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Q&A: Phil Anselmo on Solo Album, Autobiography and Horror Fest

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You mentioned that you are working on your autobiography.
I know for a fact that it's scheduled to come out about this time next year. It's not just a Pantera book. It's a book of my life. A lot happened before Pantera and a lot has happened after Pantera. But definitely, a lot went on during Pantera. So I’m going to try and cover all the bases. Hopefully add a humorous story, or four or five, or ten. There's a perception that Pantera – because of its horrific ending and, of course, the murder of Dimebag [Darrell, guitarist] – it's tragic. I understand this, but for me, there are way more great memories that I have of Pantera. When I think of Pantera, I think of all the good things. People always dwell on the negatives, because I guess that's just the nature of the beast. But for me, there are too many positive stories to tell about Pantera. And I think that is where I’m going to head with this book.

Out of all the projects you've done over the years, the most mysterious was Tapeworm, which supposedly included Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan, but was shelved.
Actually, it was really me and Danny Lohner, who was in Nine Inch Nails at the time we did Tapeworm. Danny Lohner and I are still very tight, and we always talk about doing different projects together. I think he's gearing up to lay a bunch of material on me in the near future. But with the Tapeworm, it was really just two songs. Danny had preprogrammed and did all of his magic that he does – which is really outstanding work – beforehand, and said, "Hey man, here's the music. Write what you want." And these songs never saw the light of day. It was one of those things where schedules never met and it wasn't a true possibility. We were both tied to different record labels at the time. It was just a logistics nightmare.

Either way, it was and is very interesting music. I think there was one aggressive-type song, called "Ignorant." I'm not sure if I want people to hear it today or tomorrow, but in the next ten years or so, I don't mind if it's heard. There was another song called "Be Kind to Them," and that song was more atmospheric, more of a blues-type track. It would be Nine Inch Nails' take on blues. It's the type of thing where Danny – who is also a great producer – he'll ask you to sing something 20 different ways, 20 different times. Then he'll take it and run with it, and build what he wants out of it. Take certain textures and add them to vocals, and then the really beautiful orchestrations in the background.

Are you happy with how the Pantera catalog is being handled? Would you like to see more live DVDs or recordings issued, or perhaps a documentary?
I think Pantera is a type of band that has been documented very, very well over the years. With the past re-releases, we were fortunate enough to have old demos and stuff that never really saw the light of day. But Pantera was not the type of band to waste many riffs or many parts or songs. With the upcoming Far Beyond Driven re-release – which will be next year – you will see more live footage from epic shows and really breakthrough shows, instead of lost demos. I don't think there are even demos left, man. Everything from Far Beyond Driven on, I really think we used everything that we had available.

Pantera is a very complex business right now. Vinnie Paul, the drummer, doesn’t communicate at all with me or Rex [Brown, bassist]. We are mediated by what's left of our management – Kimberly Zide Davis – and she is a fantastic mediator between the three of us. And lord knows, she has to be, because Pantera hasn't been together since 2001, but it's still a thriving business. We sell T-shirts, we sell merchandise, and it still sells. And people buy the re-releases. So there has to be some form of business etiquette that we go by and business relationship that we have to agree upon.

For me, if Vince and Rex are happy with what's going on, then I’m not going to argue much, because honestly, I don't have the time or the room in my heart left to argue with those guys. I want things to run as smoothly as possible. I think it's being handled pretty fucking well. I don't really have many arguments or much more to say about it.

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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