July 20, 2024

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ROCKET Interviews Philip H. Anselmo

Philip H. Anselmo is a living “Heavy Metal God” , widely considered the ‘pound for pound’ greatest metal vocalist of them all – but that’s not to say he hasn’t been to hell and back.

After losing his former PANTERA band mate Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott by way of a tragic on stage shooting on Dec 8, 2004, Anselmo and the entire city of New Orleans were next literally flooded out of their own homes by Hurricane Katrina – a category 5 monster – and forced to take a brutal dose of mother nature. To add further insult to the hellish turn of events, Anselmo then found himself having to get major back surgery. Never one to throw his hands up in defeat, the music icon simply tightened his boot straps and unloaded a third album from his long running Sabbath-influenced DOWN project, along with moving full speed ahead in signing new acts, such as Texas thrashers WARBEAST (featuring RIGOR MORTIS vocalist Bruce Corbitt), to his very own Housecore record label.

WARBEAST’s debut “Krush The Enemy” is more than an all-out thrash assault… it’s a ‘brotherhood’ that’s come together – during difficult times – to keep the true metal tradition going strong… no matter what. The ‘Stronger Than All’ code he’s always lived by has definitely been put to the test in the past five years, but it’s Anselmo’s uncompromising love of music that’s helped him survive the toughest chapter in his life.

The Metal Den’s Randy “Rocket” Cody has conducted an EXCLUSIVE interview with Philip H. Anselmo for TMD’s loyal following of DEN HEADZ all across the globe!


Rocket: What initially inspired you to want to start your own record label?

Philip: There’s music I’ve made in the past, music I’ll make in the future, and a handful of bands from around the world that deserve to be heard. The thought of licensing the personal music I’ve been holding onto for over ten-years with some other “label” was ghastly; it wasn’t going to happen. So I knew one day I’d HAVE to put the stuff out on my own! Fast forward to the present… Extreme music has been kind to me on all levels of human existence, so the idea of helping newer bands grow and prosper is natural.

Rocket: You signed WARBEAST (formerly Texas Metal Alliance) to Housecore and took it upon yourself to truly be involved in the recording of the band’s debut “Krush The Enemy”. Why was it so important to you that you be involved so deeply in the process?

Philip: 1st of all, WARBEAST is a great band. 2nd, like any of our bands, I want to be as close as possible without interfering. If a band WANTS me to be in the studio with them, it’s my pleasure. If not, I trust their judgement. It’s THEIR band. If a band wants my production input, I don’t charge a cent because we’re both working to get the best results, obviously! Their names AND my name will be on the product! The band’s satisfaction with the end result is the most important thing. With WARBEAST, I felt that I was familiar enough with Bruce’s background, as well as Rick and Scott, to contribute. I also know Thrash Metal VERY well, especially the older school DFW Thrash sound. The band asked me to help out, period. That’s all they needed to do really, and man of course I said, “Fucking right!” Bruce and I got to work closely together, and that was a very cool experience. With WARBEAST, there’s a lot of detailed to their music, as well as vocal passages that deserved an extra amount of attention. They do what they do so well, we had to make sure everything was clear and audible enough for each guys liking. It’s a special record for them. It’s a GREAT record to me.

Rocket: You and Bruce Corbitt of RIGOR MORTIS/WARBEAST have known one another for many years. Can you recall the very first time you saw a RIGOR MORTIS show and tell us how it made you feel?

Philip: I can’t remember the name of the bar, but what I remember the most was how absolutely fucking intense they were. They were up on that stage, ugly as hell (ha!), ripping the shit out of the set! I’d heard their 1st demo before I saw them that night, so I knew most of their songs, but what amazed me was how much effort they put into their music! The demo didn’t do them justice! The songs were there, but to see them played live was a different experience. Crazy-intense!!!

