Phil Anselmo leads Down on fall road trip
When vocalist Phil Anselmo and his Down bandmates came together to record "Down IV Part I -- Purple EP," they weren't looking to gain additional fans. They wanted to please those diehard fans who have supported them throughout the years.
"The thing about Down is when we do new records, the question that goes through our minds is, 'Are we going to break new ground?'" Anselmo said.
"For me, the pessimist I am, I say, 'No, we're not going to break new ground.' What we do have is a hardcore cult following that deserves, I guess, new music that we have been promising. Believe me, I made the mistake before of saying 'New Down will be coming out.' Trust me. Five years will go by and fans will be saying, 'Where the fuck is Down?' Either way, we did six songs, no bullshit, got it done, didn't second-guess ourselves, and it's for the Down audience. It's for the hardcore Down people. If we happen to gain new fans along the way, that's fine, that's great. That's more than mission accomplished. We did it for the hardcore fans."
Down -- which also includes C.O.C.'s Pepper Keenan on lead guitars, Crowbar guitarist Kirk Windstein, Eye Hate God drummer Jimmy Bowery and Crowbar bassist Pat Brundners -- self-produced the EP. Set for release on Sept. 18, the EP was recorded at Nodfertu's Lair, located at Anselmo's New Orleans home.
"My mindset going into making this record was to put absolutely no pressure on me," Anselmo said. "It's kind of the same way we approached our first demo back in 1991. I think everybody -- all of us -- took the same approach, not to overthink this. When Pepper, Kirk and Jim and now Pat and I get into the same room together, the music is going to sound like Down. It was really a no-pressure situation and I feel like we wrote a really true Down record."
The first single is a song called "Witchtripper." When asked why Down chose the track for radio, Anselmo said "Oh God, it's short and it's fucking called 'Witchtripper' for God's sake."
Down is embarking on a short tour to support the EP, the first of four expected to be released within the next year. Anselmo has some rather lofty ambitions about the jaunt.
"Oh shit, they can expect my bald, bloody head and a bunch of handsome guys," said Anselmo, who's known to smash beer bottles on his forehead.
"Honestly, if you read, what is it, Teen Beat/Tiger Beat and you see Justin Bieber? Most of us look that beautiful and handsome. I would expect a bunch of good-looking guys playing perfectly in tune, flawless rock 'n' roll.
"If you believe one word of this, I definitely have an ocean in Russia to sell you."
Once he finished laughing, the former Pantera frontman admitted he's not really looking forward to the tour as a whole. Just the shows.
"If I could be teleported from show to show, I'd say, 'Yes, I'm looking forward to it,'" Anselmo said. "Once I'm on stage, everything's fine. It's all the in-between bullshit that I could do without."
But live shows are no longer painful to Anselmo, who underwent a well-documented back surgery in 2005 and knee surgery in 2009.
"It was way worse before I fixed it," Anselmo said. "I used to do shows doubled over with tears in my eyes. These days, not so much anymore. Not really at all anymore. Mostly just sore in the morning. Honestly, if I'm up on my feet all day, it's not so bad. But it's all the traveling. It's sitting on a plane, sitting on a bus, sitting in the dressing room. The sitting position's the worst. You have to exist like a shark, you have to stay on the move. Do your best but once again a six- to 12-hour trip to Europe is pretty rough on the old hips. That's where it gets me the worst, in the hips. Right in the left hip. But that's just how the ball rolls."
He said he has good and bad days, but he's fortunate that the good days outweigh the bad.
"I've been hitting it hard outside [in this] unbelievably hot August heat, to get back into some semblance of shape," he said. "But at 44 years of age, [it's not that easy]. I'm knocking out the rounds, boxing again. Good days and bad days, a whole lot more good days than bad days. It takes a lot of hard work."
18 - Fort Worth, TX - Ridglea Theater
19 - Tulsa, OK - Cain's Ballroom
21 - Sauget, IL - Pop's
22 - Chicago, IL - House of Blues
23 - Pontiac, MI - The Crofoot
25 - Boston, MA - House of Blues Boston Presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino
26 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
28 - New York City, NY - Best Buy Theater
29 - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom
30 - Silver Spring, MD - The Fillmore Silver Spring
2 - Charlotte, NC - Tremont Music Hall