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Interview: Phil Anselmo on “Housecore Horror Film Festival”

Phil Anselmo

Phil Anselmo

Out of all of the horror and genre-specific film festivals coming out in 2013, there’s none quite as unique, or bombastic, as the Housecore Horror Film Festival. By combining the live shows of some of the most important horror-infused bands around, including Suspiria scorer’s Goblin and horror-rock pioneers Gwar, with a cavalcade of extreme horror cinema, including The Evil DeadCannibal Holocaust and Nekromantik 2, fans of both music and movies can converge together for their shared appreciation of the darkest of arts. The film festival may not be for the thin-skinned or weak at heart, but if you can handle the rock and the shock, there won’t be any Halloween celebration as completely engrossing and absolutely badass as the Housecore Horror Film Festival. However, this celebration of metal and macabre wouldn’t even have been possible if it wasn’t for the eponymous Housecore Records and it’s founder, Philip Anselmo.

Anselmo, the former frontman for arguably the most influential metal band of the ’90s, Pantera, and current frontman of Down as well as Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals, is a legitimate presence in both worlds, being one of the most notorious and expansive horror aficionados among the rock ‘n’ roll scene while also relentlessly shaking up the world of heavy metal for decades with any project he brings to the stage. By marrying these two worlds, Anselmo not only capitalizes on an extremely shared area of fandom, but is also providing an alternative to film-music mixture festivals for those turned off by the happy-go-lucky or genre-segregating attitudes of those events. Above all else, Anselmo is a fan of both horror music and horror movies, and wants to give the experience that he would most want from a festival of this pedigree to his own fans. In preparation for the Housecore Horror Film Festival, programmer/performer Anselmo was gracious enough to take time out of his ultra-busy schedule to speak to Diabolique about the music, the movies and the horror of the festival…

DIABOLIQUE: Why was it important to you to organize a film festival that blended both horror films and metal music?

PHIL ANSELMO: Honestly, I think both mediums go hand-in-hand. They always have, specifically speaking for myself. I figured that the passions in my life have been, obviously, music but also horror films, and I think for a lot of people that love heavy metal music or extreme music and whatnot, I think the affinity for horror movies is there as well.

DIABOLIQUE: Was the Housecore Horror Film Festival a concept that you had brainstormed recently or was this something you’ve been brewing around for a while?

ANSELMO: Well, honestly, it kind of came out of nowhere, really. I was here [at Housecore Recprds], meeting with Corey Mitchell, the guy I’m eventually going to write my autobiography with, and he was looking around the house and he noticed all of my horror regalia. Obviously, I turned him onto my insane library of horror films, whether it be on VHS, DVD or whatever, man. He freaked out really, and [the festival idea] was his suggestion. At the time, I took [the suggestion] very lightly, and the next thing I knew, he had organized the event to a certain degree.

Really, in my mind, I was thinking of something on a smaller scale, truthfully, and then he asked how I felt about bands playing. Then, I relayed to him what I basically just told you, about how the two go hand-in-hand, and “Sure, why not?” I guess when word got out that that was what our plan was, that’s when a lot of bands and horror personalities started coming forward, basically offering their services or saying, “Man, I want to be a part of this thing.” It grew from a small idea to a pretty decent sized event, I would think.

DIABOLIQUE: You have booked up quite a roster of amazing musicians as well as horror filmmakers to appear at the Housecore Horror Film Festival. What do you think it is about horror that appeals to not only metal fans, but metal musicians as well?

ANSELMO: Well, if you look at the genres out there that are considered the most severe or extreme, and right off the bat, you’re specifically talking about heavy metal, because there is death metal, and there is black metal. In my honest opinion, those genres, to a certain degree, would not even exist if it weren’t for the horror film itself. So I don’t know what more I could say other than that, but it’s the truth.

Phil Anselmo

Phil Anselmo

DIABOLIQUE: When putting together the festival, were you more focused on assembling musical acts that would appeal to horror fans or were you more focused on finding horror movies that would compliment metal fans?

ANSELMO: I don’t think I’d say either, really. I knew that I wanted great, older horror films that were from strong decades of horror. If you look at them, there have been some strong decades where horror films really, really shined throughout. So I really wanted some older horror films from great decades, and that was important for me, first and foremost. If this was going to be a film festival, then I wanted the original Evil Dead and I wanted the old Italian filmmakers; I could go into that forever, but the films speak for themselves, especially when you look at the special guests and the films that we’re showing.

