Phil Anselmo Discusses Upcoming Solo Album, Love of Horror Films + More
Pantera / Down frontman Phil Anselmo was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Anselmo spoke about his upcoming solo album, as well as some of his non-metal musical influences. He also discussed his forthcoming Housecore Horror Film Festival and much more. If you missed Full Metal Jackie’s show, check out her interview with Phil Anselmo below:
Over the years, you’ve been a member of numerous bands, giving you outlets for a wide range of music. What’s left on the table for you to want to do a solo album?
It’s just, really, I can’t stop; I can’t stop working and there’s a big world of music out there that I enjoy and support. You have certain expressions when you write music, a lot of different emotions, a lot of different feelings. If I brought some of the ideas that I had for the solo stuff on over to Down, it really wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t sounds right, it wouldn’t be correct, so it’s just an outlet for me to keep on trudging on.
The name Philip Anselmo is synonymous with some of the most heavy, powerful metal ever. Off the clock, what non-metal music do you like to listen to and how has it inspired you creatively?
Well you got to understand, I grew up as a young boy in the '70s and then all throughout the '80s, so there’s a lot of music that I’ve heard over the years. I guess really it all starts with the Beatles. I love the Beatles and when I was very young I had young parent so Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles constantly were big influences on my life.
As I grew up, they’re certain bands that caught my ear and when I say this it’s really certain albums by bands that have caught my ear like the Cure and the ‘Seventeen Seconds’ record, the ‘Faith’ album – those two records are very special to me. The Smiths, I love the Smiths, they were very unique in what they were doing. Gosh, you kind of put me on the spot here – I like a lot of stuff anything from the old church to Siouxsie and the Banshees to gosh I can keep on guessing and keep on thinking if you got the time -- you better buy the beer.
Phillip, how long has the idea for the Housecore Horror Film Festival been in your mind and how much work has it taken to make it a reality?
Honestly, I got to give full credit, the idea was Corey Mitchell’s. And Corey is a true crime writer that I’m also working with on the book I’m going to write eventually -- we will get it all together. It was really Corey’s idea and I guess if I was going to backtrack it all, my film collection is ridiculous – I’m sittin’ staring at it right now and it’s just this gigantic wall of VHS tapes and secretly in the past I have always a tiny little theater to show my films off. When he brought up this idea, I didn’t realize how big it was going to become and it does take a lot of work and decision-making and crossing your fingers and hopefuls and all kinds of stuff.
Of course, we’re going to be showing some handpicked films and we’re also taking submissions, so I’ve been watching a ton of submissions and of course with that comes music documentaries and obviously bands and I wish I could tell you precisely which bands are playing but that’s kind of the fingers crossed rule right now. It looks like everything’s coming together and, like you say, it is hard work and it is interesting and a unique venture for me, but it feels natural.
The best way I can put it is that I was born loving horror films whether it be from television or the drive-in movies when I was a kid, I was born into it and I adore it and like music it’s been so kind to me over the years, I figure why not give back.
What are some of your favorite horror films?
Oh my God, now you’re really opening up this vast box – you better send someone else for some extra beer. It’s funny you ask because yesterday ‘The Exorcist’ came on and I watched that sucker from the beginning to the end because I had not watched it in so long because there’s so many copycat films that came after that film all throughout, but it’s shot so beautifully and so well and it leaves an impact especially as a young boy -- it left an incredible impact.
I guess later on when you’re going through your teens, I call it the “Gore phase” where all you want to see it blood and guts but I also love the movie with an edge even a supernatural edge and at the time I guess ‘Evil Dead’ the first one really got me. I saw it in perfect timing with growing up.
