A Noisy Affair: My Quiet Discussion With Phil H Anselmo
I mean, seriously? Getting ready to talk to this freakin’ guy was murderous! I listened to the sophomore record Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue to get all prepared for what was to come. But nothing could have prepared me for the introspective talk I was about to have with probably the most iconic man in metal.
ANTIHERO: You are this massive force – a ball of constantly moving/changing energy – like I could see that same force had your profession been a brain surgeon – like you’d be the same force; successful, cutting-edge, ambitious – just with being a surgeon, you know? Where does this freakish force come from?
Phil: You said a mouthful right there! My thing, I know where you’re coming from. Doing things methodically, doing things with a certain je ne sais quoi. I am a product of the 60’s early 70’s decadence; bands in the underground that captured my imagination and creativity. You can be the most talented motherfucker in the world, but if you’re not doing something really out of the box – literally superb, I probably won’t notice.
ANTIHERO: I just put Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue down and dude, my ears are bleeding.
Phil: It’s a noisy affair!
As he laughs a little, I get my footing and ease into this chat’s rhythm. I want him to talk, I want to spark the light bulb that pulls out some of that electricity that Phil is known for. I don’t really care about the hoo-ha of the past. Not that it’s irrelevant; it’s just not relevant here, in this moment. I heard some monstrous things on the record I just listened to and I wanted to hear about those moments.
ANTIHERO: Let’s talk a bit about it, the record. You say that this was the record where there was a collaboration, unlike the first Illegals album that you wrote solely.
Phil: I wanted to make a relentless record from front to back. I was thinking along the lines of early Morbid Angel. And I wanted the other guys’ input. We were just having fun with it. Look, I’ve been building a body of work from 1988 power metal to now. This is just a part or a piece of it all.
ANTIHERO: Is your music your legacy? I mean, you’re definitely leaving one – I just wanna know from your perspective if that will be the music or will it be what comes out on the other side of your music that will be the legacy?
Phil: I feel like I am sitting on top of albums worth of material, good, funny, experimental. I’ve made some noise. But that’s interesting – it’s like a joke between my close friends, the perception of me and it’s really funny AF to us. It’s a completely different one. I’m kind of laid back sensitive and chill almost.
Music should be my legacy.
I’m almost 50 for fuck’s sake. I’m a jokester but life is heavy – the heavier it will get. Facing reality we know things are going to suck, things are going to be fun – we still have to put one foot in front of the other.
Going back to my legacy; it should be my music, That’s all I’m really good at.
ANTIHERO: Look, that resonates with me; the heavy part of life. And I’m reaching that golden age myself, we’re about the same age. There are truths that are evident now that weren’t when I was in my 20s that has made me question things; about society and within myself – I think it’s good for the mid-life existence to question; not to agree or disagree, just because. Did THE ILLEGALS form from a “free will” kind of philosophical stance or more of the concoction of past events leading you all to this point?
Phil: When I get into something, I fully commit. It’s full throttle. I study it; team sports, one on one sports, a song – I study it. Everything that I have…what I mean, looking at the title of the record, I am being very explicit. I’m examining myself. Looking at my childhood, where I come from, what feeds this album is an interesting journey. It’s interesting how many demons rise…
I got chills right here. I can’t believe that I’m sitting here listening to what seems to be a similar journey with different scenarios, but the output of feeling is very similar – with Phil Anselmo. I mean, let’s not mince words here folks. Phil has some shit to say; but it’s not really designed for you. What you get out of his messages – that’s all you. And what is so immense about this is that he does it his way and on his terms. And the rest of you be damned. If we could all reach this plane of existence before we fuck half of our lives off, that would be killer. But I think that’s the point of reaching this place.
ANTIHERO: In thinking about it, your post at the mic in THE ILLEGALS might be compared to a brain surgeon, you know? Listening to the record, I felt like I was getting a lobotomy. There is some heavy shit entwined in the tracks on the record – and I think we can all agree that what is (or was) isn’t what really is – you know?
Phil: Live through your own experiences. Don’t let someone tell you – I mean what politician can tell me what kind of morality to have? We are all humans hell-bent on making mistakes. If that wasn’t the case, we’d never learn.
From the track “Choosing Mental Illness” – “I swear if I could merely shake it off I would. But I embrace it.”
I absolutely loved this interview with Phil. It was a blast to dig deep and I will have the entire interview for your listening ears posted up soon. This record comes out this Friday, January 28th and I swear to the Mighty Gods of Metal if you don’t pull it out of the sky or pre-order the in-your-hand copy, then you’re truly missing some great metal. And you should have all of your band patches that Phil has been in over the years, removed from your jean jacket, pronto.