Phil Anselmo is no stranger to the music scene after sky rocketing to fame in the mid 90’s with the multi-platinum selling heavy metal group Pantera. Though the group disbanded in 2003 Phil has kept himself busy with several other bands such Super Joint Ritual and Down which also featured former Pantera bassist Rex Brown. Phil’s newest endeavor is a solo album titled “Walk Through the Exits” and is being released under the name Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegal’s. Media Mikes caught up with Phil recently to discuss the band, its new album and the inaugural “Housecore Horror Film and Metal Fest”?
Adam Lawton: Was there any particular reason you chose now to be the time to release a solo album and do you feel there’s more pressure on this release compared to ones you have done with Pantera and Down?
Phil Anselmo: Why not? I had the urge and felt I needed to scratch that particular itch. I base a lot of what I am going to do off the mood I am in at that particular time. As far as more pressure or whatnot I don’t think there is any more than what may normally be there. It’s doesn’t matter who I am up on that stage with because no one is doing the singing for me. I’ve got to get up there and do things regardless so I don’t really feel any more pressure.
AL: How did go about assembling your backing band “The Illegal’s”?
PA: I always knew that Marzi Montazeri was my guy for guitar. This has been a long time coming type of project and I always knew I didn’t want to start a “super group” or anything like that. I could have asked a lot of different people to be involved with this but I wanted to get cats that were under the radar. Marzi was one of those guys. From there I struggled in finding a drummer who could learn all these different time signatures and not rely on speed for the sake of playing fast. The singer from Warbeast offered me their drummer Jose Manuel Gonzales. I asked him if he was up for it and he said “sure”. When we started actually recording the record and it was time for bass we used this guy from New Orleans named Bennett Bartley. He is a really talented guy that plays with a lot of different bands and also holds down a day job. I knew there was always going to be a question of his availability for touring so for that side of things we are going with a guy by the name of Steve Taylor. He has been working with Marzi for a very long time so that made perfect sense.
AL: What was the writing and recording sessions like for the record?
PA: I wrote things the good old fashioned way. When I was inspired I busted out the axe and practice amp and just started writing riffs. I just kept putting everything together and when I finally found I had the basic structure of a song that’s when I would bring the band in. After doing that there is always a lot of trial and practice to see what you have. You can sometimes write a riff that just doesn’t translate to a full blown band type setting. I was pretty lucky this time around and very focused. At the same time I was working on my record I was also producing for others and recording the Down EP. Work on my solo album was sort of a start and stop type situation. We would record or practice for a bit then I would have to take time off from that work on Down or whatever. That happened four or five times.
AL: Do you have a specific preference as to what comes first (music/lyrics) when writing?
PA: I don’t really have a preference especially now. A song can come out of nowhere. For this particular record it seemed as though there would be a cadence that I would catch and then I was able to feel or hear the rhythm. I would then write the lyrics around that section. That opened up a whole new world for me as I normally sing against a riff rather than on top of it. With this album it felt different so there are certain parts where I am singing right on top of a riff and I felt that was the correct thing to do. In the past and normally even if I have written the entire song its riff first then vocals. That sentence structure or cadence was something that was always rearing its head and had a lot to do with how things were done on this record.
AL: Can you tell us your thoughts on releasing the album via your independent label as opposed to going with a major label release?
PA: I don’t really see any worth in major labels anymore. There are just straight up too many rules. That was the reason I started my own label to begin with. I wanted the freedom to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to have to ask for permission or have to pay anyone. These days you don’t have to sign to a major label. You can just do things yourself and be done with it.
AL: What are the bands tour plans in support of the release?
PA: We start things off in Oklahoma and will be traveling through the mid-west as we make our way to the east coast. Possibly in the fall we are looking to do a west-coast run. We will have the bad ass thrashers Warbeast out with us along with Author & Punisher. He is a one man act that makes his own instruments. He is very interesting and makes this sound that is just a wall of sonic poison. I love it!
AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming “House Core Horror Film and Metal Fest”?
PA: Obviously we are going to have films ranging from older black and white films up through the 70’s and early 80’s. There are going to be a lot of cool bands and guest directors coming out as well. One of the more interesting things for me to come out of this opportunity is to review a lot of submission films. Everything from short and mid length films to full feature length films have been coming in from unknown directors. I have no aspirations to become an actor or director but these guys are really pushing the envelope in an effort to make horror less of a paint by numbers thing. It’s going to be a huge kick to be able to turn the audiences on to these new guys. That’s really exciting to me. With this being the first year of the event a lot of it is going to be trial by fire as there are lots of logistics and things to make sure everything runs smooth. I want make sure I don’t use the term “annual” until I get this year’s event under the old gut.
AL: What is it that has made you a horror fan for so long now?
PA: The only answer I can possibly come with for that is that it was born in me. I can remember being just this squirt of a kid who was glued to television set watching everything from “Godzilla” to “The Twilight Zone”. I caught on to things at a very early age and things just stuck. It’s still a mystery to me to a certain degree. I really guess it just caught me young enough and just held.
AL: Has there been a horror film in the past 5/10 years that can compete with the likes of classic horror films?
PA: I don’t know. There have been some movies that I thought were pretty good but as far as a classic I don’t know about that. I thought “In Absentia” was pretty good. “The Bleeding House” was ok. There have been films like “Insidious” and “The Blair Witch Project” that have been so hyped up only to fall flat for me. I have no problem saying “The Blair Witch Project” was a steaming pile of dog shit. I hated that movie. There is just so much that goes in to a classic from the direction and characters to more importantly the story. How it wraps up and how it is shot always is important. These days I think there is a real problem with character development as people just don’t have a care for what they are seeing. People like Steven Spielberg and Toby Hooper know how to build characters that people connect with and care about what happens to them in a story. Things these days seem to be very Hollywood and not very believable. My heart lies with the likes of Boris Karloff and Mario Bava of “Black Sabbath” fame.
AL: Do you have any other projects in the works that you can tell us about?
PA: I have been in the studio with IHATEGOD who are wrapping up a really great studio album but I’m not sure who they are going to release it with. I have been working with their vocalist Mike Williams very tightly. I love those boys and this record is a really tight record. Anyone who is a fan of IHATEGOD is going to be just blown away. Besides that I have just been working hard on the solo project and getting ready to play all sorts of venues and have a good time.