In order to celebrate the release date of Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell: 20th Anniversary Edition, Pantera’s vocalist, Phil Anselmo, got online and chatted with fans worldwide via Ustream. During the chat, Phil looked healthy, strong, and was very eloquent with all of his answers. As usual, he was very honest and comical. When asked what his recipe for looking younger and younger is, he jokingly said, “Next thing you know, I will be back in an egg. My mother used to call me a hatch.” Since we know not everyone was able to tune in, our partners from Horns Up Rocks brought us a rundown of Anselmo’s chat with Pantera’s fans: uncensored and real, just like the way it should be!
Why did you decide to become part of a heavy metal band?
There is no energy like the heavy metal energy!
What is your favorite track from Cowboys from Hell?
It has to be “Primal Concrete Sledge”! It is a brutal song that came out of nowhere. We were in between takes while recording Cowboys from Hell and Vince started playing this beat that made all of us lose our minds. Dimebag started playing this crazy guitar part, I started scribbling some lyrics. And next thing you know we had a whole song. It was magic!
How does it feel to have been part of Pantera?
It was a full-way split when the four of us would get in a room and jam. All of us! The only way to describe it is: “Modulistic terror, a vast sadistic feast, the only way to exit, is going piece by piece.” [Slayer lyric, “Piece by Piece”]
What was the lyrical process like for Cowboys from Hell?
It was up to me to make sure the lyrics fit into the song. But I would be open to the band’s opinions, and sometimes we even voted to see if a lyric was right for a particular song. Especially during “Cowboys from Hell.”
What was your personal inspiration and motivation to switching gears into a more ass-shredding sound?
Gradual, but honest things. When I joined Pantera, we made it known that we were going for a more aggressive sound. The thing is that at the time we had a war with the clubs. If you wanted to be part of the club scene, they made you dress with spandex like Mötley Crüe, since that was popular in the 80’s. But that did not last long.
Where you aware that this album would change heavy metal forever?
No Way! We knew we were great, but we had a lot to prove. Cowboys from Hell was our introduction to the world. We had to prove ourselves every night, show after show.
During that time, which vocalists influenced your vocal style?
I found a lot of beauty in thrash metal vocalists like Paul Ballof from Exodus and Dark Angel’s Don Doty.
What inspired the lyrics from “Cemetery Gates”?
There was a friend who had died in NOLA and it had a real heavy impact within my group of friends. When I wrote the lyrics I did not want them to be too personal, because that can be cheesy. I also had to make sure that the lyrics would not take away from the song, because that was one of our best songs.
What are your top five songs of all time?
Man, that is a fucking hard question! But if I have to pick five songs, they are: “At Dawn They Sleep” by Slayer, “The Battle of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin, “Drowning Man” by U2, “Blind” by Swans, “Painted Black” by the Rolling Stones, “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles, and I got one more, “The Prophet Song” by Queen.
What is your favorite Dimebag solo from Cowboys from Hell?
It has to be “The Sleep”! It is a ripping solo, with so much feel; it is a great song!
What is your favorite Black Sabbath album?
That is another tough question… I feel like two lovers feeling like a fool. I have to go with Sabotage, and you cannot forget Paranoid!
What song gives you goose-bumps?
David Bowie’s “Wild is the Wind.”
What is your most meaningful tattoo?
When in doubt, always go with the first! The old PHIL CORE.
Which artists were your main influences when writing lyrics for Pantera?
Definitely Van Halen, some Judas Priest, and even Metallica and Slayer. Metallica made the breakthrough for thrash metal bands, but Slayer killed me! Without Slayer I would be a different man today!
If you were 18 years old today, would you try to make it in the music business?
Of course! But it’s not about making it, it is all in your head. When Far Beyond Driven went number one on Billboard, I was overwhelmed. But also underwhelmed. It is a great honor, but making it is all a state of mind. Put in the work by practicing, spending time in the studio, and definitely get on that fucking stage!
What can you tell us about your upcoming autobiography? Would say it is a cautionary tale? Why should people read Phil Anselmo’s story?
It is a cautionary tale about an interesting journey, with certain stories that nobody has heard before. You will understand me better if you read it. When you write a book it is a self examination. When you start getting old, you will see how much you learn from when you were younger. It will not be your average rock autobiography!
What was your first concert?
When I was young I would go see local acts. But my first big show was KISS in the 6th grade. A good friend of my family who was KISS’ tour manager took me. Around that time I also saw Jethro Tull, and I even [saw] OZZY with a shaved head and a wig on! INSANE!
Did you ever experience stage fright?
When I was a kid I was always the youngest in the bands I played in, so there was some apprehension. With Pantera we had to work our way up. Being in the Cowboys from Hell Tour taught us a lot. We had to build our ground. Once you have that microphone in your hand, you simply melt the stage fright away!
Which of your songs is the hardest song to sing?
It has to be “The Great Southern Trendkill”! I had no time to breathe on that one, since I had to fill in all the gaps. I learned my lesson hard on that one.
What are your favorite memories from the Cowboys from Hell Tour?
Hanging out with Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus was mayhem every night! The funniest story was when Dimebag ruffled Yngwie Malmsteen’s feathers. It was hilarious, everyone was inebriated. They wanted to kick his ass!
How was it to reach platinum status with Pantera?
It was a great achievement! Very unexpected. I am a pessimist when it comes to getting something good with my music because the music industry is very rough!
How did you end up doing guest vocals on Vision of Disorder’s Imprint?
I toured with Tim Williams from VoD, and I became friends with the band when they would come see us in New York. They asked me to do it, so I did! VOD DAMN! I hope they are doing well; they are great guys.
What are your favorite boxers?
Great question! Got to go with Mohammed Ali, Rocky Marciano, MikeTyson in his prime, Lennox Lewis, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran (manos de piedra), and Tomas Hitman.
What was your first gig ever?
Speaking of stage fright. I was terrified! It was in NOLA at an all ages show. I was wearing jeans, a Van Halen T-shirt, and a bandanna on my neck. Once I gripped that microphone stand, I did not let go! I plugged my microphone into a guitar FX pedal. Then at the end of a Black Sabbath song we were covering, I hit the guitar pedal. It was horrific!
What band did you want to play in, but couldn’t?
What is your favorite NFL team?
Please! I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana! So my team has always been the New Orleans SAINTS. I would stand in front of the TV as a toddler and watched them lose all the time! But now look at this T-shirt [shows Saints championship T-shirt] – world champions! And we are looking good this year too.
What message do you have for your fans?
I love you all! Celebrate this special day! Just have an awesome time! Be happy, be strong! I love you all! This is Philip Anselmo signing off!
Text: Horns Up Rocks | Ed: Amy Wiseman