After controversial footage surfaced of Phil Anselmo giving the Nazi salute and shouting "White Power" surfaced at this year's Dimebash back in January, there was naturally a lot of blowback, including being called out by Machine Head's Robb Flynn, among others in the metal community, Anselmo offered apology after apology about how what he did was very wrong and how he will try to grow as a person to prove he is not a racist.
Late last week, the newest issue of Decibel Magazine was unveiled and it featured Anselmo's first longform interview since the incident earlier this year. Today, Decibel decided to post the entire feature unedited, and we have pulled out some of the more intriguing excerpts.
Once the interview gets to the topic of the Dimebash, Anselmo mentions what he did was "abhorrent" and he's apologized but he's not going to apologize again:
“I’m not deflecting at all. What I did was insulting, absolutely, and abhorrent, because it did truly upset people, and it hurts my heart that anyone would think that I’m the dreaded ‘R’ word—a racist. Anyone who truly knows me knows that it’s utterly ridiculous. But if I did offend my Jewish friends, people I work with, my associates, other people in bands… if I were to upset people in that particular way—that’s why I apologized. That apology is there—and no, you won’t get another one ever again," adding moments later “It’s kinda funny, considering I’ve got a Mexican drummer and a half-black guitar player.”
Yes, it is kind of funny that you would offer a Nazi salute and say white power when you have a Mexican drummer and a half-black guitar player in your band. Almost, as if you weren't concerned with offending them – at least in the moment you conducted yourself in the way you did, Phil. Once again, Phil claims it was his dark sense of humor coming out:
“I’m no rustic fucking fool,” he says, the agitation palpable in his voice. “That’s simpleton think. And I’m not quite as simple as people would envision me. I’ve said it throughout the years, but my heroes are black; they’re Jewish—Mel Brooks, Rod Serling. The first time I shaved the sides of my head was because of Mike Tyson. The [Pantera] song ‘Mouth for War’ was written about the middleweight champ at the time—James fucking Toney. I don’t think people even know that.
“Should I have done it?” he says of his Dimebash finale. “Hell fucking no. Would I take it back? Absolutely. But my sense of humor is dark and my temper is and always has been volatile, so I reacted. I reacted in an ignorant way. I own it. But do I believe in it? That’s ridiculous.”
Interestingly, Decibel brought up Phil's controversial statements he made while in Pantera in the '90s – the full rant on black-on-black crime can be seen here – and Anselmo owns up to being uninformed as a 20-something:
“People say I have a history of racism,” Anselmo says today. “When I was in Pantera, I was completely and utterly confused when, in the ’90s, the T-shirt started circulating that said, ‘Stop Black On Black Crime.’ Today, as a damn-near-50-year-old man, living in 2016 where America is divided so completely, I understand it and I support that sentiment completely. But as a young man in my 20s, I didn’t understand it and I did speak out vehemently against it because to me it basically said, ‘Stop black on black crime, but everyone else is fair game.’ That’s how I took it. And anybody could get that misconception. So, there’s your mighty racist history right there. I took offense to a T-shirt.”
Anselmo also denied any white power seeping into his lyrics:
“Let me make it very clear, here and now: I have never written a white power song in my entire discography,” he insists. “Maybe I’ve said controversial things, but that’s the school of music that I come from. If you want safe music and safe spaces and all that type of shit, then run screaming in the other direction, please, and go toward yon safety. Way back when, if you didn’t like what someone was saying, you change the channel. It’s not all that difficult.”
Interestingly, for the first time since the story came out, Anselmo offered a new angle. He claims there were a few fans in the audience constantly shouting "racist" at him throughout the night, and that really irked him and put him in a bad mood. He claims other people at the event could corroborate the story, but none were quoted in the article, and there is no video footage of these fans yelling.
Once again, he tried to explain the "white power" salute was a joke after drinking white wine backstage (the widely circulated photo of him with a bottle of white wine was debunked to be flavored vodka) as well as a response to the hecklers shouting "racist" at him, and then he tries to explain the joke:
“The white wine thing was a running joke backstage after—get this—kissing Doug Pinnick on the lips. And he says to me, ‘Whoa—you taste good!’ Because I was drinking a bottle of white wine. I even joked about it with him—‘white power,’ hahaha. The funny thing about that is that particular room was for certain artists only. Other certain people who were part of the Dimebash were not allowed back there. I guess they felt slighted or—in quotation marks—‘offended.’ So, there was a running gag there, and it carried on even after the incident. What went down onstage was an extension of that, but also a firm reaction to these motherfuckers [up front], who, that’s exactly what they wanted.”
Doug Pinnick is of course, the black bassist and vocalist of Kings X, who came out as gay in the 90s. Pinnick was contacted for the story and corroborated that the kiss happened. He also did not condone Phil's actions but defended Phil saying "he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body" and the gesture was Phil's poor attempt at a sarcastic joke.
Anselmo goes on to say that he doesn't see himself doing many more interviews or signings in the future and all public appearances would be limited to the stage. He says he hasn't drank any alcohol since Mardi Gras, and hopes to keep it that way. He also concedes he won't ever make the "white power" joke again saying:
“Well, I definitely know to retire the old ‘white power’ joke,” he offers. “Like Morrissey says, ‘That joke isn’t funny anymore. It’s too close to home, too near the bone.’ I understand that one hundred percent, so you’ll never see that shit again."
The entire piece is absolutely worth reading, and can be done so on the Decibel website.