Philip Anselmo: Apologies Are ‘Scrutinized’ and a ‘No-Win Situation’
Philip Anselmo was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The legendary Pantera frontman discussed the latest record from the reactivated Superjoint (formerly Superjoint Ritual), recapturing their original sound, balancing multiple bands, his polarizing personality, the 20th anniversary of Pantera's The Great Southern Trendkill and a comedic memory of Los Angeles. Check out the chat below.
How are you?
Not too bad, darling. How about yourself?
Doing great. Happy to have you back. We're here this evening to talk about the new Superjoint album, Caught Up In the Gears of Application. It seems like you're always making music on multiple fronts, all at once. How do you maintain that passion without being consumed by it?
Truthfully, I am consumed by it. Because, really, it's all I know and whether I do it well is another question. But still it's something that I love to do and I am in involved in many, many different things right now. But, honestly, the Superjoint record is over a year old for me. So it's honestly like backtracking. You know, I recorded with the rest of the guys when we did it. You know, the most important thing was to stay true to the Superjoint sound and what we initially — I guess our initial influences and all that type of stuff. And I think we did it.
What's different about the way extreme music interests and inspires you now compared to when you were a kid?
I don't think much. I think I've always had an affinity for it. It's just something that draws me and makes me feel good, you know, when I listen to it. I think that there's a lot of bands to look to from past that are extreme. I think there's many genres to look at, aside from heavy metal, that are extreme in their own way. And then I think there's a lot of bands out there today even, definitely younger than my old ass, that are innovators and they're doing something very different within the realms of extreme music and I love it. I love the passion. And I love, once again, that innovation. So it keeps me going, keeps me young, lady!
You're always out there in the news and anytime you do an interview, it sort of makes headlines. Phillip, what's the hardest thing about having such a polarizing personality, as you do?
Oh jeez, I guess, in this world of the interweb and the internet and knee-jerk reactions and stuff like that — listen, I am a guy with a, I guess I'd say, a very harsh sense of humor, sense of freedom of speech and all of that and all that goes with it and sometimes it's so easy just to catch the tail end of something, or look at something through a lens, so to speak, that you are — the person that's looking is looking for something specific. And really, if you look at something and you look for something specifically all the time, you're going to find something to b--ch and moan about, whatever.
So, have I made mistakes in the past? I've been insensitive with my sense of humor or sense of levity, or whatever, reactionary things or whatnot — absolutely. And I have always owned it and my apologies are very, very sincere, despite the fact that anybody and everybody can apologize today and it's either accepted or it's not. And most times it's scrutinized, as well. It's a no-win situation, so, really, all I can do is be myself, continue to be myself and just try and enjoy life as long as I can, man.
This is the band's first release since 2003. Creatively, what's the starting point for a band making an album after so much time has passed?
I think it's identifying exactly what the band was based off of, which was the love of hardcore music that we grew up music. We being, really me and Jimmy Bower and Kevin Bond. Then, you get the new blood in there with Jose better known as "Blue," my little young drummer who kicks so much ass. And Steve Taylor is my right hand man. That guy is a very talented musician. You take all of that, you take the new blood and you really stay true to what Superjoint sounded like in the past, don't stray too terribly far from, I guess, your influences and the task at hand. Each band is its own task and its own — it has its own personality. You don't want to stay too far from that. We try, desperately, not to stray. We try and stay as true as possible to what Superjoint really sounds like. I guess — really, I'll leave it up to all of your experts to decide whether we sound like Superjoint still or not, [laughs] — I'm not the guy to say.
The 20th anniversary edition of The Great Southern Trendkill was just released. At the time, it was kind of the darkhorse of the Pantera catalog. Looking back, why was it an important album for you?
I think at the time, we were being told by anyone with an opinion in the hierarchy of the record biz that heavy metal was going out of style and grunge was the biggest thing in the world and that was true. Then there were heavy metal bands that were implementing different styles, and all that is fine within itself. But for Pantera, at the time, I think it was very imperative for us to stay as true to heavy metal as possible and it was really, really important to us. So wearing that heavy metal on our sleeves as proudly as we did do, we always took things and obstacles and doubts about the ability of the band or how far we could go as chips on our shoulder.
I can still remember back to the first night of that tour, my road manager coming up to me and saying, well don't expect a full house. Don't expect this, don't expect that. But, he was so wrong and it was a packed house and it was sold out. So was the rest of the tour. Yep. We did well. Funny enough, I do agree with you. The Great Southern Trendkill was a bit of a darkhorse in the catalog, even for me. It was like a strange record. But today, in 2016 I am amazed — shocked, amazed and gasping for air, at how many different people come up to me and say, "Man, that is my favorite Pantera record." And I'm like, "Really? Jesus Christ, well thank you very much. More power to it."
What's your most vivid memory of the first time you were in Los Angeles?
Wow. Man. The first time I was ever in Los Angeles, I was with the Pantera guys. We were absolutely nobody outside of Texas. And even in Texas, I think I was pretty fresh to the band. I guess we were rebuilding our audience there as well. We were just a bunch of young, skinny at the time, fellows trekking about Los Angeles and — this always sticks out.
One of the guys in the band had known this girl who had frequented and worked along that strip of famous bars and what not back in the day, the club scene, where a lot of glam bands had come out of. She I guess being a glam fan began scrutinizing the band that I had patched upon my denim vest over my leather jacket. So her and I got into an argument and she took it upon herself to tell the rest of the guys in Pantera, "This guy, he's crazy, his taste in music in horrible. How could you ever get this guy in the band? You guys are never going anywhere, you're gonna fail. I'll see to it, that you never play in Los Angeles!" All of this crazy talk and I'm like, "Man, is this all because I have a Slayer patch? Come on. What are you talking about?"
Yeah, it feels pretty good til this day at almost 50 years old that she was very, very wrong. That is a vivid memory there, Jackie. It is. It is gratifying, but like I said, a memory.
Will you guys tour next year?
Yes, we will and thank you for the plug on the record and thank you for your ongoing support. Yes we will be doing some shows, absolutely. Everybody, man, from the bottom of my heart I send my love to everybody that is a fan, not a fan or just people that are nutty in general. Because in truth, you know it, I know it, and anyone with simple logic knows that I am a lover. Not a hater, I am a lover. I used to be cute, but I'm still kind of cute. I love all of ya's and thank you, Jackie, for having me on the show.
We'll see you soon.
Alright sugar. Everybody, stay insane.
Thanks to Philip Anselmo for the interview. Pick up your copy of Superjoint's 'Caught Up In the Gears of Application at Amazon or digitally through iTunes. Orders for the 20th anniversary edition of Pantera's 'The Great Southern Trendkill' can be placed through Amazon or iTunes as well. Get a list of all upcoming Superjoint tour dates at our Guide to Rock + Metal Tours and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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