Philip Anselmo is best know as a front man for the bands Pantera, Down and Superjoint Ritual. His reputation for having a larger than life personality did not fail to live up to itself when I recently interviewed him. Anselmo is currently on tour playing guitar with the band Arson Anthem. The Arson Anthem tour is also showcasing the talents of the bands Harp and Warbeast. All bands on the tour are on the label started by Anselmo, Housecore Records. I recommend all of them if you want a dose of good, old, face-rocking metal and punk rock.
I met up with Phil and Shelton Hank Williams (drummer for Arson Anthem, better known as the front man for Hank III) and took some pictures of some work that they both had by Paul Booth. Phil was enthusiastic to talk about his tattoos.
Rose Riot: What was your first tattoo?
Phil: Right here on my arm “PHILCORE!” It’s knuckles with skull rings and it says “Philcore.” I’m not covering it up ‘cause I can remember bein’ 18 years old, feelin’ invincible, like I could walk through walls, and maybe I could. At the time there was speed core, hard core, this core and that core. I said, “Fuck it, Philcore.” Now, I have Texas friends that still call me “Core” with that Texas accent. No escaping it now, it stays.
Who did your first piece?
This old biker motherfucker –mean motherfucker, Randy Adams, lovable mother fucker, I miss him. Haven’t seen him in a long time. He’s at Papa San Tattoos.
What was your last piece?
I’m guessing’ across the back of my neck, “Lifer.” I got that done in Australia by some obscure motherfucker. You know when you get that itch and you just say, “I need some ink?” It’s one I can live by, ’cause I’ve been doin’ the same thing since I was 13 years old. I don’t see me changing’ occupations any time soon. It’s also the title of a Down song. I’m livin’ the life, talkin’ the talk, walkin’ the walk. When we play that song “Lifer” I always send it out to Dime Bag for obvious reasons. In his life, Dime Bag was the epitome of a fuckin’ lifer. If there is a picture in the dictionary of that word, it should be him.
Which tattoo is your favorite?
Naw, I don’t have a favorite. I do like the Paul Booth. I grew up in a time in the tattoo world during a phase when people were getting sailor girls and dragons. People were just starting to do more interesting work.
What year did you get your first piece?
1988, that was a turning point time…
What is something you would never get?
Tribal! Fuckin’ cheesy, fuckin’ chalk-white motherfuckers walkin’ around with tribal tattoos. I know a pro football player, he’s about as white as a fuckin’ piece of chalk, he’s a honky motherfucker. I rag on him so much about his tribal tattoo.
You said earlier that you wouldn’t get anything removed. So there is nothing you would get removed?
If I had the choice of completely “x-ing” out my ex-wife, yeah, I would do that. Instead, I put the real face on her.
(Phil lifts his sleeve to show me a girl with a demon face.)
So let’s talk about fan tattoos. What do you think when you see a fan with a tattoos from one of your bands?
Man, I had a kid jump on stage in Brazil, this motherfucker had a loose replica of every tattoo I had at the time. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. I stopped the whole motherfuckin’ show. I said, “Look at this fuckin’ dude!” He came up on stage amongst the stage divers, he shows me his arms while I was jamming’ on stage. I would love to have a picture of that.
Last night some dude got my autograph tattooed. You know what, it makes me feel good, it’s good. I’m not gonna lie, it makes me feel proud. It makes me feel like there is no way I can take a step to let that motherfucker down.
So do you have plans for more?
Yes, I do! If Paul wants to scribble on me some more, sure… I have a fleur-de-lis that has served me long and well. In the early 90s, the New Orleans Saints were a joke of an NFL team, but when you grow up as toddler standing in front of the TV set in 1980 whatever the fuck year it was… The only true American tradition in my book that makes any sense is NFL football. I respect the fuck out of it. So my future piece is gonna say, “2009 NFC Champs” above the fleur-de-lis, then underneath it’s gonna say, “Super Bowl 44 World Champions.” You just got a lesson in football little lady! Ha-ha!
Although Phil loves football, I doubt you will be seeing any of his bands, past or present, playing the halftime show at the Super Bowl, but if they did I might actually consider watching the Super Bowl and you might actually consider watching the halftime show!
(Rose Riot is a photographer in Atlanta and contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine)