Phil Anselmo Talks Pointless Horror Remakes and Three Reasons Pantera Succeeded

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I was unhappy with it. And the Pantera boys knew this, and eventually we did rebuild that fanbase through heavier music and many different chapters of earning and learning the respect of super-underground heavy metal music at the time.

And I can cite Kerry King from Slayer back in the '80s, when he first came out and saw us at a club, and we friended Kerry King. He used to come down to check us out -- once again, this was way before we were signed to any major label -- and he would come down and jam with us. And I think that was a major influence on the entire band I guess, because at the time I think Dimebag was really mainly a Metallica type guy, and I was much more a Slayer type guy, and there was a difference back in the day. For Dimebag to jam with Kerry King, I think it showed Darrell, that it was an amazing challenge to play this type of music and he learned a whole new respect by jamming with Kerry King.

So I think the whole Slayer connection is super imperative to the future of Pantera, and also the rebuilding of the fan base before we were signed, and eventually we were pulling in so many people I had to say, "Fellas, we don't have to play the club game anymore."

And that's when all the spandex went in the trashcan, which was one of the happiest days of my fucking life, because we could be ourselves and let the music do the fucking talking. We could be ourselves. Fuck the image. And to me, that's the school I come from. Let the fucking music do the talking, and let the image come later or on just let people perceive it how they want.

So we defeated the club scene, man, and that was a gigantic feat. And the rest is obvious history.

What's one less-mainstream Pantera song that you would love to play live again? Oh, jeez, that's a tough question. But uh, if you take a look at the most popular Pantera songs, which would really constitute most of the Vulgar Display of Power record, you know, you go back to Cowboys From Hell and you check out a song like "Primal Concrete Sledge," that is one that would be very interesting to play live again, because it's a monster of a song.

Do you ever listen to your old Pantera tracks at home? Very rarely. Very rarely. But you know, when we do, it's always amazing, because at this point in my life I can remove myself.

When I was in Pantera . . . When you're so close to something, you can't really judge it. But now, in hindsight when I listen back to it I realize like, wow, this was almost the perfect storm, because I was always pushing for heavier and heavier, more extreme, more extremities. And then Dimebag, Vince, and Rex were still very much part of a school of music that I guess would be considered tasteful, proper, and totally in key.

I guess as a young man, I'd grown tired of that, or bored? Because there were bands out there that were really pushing the limits that weren't so traditional. But that mixture of what we each brought to the table . . . Listening to it now, I think that's what made Pantera a very unique and special type of band that really was a fantastic crossover for people. We could appeal to both crowds. Listening back to it is kinda mind-blowing, it really is.

You played guitar in Arson Anthem alongside Hank Williams III, Colin Yeo, and Mike Williams. How do you think your guitar playing compares to your singing as an outlet? Well for me, Arson was very much a genre band. We wanted to do a hardcore record, but for me, hardcore doesn't just stop and start with discharge. Black Flag went through many different phases, like the My War record.

You know, they really had some slow brooding parts on that record. And you look at Greg Ginn. As a guitar player, you know, he's not your average hardcore guitar player. He's a very stand-out master with what he did and still does.

I didn't think I was trying to be this innovative great player, or anything like that. It was more of an assignment, so to speak. You can look at Necrophagia, where I also play guitar, I knew what Necrophagia's supposed to sound like, since I've had their records from '86 on, so I tried to emulate what I felt they should sound like. I'm no great guitar player, but I would consider myself a creative guitar player.

As far as singing goes, I don't see myself as a great singer. There's a part of me that rebels against some of my early roots, and that just comes naturally to me. And then there's part of me that embraces a lot of old school style vocals. Music is like fucking food to me. You love it, hate it, or are indifferent to it.

Well, with all of your outlets you clearly do what you want, and not everyone is going to love everything. You also compare your music to food alot since you're so passionate about both. Oh, yeah.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise