The metal lineup thundering into the Best Buy Theater tonight should be called the Housecore Records Tour: ex-Pantera frontman and Housecore Records founder Phil Anselmo has produced or is performing in all but one of the four bands on the bill.
Both the openers, Haarp and WARBEAST–from Louisiana and Texas, respectively–have two albums each on the Housecore label. And the headliner, Down, also from New Orleans, features Anselmo on vocals. In short, he’s a busy dude.
(The one band not from a Southern state and not with Housecore? That would be Saint Vitus, who made history in Brooklyn on Tuesday.)
Getting Anselmo on the phone is no simple task (it took weeks), but we finally tracked him down two days ago. He spoke to us from Philly about the Beatles, the blues, and the persistent Pantera “reunion” rumor.
We’ve heard you were quite a performer as a toddler and that you used to entertain your family. Is that true?
I will say that it is true. I was always singing, and I guess I was a shrimp-like entertainer at one time…the Beatles were probably the biggest influence in my life when I was a kid. So, you could take your pick out of any song. As a little boy, I was singing: [sings] “Lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time.” And everybody’s clappin’ and shit like that.
Down has been called a “supergroup.” What’s the songwriting process like for the band?
We are all guitar players to a certain degree. We all bring riffs to
the table. Not all of them are used, but most of them [are] used. It
really is a cumulative input type thing. If there’s any sole thing that
is different about the contribution, it would be, I write all of the
lyrics, and they do their leads. Other than that, it’s a big group
In metal, vocals range from singing to screaming. How do you think your own style has evolved over the course of your career?
With Pantera, there was, in my very young mind, this big yearning to
cross what I was enjoying about hardcore and thrash metal and speed
metal at the time, where melody kind of went out the window, but still
there was a power there. With Down, this is the type of band where, 99-percent of the time, I have to be in key when I’m singing.
So, I can’t really rely on a bunch of screaming, but when I do it…I’m
kind of thinking a little bit of James Brown. To me, Down is a slippery,
soulful, almost bluesy metal band. Even Pantera was bluesy a whole lot
of times in the riffing.
We like to think of Pantera as the blues on steroids.
I totally understand that. I really do. As far as our influence that
we left on the world, the easiest thing to grasp would be the chugging
parts of our music…but a lot of people failed to realize that there
were bluesy parts in there.
There have been rumors floating around of a Pantera “reunion” with Zakk Wylde. Is that real, and would that include you?
Well, it would better damn well fuckin’ include me, or it wouldn’t be
Pantera. I talked to Zakk about two weeks ago, and he’s very open for
it. He’s got an open mind about it. But, truth be told, Vince [Abbott]
has got a grudge against me that is really unfounded. And, honestly,
I’ve always had a wide-open door when it comes to Vince.
If it takes me standin’ there and lettin’ that little guy punch me in
the fuckin’ face repeatedly, over and over and over, til his hands were
tired of hittin’ my rock-hard fuckin’ head, as long as we could sit
down and talk afterwards, I’m all for it, man.
Would there be any issue with someone else playing Dimebag’s guitar parts?
Well, now, I didn’t say that the Pantera thing is a realistic thing. I
don’t think that’s the important thing. I think what the important
thing is, what Zakk and I discussed, is just Vince actually dropping his
guard and realizing there is no treachery afoot.
Anything else you wanted to add?
Shit, man. Fuckin’ come on New York City. That’s one of my favorite fuckin’ places, man. Fuckin’ bring it on.