At first, I thought the films were the most important thing, but when it came down to bands, what you have to realize is that bands, in and of themselves, are a working entity individually. Bands have their own scheduling, and I’m extremely pleased with the music line-up. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain bands that I’d love to have, and maybe that’s for perhaps a “next year”, if we can incorporate those bands. But honestly, I just want to get through year one to make sure there’s a next year! [laughs] But I’m very pleased with the band line-up, the film line-up and the special guests; I think it’s fantastic, and as a matter of fact, beyond expectations.

DIABOLIQUE: Many of the horror films you’re exhibiting at the festival are considered classics of the genre, including the Fulci films, Suspiria, Nekromantik, The Evil Dead and more. What is it about these sort of visceral horror films that meet the mission statement of the Housecore Horror Festival?

ANSELMO: Well, the festival has my name on it, and those are the films that are my favorites. These are films that I worshipped and sought out when I was growing up, and it wouldn’t be right if they weren’t in the festival because it was those films that made me more of a searcher for these types of films. You can talk about directors like Mario Bava, one of the great Italian directors, and once you discover Bava, then you keep searching and then you find out about Fulci, who is honestly one of my favorite horror filmmakers, as incoherent as his films may be plot-wise. But we made sure to get the films of Fulci, with his gore and his atmosphere, and Dario Argento, whose films are beautiful to look at, though my favorite of his films would be The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and then hand-in-hand, we scored Goblin at the same time to actually score Suspiria, so that’s a first-round knockout. So once again, for me, that’s beyond tremendous.

DIABOLIQUE: As a horror fan, it must be surreal to have Goblin appearing at your festival and perform the score for Suspiria live. Was it important for you to seek them out personally for this festival?

ANSELMO: That actually came up as a suggestion from out of nowhere from me. When I heard that there was some interest there, of course I jumped about ten feet in the air and said, “Absolutely, let’s do this.” Of course, considering that [their current tour] is their first time in America, this is mind-blowing. Once it was brought to my attention, there was no turning back.

DIABOLIQUE: Do you think today’s generation of horror fans, as in those who may not be familiar with giallo and ‘70s Italian Horror, will be receptive to Goblin and those films?

ANSELMO: That’s an interesting question, because Goblin is not only slated to score Suspiria, which should be pretty awesome just to witness in general, but they’re also going to do a set of a lot of their prog-rock stuff. Personally, I love variation in music, and say if I was on a touring bill, I would prefer variation over overkill. If a death metal band was headlining, I would prefer to see something more surreal and sublime open the show or play along in the show.

As to today’s horror film fan, in this particular generation, I’m not as concerned about what they think, as it’s really about the truth, the realness and the authentic feel of a time that is absolutely important my life as a reflection of the horror films that helped me become as interested as I am in horror film. I can’t speak for today’s generation, who worships the found footage films and the remakes over the original films. I can’t think for them, so I’m not going to worry about them, really. But, honestly, if they’re open minded horror film fans, then they have to see what came first. If you’re truly a horror fan, you have to do your research and you have to appreciate the previous masters, really.

Phil Anselmo

DIABOLIQUE: You’re obviously a legend in your craft, and to this day, you’re still putting out quality music year after year. What is it about metal music that compliments longevity more so than mainstream or easily accessible genres?

ANSELMO: I can’t speak for other people, and I can’t speak for other genres, really. But I will say this: if you look at my body of work, and if I wasn’t on tour with Pantera 300 days out of the year, I was doing a different project in my spare time, which was always somewhat noticed in the underground, if not completely noticed. So I’ve been busy, I’ve kept myself busy, I’ve toured the world several times over, so I think just the fact that I’ve remained “in your face”, so to speak, speaks volumes.

There’s a lot of hard work that goes with that, so if you look at a genre like, say, pop music, and you look back at the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, even to the present, there’s a shitload of one-hit wonders and then they disappear. I think there’s a lot of hard work and the longevity of touring that pays off in the end. As for other genres, there’s a lot of one-hit wonders, and then you really don’t hear from that band again, but I think heavy metal bands take it to the road a lot more and are actually seen by their fans. They’re visible, and I think, maybe, that has quite a bit to do with it.

