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Interview: Phil Anselmo, Part 2: Life
Anselmo talks back injury, addiction, animals & more
In the world of metal music, Phil Anselmo is a name that stands strong; being
the former frontman of Pantera, his name carries massive respect. The words
“you can’t be something you’re not,” from the band’s 1993 hit anthem “Walk,”
represents the man that Phil Anselmo really is. During a recent interview
Anselmo held nothing back—who he is, where he’s been.
What was it that made you want to pursue music?
Phil: Man, I’ve answered this before in the past and really the truthful answer
is even being a little shrimp, six or seven years old with music, music, music
always in the house. Having it being such a big part of my life and of course I
guess you learn kind of young in certain instances, like I did, it’s the more
aggressive music that I liked. Which eventually lead to heavy metal, because
god knows that when I was seven-years-old there wasn’t what we call heavy
metal today out there, yet.
But honestly it is something I think that I was always going to do anyway. I
could sit back and think, if I re-lived my life again or something like that, shit
man I could be a fighter, I could be a friggin’ quarterback, I could be a small
line-backer. I could do a million other dreams job, but the only real one and
true one was music man and that in itself is the fucking truth.
Looking back through your life, what seems to have been your biggest
Phil: Well you know, the old back injury wasn’t any fun man. And still there are
those days where it is fucking miserable. But I guess there is something inside
you that I say builds a callous. And you just get used to it. It’s a mental callous
and you kind of block it out. You can’t let it control everything about the day. So
as far as a big setback in my life, getting injured was definitely tops man. As
strong as I did feel, I still feel strong. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a point in my
life my life where, put it this way, hypothetically, I felt like I could just fucking
leap off the ground and fly. And I’m talking fly, like strong and eyes straight
forward through the friggin’ sky, like superman. But, these days when I fly, I
cannot help but keep my eyes on the ground a little bit. Maybe there’s a slight
I’m not 100 percent, not like I’m in bad shape. I’m not in great shape right now,
because I’ve been in the fucking studio for so long and that totally eats up your
fucking time. But, don’t fucking injure yourself. Don’t ever hurt your fucking
back. That’s my advice to anyone out there.
How did that injury happen?
Phil: Just being on stage man, accumulative. Just jump, after jump, after jump,
after stomp, after whatever. Just being extremely physical on the fucking
Looking the other way, what has been your biggest accomplishment in
your career so far?
Phil: Well, you know when you feel like there is no other alternative and you
feel like you’re fucking trapped. And do fall into the little pain-killer fucking
world, which escalates into the big fucking drug addict mess and you hit rock-
bottom. To climb out of that particular hole and come back after surgery, and
fight back and fight back and fight back. And claim as much "face" back as you
possibly can because unlike your average person, I didn't have the opportunity
to group up outside of media scrutiny.
So, no one else can feel the pain I'm feeling and there is a lot of supposition
out there. And that's kind of tough too, but you can only handle as much as
you can. So I would think that after coming out of rock bottom, not to mention
|For The Fans, By The Fans. Look Beyond The Mainstream.
Down vocalist and former Pantera frontman, Phil Anselmo. Photo Supplied.
"I could do a million other dreams job, but the
only real one and true one was music man
and that in itself is the fucking truth."
"So I would think after coming out of rock
bottom, not to mention all of the horrific things
that kind of happened and went down, mostly
including and especially Dimebag’s murder,
it’s getting on with life."
"I knew I said ridiculous things, I felt like a
trapped animal, I was trapped. And I lashed
out at a lot of different things, said incoherent
things, and mumbled my way through fucking
interviews. You look at it and you see it, once
again with the benefit of hindsight, and you
say to yourself… This is not me… It’s
embarrassing… And it’s ugly."
"There is a part of me that has always wanted
people to see who I really am."
"I didn't have the opportunity to grow up
outside of media scrutiny."
"I love animal’s man. I love ‘em. They’re real!
They’re not going to bullshit you. They love
you, it’s unconditional."
"And believe it or not, and this will probably
fucking shock everybody and they’ll want to
fall out of a chair... I’m a huge Smiths' fan."
all of the horrific things that kind of happened and went down, mostly including and especially Dimebag’s murder; it’s getting on with life. To me all the
platinum records all the number one records. All that stuff. That’s great. That’s fine. That’s nothing I expected ever in my entire life. Whether I was
going to be a rock singer or not, I didn’t expect it and I still don’t expect anything. Those things were and are beautiful, and humbling, and I can’t even
put into words what that type of stuff means to me. But still, the fact that I’m not laying around in constant pain, constantly blitzed out of my mind on
some fucking potion, powder, pill, fucking crap, fucking shit that ends up controlling your life. That my friend is a good feeling, to wake up and know
that you are you. You have your drawl backs and you still get up, shake it off and get on with the fucking day. Right now in my life I’ll be 44 this year
and to me that’s a giant accomplishment right there. It really is. I can’t downplay that at all.
Going through that do you feel you have to redeem yourself in the public eye?
Phil: I’ll tell you this. When I was all fucked up and injured. In hindsight, and hindsight’s a benefiting thing. With the benefit of hindsight now, I knew I
said ridiculous things, I felt like a trapped animal, I was trapped. And I lashed out at a lot of different things, said incoherent things, and mumbled my
way through fucking interviews. Yeah, all that shit. You look at it and you see it, once again with the benefit of hindsight, and you say to yourself… This
is not me… It’s embarrassing… And it’s ugly.
So yeah, there is a part of me that has always wanted people to see who I really am. Truthfully, I’ve never really bought into the whole rock star
fucking thing. People left a bunch of heavy shit on my shoulders. What I mean by that is, you know when people say that I’ve benefited their lives and
helped their lives out tremendously through the music that I do or something like that. Of course that’s good, but once again I’m the only guy that’s got
to wake up in my body. With every interview and what not, I’m not going to lie to you and I’m not going to bullshit you. I’m going to shoot straight, tell it
like it is and just be a real person. Because really that’s what I am, I’m just a real dude man. Rock singer or no rock singer. Take it away and I’ll still be
me, you know? Fuck it.
There is a giant positive Phillip Anselmo personality out there, of course there is. My sense of humor is absurd. I thrive on the absurd. Like we were
talking about earlier, the studio situations where you have a room full of uptight guys, it’s like shit, if I come in uptight then we’re really fucked. It’s best
to come in with that fucking absurd sense of humor. Crack people up a little bit, let them know: "man, this ain’t the end of the world. It’s fucking music
man. What would you rather be doing? Swinging a fucking hammer? Let’s fucking hammer this shit out music style, you motherfuckers!" (Laughs)
And we’ll laugh about it. It’s good to laugh man. Keep it light you know?
And going back to your question, in interviews I try and keep it light. Even when things are heavy and serious questions are posed. It doesn’t happen
often, but it has happened where I’ll get another guy on the other end of the line that just wants to wind me up and just see what I’ll do or if I’ll break the
mold, or whatever, or come out of this Mr. Nice Guy routine and turn into this monster again. And it ain’t gonna happen man. It really ain’t gonna
happen. I don’t feel the same and therefore I will not rebut in the same way and they’re not gonna get a fucking rise out of me. I’m not stupid, I can
fucking hear your probing questions you fucking mother-fucker!...just kidding (Laughs).
You live a subtle life. A relaxed environment overall. Like you said, not like the typical rock star. Did you ever breakout and fit the rock
Phil: Never, never, never. I think it’s ugly. I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s pompous. I think it’s fake as shit, because especially in the world of music or
entertainment there is a ladder. You could play a gig on your way up and there could be one local crew guy/girl that you run into for the first time and
you all have bad words or a shitty afternoon together. You call each other a million names. And later on down the line you find out this person, a
couple years later, is either the main promoter for this area or has a higher ranking position somewhere that is going to affect your life. You don’t want
to burn bridges. You don’t want to create enemies just for fucking the moment’s sake, if I happen to be in a bad mood. That doesn’t work man.
And this is also true, every gig, every fucking gig is different when you’re on tour. I learned if I walk into a place there is the roadies doing their shit
they’ve been doing for weeks on end; there’s the band, we’ve all been crammed in a bus together and we may have all woken up a different times.
And they’ve been up all day doing a million different things. They might be aggravated.
So if I walk in the first thing I want to do is tell everybody "Good mornin’! What’s happening everybody? How ya doin’? Y’all ready to jam tonight? Let’s
fuckin’ go man!" (Laughs) And you give ‘em that positive incentive, you know it makes the day roll a lot easier. It really does man, makes the day a lot
motherfucking easier man. Just being fucking pleasant to people.
