please everybody, you know this like anybody else with good common sense knows you’re not gonna please everybody at what you do every time and no time. You’re going to have your supporters and detractors but such is the world and that’s what makes everything subjective. That’s what makes music so vast because there’s so many different styles.
If someone doesn’t enjoy the music that I make, so fine, that’s perfect. I am such dynamite close with great friends, people I’ve grown up with the entire life. Do I like their bands, no I don’t. I don’t like their bands and I’m not going to get specific but I think they know who they are. As people, as friends and as peers we get along fantastically, great relationships and I think that’s the big misconception with maybe a lot of fans out there. You don’t have to be a fan of someone’s music to love ‘em at all. I think that’s where brotherhood and comradery and humanity come into things.
You grow up and you get a little wiser and people should get along and I bring up all these things because Housecore Records, I like to get involved with the bands. I love the recording process, I love getting in close with the bands, I love working and I love producing. I love everything but mixing for God sakes but mixing is a process that you have to go through, it’s just one of those things. Housecore is a labor of love and that’s all there is to it. There ain’t know gettin’ rich over here Jackie, believe me. I’m as Alice in Chains once said “Down in a hole!”
Looking forward to a fall tour, it seems to be mostly on the East coast. Will there be anything beyond that?
I would expect so, yes. Like I said Down is an absolute obligation and if there’s a fan base then there must be shows, there has to be. This is one stretch and then I know after September we are going to Europe for a good part of October, have the rest of the year off. I’ve got my hands full with the releases with Housecore Warbeast and obviously Haarp in September and shortly thereafter the split. I know in January they’re talkin’ about more Down shows so I would be heavily surprised if we were not going up the other coast.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome King Diamond on her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.