Bookmark and Share

Walking Though Exits Has Opened New Doors For Phil Anselmo

Interview and all photos by: Brandon Marshall

Publish Date: July 24th,2013






 nce every generation, a vocalist comes along that will raise the bar for many and set a new standard for all. In the world of metal, Rob Halford, James Hetfield, Lemmy Kilmister, Chuck Schuldiner are members of this exclusive club, and Philip H. Anselmo is seated at the table alongside them. Spanning hundreds of copycats and changing the face of several genres over his 30 year career, Anselmo became the voice of a generation with Pantera. The demise of Pantera was inevitable and would eventually implode, but Phillip came out swinging with Superjoint Ritual,  Down, and a few obscure side projects that continued to inspire or enrage. In the early and mid-2000’s, Philip was written off as someone who wasted his talent on drugs, but the Kid bounced back stronger then ever proving his critics and cynics wrong yet again. On July 16th, Anselmo released his first solo album simply called Phillip H. Anselmo and the Illegals. A complex record, Anselmo has raised the bar yet again, not strictly for his distinct vocal tone, but also for his unique arrangements. Wiser and stronger then all, Phillip H. Anselmo is back for the better and hopefully for a long time to come. 

  Sonic Excess had a chance to speak to the man of many faces about his new album, unreleased projects, drugs, horror films, past regrets and future expectations in a very honest and raw interview.

"When you basically feel horrific on the inside, that’s what you’re going to put out there. Yes, I regret it. I regret it very,very much." 




Sonic Excess: Is Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals  a project you will continue to put your energy into after the tour, or will you tease us and will it be another defunct project?



Philip H. Anselmo: Ya know, It’s one of those things we are going to have to feel it out and we’ll see, but it’s something I would love to continue. The only two bands I’m really dedicating touring time and have solid plans are the solo band and Down. I don’t see why not.



How do you view "Walk Though Exits Only" compared your other projects, and did you take on a new approach while writing?



Philip H. Anselmo: It was one of those records where I wrote every goddamn note on the fucking thing, and I built it from the ground up. That in itself is not all that different, because with Down there have been songs I have brought in, and I’ve written from the ground up. I basically taught the band and told them how I wanted it to float. My point is, every song on the record is solely on my back.



Why didn’t you record the guitar tracks like what you did with Viking Crown and Arson Anthem?



Philip H. Anselmo: Honestly, I could have. I guess that was the original plan for Marzi Montazeri  (guitars) and myself to record, and we have some stuff like that, but it’s on slow burn right now. It’s going to be released later. For Marzi’s sake, he really wanted a shot of doing this thing himself. I had no problem with that because, honestly, I’m a creative guitar player, not a great guitar player, and I needed a severe executioner. Marzi is a beast. He is a lot tighter than I am. He wanted a crack at it, so I said  fuck it, go for it!



Does the album title "Walk Through Exits Only" have any significant meaning to you, and what’s going on with “Music Media My Whore"? 



Phillip H. Anselmo: That is a popular request right there. People are like, what the fuck are you doing? “Music Media is my Whore” is really a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic thing for certain writers, who definitely know who they are, but definitely not all of you. If you look into the lyrics, there is not a fucking thing about the press in there. It was just an eye catcher and a pretty clever title.



"I wanted to tap into my more hardcore roots. I wanted to do things a little more filthier, dirtier....."




The vocal approach marks a return to your trademark screams. Why have you shied away from that style for so long?


Philip H. Anselmo: As far as the vocals go, it’s something that I’ve always had and always will have. With Down, it’s a different vocal approach completely, and they are two separate things. If there was ever a mesh between the two, it’s accurate to say you would hear that live more then on a record. With Down, I have this unfortunate task of having to sing in key, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, because singing in key is like a chore. With the solo stuff, there is a precision to it, but thank goodness key is by the wayside and out the window. It makes it easier for an asshole like me. I can do several types of vocals, but with Down, it’s a matter of what fits and what doesn’t. Down music is just Down music in my mind. We know the genre inside and out. As far as the extremities, the solo stuff is a great outlet for that. So, I’m going to keep those two separate, if you will.