Rocket: You recorded WARBEAST’s debut “Krush The Enemy” at your own home studio in New Orleans. As I understand it, you helped work with Bruce on his vocal delivery a bit before you actually began laying down his vocals. Was that a good experience for you and can you tell me more about what you were going after?

Philip: I answered part of this question earlier, but yes the experience was very rewarding. Bruce and I worked on specific things in specific areas that either he or I felt needed to be addressed. The same thing happened with the band before they actually started recording, so I think it’s more of a “check list’ type thing I like to do, just to make sure we’re all on the same page. Bruce did a great job. All I really do is “suggest” ideas. We tried a few different approaches, kept what we wanted and moved on. Bruce was a complete trooper, but we weren’t doing rocket science; this was about bringing out the best in his performance. Bruce does what he does and he is who he is, I didn’t wanna change that at all. It was our intention to pay closer attention to detail, take our time and come out of there with the best ‘Bruce’ we could. I believe it’s his best work. He believes it’s his best. Honestly I’ll say it’s his best work, so far… he’ll have to out-do himself on the next one! But we feel real extremely good about the work he did on ‘Krush the Enemy’. It’s bad ass.

Rocket: Will you be taking a producer credit on “Krush The Enemy”?

Philip: Yes. I don’t really recall, it might be a co-production thing, but either way, yes.

Rocket: The engineer who was chosen to work on “Krush The Enemy” is named David “The Puma” Troia. He’s worked with DOWN, OTEP and MUDVAYNE. In your opinion, how important is it – even for an underground metal band – to work with people that have a proven track record?

Philip: OK. Lets set the record straight here: “The Puma” is a protege of Dave Fortmans’. He and I have worked together for over 5-years now… I stole him(!) and now he’s the main HO– USECORE engineer! At least here in the New Orleans area. What I mean by that is, we work with bands like EVS (Exactly Violent Style) from Japan, and it’s not like they can just drop in and record their new CD or anything. But The Puma is an incredibly valuable member of the HO– USECORE team. He’s a laid-back cat, and that’s a key element whilst tracking, mixing etc. We work very well together. Some say it’s almost telepathic.

Rocket: You’ve obviously had some time now to hear all the music and vocals together on
“Krush The Enemy”. How do you feel things turned out from an execution stand point?

Philip: Every member of WARBEAST is uncompromising. They are relentless on their instruments, and we spoke of vocals. Believe me, it shows on this record. Execution of all things, is something those guys deliver on each track.

Rocket: How would you compare WARBEAST to the other thrash acts on the scene today?

Philip: OK. In my eyes, WARBEAST is a group of well-traveled musicians. The main songwriters were part of the original early ’80’s Metal scene, so their influences are vast, and they use them extremely well. No disrespect AT ALL to other Thrash bands out there today, and there’s no way I’m gonna lump ’em all into the same category, but you hear a lot of what I call “Exodus” worship out there, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everything is in 4-4 time, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus-end. Cool. And by all means, WARBEAST is and will be considered a band that can play side-by-side with any of these bands, but it’s the musicianship and song structure of WARBEAST that’ll stick out. They cover a lot of ground intensely and with top notch precision. They’re also great live.

Rocket: ‘The Eagle’ radio station in Dallas, Fort Worth has already begun playing some
tracks off “Krush The Enemy”. How proud does it make you feel to get attention
for an underground thrash metal act, which normally won’t get played on radio?

Philip: I feel extremely proud for those guys, they deserve it. Yeah, I had my part in the recording/production, but the guys who’re actually playing the instruments and relaying the songs deserve the real credit. When my job is “producing”, that job is a whole lot easier when the band is solid. And they’re a very tight and prepared group of musicians.

Rocket: The street date for “Krush The Enemy” is in late April. What are some of the
other promotions you’ll be rolling out to ramp up the attention for the album?

Philip: With HO– USECORE, it’s understood going in that promotion is a team effort between the bands and us. I’ll be doing interviews like this one, the band will be doing the same. Plus there’s magazine and website ads. But in all honesty, the best way for a band to be promoted is to be seen live, so to get out there and play some shows with a more established band, or bands, will be something for us to look forward to in the near future.

