From the time when Pantera first burst onto the scene with their major label debut in 1990, Phil Anselmo has made a name for himself. The outspoken frontman has played in several bands during and since Pantera’s breakup, including Down, Superjoint Ritual and Arson Anthem. He’s also formed his own label, Housecore Records. We caught up with Anselmo as he was relaxing in his backyard to talk about being a label owner, his former band, and his health. While we gave you an excerpt of the interview a few weeks back, here’s the whole thing – with audio. Be sure to listen in at about 9:20 into the interview for the most awesome interview interruption ever.
Talk to me about the formation of Housecore Records.
It pretty much originated with the idea of releasing a bunch of stuff that I had done while still under contract to a major label throughout the ‘90s. I’d be writing stuff and playing music with several groups of people during Pantera downtime. Then I figured I had this fantastic distribution in the states, and it was too good of a thing not to share the wealth. All of us know the state of music, the state of business, and the state of record labels. None of us are under the illusion that we’re getting rich off this deal. Not my style, not my deal. My thing comes from the heart. Let’s put it this way: if I was a fan of myself, and I was a music collector like I am, I would want the whole catalog. This is giving up about 95% of what I’ve done. It’s also, for these new bands that I believe in, to have their music more widely distributed and heard.
Is there pressure being a label owner?
There’s really no pressure with Housecore, and that was something I wanted to establish right off the bat. There’s no fucking time limits, and if a band isn’t happy with their product, then they’re welcome to finish it until it’s done. As far as pressure on myself? Sure, I feel it a little, I feel it a little, but I think we’re very honest about what we are, which is a do it yourself label. It’s a 50/50 deal. What we put into it, the band has to put into it as well. Our bands coming into it know that it’s going to take a dual-headed hydra to make things work.
How have you seen the music industry change?
I’m sure it’s been said a thousand fuckin’ times, but with today’s techonology, it was bound to happen. There’s a part of me where I’m glad, in a way. I guess this can go hand in hand with what I wanted to do with Housecore: the freedom, no pressure, the dual input. It seemed like to me, the bigger conglomerates made a whole lot of moves on fans’ behalves without asking. They put pressure on other bands to get product out. They fork out all this motherfuckin’ money, and the band thinks they’re rich, when in reality, it’s just one big debt that they just got themselves into, and the only way to work that debt off is to play shows probably two years longer than you should be playing those shows.
There’s a freedom there, and a free for all. There’s a million little indie labels, and there’s no need for gigantic studios and big drum rooms and huge consoles any more. With Pro Tools, and once again, technology, people fuckin’ record in fuckin’ closets and it sounds great. Or it sounds how they want it to. They don’t need this high dollar producer, they don’t need fancy equipment. I realize all of this, and there’s good to it and there’s bad to it.”
What is your musical output other than Down right now? Are you in any other side projects?
I did do Arson Anthem. The second Arson Anthem, which is due out later this year. 17 songs, 30 minutes, brilliant. So I guess to answer your question, if any show dates come up and there was a bit of free time and really gotta look at the other members of the band once again as Mike Williams from Eyehategod, who’re playing their asses off. Hank III, who just put out his record, he’s touring all the fucking time. So it’s like you wait around and if that comes up, great. I would do some Arson Anthem shows, however, I will not lie, I have been writing my own stuff. I play guitar, I play the bass, and I sing. I just got this drummer and he’s fucking aggressive and fucking heavy. Unlike every other one of my side bands, this does not sound like any other fucking band I’ve been in before.
Is it a conscious effort to not repeat yourself?
If you’re gonna do another band, if you’re gonna write more music, why would you want that band to sound like another band that you were in? It’s boring. So yeah, this shit’s way different, but really needed. I tell you what, it’s not any polished product at all. Matter of fact, I’m just scribbling lyrics here and there. Musically though, where it really starts, whether it be rhythmic, fucking words or sentences in my head that inspire riffs or parts, I think it’s a bit of a departure from your average cut and paste heavy metal. I’m not necessarily going for any tradition. In other words, I’m not gonna go fast for the sake of going fast, I’m not gonna play slow for the sake of playing slow. It’s groove oriented, sure, but it’s not the P word—Pantera. It’s aggressive as a motherfucker and that’s all I can really say at this point.
You did bring up the P word. You have the Cowboys from Hell 20th anniversary coming out. How involved were you with the reissue?
I was pretty involved, man. There were always questions as to artwork and they asked me to do some kind of write up stuff, memory lane type stuff for the record. Everything that was passed my way had to be approved by Rex and Vince as well. In a vicarious way, I’m working with Vinnie Paul again, which makes me feel kinda good. So I had a hand in all of this.
So Down’s DVD/CD of your concert was supposed to come out and all of a sudden that wasn’t happening.
If I said anything about this, I don’t know anything. I don’t, I’ll tell you the truth. All I know is it was supposed to come out and there was a legal something or other with the distribution company. You never know, man. If I said anything else, I’d be a liar. I really don’t know.
I remember reading, a while ago, that Down was starting to jam again and work on the next record. What’s the status of that? Are you guys doing anything?
Well, we’re always in touch. Put it this way, Crowbar just got home from Europe. Jimmy and Mike and them—Eyehategod—got back about two weeks ago. We toured the last Down record for about two years and everybody needs that little decompression time and also to give some love to some of the other bands that we were always in. Either way, to answer your question, we got two shows. Matter of fact, we go to Europe next week. We play in Switzerland and we open for AC/DC in Bucharest in Romania. Then we have another show in July, which I think is in the UK. I think the general consensus between everybody is we’re gonna wait until the end of the year and then put our heads together because we already talked about a few things. Like Pepper and I, about two weeks ago, sat down and looked at a lot of the material that we do have and we’ve got songs. We’ve got some killer fucking songs so either way I would think end of the year or some shit like that.
Awesome. I guess I’ll end by asking you the status of two things. How’s your health?
Man, I’m catching up with motherfucking Evil Knievel. As far as this broken bone shit man, it’s almost uncountable. You’d have to pull out a chart of a skeleton and I tell you, you’re gonna have to pull one out when you read this shit. I’ve got a broken xiphoid bone, how do you like that one? Look that motherfucker up. It’s the bone that hangs right in the center of your solar plexus and if you’ve ever seen us play, you know that I have been smashing that mic against my head and in the center of my chest for two decades easy. Well, I was feeling some tightness in my chest. Then I felt this tiny little lump right in the center of my solar plexus and I went to the doctor and sure enough he’s like “oh yeah! Broken xiphoid” and I’m like “well what the fuck do I do about that?” and he was like “well, have you ever broken a rib?” and I said “yes, twice” and he asked me what I did for that and I said nothing and he said “bingo”. So it’s like singing hard aggravates it. I don’t know, I’m just sitting here wondering. Other than that, with all the fucking shit I’ve put this body through physically, aches and pains happen and it’s just a matter of keeping a positive fucking attitude. Getting up, stretching out, fucking standing up, and going. It’s just fucking do it. I’m too fucking injured to even go back anymore. Fuck it, learn to live with it.
The last thing I want to ask you is about New Orleans. How is it down there?
Well, it’s about to be fucking down the shitter again with this fucking oil spill. It’s not just New Orleans. I have to hand it to the whole Gulf Coast once again. But this time it’s man made. With Katrina, the city still isn’t 100% after that. That’s out of my hands right this second. The point being, this oil spill looks to be a whole lot worse, really, in the long run because of the industry—the fishing industry, the seafood industry—the country counts on for fucking real seafood instead of China’s imported seafood. You know, we’re fucked. A manmade disaster. When they tell you—and they being the government or some high ranking official that has no fucking business dealing with someone like us—I mean, I can’t talk for you, but I’m not a suit and tie guy, you know. I’m not. I don’t get you. If you’re up there talking with all of this fantastic vocabulary and then this fucking goddamn big suit and shit like that you are not relating to me or my fucking people. You’re on the other side of the fucking fence. So when one stupid motherfucker like that tells a body of people there’s no way that this particular oil drilling situation can fuck up, it’s a fucking lie. What’s gonna happen when the earth shifts? What’s gonna happen when the tide comes and another Katrina happens and it went through and barreled through the fucking goddamn pipeline that’s a mile deep into the earth? They’re liars. It was dug, therefore it was motherfucking bound for fuck up. Nothing lasts forever. I didn’t make that saying up, but whoever fucking said it first, they are right. This is a manmade fuck up and man will have to fucking deal with it. Like with Detroit, when the auto industry fucking went under and all the jobs were fucking lost and shit like that. Dude, it’s gonna be like that here. What’s the president gonna do but sit up in his house? Not a mother fucking thing.
That’s what they’re paid to do. They’re paid to talk, dude.
And look the part. And the worst part about it is everyone’s so fucking complacent in America right now that there’s not even a murmur of revolution. Not at all. Fat, comfortable, and complacent. You take a fucking look at Greece the other day. They had motherfuckers protesting to the point to where they had to bring out tear gas and this was over a government fucking goddamn decision that the fucking people did not believe in so they fucking protested.
What do you think of the tea party? The anti-government protests that are going on right now?
I wish they had the strength of the hippies. This is the truth man. At least the hippies came out in droves. Put it this way, I wish we were more well organized. With the computer power that is out there today, I believe—this is my opinion. A million people can shoot me down but that’s fine— I believe that there could be a nonviolent revolution of sorts with the right organization of people. People who all believe the same way or at least hitting on 9 out of 10 points that don’t believe in what’s going on with today’s government. Once that group gets into the millions, the tens of millions, twenties, thirties, what are they gonna do? If everybody sat down and said fuck you, I’m not paying your taxes anymore, collectively, this group of millions of people that said fuck you, I’m not paying for your war and I’m not paying for these taxes that make no fucking sense. If these people were self-reliant and did whatever it takes to not buy from the stores and sit down and don’t give back to a system that you don’t fucking believe in, if that happens what are they gonna do? Line us up and kill us all? Doubtful. Really fucking doubtful. But everything I just said would take some major motherfucking doing. It would have to be meticulously organized.
Until then we’re just gonna be fat and lazy.
It’s true man. I hate to just say Americans but it’s hard not to. Look, I’m not some spoiled motherfucker crying about my country and then going back inside and popping on cable TV, that’s not the point. It’s just, there’s some things out there that if I have an opinion, I’ll speak it. That’s my opinion, but still you gotta take a look. Any motherfucking person out there that can scrutinize what I just said will fucking easily say “well if you weren’t in America you wouldn’t have had the opportunity that you had”. And I’ll look at you and haven’t you made money and this and that. Hasn’t America worked for you? Well sure to a certain degree, absolutely it works for me. But I also am not blind to how it doesn’t work for other people. I’ve got family, I’ve got friends too.