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Article posted on 08/31/10
Posted by: Geno Liles

Phil Anselmo Interview

Pantera is trending today due to their recent re-release of their so called first album, "Cowboys from Hell". Although the band had already released four independent albums, all in the 80's, they did not achieve worldwide fame until 1990. For some, that journey began with "Cowboys from Hell". Initial sales of the album were modest, but constant touring resulted in solid sales. By 1993, "Cowboys from Hell" was certified gold, selling over 500,000 albums. By 1997, it had gone platinum (over 1 million copies sold).

Pantera went on to have multi-platinum success and were one of the top two bands of their genre. But it wasn't until much later that anyone would see just how much influence the band would have on the music industry. Vocalist Phil Anselmo was a big reason Pantera was able to achieve their success and if we are being honest, more vocalists have tried to mimic his vocal style than anyone in history. Not influence (that's probably Elvis, or one of the Beatles), this is downright thievery I'm talking about.

In this latest interview, Anselmo talks about the reissued version of "Cowboys", coping with the murder of Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell and his future.

Let's talk about the Pantera reissue of 'Cowboys From Hell.' It's hard to believe that it has been 20 years. How involved with the re-release were you and what can fans expect?

I tell ya what, man. I know it is coming out in a lot of different formats and I have seen 'The Ultimate Set' and it is really, really, really kickass! I gotta admit it, man! They dug up old pictures, Rex, Vinnie and myself contributed with some liner notes, some old memories that we had in regards to writing that record, what we were thinking and what was going on, etc. The packaging is really killer. I don't know, for any collector out there and if I were a collector and loved the band and wanted every little thing - I think it would be an awesome thing to have.

What was the biggest challenge in making that epic record?

I guess it was like I was saying. To get that guitar sound roaring, because at that time, we had taken over the club scene, Pantera had. Regionally and in Texas, the live shows were insane to say the least. We had that live energy. I think capturing that live energy and that feel and putting it on the record was our main goal as well as our biggest obstacle. If you listen to 'Cowboys From Hell' and then to 'Vulgar Display of Power,' you can hear our sound evolving slowly, ya know. Especially with Terry Date. Terry Date was a great producer. Without him, there is no way we could have achieved those awesome sounds.

Do you have anything that stands out as a fond memory from that time period?

Well, I mentioned those live shows. We had written 99 percent of that material, anywhere between 1988 and 1989. We recorded in late '89. We record 'Cowboys From Hell,' I can almost name the date because it was when Mike Tyson got knocked out, lost for the first time to Buster Douglas, I will never forget it. I almost couldn't finish the record! [laughs] Anyway ... what was the question, man?

What was the fondest memory from that time period?

Ohhhh man! I just gave you the worst memory! [laughs] How did that pop out? [laughs] Well, once again, one of my favorite memories from that record is 'Primal Concrete Sledge' coming out of nowhere. Vinnie Paul came up with this awesome drum pattern and me and Darrell were just staring at each other saying "Man, that is kickass!" He started looking at his guitar and I was like "Come on! Do something! Do something!" The next thing you know, he just starts chugging and everything just fell together! It really did! That was an awesome, awesome thing. It also shows where we were heading mentally. Just to backtrack one second, like I said, most of stuff was written in '88-'89. We were moving forward. So once again, I can't stress enough how 'Primal Concrete Sledge' was that springboard in between 'Cowboys From Hell' and 'Vulgar Display of Power.'

We obviously can't talk about Pantera without talking about Dimebag Darrell's untimely passing. It has been five years and you guys are putting together this commemorative release together. It is clear that his death has had a major impact on you. Is it getting any easier for you as time passes?

No. As a matter of fact, in a strange way, you kinda just took the words out of my mouth and asked the right question. No. Every year gets harder. Every year, when the dates roll by it gets harder and this past year has been the hardest year of all. I think initially, the first year, two years ... [pauses] I don't know how long. It was just such a shock. It is very hard to comprehend, but I get it now. I get it now. I understand. Sure, I think about what could be. Yes, I think about Dimebag every day of my life. Every waking day of my life, man. So, no. It doesn't get any easier.

You have been working on your autobiography. Is that your way of shedding some light on the man behind the person we see in the limelight?

Sure! That is an interesting thing to bring up. Writing a book is a very interesting process because you get to go through and find out for yourself what fueled the man as a youngster and all the little different things that happened in succession where you put one foot in front of the other and the next thing you know, you are doing the 20-year anniversary of your first record, ya know?! So it's like "How the heck did I get to be 42 years old?!" It's a hell of a story.

Read the entire interview at Icon vs. Icon

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