You have a softer side for animals. You have a lot of pets, don’t you?
Phil: I love animal’s man. I love ‘em. They’re real! They’re not going to bullshit you. They love you, it’s unconditional.
Was that a childhood thing or something you just developed a compassion for?
Phil: Put it this way, my parents divorced shortly after I was born and I’ll say this. My dad, not an animal person at all. But that’s alright because I lived
with my mom and we had a million animals whether it was cats or dogs. We grew up with the family pets and shit like that. So yeah man, I was kind
of raised around animals and definitely taught to respect them. In other words, don’t fucking tease animals. Don’t rile ‘em up for no fucking reason.
Think I learned that one the hard way as a kid one time. Think I was out back messing with all these cats kind of chasing them all around and my
mom got home from work, and oh boy. Fuck. That was that you know? I learned to treat fucking animals with some respect.
Are you an avid supporter of humane societies, donation or charity work?
Phil: I’m not avid man, but I’ve had situations where, put it this way. I write for "Boxing Insider," which is a website. And I’ll get all the commenters and
the more articles you write you see a lot of the same names. There was this one girl pretty recently, from Sweden, and she would comment on all of
my stories and a couple of my fellow writers and what not, we’d always comment on each other’s stuff. But she’s the type of girl who would just not
talk boxing. Kind of give a little background to her life and apparently she’s been through chronic pain herself, and a bad back and a lot of similar
problems that I had, fighting painkiller, pain addiction, and all that fucking shit. She had to move and she had this little stable full of horses, old horses,
she didn’t have the money to pay to house them or whatever they do. Bring them to another ranch and put them in a stable. It was either that or put
them down. So me and some of my fellow boxing writers got together and we pitched in some money to save this girl's horses man. And that was
pretty recently. So like I said, I’m not avid but if the chance comes up to where I’m asked to help or something like that, sure man. Absolutely.
I was going to mention your relationship. Is she a girlfriend or are you married?
Phil: Well, she’s still my girl. But we’ve been together ten years. So it’s very much like a marriage just we haven’t decided to do that quite yet.
I know you’ve mentioned in previous interviews how she’s kind of been your Sharon to Ozzy and helped you out through a lot.
Phil: Aye man, she keeps growing and she’s a hard worker. Hard, hard, hard worker, and very honest. Very for real, down to earth, and we talk. And
we’re really, really, really good friends on top of that. There is no doubting she is the machine that keeps this whatever’s going on here at the Anselmo
camp fucking nice and oiled. She does a great job.
If there is anybody you haven’t worked with yet, maybe to do one song/collaboration who would that person be?
Phil: Well, there are some folks I haven’t met yet. But as far as collaborating with anybody that’s different. But like old David Lee Roth, I never met
David Lee Roth; one of my biggest influences as fucking kid. I would love to meet that cat. And I guess if he broke out an acoustic guitar and wanted
to start fucking jammin’ you know what? I most certainly would probably do that one thing. (Laughs) I figure it would be fun man. And believe it or not,
and this will probably fucking shock everybody and they’ll want to fall out of a chair... I’m a huge Smiths' fan. And I think that Morrissey is probably one
of the genius’s that are out there, lyrical genius’s out there that are maybe overlooked by metal people. Between him and Nick Cave, I don’t know
where or how they get these unbelievable topics and just endless fucking font of fucking lyrical genius. It’s like man! I’m blown away by both those
guys so, I would love to sit in with those cats just to see. Just to look see.
Is there anything you would like to add or anything you want to say about Rock on the Range?
Phil: If we got the gig booked then I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation. I’m looking forward to it big fucking time man. For the most part,
Ohio’s always been a very, very kind audience.
Have you been to Columbus since…
Phil: A bunch of times, several, several times. I know something bad happened there. Something life changing happened there. But you know what? It
is not one other true fan's fault out there. So I hold no grudges against Columbus. It’s just unfortunate that something unfortunate happened there. So
I’m coming in with the best of attitudes and I’m looking to have a fucking killer show. No if, ands or buts. So suggest everyone out there take all their
fucking vitamins, do their push-ups, drink a bunch of water and let’s get down to business!