Tammy Moore, photos by Wendy/Stern
is something provocative about being in the presence of rock
stars. It has something to do with the idea of being that
close to the actual energy sources that craft this powerful
entity we call rock music. It is this music that stirs the
souls of adoring rock fans. These are the tunes that our own
proverbial drummers beat to. That is the best way to describe
the feeling that was mine sitting on the tour bus with Superjoint
Ritual…listening to their views on our government, religion,
their latest release, A Lethal Dose of American Hatred,
and the messages they mean to send with it.
there is an interesting story to tell about each individual
in this band, in researching the group and its members, it
was hard to find information about them, collectively, that
stated more than the obvious. In describing Superjoint Ritual
everyone uses dark descriptive words like “intense,” “brutal,”
“aggressive,” and “primal.” They talk about the fact that
the band smokes a lot of pot, too, but Superjoint Ritual must
own a defining philosophy behind the music itself. After all,
this band is fronted by one of the most opinionated musicians
in modern day music who possesses a particular kind of verve
and while those adjectives and details may apply, there had
to be more to this recent endeavor of his. I was looking for
more validity and I found it. Superjoint Ritual is a vehicle
for a kind of mental purification process where there are
no barriers. I was delighted when the band supplied Wendy
WWAD and me with the answers to questions concerning why this
band is important right now. Hardcore metal music lovers take note…this is not a cold war that Philip Anselmo and company are
picking against ‘nu-metal’ or anything that someone recently
defined as ‘talentless, corporate music that is created by
major record companies and marketed to scared suburban teens
in an effort to wean them off of pop and into another demographic.’
This is an all-out battering on those who would sell out and
deviate from unpretentious rock as it is supposed to be performed,
at least in the opinions of these gifted musicians.
Ritual began as a side project for Anselmo (Pantera, Down)
in the mid-nineties. Together with drummer Joe Fazzio (Hank
III & The Damn Band, Hank III & Assjack) and guitarist
Jimmy Bower (Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar), jam sessions
began in an old warehouse in their native Louisiana. They
brought Kevin Bond in to play bass and recorded demos in ’95
and ’97, and even a 7” in ’94 that was never released. But
Kevin wanted to play guitar, and so when the need arose for
a new bass player, Fazzio, who by then had already been playing
with Hank III for a year and a half, suggested his current
front man for the bass position. After all, Hank III was a
metalhead at heart (at a Hank III show audiences are entertained
with one hour of country, a five-minute break, and then an
hour of near-death metal), and Fazzio
knew he could play a mean bass and anchor this vicious rhythm
section. Though the line up in this supergroup reads like
a who’s who from the heavy metal archives, you won’t find
ego problems here. They like each other. We spoke to each
member of the band and not one of them will admit to liking
any of their other projects more than Superjoint. Even Hank
III, who hereinafter will be affectionately referred to as
Shelton (the name bestowed on him at birth) and who in his
own right is a successful headlining act and famous by way
of lineage, seems grateful to be part of this group. They
are all grateful to be in this project. They love Superjoint
Ritual because it is here that they find the true freedom
of expression they feel is vital to the anti-movement they
artists might write in metaphors and their lyrical content
can be somewhat subjective and even Anselmo, who writes one
hundred percent of his lyrics, may have done that on occasion
in other projects. But in Superjoint, and face to face, this
is a man who says exactly what he means. He is a self-proclaimed
radical, but he gives a lot of serious thought these days
to the current state of our world and has not come to his
conclusions unconscientiously. And while the name of their
new record may conjure other meanings, make no mistake…A
Lethal Dose of American Hatred is an unashamedly pro-American
record. It is, in part, a reaction to the existing world sentiment
towards the U.S.
lot of the songs that appear on Lethal were written at Nosferatu’s Lair, the barn/rehearsal/recording
space on Anselmo’s southern plantation style property, which
is located about an hour north of his native New Orleans,
Louisiana. Anselmo’s dozen-acre property is home to Fazzio
these days, as well. It is located amid the swamplands and
it storms there everyday. Couple that with Anselmo’s infamous
home décor that pays homage to horror, music, and occult-driven
imagery, and one imagines that conditions there are extremely
conducive to writing this old-school brand of fiery material
that seems to be the order of the day. The record was recorded
at Balance and Piety Studios in Louisiana and produced by
the entire band and Dave Fortman, who also produced Superjoint’s
debut, Use Once And
sat first with Anselmo and Fazzio and the following is an
excerpt from that conversation.
What is it like to produce as a team? How does it work?
