The Times Picayune: Q&A with heavy metal elder statesman Phil Anselmo

By Alison Fensterstock, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Alison Fensterstock, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on May 17, 2012 at 3:42 PM, updated May 17, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Phil Anselmo, the now elder statesman of the local heavy metal scene, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the ’92 Pantera album “Vulgar Display Of Power.” Best known as the singer for chart-topping ’80s and ’90s metal act Pantera, the New Orleans-born Anselmo also fronts 20-year-old sludge-metal supergroup Down.
phil-anselmo.jpgKeith Spera/The Times-Picayune archivePhil Anselmo says of being a musician, ‘There is never a day where you should say, “I’ve paid my dues.” Because you never stop paying them.’

WHAT’S HE UP TO: The north shore resident has just finished recording projects with Texas’ Warbeast and New Orleans’ Haarp, metal acts on his Housecore Records label; a new Down EP and a solo album are under way.

HOW TO HEAR HIM: This week, Rhino Records released the deluxe two-disc 20th anniversary CD-DVD set of the multiplatinum-selling album “Vulgar Display Of Power,” featuring an unreleased studio track and rare video footage of the band performing in Italy in 1992.
What do you think was so special about ‘Vulgar Display Of Power,’ Pantera’s highest-selling album?

Anselmo: Heavy metal production as a whole was going through a lot of change, and the sound of records was changing. “Vulgar Display” was recorded analog, so it was pretty amazing how (late guitarist Dimebag) Darrell and our producer Terry Date and (drummer) Vinnie Paul worked out certain sounds, especially the guitar sound and the drum tones. If you look at heavy metal as an entire body of work, you can see where those sounds are still very, very relevant.

With your Housecore Records label, you produce and release work from young acts like Haarp and Warbeast. Do you feel like an elder statesman?

To consider myself that — well, it’s up to the guys in Haarp to answer that question. But I would hope so. I’ve been there and I’ve done so many recordings, it’s incredible. It’s really my job to make it easier on everybody. Keep that upbeat attitude in the room and keep everybody doing the best they can.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in rock ’n’ roll?

If you want it, you’re gonna have to put the work in. Success doesn’t happen easily, or gently. And there is never a day where you should say, “I’ve paid my dues.” Because you never stop paying them.

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