Phil Anselmo: "I Would've Taken A Bullet For Dime"
Band Photo: Damageplan (?)
Former PANTERA frontman Philip Anselmo has spoken exclusively to Revolver magazine (web site) about the death of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, Anselmo's much-rumored substance-abuse problems and the role the heavy metal media has played in PANTERA's eventual demise, among many other topics. Several excerpts from the article (published in the magazine's February 2006 issue, due to hit newsstands on December 6) follow:
Revolver: Tell me about the past year.
Anselmo: "Man, this has been the worst year of my life — it's been the worst year of many people's lives. Ever since… Ever since my guitar player was taken from me, basically."
Revolver: How much do you miss Dime?
Anselmo: "I miss him more than I can even begin to say. I think of him every single waking day — every 30 minutes, if not every five minutes.
"And… [he pauses] Trying not to get choked up here. I'm trying to compose myself. I speak with Rex [Brown, PANTERA's bass player] often. We both are dealing with it… I'm in therapy. I never had to see a psychiatrist before. I see one regularly now. They tried to put me on antidepressants, but I won't take them because I don't trust drugs at all anymore. I don't trust a fucking pill, not unless it's a vitamin.
"I feel so goddamn bad for Vince [Paul, PANTERA's drummer and Darrell's brother], because during the writing of our last record, [his and Darrell's] mother passed away… I miss Vince. I miss his sense of humor. And Dime — there was no more creative, beautiful, perfect motherfucker ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. He could make something out of nothing — if we were in Bumfuck, Anywhere, he could find some kind of something to do that would end up being fun, you know? And not to mention his music, our music. Dimebag, Vinnie, Rex — they were the greatest, and still are the greatest, musicians I've ever played with. I will always love everybody in that band, man. We had so much chemistry together. I miss it so goddamn much. You know, it took me quite awhile, but after about six months, I watched some old videos, I listened to our records, and I was just stunned, amazed, gasping for air, because I knew that I was part of something that changed heavy metal forever. And it took all four of us.
"To lose someone like Dime, and to have his brother in such pain, it kills me. I'd give one of my fingers to fix everything somehow, go back in time, or to have been there. This is a harsh thing to say, but if I saw some stupid son of a bitch coming at my guitar player with a gun, I would have knocked his block off, you know? I would have taken a bullet for that motherfucker."
Revolver: Have you tried to contact Vince?
Anselmo: "Yes, right afterwards, and I don't blame him for his isolation. I mean, it's a stunning, stunning thing. It's nothing you can just put out of your mind, it's nothing you can drink away, it's nothing you can go to a psychiatrist for a couple of months and he can put everything into perspective. I fear the worst for him, because I love him so much, you know? All I have in my heart is love, and when I say this, there's no way I can leave the fans out.
"We, PANTERA, had the greatest, the most intense, dedicated fans I've ever seen in my goddamn life. And I really hope with all my heart that one day, people — especially our fans and my friends — can see clearly enough to think for themselves and really realize that I have nothing but love for them. I've just been going through personal hell since December. Once again, it's very hard to talk about, man. You know, my heart is in a thousand pieces a day.
"But there is something very, very, very important that I've been wanting to say for a long time… and the only reason I couldn't say it before was because I always wanted that air of 'a new level of confidence and power' — you know, that 'vulgar display of power.' When I was in my middle twenties, I could walk through walls. There wasn't a man big enough to kick my fucking ass. I'd rock with anyone, and I don't remember losing a fight.
"And then I tried a drug called heroin, because deep inside of myself I thought — I knew — there was no way that any drug could conquer me. No way. But the second time I did it in my entire life, it killed me.
"Then I rebounded from that, played a show the very next night, knew that there's no way I'm messing with that garbage anymore. But I could tell something was screwed up with my back, something was not right. Pain, severe pain. So in between tours, I had an MRI, my first of six. Sure enough, the lowest lumbar disc in my back was ruptured — shattered from being onstage since I was 14 years old, jumping off the stage, off Vinnie's drum set, going as crazy as possible.
"So I asked my doctor, 'What can I do about this?' And he says, 'Well, you're going to have to wear a back brace,' which I've been wearing for 10 years now. [Anselmo pulls up his shirt to reveal a large back brace around his midsection.]
Anselmo: "Nobody's known that. Anybody who ever thought I had a beer gut or I was fat, I was holding my bones together. Then, after two, three more tours — another MRI. I got another damaged disc, and no cartilage between the bottom one and the next one, which meant bone-on-bone scraping and nerve damage, and so the painkillers got stronger, stronger, stronger just to get up on that goddamn stage and do what I do, man. I mean, I was born to do this and I've known it since I was 6 years old.
