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Interview

Superjoint's Phil Anselmo Comments On New Projects, Mental Health And The Demise of Pantera

Philip H. Anselmo is one misunderstood cat. Over his career, especially over the last year, he has been subjected to harsh criticism, mostly by the press. He made a joke on stage at the end of a performance. He was getting loaded on white wine and saluted a Seig Heil.

20 years ago, people would have laughed. People still laugh at it today, but we live in a super-offended, PC culture today. Yes, this probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say in a time that our First Amendment rights are tattered, but don’t get him wrong! He loves his fans, different races of fans from all over the world—a major reason he is so beloved around the world! And he’s a musical genius.

Arriving int Austin for Superjoint’s first show on their U.S. tour with Battlecross and Child Bite, Anselmo and his Superjoint “buds” came loaded with one of the angriest albums of his career. “Caught Up in the Gears of Application” is the first record in 13 years for him and his mates. Don’t think he has any rust on his wheels, though. Phil and his boys, Joey “Blue” Gonzalez (drums), Jimmy Bower (guitar), Kevin Bond (guitar) and Stephen Taylor (bass) are no green horns when it comes to recording. They’ve all spent time together in the studio recording. They're all veterans of several major bands including Warbeast, Eyehategod and Down. In fact, Phil and his mates have several albums just sitting and waiting to be released.

One of those albums shows Anselmo collaborate with horror movie icon, Bill Moseley (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre II,” “House of 1,000 Corpses,” “The Devil’s Rejects”) on their Phil + Bill album “Songs of Darkness and Despair.” Mosley was a fixture at Anselmo’s Housecore Horror Film Festival. The two combined their dark imaginations and astute outlook on the world today in a record that must be heard by fans of both artists (to be released January 20th, 2017 via Anselmo’s Housecore Imprint.)

Philip, Blue and Stephen joined me and my assistant, Michael Eisele, for a good sit-down on their tour bus. Check out what went down in the following feature.

Rex_84: Tell us about “Caught Up in the Gears of Application?”

Philip H. Anselmo: It is a Superjoint record. It’s not over-produced like a lot of records. It has an old-school production. It’s kind of like a good, cold stare at the state of the world we’re in.

Rex_84: The Phil+ Bill record “Songs of Darkness and Despair” Moseley makes some good points about the state of the world we’re in. He rants like Chop Top.

Anselmo: He’s so fucking great! He’s brilliant and he’s a sweet heart. His lyrics are vivid—they paint a picture. They have a beat knick vibe to them and he just threw them at me. I was like “holy shit!” I was getting all of these titles. “Ok, alright, I’m looking at all of these lyrics. Really all I did was write music that fit the topic. I tried to fit what he was trying to convey. Him and I’ve got to give credit to my main engineer and producer, Steve “The Big Fella” Berrigan who penned the music for “Bad Donut.” He penned “Bad Donut,” by himself. Hey, more power to him!

Rex_84: Back to Superjoint, what was it like getting back to the studio after 13 years? Was there a little rust on your wheels?

Anselmo: Not at all, dude, we’re in the studio constantly.

Stephen Taylor: It’s one big, crazy wheel, dude.

Anselmo: How many records are we sitting on? Five?

Rex_84: Illegal member, Mike DeLeon (who joined Superjoint on stage for a song) was supposed to show me some of the new Illegals album at a party. He told me it is brutal and angry. It’s different.

Anselmo: It is way different than the first record ("Use Once And Destroy") I think it came off, at first, as more simple because I was coming from more of a 4/4 way of looking at things. Once we got into it, everything got all fucked up and it became something more than just a 4/4 record.

Rex_84: 4/4 is simple.

Anselmo: Exactly. But it’s not simple.

Stephen Taylor: It depends on how you divide.

Rex_84: Can you talk more about that, Stephen, for people who don’t fully understand music?

Stephen Taylor: Divide fractions from 4/4, just divide time between that. How many blasts can you get in between 4/4 timing? He (points to Blue).

Joey Gonzalez: A lot. It measures a lot.

Anselmo: You can go 4/4, but on that 4th downbeat, you slip into a swell that goes 3, 4, maybe eight, which is still 4/4 minus the 3 part.

Rex_84: I’m not good at math.

Anselmo: Neither was I until started playing music. Music is math.

Rex_84: I’m a poet, dude. I follow meter.

Anselmo: Whoaaa man, I’ve written some stuff, too.

Rex_84: Yeah, I’ve read a little bit of it.

Anselmo: A little?

Rex_84: Yeah, just a little.

Anselmo: But I’ll tell you my new lyrics are INSANE!

Rex_84: You’re insane.

Anselmo: I literally am. It’s true.

Rex_84: It seems like your whole career you’ve been fighting demons. When you first got into Pantera, you were conquering them. You were like “unscarred by trails,” “by demons be driven!” Near the end of Pantera, though, you got into black metal, you died and the band fell apart. What is your life dealing with your mood and emotions?

Anselmo: Let me tell you what…It’s like when you’re in your stronnngest, youthful body and all of a sudden somebody comes up behind you, this is not literal, but someone comes up behind you and smacks you in the lower back with a ball peen hammer. You injure the center of your body. It…changes…your…life...forever! On top of that, this is well documented, I made every rookie mistake with dope, drugs just to numb the pain. Booze too. All that shit. Now, today, I don’t even drink.

