what youll find inside
superjoint ritual
austin's sex in the city
wendy's wwad
bartendar spotlight
red eyed fly
room 710
off the streets
chump change

by Tammy Moore, photos by Wendy/Stern

There 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.  

While 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.  

SUPERJOINT RITUALSuperjoint 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 are spearheading.

Some 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.

A 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 Destroy.

We sat first with Anselmo and Fazzio and the following is an excerpt from that conversation.

SUPERJOINT RITUAL(TM) 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.

(TM)Are these songs new collaborations, or are they mostly songs written in the 90’s that just didn’t make the cut for Use Once?

(Phil)This 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.

(TM) In a supergroup like this, are there ever ego problems to deal with? 

(Joe) 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.

(TM) Would you guys say there is a leader in this band?

(Joe) Oh, shit yeah…Phil. He’s definitely the man!

(TM)Some 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 your fury?

(Phil)I’m 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.

I 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.

SUPERJOINT RITUAL(TM 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?

(Phil) 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.

(Joe) We give 40% to Uncle Sam for being in the entertainment business.

(Phil) 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’…

(TM) Obviously, you don’t believe in religion. Do you believe in spirituality on any level?

(Phil)As 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.

(TM)What 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?

(Phil) 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.

(TM to Phil) Do you have a favorite project?

(TM) Is that how all of you guys handle being in more than one project…you just take one thing at a time?

(TM)What do you do to take care of yourself? You’re all over the place with your record label (Housecore Records) and all of your bands.

(Phil) 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.

We 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 heritage.

 (TM) 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?

(Shelton) 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.

(TM) What about the behind-the-scenes thing? You’re touring with country artists; you’re touring with rock artists…

SUPERJOINT RITUAL(Shelton) 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.

(TM) Internally, there must be conflicting energies at work playing country and

metal…what is the effect on you mentally and physically?

(Shelton)Nothing…Superjoint’s Superjoint…and when I’m on tour with these guys…

(TM) That’s what your focus is?

(Shelton)Yeah…I 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.

(TM) Curb Records releases your country material. You’ve have been at odds with them for awhile after they refused to let you issue This Ain’t Country on your own. Have any of the problems been resolved?

(Shelton)I’m 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.

With 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.

Tammy Moore


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