(Phil) Everyone is kind of responsible
for what they did. Like Joe, he knows what he wants with his
drums, where they need to sound a certain way. I, for damn
sure, am sitting over my vocals going,“ goddamn, I could’ve
done that better, I could redo that or add something or knock
something out…you know that’s up to me. No one can pick my
vocal shit off but me. Just like I cannot speak for Joe about
his drum shi,t I’m not gonna go over there and say turn Joe down there.
these songs new collaborations, or are they mostly songs written
in the 90’s that just didn’t make the cut for Use
album has like three older songs that we have had… matter
of fact, this one song, Waiting For the Turning Point…I
wrote that one in ’89, and then we transformed that in the
early to middle nineties, and we’ve added a little bit here
and there all the way up to this album, but it’s basically
been the same song so we’ve been doing that one for a long
time. However, there’s about seven or eight brand new fuckin’
songs on the record.
In a supergroup like
this, are there ever ego problems to deal with?
We all get along. The
majority of the band have known each other for 10 years or
more. And Hank is so damn mellow… but on stage he’s a lunatic
so it’s just real cool…he gives 1000% on stage and then doesn’t
say much. He’s a real quiet guy.
Would you guys say
there is a leader in this band?
Oh, shit yeah…Phil.
He’s definitely the man!
stylists of the hardcore metal movement would admit that it
takes a definite amount of rage to
effectively write and play this music and that one can only
stay that angry for a certain amount of time.
You’ve been doing this for a long time…what continues to fuel
a radical motherfucker, man. I take what I do very, very,
very fuckin’ seriously and fuckin, when I watch the industry
and the fuckin’ bands and the crowds and everybody just go
down the fuckin’ toilet and fuckin’ give in to these fuckin’…it
just seems that most of the crowd today are fucking absolutely
easy to please, extremely easy to fuckin’ please and are impressed
by stuff that’s not that impressive and fuckin’, I think there’s
a lot of puff in todays’ bands meaning that I think that there’s
a lot of image…like
glam is back…you know, you have to look a certain way and
fuckin’ wear make up and leather outfits and you HAVE TO look
that way. To me, it’s like right back to the days of Motley
Crue, Poison, and all that fuckin’ shit.
feel and I want to start another anti-image movement where
it’s not how you look that’s important. It’s back strictly
to the music! The fuckin’ first one (the glam movement) happened
around 1980…’81…’82…you know, that was when the original one
happened and Metallica was part of it. Slayer was part of
it after a while. And we want to instill this into the people
that come to the fuckin’ shows.
to Phil) You are in so many projects…one might assume that
each project provides its own kind of catharsis. You’ve said
before that with Superjoint you
want people to stretch their minds and open up to some new
possibilities. Care to elaborate?
Well, you can ignore
the government and say ‘fuck all these issues…I don’t care’
for only so long and then eventually one day, usually more
in your adult years, it strikes you over the head and you
can’t ignore the government. You know, turn on your TV…who
the fuck are we blowin’ up for what reason this month? Then
six months from now…we learn it was for a completely different
reason. You know, it makes you wonder about the land you live
in. It makes you fuckin’ curious. It makes you wonder how
many bloody fuckin’ knives have been pulled out of men’s backs
for our government to fuckin’ goddamn exit. I think that’s
an important issue for everybody to ponder because, I think,
one day there is gonna be another…there should be…a fucking
revolution. And I think our government should be looked at
extremely. I think that our ways, our fuckin’ thoughts on
religion, our taxing policies, especially with the religious
groups and stuff like that because to me religious groups
are no more valid than the WWF. It’s fuckin’, goddamn, entertainment, you know,
for anybody and they ought to be taxed as such. Or the other
way around, the WWF doesn’t pay a certain tax because they’re
not a sport and [by saying] they’re just an entertainment
group, they escape an incredible tax. Somebody’s doing their
homework. Yeah, if you’re a church; you’re a non-profit organization…free
money…100% of it.
We give 40% to Uncle
Sam for being in the entertainment business.
Yeah, that’s what it is. They (religious groups) are basically
telling you that they are real. Religious groups are about
as real as fuckin’…
Obviously, you don’t
believe in religion. Do you believe in spirituality on any
long as it comes from one’s self and not some phony man-made
text and, fuckin’, of course, you can take some ideas…everybody’s
ideas are taken from someone else’s ideas…that’s how mankind
is. That’s how it teaches. Someone had to put it in order
and learn the correct order or way of living. However, when
you have what is called ‘free thinking’, when someone has
free thoughts, I think you are capable of having a revolutionary
fuckin’ dream and to have it fuckin’ follow through. A lot
of people have fucked up because they’ve added… The only ones
you hear about are the ones that have failed. There are congregations
of people everywhere that just say “fuck off, we want to live
this way,” and do it. You don’t ever hear anything about them
because they don’t do anything illegal. The only ones you
hear about are the ones that do illegal things, like The Manson
Family, the fuckin’ David Koresh thing, fuckin’ Reverend Jones…JIM
Jones, Guyana. I think those are important issues. I think
kids ought to look for God within themselves and not fuckin’
within a book or an image they have in their head or what
they’ve been FORCE-FUCKIN’-FED.
is, if any, the message you want to send with Lethal?
