Den forne Panterasångaren besökte nyligen Sverige med sitt lilla sidoprojekt Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals. Rocksverige fick det stora nöjet att sitta ned med sångaren under en kort stund och ställa ett gäng frågor om lite allt möjligt, bl a vad han idag skulle säga till sig själv som ung, om han fick möjligheten att åka tillbaka i tiden.
“I would say, knowing what I know now, stay off the drinking! Quit fucking drinking so much and take better care of your body!”
Your name Philip Hansen Anselmo, is there a Danish connection?
Phil: You know it! I am part Danish on my mother´s grandmother´s side of the family. She, Lola Hansen, came to the United States and picked cotton, until her fingers were arthritic and bleeding. She was very old when I was a kid and she lived until I was about six or seven.
You quit school in 12th grade. Have you ever regretted not getting an education?
Phil: No, there was nothing more for me to learn. I was advanced because I was smart when I applied myself and I had four credits left, which meant I could get there early in the day and leave at noon. The credits were two PE´s, mythology, which adore and love and wish I would´ve studied more of and geometry. I had a terrible teacher in geometry. She hated me, I hated fucking her and it was like a make up class. I was doing, at the time, four or five a week gigs night and getting home at six in the fucking morning, so for me, my homework was on stage. Don´t get me wrong! There are certain subjects, like history and mythology that I wished I had applied myself more and had a better foundation. I enjoy history especially and literally work that you still read. If you look at the fucking Bible and the way it´s written, it´s very powerful. The text and certain use of antiquate and archaic language is powerful and I love it! I´m a wordsmith, so it´s intriguing.
Were your parents ok with you quitting school?
Phil: They hated it! They fucking hated it! I remember I came home and said “I´m fucking quitting school!” and on the very next day my mom was on her way to work and she leans in my doorway and says “This is the saddest day of my life.” My stepfather kicked my door in and goes “You better start looking for a job, if you´re not gonna go to school!” I fucking had a job, I played gigs. I was making zero money, but I was like “Have a little faith in me, will ya!” She doesn´t complain too much now that I´ve bought her a house with a pool and a car. I can understand it though. “Hey mom, I´m gonna be a rockstar!” and she´s like “No, you´re not.” (laughs)
What does New Orleans mean to you?
Phil: It´s home, but it´s also a very cultural place, so to speak. It has history and instead of tearing down and putting up these brand new homes and what not, there are certain sections of the city that they restore. The history is still there and it´s old. It´s a very small community, it´s tiny. I always say “You could have a fender bender on the street and the person in the car that you hit, is related to you.” It´s just very small and it´s home. It´s a place that I love very much and it´s very different than Texas and very different than many cities I´ve been to. That´s why I love Europe, the smaller parts of Europe, not the inner cities, but the rural parts and the more delicate and less developed parts of Europe. That´s just fucking beautiful for me.
After all the stuff you´ve been through and experienced, if you had a chance to go back in time and give some advice to your younger self when you quit school to become a rock and roller, what would it be?
Phil: I would say, knowing what I know now, stay off the drinking! Quit fucking drinking so much and take better care of your body! Make sure your core is strong, keep your back strong, because you don´t wanna go through what you went through when you injured yourself and made every rookie mistake in the book with drugs, escapism and all of that. You don´t play music, initially, to get chicks and drugs. You do it because you love music. That´s the big reminder I would definitely say. Do it for the love of music and everything else will fall in line eventually, or not? Take the chance, be a lifer or at least grind it out till you find out!
You have a birthday coming up. How do you look at getting older? Is it what you expected it to be?
Phil: Some things are harder, of course. A little tougher here and there. It´s also the path that you travel. I think there are some graces in getting older, that are great and fantastic, but you also miss that youthful bounce back ability. The path that I´ve travelled, being older isn´t so bad. You learn from it and hopefully you think yourself a bit wiser and more prepared for the unknown and this and that.
On the title track on the Illegals album, “Walk through exits only”, the song starts off with the lyrics, “It´s ruined. Everybody ruins music, not just me” What is it you mean by that?
Phil: (laughs) Good question! The “Walk through exits only” record in general is a long string of absurdities, made to take little digs here and there. I see people who take themselves too fucking seriously. Music in general, is going to go through many, many phases and developments and destructions and imitations and innovations… put it this way, case in point, two bands that just jump to mind, Hellhammer and Pantera. Both of us were misunderstood completely at first, laughed at, scrutinized and then Hellhammer reformed and became Celtic Frost and that was misunderstood to a certain degree, but some of us got it and loved it and today they´re classic. With Pantera it took “Vulgar display of power” to validate “Cowboys from hell”. There´s gonna be many musical expressions that are misinterpreted right off the bat. In other words people will sit and say “You´re ruining music!” and then you´ll say “Just relax, it´s just different! Let it grow on you or fucking don´t listen to it and go back to your fucking Michael Jackson, or whatever the fuck you´re listening to!” You get my point? Everybody ruins music, not just me, so quit pointing at me!
I talked to Jimmy Bower about the song “Bacchanalia” and its outro from the latest EP and he said that he would like to see the next EP be more of that laidback stuff. Any thoughts on that?
Phil: You know, we want the third installment of the EP´s to be a use of different textures within the sounds and maybe even organization of songs and stuff like that. But in my heart of hearts, sometimes I wonder if it would be fair to Down fans, for us to put out an all acoustic EP, when we´re at heart are a heavy metal band? I know that in the past we´ve shown flexibility in using dynamics and we have smoother stuff like “Stone the crow”. I think that if there´s a good balance there and maybe a progressive feel to it to where we can be heavy metal and then drift into a different dynamic, I think that is important. I think that´s gonna be challenging and I love that challenge and I really think the third EP has to be perfect, for it to be pulled off. It has to be haunting, tearjerking and perfect, it has to be. Next year in summertime, hopefull, we´ll start writing that thing and me and Pepper (Keenan) will get together, because he has a lot of great stuff and we´ll start developing this fucking thing. I´m looking forward to it, man. I really am.
Av: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Foto: Michaela Barkensjö