By Kelley Simms
It’s always painful losing a loved one, whether it be a friend, a family member or an ex-bandmate.
Two people who share this sentiment are ex-PANTERA vocalist Phil Anselmo and WARBEAST vocalist Bruce Corbitt. Of course, Anselmo lost Dimebag Darrell Abbott in 2004 and even though he and the rest of his former bandmates were feuding, it was painful nonetheless. Most recently, Corbitt lost fellow ex-RIGOR MORTIS band member Mike Scaccia when the guitarist suffered a heart attack and died on stage right next to him while performing at the singer’s 50th birthday party.
“That flashes back all the time,” a saddened Corbitt says. “The fact that he was up there on stage with me right by my side, playing for my birthday. When I got over to him, I was probably the last person who he looked at. All that makes it even more difficult. It’s been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with in my life. It’s so hard to explain what it takes to get through it. It’s something I’ll never get over. I never envisioned a world without Mike Scaccia. And that hit me hard right there. I would never have been in a band if it wasn’t for Mike.”
The reason the two extreme metal vocalists are speaking to the media now is to welcome their newly-released split EP, War Of The Gargantuas, on Anselmo’s own Housecore Records. It features two previously unreleased Warbeast songs and two Anselmo songs — his first solo material in his 30-year career.
“When we sat down to do these sessions, I got so much variety and cut so many songs that I really had a lot of ammunition,” Anselmo says. “The two songs that I picked for this particular split are basically an introduction to some of my solo work. It also had to be concurrent with what Warbeast does, and to me, that’s pure FTW thrash. I picked two of my most straight-forward songs. The songs work very well together. The full-length that will be out this summer will be a little more unpredictable in nature.”
And the meaning behind the title?
“It’s a fantastic inside joke that turned into something tangible,” Anselmo says. “War Of The Gargantuas is an old ’60s Japanese monster film. It’s one of my favorite movies growing up as a kid and I had no idea the Warbeast guys had their own little inside joke about the same movie. So it turned into this giant back-and-forth inside joke. It just fits so well.”
Should I dare ask what your expectations are for this release?
“I am the wrong guy to ask when it comes to expectations because you never know what people are going to think,” Anselmo states. “The last thing I’m going to do is lay here and worry myself sick about what the expectations are. People are going to make their own assumptions and come to their own conclusions. But I think at the end of the day, it’s going to surprise them all over again with what both of us have come up with. When our full-lengths do come out, it’s going to throw a curve ball at people. And I like that. That’s the way it should be.”
Corbitt iterated his thoughts on being on the split EP with Anselmo.
“For us, it’s obviously the exposure that we’re going to receive. We’re realistic and understand that everyone out there is excited to hear Phil Anselmo’s first solo album. We know so many people are getting this to get Phil’s first tracks. We just realize it’s a really good thing for the band. It’s so fun being on Housecore because these ideas would get thrown out in most cases but the beauty of Housecore is these ideas actually come to life.”
Speaking of Housecore, which Anselmo runs, he’s also the producer on all of Warbeast’s releases. But the question that everyone wants to know is … How is working with Anselmo?
“I get Phil,” Corbitt states. “Some people don’t. He’s got this sarcastic arrogance about him that cracks me up, you know? Because I know deep down he’s really a humble, good-hearted guy that’s got your back on anything in the world for you if he’s your friend. Some people might take him wrong, but we love the guy. He cracks me up and we have fun working with Phil. He becomes part of the band, another member. We listen to his ideas and most of the time they work out.”
Corbitt and Anselmo actually go way back. Anselmo has been around the block a few times when it comes to extreme music. Even back in the ’80s when Anselmo first joined Pantera, Rigor Mortis was a band on his radar and they were probably the most extreme speed metal band to hit the scene back then. At that time, Pantera was in its infancy and hadn’t yet broken through to the masses.
“The first house that I ever moved into in 1987 with Rex (Brown) when I just joined the band and I didn’t know anybody,” Anselmo says. “Those group of guys in Pantera, when I first met them, were very competitive and harsh on music that I don’t think they understood, really. I loved and watched heavy metal grow. I’ve seen where it came from … from hardcore to heavy metal I’ve watched the whole scene grow. I was always a consumer. I was a tape trader. I was a demo trader … anything I could get my hands on. I was a fiend. Right when I walked in the house, you know you’re inspecting your lodgings and you’re looking around and right on top of the stereo there was a Rigor Mortis demo. So I took it into my tiny little room that I had and I had this old cassette deck and I popped it and it blew me away. I asked Rex who these guys were and he said,”Oh, that’s just Rigor Mortis. They just play fast.” And I was like, “You’re damn right they play fast!,” Anselmo says with a hardy laugh.
With the 20 year anniversary of Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power still fresh in the fans’ minds, no one can deny the incredible music the band created together and the legacy they created. However, Anselmo and the Abott’s well-publicized feud has gone on for years (and is still going), even all this time after Dimebag’s unfathomable murder in 2004.
“(Dimebag and I) were at odds with each other,” Anselmo confessed. “We had a lot of road time together and a lot of ups and downs. I was probably on more drugs than Jim Morrison in the ’60s and I didn’t make the best decisions as far as my choice of words.”
But this isn’t about choosing sides, either. Anselmo says his door is open for talks, but drummer and Dimebag’s brother, Vinnie Paul, has not been on the receiving end since before his brother’s death.
“I’ve said it a million times, my door is wide open,” Anselmo concludes. “I come with nothing but love, sympathy and brotherhood. It’s tough for me to fathom the absolute stonewalling of me, blocking me out of his life. At this point, having it been several years of Dimebag’s passing, we would have to open up old wounds and it would sting, it would hurt, and I’m sure there would be tears. But in my heart of hearts I believe that if we did talk it would be a healthy thing and I feel by not talking that it’s an unhealthy thing all around. I’m very clear on moving on with life and putting one foot in front of the other and trying to make our lost comrades proud, at least do their memory justice. I’m not clear on the silence. It hurts my heart and there’s nothing I can do about it if there’s nothing coming back in return.”
The entire upcoming Weed And Speed tour featuring DOWN and Warbeast, which began January 11, is dedicated to the legacy of Mike Scaccia.