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Interviews : “It’s been no secret what’s really going on” – An interview with Phil Anselmo

By on March 4, 2019

Alongside Metallica, Pantera will surely inspire more young hands than any other band to pick up a guitar, bass guitar or drum kit and forge a musical path under the broader banner of heavy metal.

Phil Anselmo, Pantera’s enigmatic vocalist has been subject to harsh criticism that stems from well publicised episodes the reader can investigate for themselves. Criticism aside, Anselmo has faced tragedy that few can imagine.

Throughout trial and tribulation, Anselmo has continued to be a died in the wool fan of heavy metal and the horror movie genre. In fact, few people have done more to advance the cause of extreme music. Anselmo is worthy of sincere respect for his three-decade contribution to the music industry.

An opportunity to chat to Anselmo is special. Almost 400 interviews into an indie journalists’ career, one has to look to icons such as Ozzy Osbourne, Mick Jagger or Brian May for an equivalent boast. Yet here Anselmo is, eager to chat about the eleven date Australia and New Zealand tour under the Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals band-name.

Discussing the type of show he is planning on bringing to the antipodes in May, this is what Anslemo said.

“It’s been no secret what’s really going on and just let me get you up to speed on that. I got to give tremendous credit to the band that I have in The Illegals around me, man. Those guys, let me tell you, we were working very, very hard as a band last year to just be tight and be good. Even five years ago when I originally toured with the (first) inception of The illegals, we had messed around with some Pantera songs for fun,” Said Anselmo.

“But I would say, everything took a dramatic turn last year when Vinnie Paul (drummer/ percussion- Pantera) passed away. That’s when the call for us doing more Pantera songs became a thing of tribute. And for me that’s a whole lot different than just having fun with songs.”

The death of the Abbott brothers is a subject that deeply affects Anselmo so the opportunity to perform Pantera cuts is done with reverence for the fallen brethren.

“If we’re talking about playing a set worth for Pantera or half a set worth of Pantera, that is tribute and for the first time in my life, it felt necessary. In truth it’s just me and Rex (Brown- bass guitar- Pantera) left… I can’t really approach it right this second because it’s tough for me to wrap my mind around still to this very day,” Said Anselmo.

“But I got to say going back to The Illegals, for me to say, to bring this to them and say, look, it’s important that we do this. They completely, I mean these are young guys who came from just extreme metal backgrounds and then Steve Taylor, who comes from all kinds of crazy musical background, he’s my right-hand man, one of my favourite songwriters I’ve ever worked with.”

The Illegals are rehearsed and ready to perform prime Pantera cuts. Anselmo praised the attitude of The Illegals to offer fans a slice of the Pantera experience.

“All of them understood and recognise the importance of doing this right now for the fans and for tribute. So, it’s a very unique experience for me to be in with this band, it’s very unique, very bizarre, how it all came together, tragic and a whole lot of ways, especially considering Vince all, which was completely and miserably sad,” Said Anselmo

“I got to give huge props to them, man, because they have pulled together and they’ve learned these songs super tight and it’s sounding really good and it brings an entirely different energy to that audience, man. It’s a different animal now. It’s different than just playing a set worth of Illegals songs. It’s way different.”

Catch Phil Anselmo & The Illegals on tour in Australia this March. Tickets on sale now via Soundworks Direct.


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith