PHILIP ANSELMO On Solo Career: 'It's Me Flexing The Freedom Of Being A Free Agent And Being Able To Play Any Kind Of Music I Want'
June 6, 2018
Colombia's El Santuario Del Rock recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current DOWN/SUPERJOINT frontman Philip Anselmo about his solo band, PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the writing process for PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS' second album, "Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue":
Philip: "It has happened in the past where there's been drum patterns that have inspired riffs. I think with this record, it was really riff-first, drums later, but not too much later. [Laughs] So, for the style of this record compared to, say, the first EP or split with WARBEAST or the 'Walk Through Exits Only' record, I think the approach to the record suits our drummer, José Gonzales. It suits his style better because he gets to do the out-and-out blast beat, which he's very good at. I think for this particular record, I found that using the blast beat, which, is very common by now, but for me, I thought it fit, I thought it was useful with this fucking band because that's what this band is for. It's for the expression of a more extreme form of heavy metal. Really, it's me flexing the freedom of being a free agent and being able to play any kind of music I want and really, I say this with the precursor to the next record that's going to be release and after we release that, that's a whole different band, you and I could possibly be having a very different conversation right now, so this year is going to be very, very interesting as far as where to put me in which musical box do you choose. It's going to be very confusing for people who are trying to put me in a box. [Laughs]"
On his lyrical approach and influences:
Philip: "I have a general idea when I write lyrics and then I basically create a framework by making a title for the song. For me, everything from the title of a song to a line of a song to a single word, a lot of times has double meanings and triple meanings and I like for the person listening, the individual listening, to come away with their own evaluation of the song, really, because it's kind of boring for me, as a music fan, and really, I always say this: I am a glorified fucking music fan, music nerd, that as a fan, I don't like when I'm told by an artist, 'This song is exactly about this. This song is about this specifically.' I don't like it. I'm not a fan of it. And yes, I do give a nod to George Orwell because thematically, it fits within the framework of what I'm talking about in the song. So, true crime, another whole different avenue of interest, but I mean, it goes hand in hand with horror movies, I guess, as far as a passion. I guess it goes hand in hand with the record I just put out, the examination of the imperfect human being, the most dangerous human being of all because we have this thing called 'reason.' We know the difference between right and wrong. We don't act on pure instinct. There can be a conniving, terrible ending for anyone aware that there are imperfect motherfuckers with bad ideas in their heads, man. It's true. It's crazy, man. And thing about it: There's full television stations dedicated to crime and true crime fucking cases. So, that goes to show, I hate to say it, it sounds grotesque, but it's part of our entertainment and that's disturbing in itself. My expression is… it is what it is. The generalities and even the striking dead, concrete points are all there. But, I like it when people interpret my songs, my lyrics and they come up with something that is completely far removed even from anything I could have ever imagined. [Laughs] It's amazing, actually. So, for me, that just sells the lore of the songs, move on and take a new life, so I let people let them believe what they want. Fuck, it's great."
On the wide variety of sounds found on "Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue":
Philip: "It's straight-up and honestly, just purely for the love of doing it, that's why we do it. Look, I wrote most of the stuff, so I knew going in we weren't writing some big hit record. We were going out to write, you know, an innovation of, I guess, what people perceive that when they look at my career, they look at the bands that I've been in and if they really do some digging, they're going to find some underground bands that might surprise them or might not. You know, I think you just made a point in what you said about this band that I think could be said this whole circle of musicians around me right now. I think once again, it points back to the next record that I put out with this band called EN MINOR and even the next ILLEGALS record, which is probably going to be an EP or a split because we have two of the songs leftover and they're very different and the vocals are very different, so goodness, man, I'm fucking with a lot of different styles, so if it's innovation and different tonality and stuff that is giving you hope or making your ears perk up, then I think that I've got some good stuff for you in the following 12 months or so, I'll be putting out some trippy stuff. I did a death metal project that I never put out like in 2014 that's really fucking over the fucking top, crazy with different sounds and elements and layers and so I might put that out at the end of the year or something like that. There's a lot of stuff going on over here."
Anselmo is currently recovering from back surgery he underwent at the end of January — the latest in a line of corrective procedures designed to helped him deal with the damage to his back, neck, and knees sustained over two decades of touring.
"Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue" came out last November via Anselmo's Housecore Records in the U.S. and Season Of Mist in other parts of the world.