A Pantera reunion would mean not only a lot for me, but it would mean a great deal to the fans”
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hi, Mr. Phil Anselmo, please?
Phil Anselmo: Yeah?
W (NM): Hey, Phil, it’s Nando. I’m here with Daniel, we’re the hosts of Wikimetal, the number one Heavy Metal podcast in Brazil. How are you doing?
PA: Good, man.
W (NM): Great. First of all, thank you so much for your time, it’ll be a great interview. I hope you like it, and we’re very excited to be talking to you.
PA: Thank you too.
W (NM): All the Brazilian metal fans are very excited about Down´s show here in São Paulo on the 10th of April, I know the tickets are almost sold out. What can we expect from this show?
PA: No nonsense, no puff, no fucking bullshit. Straightforward, off the cuff, jamming motherfucking… Straight up jam session, a bunch of big ugly motherfuckers all on stage, and a bunch of sweaty crazy motherfuckers on the audience. We’re going to have a good time.
W (Daniel Dystyler): Excellent, man, excellent. We’re really looking forward to that. And how do you guys choose the set list for a show?
PA: Well, it’s normally up to me, and depending on the length of the show, depending on the length of the set time, and whatnot… You know, we decide right then and there what’s best. And I’ll put together a good set list for the audience. No doubt.
W (NM): Great. When we interviewed Pepper Keenan, before you guys came last time to Brazil, he told us about the tape trading era. Do you miss those days or do you think the internet helps to promote your music and the new bands?
PA: It’s pretty obvious that when Pepper and I were growing up, and we both were heavy, very heavy demo traders, and vinyl collectors – I know that I was very much a vinyl collector, and a big, big cassette trader in my day… You know, these days, information is really at the click of a button, and I think that… You know, the computer age… It gives a broader view of just how many bands there are all over the fucking world. And when we were kids, it was like “You find what you find, you get what you get” and that was it. You know, you could tape-trade with somebody from Scandinavia, or Brazil, or South America in general. But, still then, you were probably missing twenty to fifty bands that were around at the same time. Not today. Today you can find new bands, you can find old bands, you can find a great, great library within the computer world, the internet, etc. And I just think the accessibility today to these bands is, I guess, for kids, these days, or fans in general, of music… It’s quite a relief not to have to actually, either run to the mailbox, or go to the local record store and dig through everything and try and find something worthy to listen to, when really, all you have to do is go to YouTube and click on a band name, or get a suggestion from a friend and click on a band name, and there it is right there, to find. So it was harder to find as many bands back in the old days, and it’s much easier today. Much, much easier today. But overall, I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but still, it is great for that true fan of music that really wants to, I guess, study a genre of music that they may be interested in. So, I can see both good and bad, you know.
I see so much in music, that I think it’s unfair not to study other genres of music. Music’s too vast to not have that freedom.”
W (DD): Yeah, you’re right, Phil. And since you were mentioning those old days, I think this is a great story. Can you share with our listeners the story of how you signed your first contract with Down?
PA: Well… Down started out merely as an idea. And at the time, really we were all… Although we were all from New Orleans, at the time, I lived in Texas. Pepper lived in North Carolina, because he played with COC, of course, I was with Pantera. And Jimmy was moving from a city called Atlanta and back to New Orleans, so we were on the phone constantly. And at the time, I guess… You know, everybody goes through their musical favorites. I guess this was a time when Thrash Metal had become oversaturated, and Death Metal was in this instance, and for the large part, I guess, misunderstood, not completely accepted yet. And I guess all of us were going through a Black Sabbath phase, and also, the bands that were influenced by Black Sabbath, that came out… I guess, in the early 80s, and in some cases, in the late 70s: The Obsessed, Sleep, Trouble, all these bands. Even before Sleep, but still, Sleep was doing demos… So, we got together, and we just really off the cuff – nobody had any riffs in mind, nobody had any lyrics or anything like that – we just showed up in New Orleans, and we met, with the idea to write Black Sabbath inspired music. And we did the demo, the first demo, which, of course, had “Bury me in Smoke”, “Temptation’s Wings”, and “Losing all”. And sometime went by after that – six months, or maybe eight months, or maybe even a year – and we did a second demo. And by then, what’s interesting is Pepper and I decided to spread these demos around, because we’d gone on tour, of course, and we played these demos for all of our friends all over the world, really. As a matter of fact, right after we recorded the first demo, I flew out of New Orleans, and immediately had to go to Italy, to play with Black Sabbath, with Ronnie James Dio singing at the time. And Testament was there too, and I remember playing the demo tape for Chuck Billy, the singer for Testament, and he fucking freaked out, he loved it. But Pepper and I, we wouldn’t tell anybody who the band was. We just told them it was a band called Down, and “Listen to it, and see what you think”, you know? So there was a great mystique of who Down was for quite a while. And then, obviously, you know, we let the people around the world, our friends in the United States, all around, really exhaust themselves trying to figure out who it was, until we told them. And shortly after, we made plans with the record label that I was with at the time, when I was with Pantera, which I believe, at the time, was Atlantic or something like that, but, you know… Shortly after, we got a contract together and did the first album “Nola”. But the story leading up to that is much more interesting than the actual recording of the record.