This isn’t fair, there’s so many movies, I can really reach in here and think about Mario Bava films and Luchio Fulci films and of course I’m talking Italian horror but Bava crossed over a whole lot before Fulci but movies like ‘Black Sabbath,’ which is incredible, great atmosphere and then some lesser known films like ‘House With the Laughing Windows.’ Later on in life I guess the films got more intense, in the '90s they were the necromantic films which I think are super effective. Gosh my favorite horror films of all time that’s like asking me what my favorite cigarette I smoke it – there’s so many of ‘em. [Laughs]
In regards to horror films, back in the day before the time of special effects, it really had to be based on fear and storyline. Do you think that is gone because there’s so much technology at your fingertips to make a film so it took away from a time where all you had to work with are people and basically throwing a bucket of blood against a wall and all these cheesy things but where it was really about the storyline?
I do agree with you to a great extent. There’s directors out there that I believe are making an honest attempt at films that don’t have to rely so heavily upon CGI and stuff like that – Ty West with his ‘House of the Devil’ comes to mind, very '80s look and '80s feel to it, along the lines of the early ‘Friday the 13th’ films. I do agree with you, I’m not a big fan of CGI at all, however – and this is a cop out, but if it’s used correctly it doesn’t bug me so much. If I see the creativity in it but I am old-school when it comes to horror and I’m with you 100 percent and as far as developing characters it’s a pretty piss poor job these days.
Back in the day, as you were talking about there was this thing called character development where you cared one way or another about the people that you’re watching through this entire film and let this story unfold in front of you, whereas today it’s like they give you this bland introduction to people.
You don’t care whether or not they live or die.
You don’t care at all wanting to bite my tongue because even the child actors and actresses today are terrible, there’s no real Damien, the ‘Omen’ kid, and he barely said a word in that film. They got kids acting today and I don’t know I think with all the remakes and comic book movies and it’s really the remakes that are driving me crazy to tell you the truth – why touch ‘Black Christmas’ why touch as movie like that? I hate to say it but they are really touchin’ ‘Evil Dead’ they’re all over it and you know it’s a CGI-orama. It’s kind of disheartening but like I say, there are people out there that really trying and it has not become more evident to me than in the last couple month here watching these submissions.
There’s some very creative work being done out there by some people that I would think, right now I don’t even know them by name because they’re so new to me but I do recall a couple of these submission being so excellent that I’ve told the people around me, “Whoever this director is, I would not be surprised if we heard they’re name a whole lot in the next couple decade.”
Philip, so much negativity and sadness seemed to cloud the last years of Pantera, especially the death of Dimebag. Now playing some of those old songs during the Metal Masters clinic, does that bring you back to a better, more positive place?
I think there’s a whole lot that goes into getting back to a better and positive place way before the songs come and maybe that’s for a different conversation or maybe we’ve had that conversation before. To answer your question, first and foremost I’m up there with guys that I’ve known since the '80s who have a good five, six years on me of playing music and being successful, people that I looked up to and still look up to. That part of it blows me away and of course I’m talking about everybody from the Anthrax guys, the Slayer guys, we’ve had some Megadeth guys involved, that damn drummer from what was it, Dream Theater - I’m messing with him, Portnoy, I love you.
The thing is just being up there with those guy is overwhelming enough but then playing the Pantera songs, don’t get me wrong it feels great, it feels fantastic and it does bring me back to a very powerful place, a very unique place in history. I guess growing up and cuttin’ my chops and growing up with the guys in Pantera and we always played with a chip on our shoulder and you get that rush of memory when you’re up there doing it but it’s a lot of emotions balled up into one but they’re all pretty damn good.
For me the most fun thing about it of all is just seeing the fan reaction. I’ve always said that Pantera fans were the best in the world and I truly meant that and I still mean it. That’s why Metal Masters keeps the pulse of the whole thing going. I can’t leave out one of the guys and any real musician who knew of Billy Sheehan and what an amazing talent he is. To have a guy like that standing next to you when you’re playing ‘F---ing Hostile’ that’s a surreal moment. [ Laughs] It’s like wait a minute man, this is a time warp, and this is like three different time machines butting heads here. It’s a blast and I’m looking forward to the next one.
Full Metal Jackie will welcome Pantera / Kill Devil Hill bassist Rex Brown to her program this coming weekend. She can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.