While he’s warmly dipping into his Pantera past with the just-released “Vulgar Display of Power (Deluxe Edition),” Phil Anselmo is also eyeing a busy future that includes the band Down and a solo album, as well as the continuing output of his New Orleans-based label Housecore Records and bands such as Warbeast and Haarp.
“I’m glowing in the dark with my studio tan,” Anselmo tells Billboard.com. “I’ve been in a cave of music for months and months and months. I knew this year I would be spreading myself thin. It has to be like that this year, and everything’s positive so I’m not gonna complain about the tough schedule. There’s always something going on, but thank goodness these days it’s with a clear head, which helps me massively.”
Anselmo says Down, the all-star group that includes members of Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, Eyehategod and Goatwhore, has finished a six-song EP that “should be ready for public consumption some time in mid-summer, late summer at the very latest.” It’s the quintet’s first set of new material in five years, and Anselmo promises that “they’re nice, long songs” that are as heavy as the world expects Down to be.
“I’m so close to the project that it’s tough for me to decide,” he says, “but the feedback I’m getting from my close friends around here, who don’t bulls*** me, is that this is classic. It reminds them of a stripped-down, no-nonsense version of Down, like the first record, the “Nola” record. I’m pretty happy with it.” Down starts a 12-date Southern run on May 18 in Broussard, La., that includes a stop at Rock on the Range in Columbus two days later.
Meanwhile, Anselmo is moving forward on the solo album he’s been making “on and off for a couple of years. It’s at it’s most complete point right now. Everything’s tracked. It has a preliminary mix, but I think I’m gonna give that sucker another peek before I let it out.” Describing the music, Anselmo says that “it is sonic. It is intense. It is extreme. If you wanted to simplify it and say it’s another heavy metal record, sure, but that would be, in my opinion, shortchanging the entire project. It’s such an eclectic record I need to probably sell it with a bonus Xanax for people to calm down after.
Anselmo says he “wrote every friggin’ note” of the solo album and played some guitar, though he also recruited a guitarist from Houston named Mars Montazeri as well as Warbeast drummer Jose Gonzales and New Orleans bassist Bennett Bartley. “I tried to take heavy metal…and balled it up and chopped it in half and really tried to create a new form of energy,” he says. “I really tried to re-shape extreme music as I see it through my eyes. I’m really excited for people to hear it.” That, however, won’t come until Anselmo feels the Down EP and the “Vulgar Display of Power” reissue have “time to breathe out there.”
He’s happy with the 20th anniversary celebration of “Vulgar…,” which continued Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell” transition into one of the most brutally heavy bands in rock. The new set sports a second disc of live tracks and videos, while the set also adds the previously unreleased track “Piss,” which Anselmo says is indeed a genuine rarity from the Pantera vaults. “What’s interesting about ‘Piss’ is I don’t think there’s anything else like that left,” he explains. “We didn’t have a lot of leftovers. When we trimmed fat, it was gone. It was done. So there’s really not any leftover tracks left. I’ve got my little library of old four-track cassette stuff that Dimebag and I would mess with. But as far as tangible Pantera, all four of us in the room writing the song type of thing, I think ‘Piss’ might be the last of its breed.”
That, Anselmo acknowledges, will make things “interesting” as Pantera moves forward with more deluxe editions of its subsequent albums. “I guess we’re gonna have to cross that bridge when we get to it,” he says. “There has got to be a lot of unreleased video out there, live footage and whatnot. There’s always going to be something extra for the Pantera fan. We’re gonna dig something up…But I don’t think it’ll be actual songs from here on out.”