PHILIP ANSELMO: ‘I Really Wanted To Gain Control Of My Life Again’

Earlier today (Tuesday, June 4), Dan Lorenzo of Steppin’ Out magazine conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current DOWN frontman Philip Anselmo. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Steppin’ Out: How do you feel about doing so many interviews and the press in general these days?

Anselmo: Oh, man, you know… it’s part of the f’ing game, it’s part of the rules. It’s no big deal to me at all. I enjoy talking to people.

Steppin’ Out: Your solo CD is brutal from beginning to end. Did you have any thoughts about making it more diverse or more radioaccessible?

Anselmo: Not even at all. No. The radio popularity contests and all that shit, I don’t give one F about at all. This was absolutely a record that I wanted to make. An extreme album in today’s climate where it doesn’t have to fall under death metal or black metal or any of those sub-genres. I wanted it to be a record that’s very hard to slide into a particular slot. To call it heavy metal, that’s fair enough, but to me, I wanted to do an extreme record that was just as extreme as anything else, but without, I guess, the preconceived notions, especially lyrically and topically, like when you listen to death metal or black metal, you already kind of have a general idea where the lyrics are going to go. I wanted to sing about real things. Real things in my life.

Steppin’ Out: Listening to you speak makes me happy. This is the first time I’ve spoken to you since you got straight. How did you finally get clean?

Anselmo: It takes a lot of distancing yourself from the source of the problem. Also nipping the source of the problem in the bud. I was going through tremendous amounts of… physical pain and I addressed that by having major back surgery and that’s no walk in the park. I think once you embrace the physical rehabilitation part of it, and you really really buy into the program… only good things can come of it. Once the body feels better, then the mind feels better — if that makes any sense.

Steppin’ Out: Of course.

Anselmo: That goes hand in hand. Then there’s other factors like divorce, which was definitely needed, because I needed to get away from that particular person to move on. Then I also have a fantastic new woman… not really “new” — we’ve been together eleven f’ing years now. Her support is unending and undying and unwavering. To have this positive influence in my life is such a great thing. It’s up to the individual. If you put in the work and the time, and you really want your life back… then it’s there to be had. It doesn’t matter what level of life you’re on, or where you live, or what you do. You can f’ing do it if you put your mind to it.

Steppin’ Out: You mentioned “get with the program.” Is that a reference to a 12-step program, or did you do it on your own?

Anselmo: No, I actually did it on my own, but I can’t say that that’s the right way for everybody. I did on my own because I needed it. Put it this way… when I look back at old interviews and I’m slurring words and I’m about to fall asleep in front of the f’ing camera, it’s embarrassing. It sucked. And it still sucks. I use that shit as a beacon of sorts of where not to ever go again in my life.I felt like I was shortchanging myself, therefore short changing anyone that was ever a fan of my music. It’s bullshit. There’s always a better way. With a clear mind, you can get more work done, you can get more personal work done, and then you can extend yourself to other people in a more rational way. Even if it’s a dinner date or producing a record. Every walk of life that you take, you can at least be a reliable human being, which is a very tough thing to come by in a lot of cases. I pride myself on being that guy.

Steppin’ Out: The words “reliable” and “musician” don’t usually go together, right?

Anselmo: Exactly! You catch yourself when you’re f’d up…I used to call it “The heroin calendar”… People would ask me, “Hey, Phil, can you do this?” and the first answer out of my mouth is “yes,” because it’s my character to say yes, but in all reality, when you’re all f’d up on heroin or methadone or anything that’s going to discombobulate the brain…there’s no way you can see that promise through 100 percent, if at all. To me, that guy who could drop out at any second of an obligation, to me, that’s f’in flaky, man, and I am NO f’ing flake, hence the reason why I really wanted to gain control of my life again.

The full interview will run in Steppin’ Out magazine soon.


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