Rex_84: But you still smoke weed?

Anselmo: I smoke a little bit of weed.

Gonzalez: That’s a natural remedy as opposed to alcohol that will make you sick.

Anselmo: Alcohol, for me, is all about the next mourning. Dude, I just can’t do it anymore.

Gonzalez: As a drummer, dude, one or two beers and my meter is off and I’m fucked! I would not be playing like that.

Rex_84: Can you talk more on the topic of mental health?

Anselmo: Mental health. That’s an interesting concept because I’ve got some craziness in my bloodline, so I recognize it. I recognize that I am imbalanced here and there.

Rex_84: Are you Bi-polar?

Anselmo: I can be.

Rex_84: Do you get manic?

Anselmo: Yes. I get anxiety, social anxiety. I get all that shit, man. (Draws in deep breath) you get this simmering. You need an outlet. For you, you mentioned poetry. That’s a great outlet. Let out self-loathing. Self-loathing is a brutal, awesome outlet. That’s…whoa, thank goodness for music! Thank goodness for music. My aunt, who was in the mental hospital—this is my mother’s sister, for so long she became a trustee. She used to pick me up from nursery school and I’d go straight to the loony bin in the French Quarter, sit there and talk to patients and what not. So I was up close, early in my life, and it’s strange. Getting older, approaching 50, you realize that you’re becoming so much like…you have the characteristics of different elements of your family members you never recognized before. Everybody thinks they know everything about the world. Yes! You’re wrong. You’re absolutely, totally wrong! The older you get the more you experience, not just that it’s with business, with everything. With everything! Sometimes you’ve got to harness all of the negativity—the good and the bad, etc., etc. Like I said, thank goodness for music. The lunacy I can put into my music. It’s a fantastic outlook.

Rex_84: I have a multiple personality that is going to show up tonight.

Anselmo: What’s his name?

Rex_84: Bill “Cuckoo Brains” Barnes.

Anselmo: Ok, cool.

Rex_84: Tell us how your bands convey different emotions. Down is like the melodic form…

Anselmo: Yeah, it’s like a southerly, Lynyrd Skynyrd type of feel—Black Sabbath meets Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Illegals allow me that super extreme side. I don’t think we totally got across on that first record (“Walk Through Exits Only”). My focus was more on being herky jerky about the music, instead of WALL OF SOUND! Chaos. Lyrically, I like to keep it personal with The Illegals. Superjoint gives me that Black Flag hardcore…It’s really a hardcore-ode to everything New Orleans that has come out of New Orleans.

Rex_84: What about Exhorder?

Anselmo: Great band. Great band.

Rex_84: Did they influence your tastes on thrash metal?

Anselmo: No, dude, I bought every single thrash record to add to my collection.

Rex_84: But that’s your hometown.

Anselmo: I tell you what: They were the first band from New Orleans to take thrash metal and get more modern, like professional. They upped the game!

Rex_84: How did they influence “Cowboys From Hell?”

Anselmo: They didn’t. Dude, I was dealing with Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex (not 84). They didn’t listen to Exhorder. I did.

Rex_84: Yes, but I thought you brought that to the table. You brought the extreme side of metal to the table.

Anselmo: Oh, I did, but there is a whole lot more than Exhorder, man. A whole lot more. I was listening to everything from The Melvins, which they actually liked.

Rex_84: Do you like Candlemass?

Anselmo: No, but I respect them. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s not just for me. For doom—Saint Vitus, Trouble…

Rex_84: Sleep?

Anselmo: Yeah, I love Sleep. I love Sleep, but I’m thinking of the early days. Witchfinder General is still one of my favorite bands.

Rex_84: Pentagram?

Anselmo: Pentagram, but still Witchfinder General. I love Pentagram. I love Bobby (Liebling). He’ll want to twist my arm. Dave Chandler will want to choke me for mentioning Trouble. I love Trouble! All of those influences are fantastic! Yes, extremes come in all shapes and sizes. You’ve got to realize, also, there is hardcore in there. Bands like Agnostic Front, Discharge. Early Agnostic Front, “Victim in Pain” and “United Strong.” The demo before it, too.

Rex_84: Do you like the NYC scene?

Anselmo: The early days. When you mention the New York scene, you can’t leave out Pete Steel, man! He was of the coolest, down-to-earth motherfuckers on the planet!

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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2 Comments on "Phil Anselmo Comments On New Superjoint Record"

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Rex_84's avatar

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1. Rex_84 writes:

Phil's a great guy. Not only do his lyrics empower people, he has nothing but love for his fans.

# Jan 18, 2017 @ 1:47 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
xFiruath's avatar

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2. xFiruath writes:

I don't personally buy the "white wine" line (and even Phil backtracked on that just a few days later) but honestly I don't hold the white power salute against him at this point. He was f***ed up and did something stupid, and it's clear he's put a lot of effort into rebranding and turning that perception around in the intervening months because like you said, he does actually give a sh** about the fans.

# Feb 1, 2017 @ 12:47 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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