Phil Anselmo really is a man that needs no introduction. He is a legend in the heavy metal scene and he has created some of the best work out there. Anselmo has given his life to the industry, creating with various projects including Down, Superjoint (formerly Superjoint Ritual), and The Illegals.
I had the opportunity to chat with Anselmo to advance the Superjoint tour with Danzig and Prong. We discussed the therapeutic side of writing and performing songs, and the importance of distinguishing amongst different projects. We also briefly touched upon his record label (Housecore Records), and the Housecore Horror Film Festival that combines his two loves, music and horror flicks. He mentioned the importance of Skid Row on Pantera, and how they have shown him the way in helping other younger acts, like Ghost. Check out what Phil had to say below:
How’s everything going?
Doing pretty well. I apologize for my tardiness. I have been caught up in practice.
So you are prepping for the tour coming up now?
Well we are actually working on some new material. I think we actually just wrote one of the better songs that we have ever made. As soon as I hang up with you, I will go back and we will run through the set.
These will be some exciting shows, playing with both Danzig and Prong on the road.
Yeah, man. We are playing a month’s worth with my brother Glenn. Prong’s going to be great. That’s how we cut our teeth in the old days. Pantera touring with Prong in 1990-1991.
Will there be new Superjoint material to coincide with this tour at some point?
Well, right now we are in the middle of just recording everything. We do that so we can go back and give the new stuff a listen. This way we can scrutinize anything we feel we need to. At one point in time it might be great, and at another time we might hate it. It is trial by fire, brother (laughs).
After this tour, you have the third part of the Housecore Horror Film Festival in November.
Oh, yeah. I get to say yes or no to bands, and for those we don’t have room for, I try to get them for next year. I also get to watch films and it’s great. I’m a music dude and I am a film dude. That’s really where I lie.
I recently chatted with a Nameless Ghoul from Ghost. And you were actually one of the musicians he brought up that had an impact on their career and success. What drew you to those guys?
I will say that initially, Fenriz of Darkthrone told me to check the band out. I gave them a listen and I didn’t know what to make of them at first. Fenriz typically shows me acts from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. I was kind of like, “My God, how did I miss this band?” They sounded so old, I couldn’t believe I didn’t hear of them before. They were all full of energy and just fantastic people, and that stuck with me. Also that first record of theirs is just a classic. Man, I wore that sucker out because it is just fantastic. I have the utmost respect for the entire orchestration.
Early on they were seeking all of the right things, a label and management. I did the best I could, and things worked out. I love to help out young bands that are coming up. I love for other people to listen to them for the first time and get their own impressions of those bands. It comes down to me just saying, “Man, this is awesome. I want to turn other people onto this.” After all of these years of music being so kind to me, what else am I supposed to do? Give back. You gotta give back to what’s been good to you.
In turn, what musicians had an impact when you first started?
I will tell you a true story. On our very first trek over in Europe, we had to share a bus with a band called Annihilator. A couple cool dudes in that band. Judas Priest as individuals; Rob Halford is a great dude, so is Glenn Tipton, and I can go on and on. They are all fantastic dudes. But you really don’t see much of them and at the time, we were still unknown. We were hated in Europe. And I think an extent to that was that we were misunderstood. They were there to see Judas Priest and Annihilator and they hated us. So that was already against us. But their road crew was full of assholes. Their tour manager was a notorious asshole on many levels, throughout his entire career. And that makes a world of a difference when you are on a three-month-long tour. So, that was a horrific experience.
Then, out of nowhere Skid Row took us out on tour. And they really did not need to bring this heavy metal band out on tour with them. But they had the guts to do so, at our most dangerous time, really. They were really helpful, their road crew was solid, and everyone was super cool. We made it a point right then and there that this would be the model that we want to follow. It was the model that we wanted to re-create for other bands. I will give Skid Row gigantic props for that, despite us stealing their audience over (laughs). Little sideswipe for my brothers because they know I got a sense of humor, baby.
Do you have any important advice for local acts looking to make music their living?
Get out and gig. That’s the only way we are making any scratch anymore. You gotta be ready to go, self-contained, and you gotta be open and honest with each other; despite egos. You gotta be able to communicate. And speaking from a musical standpoint, don’t try to be imitators, be innovators. That right there. You can be innovators within a genre, and create a subgenre. And then somebody will put a moniker on that (laughs).
If I am not mistaken, you have actually been working on a lot of new music for various projects of yours?
Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. A lot of different genres, not just metal. I’ve got some ambient stuff that I’ve been working on as well. We will see what I do with it. There is one song in particular that I would really love for people to hear. But we will see. Maybe it will get put out as a single. That’s what Housecore is all about too. If a song is ready and there aren’t any compatriots to go along with it, just put it out as one song. Let people trip out with it. Let them hate it, or let them love it.
And there’s no pressure on your end, whatsoever.
Exactly, I can do whatever I want. I’m a free agent.
That’s great. And it must be incredibly important to stay busy nowadays?
Absolutely. It’s good for the heart, and it’s good for the brain. I’ve said it before, I don’t really feel content unless I’m jamming. When that’s going on, everything fades into the background, you know. I suggest everyone try it sometime.
Yeah, and even if whatever you write or play doesn’t make total sense to other people, it doesn’t have to.
Yeah, sometimes it might not make sense to some people, but that’s really all based on their sense of timing. I get songwriting. You know, 4/4 is basically just a standard song that for the most part, you could pretty much guess what might be coming next. To break that tradition, ball it up, and screw with it, is basically my intention with The Illegals. Maybe certain elements of death metal that has influenced me throughout my career. I love that creativity when it comes to extreme metal. For a band like Superjoint, 4/4 works because that is the style of music, the assignment, the band. You have to be able to divide your projects really. You gotta make sure there is a clear difference in the sound and the approach. I think that is a big, big, big proponent of it.
Well I’ll let you go and get to that new Superjoint stuff!
It’s ripping, man. The last song, I feel real good about. Yesterday this track wasn’t written, so those interviews were pretty old in forecast. But I feel pretty good about this one. This one’s got lightning bolts. I’m glad, it feels good.
Superjoint will join Danzig on the Blackest of the Black tour. This bill will tear up the PlayStation Theater in New York City on Oct. 21. For more tour dates and information, head on over to thehousecorerecords.com.