Well, the two songs I’ve heard on the split are pretty brutal and extreme!
Philip: Well those are in my opinion more straight forward, honestly.
Really? So the album is even more extreme?
Philip: In its own right, yes. A lot more, I guess, unpredictable in a way. Something you can’t just, like if another musician was just to show up, there would be no fucking way he could just fall in and jam along or anything like that [laughs]. It would take a lot of homework.
I know that this all came out of you working by yourself. But rather than billing it as “Philip Anselmo & The Illegals,” did you ever think about essentially creating a new moniker or band name for this project?
Philip: That would, once again, be a whole other thing people would have to get into. And honestly, I was very selfish about this thing. I wanted the songs the way I wanted them, and the musicians were going to do it or they weren’t going to do it. And luckily they did it. So I’m the boss here as far as that solo stuff goes. And like I said, it’s best to call it me so people know it’s fucking me. Music fans are smart, and they delve into who actually played what in the band. So that will all come later. When guitar players are really digging what Marzi does, then he’ll get love for sure. And Blue, like I said, really plays his ass off, so he’ll get extra love as well. So I’m not worried about that at all.
Phillip has worked with Warbeast as a producer on all of their albums. Bruce, what’s it like to work with Philip in the studio?
Bruce: It’s an amazing experience. Anything I say about Philip, good or bad, is sincere and comes from the heart. I don’t have to kiss his ass or anything because he’s my boss [laughs]. It’s all truthful when I speak about him. The dude is a genius when it comes to ideas. We asked him to produce our first album, and it worked so well we continued that same format. It’s cool, he’s a friend of ours, he makes us feel comfortable, he’s on our side so he’s there for us in our corner. His ideas just come out of nowhere. Sometimes we’re like “I don’t know!” and then down the road we look back and realize he was right. Sometimes with lyrics he helps me, might suggest a line or might redo the chorus. And sometimes what’s funny is it could be just one word [laughs], like on “Birth Of A Psycho” on the split.
Philip: We’ve had several instances like that, but really it’s my pleasure honestly to do this because I love the creative process, I love the guys in Warbeast, and I completely understand the genre that they do. And honestly, with a lot of very impressionable years during my life in the DFW [Dallas/Fort Worth] area, I know that sound so fucking well. I know these guys, and I have a passion for what Warbeast does and they do it so fucking great. So for me, it’s just pure fun. I can’t put it in any other fucking way. These are the “solid days” as they say.
I know Destroy is due out next year, but has an exact date been confirmed yet?
Bruce: Well the mixing is finished, we’re getting ready to go off to mastering, the artwork is getting close.
Philip: I think it’s being sent to mastering today [November 30], as a matter of fact. So we should have a copy ASAP. But as far as a release date for Destroy… we’re crossing our fingers for a February date that I’m not going to say right now just in case it falls through, but early February is what we’re really looking at.
Well then I’ve got my fingers crossed for you! Now Bruce, you’ve also been working on a new album with Rigor Mortis called Slaves To The Grave.
Bruce: Yeah, actually we recorded that last February. And we’ve finally got our time schedules ready where we can get together next week and start doing the final mixes on that. And again, it’s the same thing [with Warbeast], we’ve got ideas for release dates but nothing we want to announce because it’s not set in stone.
Absolutely. Considering, though, Warbeast’s close relationship with Philip and Housecore Records, could Rigor Mortis potentially release the new album via Housecore Records as well?
Bruce: I mean, there’s been little talks over the years about that, and of course we’re all friends with Philip. It would be great, but I don’t know. We’re still not sure what we’re going to do and who we’re releasing it through right now. We recorded it with Al Jourgensen [Ministry] at his studio. So they’re helping us look for labels and stuff like that.
Philip: It’s just that for me, there’s a tendency to where it might be a conflict of interest with Bruce being in these two bands. But then again, I think it is something we might want to go back over and take a good hard look at. And once again, it’s kind of like a fingers crossed thing with nothing solid as of totally yet. But in my mind, there is a glimmer of hope, actually. Like I said, me and Bruce would have to sit back down and talk about it, and talk with the Rigor Mortis boys, see where everyone’s mind is at. And at this point, I think anything is possible.
Bruce, how does the writing and recording process with Warbeast differ from Rigor Mortis?
Bruce: Well first of all, Philip being the producer and where we recorded at, that whole atmosphere, makes a difference to begin with. It’s usually the same kind of patterns, with how the songs are written. The guitars come up with the original blueprints for the song, then pass them to the drummer and everybody else, and then the lyrics are usually the last thing added. On this recent Warbeast album Destroy, I really pushed myself to what I wanted to do with the lyrics to every song. I feel like I’m never too old to learn new stuff and to have something to prove. So I wanted to do that with Rigor Mortis. And with Warbeast, I was always open to other guys contributing to the lyrics. I just think that Warbeast has pushed me to another level that I didn’t even know I could reach. And of course the band members and with Philip, everybody has been supportive and helped me accomplish that.
I want to go back to both of your relationships with each other. Do you both remember the first time you met?
Bruce: Yeah I do, Philip’s always got a good story about that one.
Philip: The first time we met?
Bruce: Well was I there at the Pipedream Records thing and you went up to Casey [Orr, Rigor Mortis bassist]? Or was I not there?
Philip: I don’t think you were there.
