Steel For Brains recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current DOWN singer Philip Anselmo. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Steel For Brains: From the moment you knew this was what you wanted to — where you knew music was a part of your heart and soul — what’s that journey been like for you up to this point?
Anselmo: You know, honestly, I think if you look at anybody’s life, everybody’s gonna have ups and downs, highs, lows, etc., and all of that. Believe me, it’s well documented that I’ve been there, and that is absolutely the case. But, right now…at this juncture in my career, I gotta say, you know, aside from the obvious lows that have been, once again, well documented in the past and very well known, right now I’m at a very sturdy place. I’m in a very comfortable-in-my-skin place, and I feel very, very blessed to have had such a great, insane fanbase. No matter what fucking band it’s been a part of. It’s the fans really, man, that make this shit so worthwhile, because I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I am a fucking music fan first. Matter of fact, I’m a geek, man. I’m a fucking nerd. I love music. I’ve collected for years, and nothing’s changed, man! I still do the same thing. This whole ride through this music that I love so much and my peers that are a part of this music and my influences and all the bands that are a part of it that I’ve become friends with over the years, it’s just amazing. It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m a very happy person right now. It feels great to have this freedom, so to speak, to create music and have it be absolutely on my terms and to be accepted. So, I don’t know, man. This is a fantastic time in life. It’s been a fantastic journey despite the downs, and really I’m the type of person that cannot live in the past. I like to put one fucking foot in front of the other and make something of the day. Something positive and something worthwhile. What a ride.
Steel For Brains: With that, what’s been the greatest challenge for you in that journey?
Anselmo: For me, I think the biggest thing was when I first injured my back, back in the ’90s. That was like… I don’t know… it felt like the world was caving in on me, because I was, before that, I had this unstoppable drive and this absolute confidence about myself and the performance and my personality on stage. Once I injured myself, there became this vulnerability that I hated, and I despised that particular thing — the feeling of vulnerability and also the chronic pain that came with it. So, really all of that was a gigantic challenge, and I was very young when that shit happened, and I made every fucking rookie mistake in the book with drugs and fell into that fucking trap, but, you know, climbing out of that trap made me stronger. It made me a stronger person, and made me appreciate things around me a whole lot more. Then obviously the death of Dimebag [PANTERA guitarist] is still a gigantic motherfucking dagger in my fucking heart that I live with every fucking day. That’s my personal thing that I gotta live with, and I’m just gonna leave it at that, because I think that everybody that loved PANTERA probably feels the same way, except the difference is I was in the room when we were creating all these albums. I was on the bus when we toured the living fuck out of every one of these fucking albums that we did together, so for me it’s definitely a more personal thing.
Steel For Brains: Given your experience throughout all those years, what do you see now as the potentially biggest challenge facing an artist hoping to make viable music or art in 2013?
Anselmo: I would suggest to any up-and-coming band out there that the most important thing that you do, no matter what music or what type of music that you play, is to go back and do your fucking homework. Go listen to the decades of music that preceded the genre that you’re currently into, because music history is a vast thing. Lord only knows what came first — the chicken or the fucking egg, but do yourself a favor and don’t just be influenced by your favorite two or three bands, because you’re just gonna end up sounding like those two or three bands. I would take twenty influences and use every bit of those influences to your advantage. Eventually, you keep the same lineup in the band, and you grow with those individuals, with twenty, thirty, forty different fucking influences. Eventually, originality will rear its head. Finally, I would say music, in general, in my opinion has no fucking rules at all. There’s no set of rules as far as how a song should be written or how an expression of music should be made, so don’t let other people fucking get into your head. Fucking do what feels right to you, and if someone tells you, “Hey, you’re doin’ it wrong,” don’t fucking listen to them, because there’s no wrong way to play fucking music at all.
Read the entire interview at Steel For Brains.