For any fan of heavy music, Phil Anselmo needs no introduction. He’s spent the better part of the last two decades as metal’s most notorious frontman, defining the genre through his work with Pantera, Down, and Superjoint Ritual.

Known for keeping busy through sundry side-projects and record label responsibilities, 2010 has already proven to be a busy year for the New Orleans native. Prior to packing up for a short European stint with Down, I had the chance to speak with Anselmo on his upcoming musical endeavors, the autobiography in the works, and the 20th anniversary of Pantera’s breakthrough album, Cowboys From Hell.

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So starting out with something that’s pretty close to home for you, Katrina resulted in over 7 million gallons of oil being leaked in southeastern Louisiana, and the BP spill has already leaked hundreds of millions of gallons into the gulf. What the devastation like in New Orleans?

Well, right now, honestly, I don’t think anybody has begun–like as far as people that aren’t in the fishing industry, just your average person working down the street at any store or, shit, any other establishment, besides the seafood industry–I’m not positive it’s affecting them totally outright yet, but it will. That’s the scary part. It’s miserable to know that as we sit, right here, and we’re talking on the phone, black crude is pouring into our waters. And it’s not just our waters, it’s the earth’s waters, man! This is really fucking miserable, to tell you the truth.

You launched Housecore back in the ’90s, but 2010 seems to be the year for it to really get going. What does the rest of the year look like for the label?

Everything’s looking great, man. Everything’s solid and smooth right now. We’re just at that point in time that Warbeast came out, The Sursiks came out, I’m really happy about that. Actually, we’re a little behind at this fucking point with the Arson Anthem full length and Sky High’s initial release, but that’s coming. And we’re really, really looking forward to haarp.

And for all the people out there that have asked me in the past, all I can say is I’ve gotten a verbal commitment out of Jimmy Bower for this new Eyehategod that everybody’s been twisting my arm about. It’s like, “Hey man, I’m not in the band,” but I’ve got a good verbal agreement there from Jim, so at least they’re committed to writing some new stuff.

It’s about time. It’s been awhile…

You can say that again!

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There have been rumors of a solo effort on the horizon. Can you confirm, and possibly elaborate, at all on that?

I’m just writing new material and by no means is it finished. It’s really just in demo form right now. It’s just me and a drummer, this kid from around here, nobody that anybody knows, just a session guy that learns real fast and does what I say.

So yeah, if this stuff comes around like I think it’s going to come around, then definitely, I think people should be hearing this stuff. And that’s exciting. It’s an exciting prospect right there.

Is there any sort of specific musical direction you’ll be going with it? I know it’s not going to be Pantera, it’s not going to be Down…

It’s not going to be anything else I’ve ever done. If you’re going to start a band, and I’ve said it ten million times–and I should know, figuring I’ve been in so many different bands–not one of them is aimed to sound alike. So I’m going to definitely try and keep things fresh here. But to answer your question, it’s fucking aggressive.

I know that there’s an autobiography in the works, although it’s not intended to spotlight your musical endeavors. While obviously, that’s something that will have to be covered to some extent, what will be the actual basis of the book?

Well, it’s taken so many different forms here. Of course, like you mentioned, I’ve got to definitely go over some music history. Some stuff that we did. Pantera, Down, all the bands, but especially Pantera, that’s understood.

But it’s really a lot about dealing with physical pain. When you’re in your strongest body, you’re young, and you’re in that position that I was in…you know, pain has taught me many, many, many valuable lessons, many of them, and I definitely need to share that with people.

By no means is pain a scapegoat for any of my ridiculous actions over the years or crazy bullshit I might’ve said or done. No, no, no, it’s a broader point to make. You can learn many different lessons from pain, and I guess you’re going to have to buy the book to understand those lessons.

There is life after pain as well. I can only write as much as I know. Because things–big, fantastic things–happen every week, everyday, possibly. So it’s like, when do you decide to put the final period or punctuation on a book? That’s really where I have to figure, “This is as far as I’m writing,” because tomorrow, and probably after I hang up this phone, the next part of a whole different book is about to be written. There is resolution after the pain; I just want people to know that. So I’m going to touch on a lot of different stuff.

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Well, how are you today? How’s your health now?

