Burning Ambulance recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current DOWN singer Philip Anselmo. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Burning Ambulance: The sound of [your debut solo] album [“Walk Through Exits Only”] really interests me; it’s almost industrial, but when I say that, I don’t mean MINISTRY or NINE INCH NAILS, I mean the ultra-heavy stuff that’s almost noise. How did you arrive at that sound?
Anselmo: You know, I went into this thing with the idea that I really wanted the final product to be very percussively impactful. And on top of that, I did not want what I guess you would call modern-day, glossy, super overdone guitar sound or anything like that. I just wanted it to be, once again, rhythmically impactful. There’s a talent that my guitar player Marzi [Montazeri] brings to the table. He layers things very intricately and very, very uniquely to a certain degree, and I’ve known this about him since the late ’80s, when we were first introduced. It was always one of his bigger assets to his guitar playing, that made him unique. I really wanted him to exploit that and to show that stuff off. Because he’s fantastic at making soundscapes with his guitar. I love atmospheric music, actually I love older industrial music to a certain degree, bands like SPK and stuff like that, because it’s hideous. Foetus productions and stuff like that. So I know the power of noise, and in a weird way I wish I would have incorporated even more, but that’s why they make next records and stuff like that. But anyway, I get what you’re saying completely, and I’m glad you hear it.
Burning Ambulance: The songs don’t really have conventional verse-chorus structure, either, and they all slam into each other with no breaks — it’s really like they’re facets of a single gigantic song. Was that your intention, and if so, why?
Anselmo: I think the more you listen to it, the more you will see that it actually does have what I would call very close to basic songwriting structure. There’s verse, chorus — hook, hook, hook, hook, hook is what I was after. Whether it be a singular line, or — you know, the easiest way for me to explain is, really I took my influences from hardcore bands that didn’t waste time with a lot of buildup to the song. They slammed directly into the song, either with a chorus right off the bat, or a very minimal amount of words. Like DISCHARGE might use a very minimal amount of words and then bingo, there’s your verse, and then a couple of lines will be used for another hook or a chorus. So there is a method to the madness there, it is absolutely in my opinion, at certain points, if you look at a song like “Betrayed”, it’s one gigantic hook all the way through the fucking song. And it carries over. Even the more involved songs, like “Walk Through Exits Only”. When you hear a line like “It’s ruined, it’s ruined, it’s ruined/Everybody ruins music, not just me,” that’s one giant hook, because it’s repeated twice through the song and there’s a variation on it in the third verse. So to me, I was searching for a different way to be — let me put it like this, I was trying to, I guess, change up the rules as to what tradition is supposed to be within songwriting, but without absolutely forgoing the song. Because to me, there are still verses and choruses and hooks. It’s one of those records you can’t just listen to once or twice and have a knee-jerk reaction and say, “OK, this is exactly what it is.” Because I’ll tell you that’s fucking impossible right now. It’s the type of record you have to listen to 10, 20 times and then you go, “Oh. I get it. I see what the fuck he was going for.” And it might be a whole different take on what people are used to, but if that’s the case, then on my end, mission accomplished.
Read the entire interview at Burning Ambulance.