PHILIP ANSELMO: The Legacy Of PANTERA Stands Pretty Firmly On Its Own

Michael Christopher of Vanyaland recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current DOWN singer Philip Anselmo. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Vanyaland: I’m trying to get a handle on [your debut solo] record, which I dig. What are you doing on “Walk Through Exits Only” that you can’t do with any of your other projects? Obviously it’s not a DOWN-sounding record but why do it as a solo effort and why now?

Anselmo: First and foremost, I wanted to make an extreme record that could sit right next to anything that is considered extreme these days but also very hard to slide into a particular slot or genre or subgenre. I wanted it to be an erratic, difficult listen. And really, the only two bands I’m working with right now are DOWN and the solo band. For me, there were two things that were really important about the solo record; first is that it was important that it come under my name and not some brand new band that people would have to buy into. Having my name on there really clears up where this record is coming from. Secondly, I wanted to utilize lesser-known musicians; I didn’t want to put together another supergroup which I guess easy enough I could have done.

Vanyaland: It’s kind of surprising that you’re putting it out at this stage in your career. Some people would say, “Phil Anselmo, 45 years old, and he’s putting out music that is arguably the most extreme of his catalog.” Do you ever think about the concept of aging and still being able to do what you do?

Anselmo: Well, it’s been done before where guys in established bands, in heavy metal bands, have gone on to put out solo records sometimes that are great and sometimes with age they put out in my opinion would be “old-man rock,” more simpler version of whatever band they were in before. For me, I’ve always been a gigantic champion of the underground, so once again I wanted to make an extreme record that was not an “old-man record,” something fresh, something new that is brought to the table. It’s one of those albums that’s a tough listen, there’s no way that you’re going to pick up the little nuances with one or two listens — it’s the type of record you need to listen to several times over to really grasp. It’s making people work for it in a way. Those records that take some time to get into, they become some of your favorite records coming from my perspective.

Vanyaland: Do you ever feel like there is too much pressure or too much of a spectre dealing with the legacy of PANTERA?

Anselmo: No. The legacy of PANTERA stands pretty firmly on its own. I don’t really dwell on the negative things within PANTERA. To me, PANTERA is about a whole lot more than the breakup; when I think of PANTERA I think of really, really awesome times and great, great, great things and fantastic brotherhood and camaraderie. If you take a look around, there are a lot of bands out there that have experienced similar tragedy and breakup and all the things that happen. We are not the first band to have troubles or tragedy. I don’t really put too much pressure on myself at all. These days, at 45 years old, I realize what DOWN is; DOWN is not rocket science, it’s DOWN music. And I don’t care one fucking bit about popularity contests or charting or winning over new fans — I don’t care about that shit when it comes to DOWN because we have our own core following and we write songs for DOWN fans. When I do a venture like this solo record, it’s the freedom of music. Music is a vast universe and it’s meant to be fucked with and changed around and tradition is meant to be destroyed at one point or another.

Vanyaland: You’ve been revisiting your past in recent years with expanded editions of PANTERA‘s “Cowboys From Hell” and “Vulgar Display of Power”. Next year is the 20th anniversary of “Far Beyond Driven”; what are the plans for it?

Anselmo: I’m sure it’s going to happen because we’ve done it with the first two records. I don’t know too much about lost demos or anything, because PANTERA did not waste riffs or songs; especially when we’re talking about the era of “Far Beyond Driven”. You take a look at that time period though; we did a lot of songs for movie soundtracks [“Light Comes Out of Black” from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Badge” from “The Crow”, among them]. Whether that’s part of the package or not, it is there to use. If these major companies can come together and allow us to re-release stuff that may not have been purely East West or whatever, believe me, there are songs that could be bonus tracks but it’s more of a political “let’s find out down the line.” So yes, there will be a re-release, but I don’t know what the specialties will be.

Read the entire interview at Vanyaland.