"Back in the Nineties, I went to see so many goddamn surgeons, and they all wanted to slice me open from the belly, take pieces of my hipbone out, take all my guts out, lay them on a table, and then fuse the discs from the front, use pieces of my hip to fill gaps in the bone and cartilage, then put all my guts back in, sew me up. I asked the doctor, 'Well, what's the recovery time for something like that?' And he's like, 'Oh, 10 months to a year, maybe a year and a half.' I'm like, 'No way. I gotta work, bro. We're going to Europe. We're doing Ozzfest. I cannot take a year off.' And then, on top of that, I had doctors ask me if I had been fitted for a wheelchair. That's how bad it was. And I never have let that out of the bag before. I said, 'A wheelchair?! I still jump off the damn drum riser, man.' And they're like, 'You're just going to screw yourself up.'
"And so eventually, I got put on the heaviest painkiller known to mankind — it's called methadone. Most people relate methadone to heroin, but I saved every bottle, every document — everything was for my back. And you know, it still hurt to be up there on stage, and when I woke up in the morning, it felt like an ice pick was shoved in my lower back, and the colder it got, the worse it got. And when you'd go to Europe in the middle of winter, it's like, man, I cannot do this without medicine.
"So I think people, especially journalists, took it upon themselves — and I really can't blame them, because I've never spilled these particular beans before. But I was slurring my words, I didn't have that glow anymore. It was killing my soul. You know, drugs, dope, everything you ever hear about them, it's true, man.
"So now, here we are in 2005 — medical science and neurology have come a very extreme distance. I have found an incredible doctor. He has put me through rigorous tests. They've given me my sixth MRI and nuclear testing where they make all your bones glow. [Laughs] And the worst of all was the last one. It's called the discogram — they allow no medication, no relaxants at all, and the whole purpose of the procedure is to duplicate the pain that you feel.
"So, at that point in time, I was slowly coming off this poison called methodone, which ruined my life, and another pill, which anybody who takes it is out of their mind. It's [a muscle relaxant] called Soma. That's what makes you sound like you're on the biggest amount of dope in the world — it makes you retarded, and I hated it. And so I want to apologize to all of my fans. I just wanted to play for you guys, man. And I think an apology is due for all my close friends and family, who had to endure what they didn't understand. And Dimebag, Vinnie Paul, Rex — they didn't understand the pain I was going through and the medicines and all of that. I apologize — so much. I'm not making excuses, but living with chronic pain makes you antisocial, depressed, not yourself. It changes your life, and it did mine, and now I want it back.
"And so, next month, on November the eighth [pushed back to Nov. 21 after this interview was conducted — Ed.], I'm going under the knife, and I'm getting this motherfucker fixed finally, and I will walk through walls again, and I will punch through bricks, and I will rise again. Mark my goddamn words."
Revolver: When you do tour again, are you worried at all that some crazy will try to take you out?
Anselmo: "There ain't no way I'm playing a show unless the security's tight and everybody knows the score, man."
Revolver: But as you know, some people really hate you…
Anselmo: "Man, look, there is no way anyone in this world can vicariously live through that tragedy and blame anyone but the kid who shot my guitar player, for God's sake. So many people don't even know me, and they have formed an opinion. I would suggest to every person that reads this, before you judge anyone else, make sure and check yourself out first. Because imperfection is just a human way, man. And opinions are like assholes — everybody has one. And when you assume something, yes, the ass comes out in you. Don't believe every fucking thing that you read, especially these goddamn tabloid magazines, like Kerrang! and Metal Hammer, for all the tasteless bullshit that they pulled."
Revolver: So what did those magazines pull? And how big a role did it play in things going so wrong with PANTERA in the end?
Anselmo: "You know, after the SLAYER/MORBID ANGEL tour [in 2001] that we did, I thought it was wisest to take a break. I wanted to get the second DOWN album done, and I wanted to release the SUPERJOINT [RITUAL] album, because both of them had been on ice for so long. Never did I think that before interviews would even start, I'd have guys come in and tell me how much Darrell and Vince hated my guts. Or I would say something in jest, or I would say something that would be taken so completely out of context, like, I would kick Dimebag Darrell's ass or something like that." [see previous BLABBERMOUTH.NET story]
"Look, man, the world knows that I probably wouldn't be the easiest guy to fight, but I would never raise a hand to Dimebag Darrell. That would be like raising a hand to my own family, and it would never happen. Ever. No way.
"And goddamn, man, I would never quit PANTERA. Are you crazy? I mean, that was my home. That was my real band, you know? And now, yeah, I'm starting from scratch, and all I know how to do is play music. That's all I know how to do. But if there's any silver lining within all these clouds, it's that our music does live forever within our records. That is immortal. As is the strength of our fans and the faith that I have in our fans to realize that Dime's murder was the action of a psychotic motherfucker who believed in the media too much and fell into this hype thing. Our fans are hardcore, and it kills them, what happened, but it's not going to do any good to take sides, because there is only one side, you know?
"So goddamn the effects of drugs, goddamn the fucking media personnel who toy with words and don't expect consequences. And goddamn anyone who thinks that I had anything but love for Dimebag Darrell. A part of me, a gigantic part of me, is destroyed, and I am a different man."
Philip Anselmo's entire interview with Revolver can be found in the magazine's February 2006 issue, due to hit newsstands on December 6.
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