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Phil Anselmo Interview

A Conversation With the Housecore Records Founder and Down Singer

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Phil Anselmo

Phil Anselmo

Housecore Records
Updated March 25, 2010
Does Phil Anselmo need an introduction? In the unlikely event that you ended up here by accident here’s a quick dossier: former vocalist for platinum selling artist Pantera, one of the few metal acts to achieve worldwide fame. Frontman for New Orleans sludge supergroup Down, guitarist and vocalist for Superjoint Ritual and guitarist for Arson Anthem. Anselmo is hoping to add another title to his already lengthy resume: businessman. He founded his own label Housecore Records two years ago, but is looking at 2010 to be a breakout year with releases from new artists like haarp and the possibility of the first new Eyehategod album in a decade. He’ll also be releasing the soundtrack for the cult horror film The Manson Family.

Anselmo says his label is in part a way to give back to extreme metal. “I’ve been to the top of the mountain and I know what my name is,” he says. “I love helping bands. It’s a journey, a learning experience. That’s why I’m in this ship. This is an artist friendly label to a fault. I give, as I should. Extreme music has been kind to me my entire life. “ Anselmo spoke to About.com about his plans for the label; his collaborations with horror filmmaker Jim Van Bebber; what it takes for a band to get Anselmo’s approval and his thoughts on the five-year anniversary of Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell’s death.

Justin M. Norton: Housecore Records was started two years ago. What do you have planned for the label in the coming year?
Phil Anselmo: It’s going to be brought to the next level, mainly because the projects we are working with have their stuff together. A lot of bands find themselves trying to meet deadlines and regretting a record later. I’ve been in that position a bunch of times. There’s always stuff on a record you think you could have done better. I like my bands to be relaxed and happy with their product, so I don’t put any time limits on them. Like Orson Welles said in the commercial “we shall sell no wine before its time.”

So you will sell no music before its time?
Yeah, but we will have a lot of releases this year. It’s going to be good stuff.

One of the best known bands on the roster is Eyehategod. Do you see their next album being released on your label?
That’s always been the plan. I won’t hold anyone to anything. I can say yes, but if it didn’t happen there would be no skin. But going with the more positive ‘yes it is’ direction – they’ve had these five songs floating out there. I have the demos at home so I know they have the stuff. I think they’ll have an opportunity to do a few different runs even though they’ll be touring Europe. They are busy. But I’m looking forward to it. If there is anybody out there that screams at (guitarist ) Jimmy Bower to get in there and do the record it’s me. He always has an answer, even if it isn’t what I want to hear.

Would that be your breakthrough release?
I would say them, or Crowbar. We have so many contrasting styles on the label now. That will be more evident in the upcoming year. Anything is possible. As far as a breakthrough records, the fact that Eyehategod is well known certainly doesn’t hurt. They are an established act, but we have new bands that will appeal to certain audiences as well and are great at what they do. There is always potential. Not to mention…if I do something, and I’m going to create something, I’ll do it on my label.

At one point you ran Housecore along with Killjoy of Necrophagia’s label Baphomet Records. You are now running the label solo – what happened?
You can scratch that. That was a false start. Nothing was distributed or for sale. Housecore’s conception really came with the Arson Anthem album in 2007 and we were always solo. So that’s an urban myth.

Housecore is primarily known for releasing acts you are personally affiliated with, but do you see yourself expanding and signing other bands based on demos or recommendations?
I’ll do a little bit of both. I have to believe in the band. There’s one or two things they need to bring to the table. To be technically proficient is great. But I’m not looking for perfection.

What gets your stamp of approval?
I want something different. There’s a band from New Orleans (on the label) called haarp. They are heavy metal, sure. You’d classify them as such. But they transcend the genre and have invented a genre. They play slow, but to call them slow isn’t fair. They are conceptually fresh. They might be an ugly listen the first time through. The first time I listened to Venom or Hellhammer it was an ugly listen, but it stuck with me. I feel the same way about haarp.

There’s also The Sursicks. They are extreme, but they aren’t metal or punk rock or hardcore. They are master musicians creating and inventing a style. They are very flexible. To describe their music is tough. They use horned instruments and strings, anything they can get their hands on.

Take those two extremes and that’s what you will get from Housecore. Way different tastes and styles, released together. I like the contrast.

Did the compilation last summer help get your label in front of a new audience?
It might have piqued interest.

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