W (DD): Yeah, Phil, that’s what I was aiming for. Thanks so much for sharing that story, it’s great.
PA: You’re very welcome.
W (DD): Very good, Phil. We have a classic question on our show, one that we ask every single guest, which is: imagine you’re listening to a bunch of Heavy Metal songs on your iPod, or maybe in a rock radio station, and all of a sudden, a song starts that you need to start head banging immediately. Which song is that, so we can listen to it on our show right now?
PA: Oh… Right now… It all depends on moods. I go through different moods with music. Certain music makes me exuberant on certain times, but I would have to say, right now, anything off the new Portal record, but specifically, one of my favorite Portal songs would have to be “Black Houses”. So “Black Houses”, by Portal, off of the “Outré” record, would make me punch the guy next to me.
W (NM): We have a question from our listener, Mauricio, about your solo album. Can you tell us about your solo album, and also about Down’s plans for the future? You released an EP last year. Do you want to release other EPs, or are you going to release a full album?
PA: No, no, no. Well, first things first, the solo record is very tough for me to comment on, because it’s not out yet, and I think people will have a better understanding after they listen to it at least 20 times, very loudly. And for me it’s… Just testing the waters in a certain direction, and, once again, until it’s really released, I can’t really say much about it, until other people really hear exactly what I’m doing. I will say that we just did a split with Warbeast, where there are two of my solo songs on there, but in my opinion, the full length makes those two songs sound like child play. They’re very, very unpredictable songs. So, as far as Down goes, we have already began talking and collecting and writing different parts for the next EP. And I would think that we would start working on that EP sometime later this year. So look out for all these things.
W (NM): So Phil, about Housecore Records, what’s the importance of the record company for you, and how do you find the time to run a record label with such a busy recording and touring schedule?
PA: Well, you know, I envisioned Housecore Records because I’ve been through the major label way of things. And I saw flaws, and I felt that… Basically, bands were being manipulated, bands were being taken advantage of, bands didn’t know really where their money was, they didn’t know their place, except that their records were being put out. And it’s tough to gaze, but you know, back in the day, when you’re in your early twenties, or late teens, and you hear that a major label wants to sign your band for seven albums, this and that, you know… At the time, we didn’t know that that was basically a standard contract. Nothing special about it at all. And when you sign yourself to a seven album contract, you’re talking about not just seven years of your life, you’re talking about probably fourteen years of your life, if not longer, depending on the band. And if you tour… And tour can last from a year, to two years, three… You can do all this work, but still, you’re basically a prisoner on this record label, because… I’m a musician that… I see so much in music, that I think it’s unfair to not… I guess, to study other genres of music, or play other genres of music. Music’s too vast to not have that freedom. In other words, if you wanted to do a side project, you’d have to get a million different pieces of paper, that they call a contract, and they make it very difficult for you to be able to express yourself without basically breaking the law. While, here at Housecore, we do one record at a time, and within that record, I leave complete freedom to the artist. In other words, if they record a record with me, and as long as it’s out, the contract is basically fulfilled, the band can turn around the next day, and record a seven edge whole other record with somebody else if they want, because it’s freedom, their prerogative. And I’m not going to hold back a musician from either making money, or making a freedom of expression, as far as the music goes. As a matter of fact, I support what they do a thousand per cent. So… Instead of a 70/30 percentage – 70% going to the record label, and 30% going to the band, or 80% to the record label, and 20% to the band, we are 50/50, which is a greater percentage, much greater percentage for the artist. And it’s easier. It’s easier for them to do their own accounting, basically. And basically, to know where their money goes. And right now, I have the new Warbeast coming out here in the States in March, and the album is called “Destroy”. And I have been practicing every night for the past two weeks, with my solo band The Illegals, and our record will be coming out here in the States in July, this summer. So it’s been very busy, and for our best, man.
