Philip Anselmo of Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals sat down with Side Stage Magazine to discuss the upcoming album Choosing Mental Illness As a Virtue and the other projects going on at his record label Housecore Records. You can find more information on the new album and tour announcements at www.philanselmo.com or www.thehousecorerecords.com.
Side Stage Magazine: How’s it going?
Philip H Anselmo: Ah shit man, can’t complain. How about you?
Can’t complain and wouldn’t help if I did!
I hear you. That’s the good word!
With the new album coming out, what sets this one apart from your last record with the Illegals?
I think this one is a lot different, (but) it depends on the listener’s ear, as usual. What I wanted on this record was a dual guitar attack. I should really give a shout out to Blue Gonzalez on the drums, he’s been jamming with me since he was a 19-year-old in Warbeast. He came back with me from the last album and he just did a great job. I also need to give a really big shout out to Steve Taylor. What a great guitar player and a talented guy in general. I’m in like three bands with Steve and he is a great dude to collaborate with. He really gets it and understands as well, as does Mike DeLeon and Walter Howard. They walked in on day one and just started contributing which is great! It’s a great mix of young talented musicians. We wrote most of this record between 2015 and 2016. I wanted a relentless listen from front to back, kind of akin to Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends and that’s back in the 80s for me, baby!
Were there any other influences that came into this record?
I was really influenced, especially at that time, with the Australian Death Metal scene and all of its awesome components and bizarre characteristics. You know so many excellent fucking bands and a big nod to my brothers in Portal and bands like Cauldron Black Ram and Impetuous Ritual – those guys are highly respected under this roof. That was the vibe going in so it is an influenced, and genre record for sure. It was really fun to do and fun to visit.
Now that the record is finished and coming out in January, are there any tour announcements that fans should be on the lookout for?
Eventually, but that one is tricky right now. I’m on the waiting list for another surgery that I need and I have been dealing with this shit for years, which is well documented but I think this is the one. The only lame thing about it is scheduling. I am hoping they can sneak me in early because you know I will come back fighting and swinging. Once I hear things, I will let you cats know!
You obviously have made the rounds on tours and have played venues large and small, do you have a preference on which type of venue you would rather play?
I adore the small clubs, man. I love the feel of an intimate gathering of likeminded motherfuckers that are there to really enjoy the music and not there just because it is a cliquey trend. I really do. Even today’s audiences that come to observe as opposed to the fans that come to start circle pits and do the old school 90s mosh pit thing. That’s fine, because music is so subjective and everyone takes it in differently. We definitely don’t care about billboard charts or fucking lists or anything like that. I care about the actual fan that listens and likes the fucking music, man. Nothing more, nothing less. I like the group of guys I am with and when everyone is throwing down there is a great energy in the room. Mood! Mood is important!
With all of the performing that you continue to do on top of working with Housecore Records is there one or the other that brings more satisfaction?
Well I have my role with the label, but man, I’m just a music guy. As far as the inner workings of the machine itself, I have to lend a lot of credit to my lady and the team that we have over here. My engineer and all of my brothers and sisters in the Housecore bands. It is like an extended family. You know? Everyone helps, everyone contributes in one way or another in each and every band from King Parrot to Child Bite to The Illegals to Superjoint and so on. I always keep a small roster. I’m not the type of dude to roster up just to have this impressive list of bands just to show how much I can put out. It’s more about family, brother and sisterhood. Then there is working with unique bands, like Child Bite, which is doing something different and making unique sounds. I really do love that. SYK is another band that comes to mind with Dalila Kayros. She is an incredible vocalist man! An incredible performer and that band, my God!
It seems that it’s really a team effort and allows for a lot of creative freedom for the artists.
100 percent. That is why I started this label. Simple contracts and being upfront. The old contract days with freaking telephone book sized contracts, but ours are like three pages long. It’s like let’s just do one record at a time and feel it out from there and if we want to continue on let’s do it and if not then great. If a band is signed with us, it’s not like they can’t work with somebody else. I’m not going to hold anybody hostage, man. That should be part of being a hard working musician is to have that creative freedom as well as business freedom. Don’t be locked down to one entity. That’s bullshit. I’ll be honest, in my early days the initial contract I signed was a fucking life sentence. It is what it was and at the time it felt like oh wow this is flattering, they want this band for seven albums. That’s an entire discography for a lot of fucking bands. They knew what they were doing in those days man and I know it still happens today. Records labels signing bands for three or four albums know they are getting a band exclusively for a decade and hopefully more in their mind. It’s like a hostage situation man and I will never do that. In the end, the Housecore bands get the final say on the mix, what goes on the record and every fucking detail down to the artwork. We want to be there for support and get the bands whatever they need. If someone comes to record a record here, we want it to be a bonding, fun and unique experience. Making records out here man – whew, I could see doing that for the rest of my time. It feels great to be a true free agent.
Getting back to the new Illegals record are there any specific tracks that you are excited for fans to hear?
I guess the first two songs that pop into my mind would be “Little Fucking Heroes” and “Ignorant Point.” “Ignorant Point” has that “Chapel of Ghouls” breakdown which is kind of fun. I think it is a solid listen and at some points it has a really old school feeling for me.
Besides the new Illegals album, are there any other project from Housecore Records that fans should keep an eye out for in 2018?
Well let’s see. After this record I am putting out a record a couple months later from a band that I do called En Minor. That is going to be a very, very different affair. This one is a complete flip flop of genres. It is very anti-pop but it has clean guitar and it’s a minor key avalanche of fucking self-loathing. It’s fun, man. I guess I could say it is influenced by every odd dark track that has touched me over time. There are certain songs that carry a certain sentiment that you can feel, which is wonderful, it’s colorful and feels alive. To give some examples it would be like “She’s Leaving Home” by The Beatles off of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. There is a certain melancholy feel about that song and something very tragic about both the subject and the subject’s parents even. Then you look at a band like Queen and their song “All Dead, All Dead” off of their record News of the World and it is just a writing attack and it’s beautiful because it’s Queen. You can look at Nick Cave, or The Birthday Party’s “Jennifer’s Veil” which is a really raw stripped down mix and the subject matter for sure. U2’s “A Drowning Man” from their War album is a beautiful fucking song, tear jerker, you can look at Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” or “Solitude,” songs like that is what En Minor encompasses. It will definitely be an interesting take away for people whether they like or hate it, it’s a different expression. After that I will probably put out a Death Metal project that I did back in 2014 with some secret members and somewhere down the line there is some clamoring about new Superjoint.
Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today and I look forward to all of the great stuff that will be coming out soon.
Oh man, nothing to it. I appreciate your time.