Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal of Metal Assault recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current DOWN singer Philip Anselmo. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Assault: Firstly, I want to ask you about your new solo band. You’ve already had down for a number of years and you also have your own label, Housecore. What was the reason and the inspiration behind starting this solo band of yours?
Anselmo: Well, it came about very naturally and organically, in my opinion, because there was nothing that set me off. When I get inspired, I have to act. So it started simply like any other record, really. Me, a guitar, an amp and recording apparatus. I wrote the songs, especially the songs that are actually on [Anselmo‘s debut solo album] “Walk Through Exits Only”, really, in one sitting. Not one night, but just one session of writing within myself. And then I picked what I think are under-the-radar excellent musicians that executed the songs very, very well. I’m a music fan first and foremost, and that’s what I consider myself, like anyone else. If I’m into extreme music, it’s something that I’m going to at least educate myself on and look for stuff, like I always have done. I’m an old tape-trader from back in the ’80s, man. So the more music you can find about, the more you know about it and the more conscious of it you are. And honestly, I wanted to make a record that could sit next to any extreme genre out there or any other extreme album out there but I wanted to make the record very very hard to slide into a very safe slot or put into any sub-genre, really. I wanted to make a different sounding record, a different type of record. So those were my goals and that’s really how it came about.
Metal Assault: You mentioned that the writing process was pretty smooth for you and you did it in one session. But the overall process of recording and everything that’s involved, was that smooth for you? You have other things to care of too, obviously.
Anselmo: It was a lot of start-stop, start-stop. First of all, to teach this type of music from the ground up, specially with a drummer, that was a challenge, of course. And you are correct, because at the time, I was producing two other Housecore bands and also doing the last DOWN EP at the same time. So I was always cramming in these fucking sessions of teaching this music and singing what cohesively worked together because out of 15 or 16 different pieces of music, of course I had to pick what I thought would cohesively go together on a record. I think I did that with this record. So it was a process of different sessions, you know. A lot of teaching sessions, and, of course, later on down the line, recording sessions, then another break, more recording, and then obviously after you do all the recording, mixing is a whole another ballgame and getting the right sound is a whole another developmental project. So, I did what I could and I did the best I could for this record, and I’m pretty happy with it.
Metal Assault: I listened to the record, and I think you’ve expressed yourself fully in terms of your aggression. You’ve done that with other bands as well in the past, but do you think you’ve expressed yourself more on this album than what you’ve done in the past?
Anselmo: I don’t know about “more.” I just think it’s in a different light, in a different way, and from a different perspective, because there’s a lot of what I would call sarcasm that I have. I also have an absurd sense of humor that people don’t really know about. Everybody thinks I’m this serious guy and whatnot, but really, I’m full of shit, man. I’ve got jokes, you know. [laughs] I have a fucking sense of humor. I don’t like comedy in my music; that’s not what I’m getting at. But my point is, lyrically, I wanted things to be simple, I wanted things to be straight to the point and very, very real. I didn’t want to spoon-feed the reader saying this is exactly what it’s about. If you look at even the title track and the name of the record, “Walk Through Exits Only”, I picked that because first of all, it was in my opinion just a strong line within a song. When I was first writing that song, that line just stuck out for me, and I decided to call the song and the album that, because it could mean a million different things to a million different people. I’m not going to place an absolute concrete meaning upon it. It’s something that people are going to have to take themselves and apply it to their own lives. So, I wanted to be an architect, but let people finish the building, so to speak.
Metal Assault: Because of its abrasive and raw nature, do you think people will have to take time to let this album sink in? It’s not like an immediate impact thing, is it?
Anselmo: To me, it’s the type of record that you need to give a chance. You can’t just listen to it once or twice and have a knee-jerk reaction saying, “OK, this is it.” I get it, it’s the type of record that you have to listen to a few times, maybe even ten times before you start realizing that there is absolute method to the madness and there is absolute structure, solid song structure and crazy time signatures, so to speak. And also, within the lyrics, I think there are big gigantic memorable hooks throughout the whole record no matter in what fashion they may come, whether it be verse or chorus or a hook, whatever you want to pick out of it. But there are repeating parts that are big hooks. I guess I get that from growing up with bands like DISCHARGE and AGNOSTIC FRONT, many hardcore influences as far as how I went about doing my lyrical hooks and whatnot. So I think it is the type of record that does grow on you. Most times they end up being some of our favorite records, the ones that grow on us.
Read the entire interview at Metal Assault.