Kerrang! (UK) - - Phil Anselmo -


di­rec­tion of unity.” The lengthy mis­sive fin­ished, “And on be­half of the rest of the band (who are mad with me also), I plead for your for­give­ness, for this is a mis­take I will never make again…”

That sign-off seems a lit­tle ironic now, yet while such past be­hav­iour is unig­nor­ably damn­ing, there have ac­tu­ally been times when Phil Anselmo has called pub­licly for unity, which, if taken on face value, could be seen to con­tra­dict the con­dem­na­tion of Phil as sim­ply a racist.

‘Mass pre­dic­tion,uni­fi­ca­tion / Breath­ing life into our lungs / Ev­ery creed and ev­ery kind /To give us depth for strength’, the singer hollered on Pan­tera’s Rise, on their 1992 al­bum, Vul­gar Dis­play Of Power.

“Pulling in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions be­cause of the colour of skin is ridicu­lous, I feel, and stereo­typ­ing and stuff like that,” he ex­panded when asked about the song in an in­ter­view.

Other lyrics were far more ques­tion­able. Steal­ing A Page Or Two From Armed & Rad­i­cal Pa­gans – by the Anselmo-led band Su­per­joint Rit­ual – makes men­tion of ‘ the coward Muhammeds’ and ‘ Jewish elit­ists’. As it also rails on Catholics and other Chris­tians, how­ever, it could – if taken in iso­la­tion and ig­nor­ing those stereo­typ­ing ad­jec­tives – even lend cre­dence to Phil’s claim to be an equal op­por­tu­ni­ties hater.

Af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina wreaked dev­as­ta­tion through

“We broke rules and it made peo­ple very up­set,” is Mike’s rec­ol­lec­tion.“we weren’t try­ing to be like any­one else and we didn’t care, and that re­ally both­ered peo­ple. We were dif­fer­ent; very dif­fer­ent. But we weren’t try­ing to be dif­fer­ent.we were just try­ing to be our­selves.

“But we scared peo­ple.”

nd then there was the mu­sic. Re­leased just 24 hours af­ter In­de­pen­dence Day, and rep­re­sent­ing the true sound of lib­erty, the as­ton­ish­ing epony­mous de­but al­bum from Sui­ci­dal

ATen­den­cies was by turns alarm­ing, ex­hil­a­rat­ing, ex­co­ri­at­ing and hi­lar­i­ous.al­ways pi­o­neer­ing, of­ten un­prece­dented, ST were so dis­tant from their con­tem­po­raries that Flip­side had no qualms in eval­u­at­ing them as the worst band of 1982. Else­where, Mike Muir’s as­ser­tion that he shot pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan on the breath­less I Shot The Devil led to a visit from the U.S. Se­cret Ser­vice and an or­der to in­form the au­thor­i­ties should he ever plan to visit Wash­ing­ton, D.C.. But if such ob­sta­cles sug­gested a fu­ture with­out prospects, this sug­ges­tion was wrong.

“At first peo­ple didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate what we were do­ing,” says Mike. “The record got ter­ri­ble re­views; then a few years later it’s be­ing de­scribed as a clas­sic. But that’s life.”

It is justly right and fair that to­day Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies is recog­nised as a land­mark al­bum of its kind, in much the same way as Black Flag’s Dam­aged and Slayer’s Reign In Blood – with which Sui­ci­dal… shares a 28-minute run­ning time – two sim­i­larly piv­otal records from Los An­ge­les-based bands re­leased in the 1980s. (Slayer would later record a cover ver­sion of the ST track Mem­o­ries Of To­mor­row, avail­able on the Sound­track To The Apoc­a­lypse com­pi­la­tion.) And while it may have taken time for the Venice Beach quar­tet’s first dozen songs to find an au­di­ence of num­bers – it would be four full years un­til Join The Army, the group’s more metal-tinged se­cond re­lease – when the group did find mo­men­tum, it came with con­sid­er­able force. Long af­ter Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies should have died a lonely death, MTV be­gan to air the low-bud­get video clip for the al­bum’s most iconic track, In­sti­tu­tion­al­ized. Just as re­mark­ably, the group then ap­peared in an episode of the smash 1980s hit TV show Mi­ami Vice.and by the time its suc­ces­sor ap­peared, this slight al­bum re­leased on a tiny la­bel [Fron­tier] had sold more than 100,000 copies.

“That was pretty amaz­ing,” ad­mits the man who wrote or cowrote each of its dozen songs.

By this point, Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies were air­borne.the group signed to Vir­gin Records, their first ma­jor la­bel. Tracks such as Pos­sessed To Skate,you Can’t Bring Me Down and Send Me Your Money would soon thrill au­di­ences in even larger num­bers, as their cre­ators toured the world on tours that also fea­tured Slayer and Me­gadeth and, in 1994, Me­tal­lica. Lars Ulrich would de­scribe Mike Muir as be­ing an “un­der­rated ge­nius”.

“It took a while, but when things started to hap­pen, they re­ally did hap­pen,” says Mike.

When it comes to mat­ters of blaz­ing trails and in­no­va­tion, do you feel that Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies re­ceive the credit the band de­serves? Their leader thinks about this, but not for very long. “What is credit?” he asks. “As my dad says, a statue in the park is some­thing the pi­geons shit on. I look at things very sim­ply – I like the Sex Pis­tols, and as Johnny Rot­ten said, ‘You don’t have to be like any­one else.you can do what you want to do and you don’t have to worry whether any­one else likes it.’ And that’s what I tried to do.”

And that’s what Mike Muir did, with a power and a panache that has res­onated for more than 30 years.

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