Rocket: Any idea on what the retail price of the album is going to be?

Philip: I’m not really sure off hand, so I’m not gonna tell a lie! But I will say, that the WARBEAST record will be released on CD and vinyl, and worth every cent.

Rocket: When it officially drops, where is the best place for fans to pickup a copy of “Krush The Enemy”?

Philip: Best Buy, Hot Topic, shit… any big chain of stores. I’m pretty sure some “Mom and Pop’ stores will pick it up. Either way, it’ll be out there, so it’s not like it’ll be hard to find. Unless the store sells out!!!

Rocket: Will there be a WARBEAST music video any time soon?

Philip: On that end, I haven’t the foggiest clue, but don’t rule out anything…

Rocket: I myself feel thrash is the most important subgenre of metal music because it generally doesn’t let the fans down, you know what I mean? With thrash metal, the listener knows what they are generally in for. There’s always the speeding tempo and shredding guitars to rely on, which is what I love about metal period. Why do you think that thrash is on one hand adored, but on the other hand looked at still like some bastard child in the industry?

Philip: I equate things like this: for me, rap/hip-hop music sounds generally the same all around. I couldn’t tell you the name of a single rapper etc, because I don’t care for the sound, yet it’s the “in” thing music/culture-wise. Real ‘Thrash’ was a movement AGAINST pop-culture trends, like yesterday’s disco and todays hip-hop culture, so being ‘Metal’ was always, and still is for the most part easily pushed to the side by mainstream “music” critics as ‘uncool’. But the reality of it is that we ‘Extreme Music’ fans never cared in the 1st place… who the fuck wants to share the cover of Rolling Stone with some talentless band/artist that’s a manufactured product of money meets fashion??? I can’t speak for another person, but I’d rather fall down a flight of stairs! The fact that Extreme music is misunderstood by the majority is a good thing. It separates us from the ABSOLUTE bullshit. Within ANY genre, there’s outstanding bands and crap, as the history of music goes. But with that said, the Extreme Music scene allows the bands to actually do what they WANT to do; there’s SO MUCH MORE freedom(!) as opposed to some flash-in-the-pan, 1-hit wonder rap/hip-hop or DISNEY artist who are completely STUCK in the mundane world of “herd’ mentality. If a big star today groomed out of the “American Idol” mold were to do an experimental side project, 9-times out of 10, they’d be laughed at, shut out and run out of the biz! That’s why the true underground of HARDCORE or METAL will always thrive! No conformity!!! No pressure to be ‘the next big thing’! Look at Slayer. They’re where they are today because of longevity and consistency. And will they be on the cover of Rolling Stone next month? A year from now? Anything could happen, but my guess would be “no fucking way”. Thank Lucifer!

Rocket: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a kid nowadays starting out on
his or her instrument with big hopes of achieving the “rock and roll” dream?

Philip: Work hard at your craft. Underground musicians work the hardest because we actually play our instruments!!! Don’t be influenced by just one or two bands; take 20 of your favorite bands and incorporate a bit of each towards the style of music you’re going for. And remember… music is a vast thing… EXPLORE!!! ALL OF THE NOTES HAVEN’T BEEN PLAYED YET!!!! It’s up to YOU to find the hidden ones…!

Rocket: Thanks very much for rocking this out with me, brother. It is an HONOR I will not soon forget. I wish you the best of luck with your label and music. Go ahead and give special thanks out to your biggest supporters.

Philip: BIG UPS!!!! to all the fans who’ve supported me and ‘The Cause’ to bring new music to light. Anyone who has a negative opinion of me, I thank as well. There MUST be a balance in order to thrive!
HAIL THE HORDES ACROSS THE WORLD!!!!!!! You know who you are…!


Top Photo Credit: Vékony Zsolt