My door is wide open, and so far Vinnie Paul’s door’s closed, and it’s a shame.”
W (NM): That’s great, Phill. We’d really like to help in supporting and promoting all your albums, so if you want to get your publicist, or someone that works with you on a record label to get in tough with us, we’ll be very happy to help and support these great artists you release.
PA: Thank you very much, I appreciate that, because I love the underground. I love the underground music, I love and support the underground with all of my heart.
W (DD): Now we´d like you to choose another song, could you choose a song you feel really proud of having written so we can listen to it on our show now?
PA: Oh, sure. What band? Name a band. Which band? I play in a lot of bands.
W (NM): Well, let’s listen to some Down now.
PA: All right, well… Let’s think… Figuring we have a new EP out, may as well give the people a little bit of “Witchtripper”.
W (NM): “Witchtripper”, that’s great, on Wikimetal!
PA: Oh, yeah!
W (NM): How about the rumors of a Pantera reunion, Phil? We spoke to Zakk Wylde the other day, and he told us if you guys called him he would be ready anytime to join you on a tour. Is there any chance that this could ever happen?
PA: Well, you know… Honestly, I’ve spoken with Zakk about it as well, and we’re all very aware of the public perception out there, but, honestly, until I speak with Vinnie Paul, which has not yet happened, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, you know, nothing can happen. So it’s like… Honestly, I tell you: my phone is on the book, my e-mail is wide open, my door is wide-open, I’d love to talk with Vince, and I think it would be… Honestly, there are no more bad feelings, and we could talk, and we could come to an understanding. I think it would mean not only a lot for me, and myself – it would mean the world to me – but it would mean a great deal to the fans out there as well. I think people don’t want to see this arguing anymore, you know, it’s time for some peace, it’s time for some brotherhood. And honestly, we should be setting an example, instead of being the opposite. And I’ll just say that my door is wide open, and so far Vinnie’s door’s closed, and it’s a shame.
W (NM): It certainly is, it certainly is.
W (DD): We hope for the best. We’re finishing our interview, but before we let you go, I’m very curious about one thing: the early 90s was a period that every Metal band complains about, everyone we interview says that grunge took over, and that Metal was not commercially interesting anymore. But on the other hand, you were very successful playing some very heavy music. Why do you think that happened, that affected all Metal bands, but with you it was the exact opposite?
PA: Well, you know… I think that we are part of the originators of a certain style of Heavy Metal and the sound of Heavy Metal. And honestly, my entire crusade was to destroy the myth that you had to be this long-haired guy up there, with tight pants on, singing in high falsetto, and basically imitating Judas Priest. Whereas, at the time I was very, very influenced by hard-core bands, specifically Agnostic Front. And, honestly, that’s really why I shaved my head to begin with, because I was very much for anti-image. I was more interested in letting music do the talking, and fuck image, fuck all what shit. And I find it very funny that a lot of guys you look up to think that the 90s were bad. But I’m sure a lot of the guys that did your interviews are dressed up in tight leather pants, and wearing spikes, and fucking black and white make up, and it’s like “Man, you know, I don’t want to hear your bullshit. You’re dressed up even more than glam bands were, so I don’t want to fucking hear your bullshit. You’re tomorrow’s glam anyway.” I’m all about dressing the way you fucking dress – I’ve been dressed the same way for 25 fucking years. Give me a pair of shorts, a T-shit, and if there are no shoes, fuck it… You know, just get out on stage and fucking play the songs. Fuck all the image, fuck all everything else. And that’s where my mind was, and still is to this day.
W (NM): This is great, Phil. I’d really like to thank you for your time, we really appreciate it. We’ll be there on the 10th of April, in São Paulo, it’ll be a great show, probably one of the greatest of the year. I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve done throughout the years, we’ve been following your career since your first albums, so thank you so much for everything you’ve done, you’re one of our greatest legends in Metal. You certainly changed all of the Metal music.
PA: Well, thank you, all of you. I love you, and thank you very much for the interview, man, very, very cool. Cannot wait to see the Brazilian fans, always fucking great, I love it, I love it. Cannot wait to see you. Hail, hail.
W (DD): Thanks so much, bye, bye.
PA: Thank you.
Listen to the full episode: