MACHINE HEAD Frontman Confirms New Song Was Written Partly About PHILIP ANSELMO 'White Power' Incident
June 3, 2016
MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn has confirmed that he re-wrote part of the lyrics for the band's new song "Is There Anybody Out There?" to include lines that are a commentary on the "white power" gesture Philip Anselmo made onstage in January.
Anselmo performed the PANTERA classic "Walk" at the January 22 "Dimebash" event at the Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood, California in honor of his late bandmate "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. As he left the stage, he made a Nazi-style salute. He appeared to say "white power" as he made the gesture, but he later claimed he was referring to drinking white wine as part of an "inside joke."
Flynn, who performed at Dimebash alongside Anselmo and a number of other notable musicians, wrote the original lyrics to "Is There Anybody Out There?" in late 2015, but was unhappy with the initial version of the track because he wanted the vocals to sound more enraged. "I went in two days later to take one more pass at the vocals and try and get a more pissed-off performance, and I started singing the words that I had on the second verse, and I just wasn't… angry," Flynn explained in new "Is There Anybody Out There?" making-of video (see below). "I wasn't feeling it, and so I wrote a whole new second verse about how fucking appalled I was that he [Philip Anselmo] did that"
He continued: "One of the things [Anselmo] said to me [that night].... He told us to shut up, stop playing. 'I told you to stop.' I made a little noise and he went, 'You don't know me.'
"No, I don't know you. Not anymore. I don't know you. I don't get it."
Flynn went on to say: "I haven't felt connected to the metal community for some time now. I don't get where things are going. And part of this song is about that: that I don't get where it's going. And him doing that shit again — and this is again; this has been happening for twenty fucking years now, but I never had to stand on stage with the dude. But, you know, I sang some pretty pissed-off lyrics for that second verse. And everybody wanted [the vocals to sound] more pissed; they got more pissed."
According to Flynn, the change in the song's lyrics set off a conversation within the MACHINE HEAD camp about whether the sensitive nature of the subject matter was appropriate for a track that was intended as a crossover song that could potentially expose the band to a whole new audience.
"[We had] a huge discussion [about] 'Does it need to be said? It's gonna turn off people in the Midwest and the South. And that's where all the radio play is gonna be that matters. We're gonna polarize people,'" Robb said. "And we are. Those aren't invalid arguments; they're all true. We run the risk of not getting any airplay because of it. Hopefully the catchiness of the song can override that, because it's a really catchy fucking song. But it may not. It may start a bunch of shit and then not even do anything. But that's how I felt."
In the end, Flynn says that it was more important to be able to say something of value and stand behind the song's message, even if it meant alienating a certain segment of MACHINE HEAD's fanbase.
"Music is about passion and about believing the words that you're saying, and making the listener believe that you're angry or happy or sad or whatever about what you're singing about," he explained. "And there's no question: the previous lyrics I sang were good, but I don't know if you're gonna believe 'em, and you're gonna believe this. Some of you guys might not even like it. Some of you watching this right now might be offended by the shit I'm saying in this song, and I don't care."
He continued: "We've talked about how, 'Does it belong in there? Does it need to be said?' I don't know. Does it need to be said? You know, this is a commercial song. We're trying to get on radio with it. Is this gonna just negate our chances, because now it's saying something, and God forbid we say something anymore, because that might offend listeners in the Midwest and that might offend listeners in the South, and that's where we need to get inroads in America if we wanna do something, and we've just gotta say what they want. And do they want that? I don't think so. I don't think the majority of the people who live in the Midwest and the South wanna hear white-power shit, and I don't think they're gonna be offended by me saying otherwise, by me saying, 'Fuck those people!' Because, really, that is what 'Is There Anybody Out There?' [is] about. Does anybody feel lonely? Do you feel fucking lost? Do you feel… scared? And I do. I do feel scared. I'm scared to say this, 'cause I know it's gonna start a war with them. I'm scared to sing it. And that's one of the lines in the chorus: 'Is anybody else scared? The paranoia drops me to my knees.' But does it need to be said? Yes. Fuck! Absolutely. Now more than ever."
"Is There Anybody Out There?" is available digitally for purchase now on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Nuclear Blast FLAC. In addition, fans can listen to the track now via Spotify, Apple Music and all other streaming services. "Is There Anybody Out There?" will also be made available as a limited-edition seven-inch vinyl starting July 22. Pre-order the release at this location.
Shortly after Anselmo's "Dimebash" video went viral, Flynn uploaded an eleven-minute video response to the incident in which he called Anselmo a "big bully" and described Philip's behavior as "fucking wrong."
"Is There Anybody Out There?" lyrics:
I was born as a bastard, no father, no master, A shadow in silence left searching for answers
Put up for adoption and left with no option Another kid fostered to fester forgotten
Take a look into these desperate eyes As they're cast into the wretched hive
But I ain't going down alone Is there anybody out there? Anybody listening to me? Is anybody else scared? The paranoia, drops me to my knees Does anybody feel lonely? Disconnected from the things I see Is there anybody out there? Anybody out there just like me? I'm choking on these words and I can't breathe
Now I stand as a father, to men with no honor Ashamed of the racists I used to call brothers
'Cause no flag can mean bravery, when bloodied by slavery, The rebel, a devil, disguised as a savior
And the sickening feeling in the air Is the fear to speak that no one dares
So will I stand here all alone? Is there anybody out there? Anybody listening to me? Is anybody else scared? The paranoia, drops me to my knees Does anybody feel lonely? Disconnected from the things I see Is there anybody out there? Anybody out there just like me? I'm choking on these words and I can't breathe
Live my life like I'll die tonight Dream like I'll live forever
I have roared at the world for years Doesn't anybody hear me? This burden suffered, I've paid the cost Not all who wander are lost
Is there anybody out there? Anybody listening to me? Is anybody else scared? The paranoia, drops me to my knees Does anybody feel lonely? Disconnected from the things I see Is there anybody out there? Anybody out there just like me? I'm choking on these words and I can't breathe [End of lyrics]