Is it safe to say that it is an interpretation of the current
worldview of America and the American attitude as a whole?
Forty %, maybe, but
then the other 60% is that I want people to realize that we
are just as real as our own audience. Fuckin’, we go through
things that they go through. Destruction of a Person…really,
there can be no more personal song.
to Phil) Do you have
a favorite project?
Is that how all of
you guys handle being in more than one project…you just take
one thing at a time?
do you do to take care of yourself? You’re all over the place
with your record label (Housecore Records) and all of your
I often wonder why I
don’t feel so good sometimes and why I’m so sore and why I’m
so beat up and why I’m such a wreck and this and that, and
then I realize look at my life, for god’s sake…I haven’t stopped
since Titville, man. I fuckin’ have just been going, going,
going and that’s enough to drive a person crazy, man, and
doing one band is definitely helping, you know, but I got
a ways to go. I feel it. I’ve got a ways to go but that’s
nothin’ bad. I don’t think of it as a bad thing. I think of
it as a realization. One band, one thing to think about, you
know…musically, at least, and music has always been THE thing
in my life. I’ve been stuck together with music since I can
begin to make memories.
found Shelton alone in the backstage area of The Backroom.
He was sitting down, rehearsing for the show, playing his
bass with a set of headphones on. He was reeling from the
Texas heat and still trying to recover from the Little Rock
show. When Shelton is onstage, he gives everything he’s got
and Hank Williams’ grandson was in pain upon arriving in Austin
after some serious headbanging the night before. Still, he
answered my questions in a polite down-home kind of way with
a southern drawl that in itself pays true reverence to his
You are somewhat of an anomaly in that you
tour all the time with country and rock artists. Is there
a big difference hanging with one crowd versus the other or
are people just people across the board?
At a Hank III show you
get more of a mix. But,
as a standard country show goes, it’s usually more mellow.
A rock show is going to have a bunch more crazy kids; much
more pissed off energy or angst…much more aggression, so there
is definitely a difference. But sometimes at our country shows
I’ve seen the pit rock harder than at the rock show, so you
just never know.
What about the behind-the-scenes
thing? You’re touring with country artists; you’re touring
with rock artists…
I don’t know…shit; all the country singers now are just
a bunch of clean boys. It’s not like you can say…like back
in the seventies…it was rock against country and it was intense
because of, you know, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, George
Jones against Van Halen. And they were partying hard. And
in country music nowadays, there’s not many outlaws. There
is but they’re not on the radio.
Internally, there must be conflicting energies at work playing country
metal…what is the effect on you mentally and physically?
Superjoint…and when I’m on tour with these guys…
That’s what your focus
can play anything. I mean, if I had to show up and jam country
tomorrow, I could, but right now while Philip’s wanting to
work I’m standin’ beside him as long as I can. And we’re just
making the best of it… we’re just tryin’ to rock.
Curb Records releases
your country material. You’ve have been at odds with them
for awhile after they refused to let you issue This
on your own. Have any of the problems been resolved?
in court right now with them, so I mean it’s all up in the
air. Mike Curb still will not sit down with me and have a
meeting and that says it all. They’re just wasting my time,
you know, acting like I’m gonna live forever.
the interview complete, it was time to go inside the club
and wait for what would surely be a shocking live spectacle.
The kinetic energy brought on by the audience eagerness was
mounting by the minute. As I waited, I reflected on another
question that I had asked of each member of Superjoint Ritual
which was that if they could write their own epitaphs, what
would they say? I liked III’s answer because it suited him
(“He was a little weird…he was a little this, a little that…Jeckyl
and Hyde”). Fazzio said he’d never thought about it, as did
Bond. Bower’s answer was one that you honestly had to be there
to truly appreciate and Anselmo’s reply was fittingly haunting
(“I can’t answer that…it ain’t over. I’ve got too much to
do yet”). And, finally, it was show time. The lights went
down…the audience roared in anticipation…the guitars began
to scream…the rhythm section thundered and Philip Anselmo
grabbed his microphone and loudly proclaimed, “Hail, Satan!”
With cognitive dissonance washing over me, I wanted to ask
one more question. Isn’t that another form of religion, Phil…or
is this simply rebellion in its oldest form? And then the
sonic assault began.