DIABOLIQUE: At this point in your career, have you any desire to experiment with your music or do anything that you haven’t done yet? 

ANSELMO: I always think there’s room for something new, and I’m the type of guy that, whether it’s here at the house or at the office, I’m sitting on years worth of music that I’ve done during my career that the world has not EVER heard. Maybe one day, I’ll release it, and maybe I won’t, but I’ve experimented with lots of different sounds and lots of different instruments. As far as the future goes, I guess there are certain concepts and instruments and incorporation of those instruments in extreme music that I do want to mess with and “fuck around with”, so to speak, to create extreme sounds without relying on your basic set-up, meaning drums, bass, and guitar.

That’s your average set-up, whereas you can incorporate acoustic strings, or even acoustic piano, or a classical stand-up piano, and even horns. Believe me, I’m not in the dark enough to not realize that it’s been tried before, but I think there are ways to break the monopoly of the same-old, same-old that had not been touched upon yet. For me, music is a very, very vast world without any rules. I think rules only come into place when people are taken off-guard and startled, or when they hear something that’s absolutely different and are critical of that, so they say, “Well, it doesn’t do this and it doesn’t do that and it doesn’t do that.”

When the critic says something to that effect, to me, that’s just them pushing their ideals of what they think songwriting should be. Honestly, with songwriting, there’s no rules to it. I’m out to break the rules, man, and eventually, as time goes on, I’m going to continue breaking them.

DIABOLIQUE: You’re going to obviously be taking the stage at the Housecore Horror Film Festival this year, and you’re going to be sharing the same stage as Gwar, Goatwhore, Melvins and Goblin. Will your performance at the festival have somewhat of a visual element, considering that it’s uniquely at a film festival, or will the films and music be kept separate in that regards?

ANSELMO: That’s an interesting question, because there are some films that would merit an introduction of sorts. Whether that’s going to be my job, I don’t know yet, but as far as imagery goes, we already have the bands, like Gwar and whatnot, who have enough images in and of themselves. I guess the way I’m taking your question is if I’m going to be in certain places and if we’re going to literally mix the music and film, but there’s going to be a point where people that show up and want to see both film and music are going to have to flip a coin for one or the other. But I think we’re going to keep the film and music as separate as possible, but if a certain film happens to run over or a certain audience wants to see the entirety of a film, it’s up to them to sit it out and then race their asses to catch the first band of the night.

DIABOLIQUE: Do you have anything else besides the Housecore Horror Film Festival in the works or awaiting release?

ANSELMO: Well, I’ll say this: I do have a 10-inch, 2-song EP that’ll be available, and that’ll be with Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals, so that’s my solo band. Otherwise, any and everybody who doesn’t have a ticket, you have a couple of days to do so get your asses out to the program and let’s do this.

The Housecore Horror Film Festival

The Housecore Horror Film Festival

You can see Philip Anselmo at the Housecore Horror Film Festival in Austin, Texas, from October 24th-27th at Emo’s / Antone’s / Dirty Dog, alongside bands such as Gwar, EyehateGod, Dead Earth Politics, Goblin and the recently-added Melvins. Film-related guests include Nekromantik’s Jorg Buttgereit, The Manson Family‘s Jim VanBebber, Cannibal Holocaust‘s Ruggero Deodato and This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse‘s Coffin Joe, and films to be showcased include Suspiria (live-scored by Goblin!), The BeyondThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Cannibal HolocaustFriday the 13th, Evil Dead and Birth of the Living Dead.

For more on the Housecore Horror Festival, you can visit the official website, like it’s official Facebook and follow the festival on Twitter: @HousecoreHorror. For more from Phil Anselmo, you can visit his official website, like his official Facebook and you can follow him on Twitter: @philiphanselmo. For more on Anselmo and the Housecore Horror Film Festival, keep checking back to DiaboliqueMagazine.com.

Official Poster for "The Housecore Horror Film Festival"

Official Poster for “The Housecore Horror Film Festival”

About Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Web Editor for Fangoria Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Diabolique Magazine. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on several screenplays spanning over different genres and subject matter, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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