This is an angry album, do you have to tap into a certain part of your subconscious for the rage on your vocals to come out, or can you do this naturally? Also, was what unfolded in the studio planned?


Philip H. Anselmo: I planned everything out super meticulously. Everything that’s on that record belongs there. As far as the vocal approach, I wanted to tap into my more hardcore roots. I wanted to do things a little more filthier, dirtier, and whatnot. There is one thing people said, that it’s a screaming angry record, but for me, it’s more of the attitude, music that should be like that. Also, for people to say I’m screaming and whatnot  I think is almost unfair, because there are very subtle melody lines there, and there are also harmonies in there. It’s a record I knew was going to be a tough listen to begin with and not everyone was going to catch everything right off the bat. It’s the type of record, with repeated listens,  that you are going to hear different elements that you wouldn’t pick up on maybe your first ten listens. It’s one of those records that is going to have to grow on you a bit.


"The more audience participation I get, the fucking better for me, and I think we all know what that means."



What do you have planned for the live shows?

Philip H. Anselmo:  Well, all I can say is there could be some surprises. Honestly, I want every show to be a little different. Each show is going to have a different personality and stamp of originality.  I like things to be organic as fuck, and it’s something I’m going to have to feel at the time. So, we shall see.


The vibe at Down shows are very mellow. Are you going to take command of the stage again like you did with Superjoint and Pantera and get the audience to go ballistic?


Philip H. Anselmo:  Ya know…. I don’t know yet. I’m going to go out on-stage and jam these songs and feel it every night. Whoever is there, their reaction… I don’t feel like I need to finagle a reaction out of an audience. I’m beyond all that shit. The kids know who I am, and anyone who comes out to these shows knows. Honestly, they should know the record and know the songs. The more audience participation, the better. I love audience participation, but I gotta be careful these days because, ya know, with lawsuits and all the ridiculous shit. There are rules and whatnot in the certain metal clubs. You gotta respect certain this and that. Honestly, I don’t have respect for any of that. For me, it’s all about the audience. Once again, the more audience participation I get, the fucking better for me, and I think we all know what that means.

"Never rule out the unexpected with the Kid. Shit can happen at any point."


What do you have in the archives of projects not known to the public? Would you ever consider  releasing  a "best of" with your umpteen bands?


Philip H. Anselmo:  Honestly,


I’ve thought of it before, and it’s something I think about quite a bit. Honestly, I am sitting on hours and hours of unreleased music that might surprise people. A lot of it’s not even metal at all. Some of it’s just songs and expressions of a mood I'm in at the time of when I wrote them, some from the first time I ever got a four-track in 1988 throughout the 99’s. So, I’m sitting on pounds of music. I have considered putting out the ultimate fucking package. For some of the people close to me that have heard it, think it’s some of the best shit I have ever done. I’m just letting it sit here at the house, letting it rot. I don’t know what to do man, but eventually it will get sorted out. It’s something that I’m still considering.

What do you think people would be most surprised about from your un-released recordings? What would blow fans back the most?


Philip H. Anselmo: I guess the first thing that jumps to my mind would When you first asked me that, it would be something I did with the guitar player from Nine Inch Nails, Danny Lohner. We did a couple songs back in the 1990’s, that he composed, with insane sounds and orchestrations beyond anything that I’ve done ever. We did two songs, and they were both very different. One was very aggressive, and one was very mellow. I think people might be real interested to hear that shit. Actually, me and Danny are talking about collaborating in the future.


Who else do you have planned future collaborations with, and, for your solo record, why no guests?


Philip H. Anselmo: I wanted to do a different type of solo record. I was introducing lesser known musicians that are really flying under the radar and whooping some fucking ass. Of course I could have gotten several motherfuckers to jam on this record, but I wanted to make it a point to have these guys play on the record. As far as any other collaborations, honestly I am so crazy busy. The only time I have is the solo band and Down. Never rule out the unexpected with the Kid. Shit can happen at any point.  


In Rex’s book, he portrayed quite a few people including yourself in a really bad light. Do you think he should have left a few things out of his book, and what is your overall opinion of it?