You know, good days and bad days, it all depends. Shit, man, I guess living right here in the gulf, with the low pressure drops and whatnot, it can set into broken bone and ache like there’s no tomorrow. But like yesterday and today, and most days, I get up off my ass, and I do something physical. Everything’s pretty good, man. I cannot deny that. But there are those days. So good days and bad–more good than bad.

That’s good to hear. So what’s the status on the Down DVD that was supposed to come out earlier this year?

Everyone keeps asking that, and I’ve got the same answer for you: I don’t have a fucking clue!

You don’t know?

I really don’t! I’m letting the lawyers handle all that shit, man. I don’t even know what the squabble is, to tell you the truth. So, we’ll see.

Well, are there any loosely based plans for when you’ll begin work on the next album?

Matter of fact, we have a gig at the end of this month–two gigs. One, in–where the fuck are we going?–the UK, London, and the other in Spain. So we’re constantly in contact, and we’re talking all the time of when and how. And you’ve got to understand, like Jimmy just got back from an Eyehategod tour, [and] I think Kirk is still on a Crowbar tour, so, you know, there’s that freedom there. They’re still in their main bands, and that’s to be respected.

So when it comes to Down, I guess once Kirk gets home here in a couple weeks, we do these gigs, I would imagine within in the next few months we’re going to start messing around with something. At least that’s what the plan is, and I don’t see it getting put off any later than that.

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I know you’ve been misrepresented for years in the media, and you seemed to somewhat avoid the press through the earlier part of this decade. Then you completely opened up with the Loyola interview last year. What led you to speak so candidly on topics that you’ve been deflecting for so many years?

It’s not that I’ve deflected, actually, I’ve been talking to the press for quite awhile again. Honestly, when I shut myself down from the press originally, I was still in Pantera, and I guess I was going through a lot of turmoil in my life; dealing with pain and dealing with everything that comes with pain. I was lashing out pretty angrily in any direction I possibly could. So it was probably best to not have a fucking recorder around me, and I knew this. I had read some bad interviews and when people read things there in plain black and white, they don’t know or feel the sense of humor or whatnot said behind the quote.

The second time I cut myself off from the press it was after Dimebag got murdered, and I just needed to digest that particular time of my life alone. I was not about to get into a pissing contest that’d ultimately lead to nowhere, only uglier things. That’s not my game, man.

Sure, there’s a distrust of certain elements of the press, but I also have to take some credit here for a) not recognizing it and letting my heart speak for the better sense of my brain, and b) you just have to understand, I had to really go through a lot before I could open up again.

I guess my feeling and my take on things these days is as long as I shoot straight, tell the fucking truth without any grudge or without a sided perspective, and just let it be a life experience man–everyone makes fucking mistakes, everyone goes through tumultuous times, very trying times, in life on every fucking level. I’m not different from anybody else when it comes to making these [mistakes].

You know, life is life. We all got one. Mine gets examined closely because I’ve been successful. I’m no different from any other motherfucker out there in a band or starring in movies or whatnot. Shit, there’s people out there that have got it a million times harder than my ass. So I’m ok, man. I’m as cool as a kitten. I don’t mind speaking, telling the truth, admitting my faults, and moving forward. So bring it on. I’ve got questions, you’ve got questions, let’s figure it out.

I can’t leave without talking about Pantera. I know you guys have a lot of special editions and commemorative efforts in the works in the next coming years. What has been your involvement with the overall effort? And what, if any, has been your working relationship with Vinnie Paul?

Well, this is a much-to-ask question, and obviously, much answered.

But yeah, we have to. It’s not a face-to-face thing, it’s not even an email thing. There is one common person that still works for the band, and Rex, Vinnie, and I will go through her. She will take it, whether it be a question, whether it be “Is this photo ok? Is this ok? Is that ok?” you know? We all make a decision. We all have communicative input, she filters it, and that’s how we work.

I take that as a positive thing, you know, I do. I take it as a positive thing because we’re all working toward something that means something and is a positive thing.

Shit, the fact that Cowboys From Hell has come out twenty years ago is still a little stunning for the kid here! But you know, the kids today, people today, the younger generation, just finding their musical influences that’ll carry them through the rest of their lives–hey man, shit, they deserve a little Pantera too. And that’s all good. That’s the deal.

Philip, I know you’re a busy man, so thanks for taking time out to talk today.

Hey, I appreciate it. It works both ways.

For more information on Phil Anselmo, check out:

www.housecorerecords.com

www.philanselmo.com

www.down-nola.com