Despite him being one of my early musical heroes, I would be a fool to say that I continue to idolise one Phillip H. Anselmo. Sure his performances on the first few Pantera albums is untouchable, his charisma and influence undeniable but we all know he has said and done some seriously questionable shit over the years. Inciting violence at concerts (see the story behind ‘Five Minutes Alone’), accusations of racism, outspokenly aggressive views in press interviews and of course, the years of drug abuse and the effects of that.
However, the raging Henry Rollins-esque punk rock poet inside Anselmo may still live. His vocals and performances on the last Down record were his best, and most heartfelt in years. He’d also abandoned the drug raged diatribes that had been his sole calling card since ‘The Great Southern Trendkill’, in favor of the kind of intensity that made ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ such a visceral experience. In recent years, he seems to have returned to form somewhat as a live musician as well. I’ve seen Down twice now and both times they were superb. But I have heard from others this can be a bit of a hit or miss deal.
What did inspire me to write this particular post wasn’t Down though. It was a two-fold inspiration. Firstly, the article I wrote yesterday surrounding Frankie Palmeri of Emmure and his gross, disgusting, stupidity. Second was the interview embedded below with Phil Anselmo at Layola University in what I believe was 2009. It’s the first time I’ve watched an interview with him in recent years where he seems really genuine about his past. In particular the drug use. It’s brutally honest and touching. He takes responsibility for himself and his actions and explains them. Like ‘the man’ he so often sang about back in the day. It was nice for an hour to get a glimpse of the man I once worshiped as hero in my teens again. Or at least a glimpse of what I thought he was anyway.
Much of this interview goes to prove my points about the glamorization of drugs and violence to be found within Emmure’s lyrics. Even band’s as intense, massive and seemingly untouchable as Pantera fall apart around this kind of thing. And fuck the band falling apart, listen to him talk about how it tore parts of his own and his friend’s lives apart.
Quite why we don’t see this version of Anselmo publicly more is beyond me. But it is gratifying to see, that at least once, when presented with a platform like this particular University talk, he can be the man who inspired so many once upon a time. Or arguably more of one. But this could be a one-off so lets not get overly enthusiastic.