Philip H. Anselmo: Well…. It’s a bitter read, no doubt about that. Ya know, it’s coming from the bass player of a very popular band that went though a lot. A lot of it is his opinion and… I think that when it comes to quote unquote quitting Down, there is a lot of mythology as well. I’ll leave that alone. 


  "The last thing I would ever want to do would be to try and fill a Pantera void, I am absolutely not doing that at all."


There is only one Pantera, but who do you think the symbolic torch was passed to? Who would you say this generation's Pantera is?



Philip H. Anselmo: There are some bands that have reached the mainstream that kids really look up to that have taken.. I don’t know, maybe they were influenced by Pantera and whatnot and taken it to a different direction, or maybe filled the void sorta speak, with us gone. For me it’s like.. I can’t name one band that’s been a Pantera replacement. I think bands in general have their own identity, and it may take them a little while longer to figure out their identity. It’s tough for me to call out one.

There really is the one and only. Just to expound on that, the last thing I would ever want to do would be to try and fill a Pantera void. I am absolutely not doing that at all man. Pantera is a sacred thing in my life, a scared thing to fans. This solo band is a completely different animal in my eyes. I want to make sure motherfuckers know, that I know, that Pantera is untouchable, a sacred thing.


"There is something special about each decade you grew up in, and it’s an experience" .


Tell us about the HOUSECORE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL. Do you plan to expand? Do you have any interest in starting a horror production company or directing a film?



Philip H. Anselmo: No, not at all (laughs). That’s the thing, I  have no interest in being an director or anything like that. I just like watching the fucking things man. Here's the thing, it’s a feel out process. I want everyone that comes to this thing to have a blast. I also want the people that are a point of the machinery to have a great time. The band themselves, the special guest directors, and the personalities that come out. We have talked about if this thing is a success, doing it in a different city every year. Let me get year one under the fat gut, and we’ll see how it goes from there.


My guess is you are a horror memorabilia collector, am I right?


Phillip H. Anselmo: Ohh god yes.


What’s your most treasured piece of horror memorabilia?


Philip H. Anselmo: That’s an impossible question man. I don’t even know where to start.


Let me re-word. What’s your most treasured piece of metal memorabilia?


Philip H. Anselmo: IMPOSSIBLE! Impossible questions you crazy bastard. I cannot answer these things. This is futile, it’s like looking at decades, whether it be horror films or music. There is something special about each decade you grew up in, and it’s an experience . It’s fucking impossible. For me I have modern day bands and semi-modern favorite movies for me to narrow it down. I would be here for hours beating my head against the fucking wall.

    "I was like in this demented, wounded animal stage where I would lash out...."



You have done and said some outlandish things on stage. Is the man up on the podium the real Phil, or a rock star persona? Do have any regrets?


Philip H. Anselmo: First and foremost, I have been onstage since I was 13 years old. I’ve developed somewhat of a persona onstage, but honestly… I don’t think there is anything false about it. I feel as down to earth onstage as I do off the fucking stage. I really aim to let people know that. I want them to feel like instead of me being this untouchable figure on the stage, and having a show go by and have ‘em feel like “OK, we saw a show”,  I would rather have them feel like they hung out with me for the fucking night, ya know? I like hanging out, and I like shooting the shit about music. I like being relaxed out there. You mentioned the fucking rock star persona; I have never been a rock star EVER in my fucking life. People might want to put me in that position, or paint me into that corner, but me myself, I consider myself a music geek like everybody else. I’m a fan of music. People look at success and they think you are born into it. That’s not true. I’ve broke every scar in my body, every fucking bone in my body has been broken for music; every drop of blood on that stage is fucking real. That doesn’t come with a silver spoon in the fucking mouth at all. It's hard work, a lot of time, a lot of gigs under the belt, and a lot of time on the fucking road.


