If you saw Phil Anselmo in the early '00s with the grossly underrated Superjoint Ritual, it was not a pretty sight. The guy was on stage, high as hell, and rambling on about anything and nothing, talking shit on everybody. It was a dark time for Phil, who has admitted to using heroin, opiates and other pain medication in the past and with the death of his friend, Dimebag, he eventually cleaned up, and now only drinks alcohol and smokes weed.
In a new interview with The Examiner, Phil discusses the Down song "Nothing In Return" and his half-sobriety:
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.
Phil was in great spirits when he called into the Metal Injection Livecast, and just seems like he's having fun again with his life, which is great to see. He is one of the largest personalities in metal, and it's great to see him up and alert.