Bruce: I remember it was a show in Dallas, and Phillip came out to see us one night. And he was just getting into Pantera and everything. It was cool because at the time Pantera and Rigor Mortis were big ships on different courses, and Phillip was a big fan of our music and he came out and supported us.
Philip: When the other guys in Pantera would not ever do such. Not to interrupt, Bruce, but honestly. Don’t play down the rivalry so to speak because there really was. You have to honestly place yourself in time back in the middle and late 80s when thrash metal was a new and vibrant thing, a fresh thing in the memories in people’s minds and what not. And then Pantera, when I joined the band, were pretty much stuck in the bar scene. And with that comes a million fucking rules about how you have to wear spandex and all that fucking shit to get gigs or you’re not getting the fucking gigs. Well, Rigor Mortis was across town playing all these underground clubs. And honestly, the first week I moved to Texas, I lived with Rex [Brown, bassist of Pantera] in a small house in Euless, TX and right there on top of the stereo was Rigor Mortis’ first demo. It was just sitting there. I was like “fuck, let me check this out!” And I loved it, it blew me away.
Then a couple weeks later, I was out with a buddy of mine who at the time sang for a pretty popular local band named Rotting Corpse, Jim Mulqueen was his name, and anyway and we went out to Pipedream Records. And we were looking through all the imports and all the fucking underground records, as we would always do on the weekends. And there was this crowd of crazy looking long haired monster mother fuckers with patches and denim jackets on, total underground dudes. Sure enough, it turns out to be Casey Orr and a couple of his buddies. I don’t know if anybody else was actually from Rigor Mortis at the time, but it was definitely Casey. And Jim says, “Man watch out, that’s the guy from Rigor Mortis!” And I was like “Rigor Mortis? I love Rigor Mortis!” He was like “yeah, they have a rivalry with Pantera.” And I was like “I don’t give two fucks about that, man!”
I walked right up to Casey and said “Hey man, my name is Philip. I love your fucking demo, man!” And at the end of the conversation, he says “Well man, where are you from? What’s going on?” I said “Well, I just joined Pantera.” And he looked at me and was like “You’re the new lead singer for fucking Pantera?! What are you doing with those guys?!” [laughs] But he was very cool, super cool as a matter of fact, and I think that kind of bridged the gap where there was a huge valley before. There was a huge distance between the two bands. And I sure did go see Rigor Mortis, stage diving and fucking circle pitting it, all of that shit! I remember seeing Rigor Mortis open for Slayer at the Arcadia Theater, and I remember me specifically starting the fucking pit immediately. I think you opened with “Re-Animator” or something like that.
Bruce: Yeah, I remember you did start the pit that night man!
Philip: Fuckin’ A! So I’ve been a big fan, and I’ve told Bruce that in the past. The quality of his voice, the pronunciation in his voice, was always excellent. And believe it or not, he really helped influence me with my swiftly changing style at the time and maybe knock a little sense into the rest of the guys in Pantera and say “Look man, there’s more music out there.” And then finally the guys in Pantera, a few years later of course, came around. But at the time, it was kind of this “forbidden thing” that I was “friends with Rigor Mortis.” I think it’s funny now.
Bruce: Yeah, it worked both ways because as you mentioned, when that thrash period first came out, the attitude we had was like “Fuck everything else!”
Philip: Of course!
Bruce: And we weren’t going to see Pantera either. I got to clear up that there is a huge respect thing there. Like I said, it might have seemed like a rivalry, but they were always cool to us personally. It was just two different bands at the time. It was weird because I joined Rigor Mortis when they already had a thing like “Fuck what Pantera is doing!” And Philip joined Pantera, and they were like “Fuck what Rigor Mortis is doing!” Then I got to know Philip a little bit, but we didn’t really become close friends. I look back and there is some big moments, though, that I shared with Philip back then. Like when I got fired from Rigor Mortis, he was the first person I called [laughs]. It was weird, he helped me through that first devastating night.
Philip: I couldn’t believe it happened, I was like “Man, this sucks!” One of my favorite fucking bands about to get a new singer that I knew would not even do justice! It’s like [trying to replace] Tom Araya from Slayer in my book, especially at the time. So yeah, me and Bruce did talk quite a bit. Bruce tried to be, and still is, ambitious after that, and we talked about several different things. Anything to help one another. My respect level was always huge.
Bruce: Our friendship has really grown more in recent years since that Rigor Mortis/Arson Anthem tour, and of course with Warbeast signing with Philip’s label. We realize we got a lot of shit in common, being lead singers and having a dog named Dracula, loving football and boxing! So I’m just saying we’re a lot closer now. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to be that close back then because of band shit.
Well better late than never!
Philip: Oh, always! And shit man, honestly the way it all went down, I wouldn’t change a bit of that particular history because today we’re solid as rocks! And I cherish that kind of stuff, honestly. I like loyalty, I myself am loyal as a dog, I’ve said it a million times but it happens to be the sad fucking truth. I just believe in what Bruce does!
You guys are so close that you’re even wrestling onstage together!
[Both Bruce and Philip laugh]
Philip: God damn! I don’t think me and Bruce are going to be doing any wrestling onstage. Only [Warbeast guitarist Scott] Shelby, he’s out of his fucking mind, and sometimes you just need to give the old boy a good elbow smash or put him in a sleeper hold!