The regret part… of course. There was a time in Pantera when I could barely stand up. I was in such grave pain from a severe lower back injury. There was no time except touring time, album making time, and career time. The height of Pantera’s popularity was when I was in my most agonizing pain. There is no way that after your record comes in at number one on Billboard and your in this heavy metal band that…. First of all, I’m a great pessimist as far as I feel about what is going to be successful, and I don’t like to speculate because your only setting yourself up for a letdown if it doesn’t come to fruition. I don’t think anyone in Pantera thought, Jesus, one day we are going to be the biggest band in the fucking world. Nobody thought that, nobody felt that. All we knew was to throw down and play music with a chip on our shoulder.

To cut to the chase, when I was in extreme pain, I tried to quench and dilute that pain with booze and pain pills. That shit lead to hard drugs. I said things and spoke my mind about other bands, and I would say half-ass shit, when really I had no business talking about other bands, during a Pantera show. I was like in this demented, wounded animal stage where I would lash out man, and, in all truth, that’s not me at all. It does show the power of hard drugs and hard booze wear and tear on the body, and what it does to the mind. It desensitizes you. When you basically feel horrific on the inside, that’s what you’re going to put out there. Yes, I regret it. I regret it very, very much. I feel very fortunate to not be in that position anymore. I use those days as a prime example as what not to be ever again in my life. I take it as a learning experience, but yes, yes, there are regrets.

Had I taken this massive success that I could barely comprehend in my 20’s, even in my 30’s, I could not comprehend my success. Had I taken my success more seriously and treated my body the way David Lee Roth or Henry Rollins, or one of these guys that are very physical on stage, and kept an elite attitude towards their conditioning and their well-being on stage like they did… In other words, I really wish I had not jumped off an eight-foot drum riser, completely wasted on Wild Turkey, trying to land with pin point accuracy. In other words, I basically dug my own grave by living the lifestyle to it’s fullest, and I do mean the rock n’ roll crazy, get drunk every fucking night lifestyle that Pantera lived. We fucking lived that shit to the hilt, and that’s not suggested for anybody (laughs). I would save the partying for later, or on days off man.


"What people should know about me is that I’m very approachable, and I will answer… I’m a wide open book. Don’t ever feel overwhelmed to be down to earth with me."


What is a public misconception about yourself, or a lesser known fact, fans may be surprised to know about you?



Philip H. Anselmo: The first thing that comes to mind is, you strip away that rock star mentality, I’m very approachable, very nice to people and kind to people. Most mistakes I’ve made in my life were made due to the fact that I couldn’t say no in certain situations, where I was being overly nice to where I couldn’t say no. I’m not talking about doing drugs. I’m talking about obligating myself to certain situations that maybe weren’t the best idea for me at the time, especially after the injury and after having my mind clouded with drugs and alcohol. Making life decisions at that point are always going to come off as half-cocked.

 What people should know about me is that I’m very approachable, and I will answer… I’m a wide open book. Don’t ever feel overwhelmed to be down to earth with me. I can talk about your average day, I can talk about the weather, or I can talk about football. If I don’t know what the fuck your talking about, I’ll ask ‘ya what the fuck you’re talking about. I’ve seen motherfuckers that I’ve grown up with and known for a while that I can call friends. I’ve seen their personas grow and grow onstage to where they ended up believing in there rock star capsule. They believed it. I’ve seen them conduct themselves in front of fans in a way that I felt embarrassed for them; because you could tell they were putting on a show and all this bullshit. It’s a shame for the fans, because these particular people weren’t really being themselves. They could have talked to these kids and been down to earth, because they are great people and actually pretty nice to talk to; instead they get the rock star treatment. I see it, and I recognize it, and I hate it. I think it’s fucking bullshit. I think it’s absolute crap, and I like to distance myself from that entire thing man.

I adore the underground. I adore up-and-coming bands. I adore the youngsters, the younger generation. I love what they hold in store for the future, especially the bands that are doing very extreme things, whether it be heavy metal or pop, as long as it’s extreme. To bridge that gap, you have to be as real as possible with people, instead of some veil-cloaked, fucking guarded rock-star mythology, fucking mystery to these people. I’m not a fan of it man, I don’t like it.





Sonic Excess images and staff authored work are copy written and are not to be used without the written permission of the Editor(s). © 









Bookmark and Share


Shameless Self-Promotion:


Brandon M. Marshall's items

Go to Brandon M. Marshall's photostream