Phil Anselmo Gets Behind the Ins and Outs of Arson Anthem
Published Dec 27, 2010While they're not exactly a household name, old-school hardcore throwbacks Arson Anthem certainly should be. With a notorious lineup featuring singer Mike Williams (Eyehategod), drummer Hank Williams III, Ponykiller bassist Colin Yeo and guitarist Philip H. Anselmo (best known for his work with metal giants Pantera and Down), their combined legacies in the world of extreme music earns them distinction as a "supergroup." However, you would never hear one of them utter such a word.
Regardless, it stands to reason that the fall release of their explosive sophomore full-length Insecurity Notoriety was big news in underground circles across North America. In fact, it even recently made Exclaim!'s Metal Year in Review list. Issued some two years after their eponymous debut spent a whopping 20 minutes channelling the spirit of Discharge, Poison Idea, Exploited, Negative Approach and more, Insecurity Notoriety expands upon the expedient viciousness, volatile hostility and unending hyperactivity of its predecessor.
So how exactly did the quartet manage to improve upon the exact same territory their debut obliterated? As Anselmo reveals, it's because Insecurity Notoriety was recorded mere months after its antecedent yet had been sitting on a shelf at his Housecore Records until opportunity struck.
"We recorded it some time ago," he tells Exclaim! "When we actually sat to track this thing, we started in Hank's jam room in Tennessee but we finished up the majority of the record at my place Nosferatu's Lair. It was definitely over a year ago."
Unfortunately, with members' various endeavours occupying the majority of their time, though, a lag between the albums ensued. This 17-song affair had to wait until schedules permitted devoting full attention to its completion.
"It's a matter of priorities when you're on a DIY label," Anselmo explains. "I'm hands-on involved with 90 percent of what's going on around here music-wise with production and that. Either I was on tour with Down or a different band was in the studio. Circumstance led it to being released now. Man, look at Hank's schedule. He's always on tour. Look at Mike and Eyehategod's been doing a lot of work lately. Getting everybody together, well, I wish he did but it's not like Hank lives down the street. He's two states away. It's all a roll of the dice."
Still, despite detriments such as distance and limited time, even Anselmo -- ever the straight-shooter -- is forced to admit that Insecurity Notoriety benefits from like-minded vision, a unified attack and his own distinct guitar style.
"The chemistry is so obviously there," he admits. "This sounds kinda fuckin' pretentious or even cheesy but there was such a magic in the air, everything just clicked. As far as influences and keeping things fresh within the hardcore genre, I think we did that. It's a really honest record; not cut-and-paste in my book... Some bands have done [hardcore] to a science. I get that bands who have done D-Beat, Discharge stuff. I didn't want to repeat that. It's fun for me to find and pick out these little essences of Greg Ginn's guitar style, Agnostic Front's anthemic style and find my own way within that. It does come across as not borrowed, but fresh. I think we really got that clear on this record."
Moreover, Insecurity Notoriety's absolute rawness pummels listeners, the most essential aspect of any proper hardcore album. It's a reality Anselmo agrees is present and entirely reminiscent/resultant from an approach much like that of formative punk the Misfits: fuck pristine production, capture a great song in all of its passionate fury.
"With some records, you get lucky. The second you record it, you get great sound so why fuck with it?" he says. "I think that's kind of what happened here. We just ended up with these sounds that felt right. There was no need to add in compression, this or that. In fact, subtracting was probably the best thing we could've done here."
Essentially, though, while Insecurity Notoriety did eventually see the light of day and he would love to see the band expand beyond releases and sporadic shows -- going so far as to flirt with breaking his longstanding stint off the road -- Anselmo sees little more than recording in Arson Anthem's future. Blame the aforementioned commitments, distances and desires pulling the majority of his colleagues away from their New Orleans base.
"To devote more time to this would be great. I love playing guitar but I don't know if it would practical for the other guys. Having said that, the music is so fuckin' good in my book that pursuing this band for enough time would only be justice to me... There's a very alive feeling about that recording and I can see it going over pretty damned well in other words. If we were to pursue this thing even just a micro-fraction more than we are or would... you never know what's gonna happen. We'll see. I'd love to do some shows; some touring. It would be worth it and an opportunity for the people to feel that energy live. Not to mention it'd be fuckin' fun too."
Head here to see Exclaim!'s entire Metal Year in Review list, as well as here for our in-depth Phil Anselmo Timeline feature.