Philip Anselmo Talks "Down IV Part 1 — The Purple EP", Poems, and Witch Movies and Looks Back on "The Great Southern Trendkill"
Thu, 13 Sep 2012 11:30:38
Once again, the underground rises within Down's music.
On Down IV Part I - The Purple EP, the group conjures six songs of spellbinding metallic mastery. "Levitation" and "Open Coffins" haunt with infectious choruses and dizzying leads, while "Witchtripper" takes flight on one of the year's most potent, powerful, and pummeling riffs. This is everything a Down record should be, and it's everything a rock record should be…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, fronman Philip Anselmo talks Down IV Part I - The Purple EP, writing, witch movies, and he even looks back on Pantera's The Great Southern Trendkill.
Be sure to get the album on September 18, 2012. Here's an iTunes link!
Watch an exclusive video tour of Down's lair by Anselmo here!
How much did the initial poem for "Misfortune Teller" differ from the song?
It's a lot different. I guess it was more of a kneejerk reaction to what was going on around the time of Hurricane Katrina. It's been a long time. It was always a title that stuck with me. I applied it when the proper time came.
Do you have a stash of notebooks with ideas and poems?
Yeah, I've got tons of notebooks. I make all kinds of notes. Honestly, I wish I was a little more diligent. Sometimes, I wish I carried around one of those tiny pocket recorders and documented all kinds of stuff that pops in the brain. There are a lot of sources of past creative material that I can hinge together with more modern ideas. I've got a lot of material.
As a writer, do you get deeper into the language as you progress?
Well, there are a lot of times where you're in song format, which is different from poetry format for me. The poetry I like does not normally rhyme, nor does it have to. For me, it's the way certain words sit next to each other that make a little bit of magic. I'm a wordsmith. I like words. I like the least expected word sometimes or an adjective that might describe something a little more seedy or ugly as opposed to something more traditional. I do like and concentrate on the flow of words. Sometimes, a word can pop into your head and you apply it in a sentence. At first glance, it might not make complete sense. If you step away from it and come back to it, there could be a whole different meaning than the first time you eyeballed it. To me, it always comes down to that very last glimpse or chance of finding that one word to complete a line or hook in a song—or even something within that imagery.
Is there a peace that comes with accepting the natural order of things happening that you touch on in "The Curse is a Lie" and "Misfortune Teller"?
I think there's no way around it. We live in a world where smoking causes cancer, certain food causes cancer, swimming causes cancer, water causes cancer, the air causes cancer, and so on. At that point, it's like, "Why not live a little and have a fucking a cigarette because eventually cancer's going to fucking come up and get us all anyway?" [Laughs] What I gave you is simply a "for instance", so to speak. As far as accepting what the world is going to dish out, things happen thousands of miles around in a big radius from the spot we're sitting in our own lives that cannot be helped. We are at the mercy of nature meets mankind's hand in trying to control nature—as well as whatever chemicals we're dumping here or there to upset nature and the balance. In general, people are about as unpredictable as it gets. In my opinion, right when you think you have someone figured out, there's always a great chance or percentage that they might do something uncharacteristic in the long run. Really, it's such a human quality. It's like, "Why should we have ever doubted it anyway?" It's almost like discovering a serial killer. A lot of people can point to tendencies, even down to how someone's face is shaped. "A lot of serial killers or people who are off-kilter, so to speak, may have closer eyes than others". Well, who says that? [Laughs] Whoever wrote that must have eyes that are completely far apart! Honestly, it's just people assessing people. When people are assessing people, you've got to take a look at law, mental health faculties, humanity, and who's watching after who. For me, it's a roll of the dice. It's almost like getting pulled over. Either you get a cool cop or a dick cop.
In honor of "Witchtripper", what are some witch flicks you dig?
Well, there's an awesome black and white silent film called Witchcraft Through the Ages. There's fantastic imagery and a setting of perceived witchcraft or what a coven may look like through the eyes of a director. Definitely check that one out. You can take a look at a more sublime situation which would be Rosemary's Baby. There's a Satanic or Satanism element, but it is a coven of witches nonetheless. Then, there's a movie called The Witching with Orson Welles where, once again, there's a coven leader and coven bent on the exercise of the time which is necromancy. Covens and witches have been depicted in all sorts of ways—from the broom-toting, black dress garbed witch that you think of around Halloween time to the Wicker Man/Rosemary's Baby everyday person. Take Rosemary's Baby as an example. There are a bunch of high-ranking people in their walks of life dressed in suits and dresses and style of the day, yet they're still in a coven. To me, that paints an even more mysterious take on witchcraft. Roman Polanski is letting you know that you never know. It's up to the eye of the beholder.
The Witching sounds great.
I fucking love it because it flows. You start watching, and it's like getting on a ride. It's not necessarily a roller coaster. Once you're on this ride, you're not getting off. Let's put it that way. With the way it's edited, you're in the story, then you're out of the story, and you're left with this grim visage.
What comes to mind when you think about The Great Southern Trendkill now?
I think it has its strong moments. I think it has a significance. Reading an interview like this in black and white, it's not going pull one back to 1996 when that came out. Believe me though, I was surrounded by motherfuckers outside of Pantera that were saying, "Oh, heavy metal's dead." Whatever is in is in. It might've been grunge, nu metal, or whatever. To us, we had punished our listeners with Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven. We really almost got chastised for Far Beyond Driven because I guess people wanted us to take that commercial step. I was very adamant about not taking that direction. I didn't give a shit what they wanted to hear. For us, we wrote a heavy metal record, and we knew we wanted to mess around with some unorthodox sounds here and there. I was fine with that as long as the final product was seen as straight up heavy metal. I still see it that way. It's a different album for Pantera. It does have its strong points. There's no denying. "The Great Southern Trendkill" is a blistering track. We used to play "War Nerve" live. Of course, it's got "Suicide Note Pt. 1" and "Suicide Note Pt. 2". "Suicide Note Pt. 2" is brutal. It's a fucking ripping tune, man.
What's your favorite Down song?
Watch an exclusive video tour of Down's lair by Anselmo here!