Can We Talk About Phil Anselmo for a Second?

Phil Anselmo / Down 2012
(Photo credit: The Heavy Chronicles)

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point over the past five years Phil Anselmo transformed himself from reviled enemy of metal into well-respected elder statesman.

The low point of widespread Phil-hate came in the years after Dime’s death, when metalheads were quick to berate him for the not-so-nice words he said about his fallen brother before his death. Admittedly, Phil said a lot after Dime’s death that didn’t help his cause. But through patience, resiliency, and a carefully controlled relationship with the metal press, Phil has completely rehabilitated his image. It couldn’t have been easy for him to keep plugging along when it seemed like the entire world he knew was against him.

Phil’s decision to quit hard drugs had something to do with it too, giving him the strength and motivation to wade through all the crap and come out victorious on the other end. Check this quote from an interview with The Examiner about the Down song “Nothing In Return:”

I was coming off some really tough years in my life. I went through the death of my guitar player, I went through Hurricane Katrina, and then I guess one of the biggest personal wars, besides Dimebag dying, was drug addiction. And chronic pain. Which really goes hand in hand, if you know anybody that suffers from chronic pain and whatnot.

At that point, I had come clean, and now it’s 2013 and it’s been eight years for me off hard drugs, so that’s a great feeling. But “Nothing In Return” is about, basically, what you give, you’re gonna give back. And I have been the motherfucker on stage, out-of-my-mind drunk, on drugs, broken up inside, injured, feeling very vulnerable, and for me that’s an uncomfortable feeling. And I’ve said things over the microphone to thousands of people that I had no business fucking saying. Badmouthing other bands, badmouthing this, that, the other thing. And just coming off as a negative person, which I’m not at all.

I’m very much a positive person, so when I came clean, I recognized all this, and there were some friends of mine that were still struggling at the time, and I kept really begging them, “Take the step. All you have to do is trust me, listen to me, we’ll get you off drugs, and all the bad anxiety that comes with it, the sickness that comes with detoxing and all that shit, it goes away. You can have your fucking life back, man, y’know?” Basically, that’s my message right there. You can have your fucking life back. Unfortunately, you can talk a blue streak, and talk is cheap when it comes to… once you’ve conquered something and you’re trying to tell someone else about it, they’re going through the tough time, it’s like talking to the brick wall. They’re not hearing you, really. And such is the case a lot of times, and really that’s what the song’s about. Failing, kinda. In my mission to straighten some people up. Because you can’t win every time. You can’t win every time.

It’s good to have a clear-headed Phil Anselmo back.

[via Metal Injection]

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