June 8, 2017 Interview – Bill Moseley & Phil Anselmo
With the amount of people one encounters through their life, faces come and go, but every once in awhile connections are made. Within those bonds we can find trust, camaraderie, and for some, creative inspiration. Case in point, accomplished Actor Bill Moseley and legendary Pantera Vocalist Phil Anselmo seem like an unlikely match, right? Well, not really, because these two colorful figures go together like pork and beans, or something of that matter.
Amidst busy schedules, Moseley on sets making movies and Anselmo primarily in the studio recording music, the two came together for a surprising musical collaboration they like to call Bill & Phil. Releasing their debut EP, Songs of Darkness and Despair, back in January 2017, the guys are just getting started with twisted musical ideas dancing around their heads. Recently we caught up with the odd couple to talk music, movies, their new EP, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Bill, you have been acting in film for over 35 years now. In that time, you have become one of the most well-known names within the Horror genre. First, tell us, what inspired you to pursue a career in entertainment?
Bill Moseley – General desperation, I guess. I was trying to make a living. I graduated from college with an English major, so I began my career as a writer for a magazine. I was a copywriter for a little while for a couple of ad agencies, so I wrote for a living. I always loved acting, but I never really thought of it as a way to make a living. I come from a Republican railroad family from the Midwest, so acting as a career wasn’t high up there on the career goal chart in my family (laughs).
I ended up making a short film called The Texas Chainsaw Manicure in 1984, about a five minute short film. Tobe Hooper of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame saw it, he liked what I did; playing a hitchhiker, and he ended up hiring for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986. My career as a writer kind of morphed into my career as an actor and I’ve been doing that ever since.
CrypticRock.com – Obviously you have gone on to doing a great deal of successful Horror films ever since, from your role in 1986’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects and beyond. Phil, rumor has it you are a massive Horror fan, is that correct?
Phil Anselmo – I would have to say that would be absolutely correct.
Bill Moseley – I would have to say that would be an under exaggeration.
Phil Anselmo – Bill can let you know about this.
Bill Moseley – Phil is a huge fan and knows a hell of a lot more about Horror than I will ever know. Phil might be Yoda of Horror. He is my Yoda (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) That is very cool. You guys have this project going on together, Bill & Phil, how did you end up coming together to make this music?
Bill Moseley – I think that’s a Phil question because you’re the one that finally said yes after I’d been texted you for a couple years.
Phil Anselmo – Bill and I met each other at ArtistDirect.com and that was a thing where Horror movie stars were interviewing musicians and vice versa. Bill and I got paired up and a quick friendship ensued that turned into an email-o-rama, and, for like 3 years, Bill was like, “We gotta make music!” He was shooting a movie ’round these parts in Louisiana and he had stopped in one day, and you, William, stopped in. I turned him on to some crazy music that I’d done over the years, he turned me onto some crazy music he’d done over the years, and we talked film, this, that, and the other. All these ideas started floating around and, the next few years, Bill always would write me these emails, “When are we jammin’?!” and I’d be like, Goddammit I’m on tour, I’ve got this, I’ve got that.” So, finally I had this weekend…
Bill Moseley – You finally ran out of excuses!
Phil Anselmo – No, they were not excuses! I finally had a damn weekend to myself that I decided instead of just sitting home, chilling out, taking it easy, why not take William Moseley up on his offer. Let’s get him on in, and let’s make some music! So that’s really how it happened. He came down, we literally had like three days, and basically, he threw a pile of lyrics on me.
I said, “What instrument do you play?” and he goes,” None, I can play the bongos.” That’s when I knew I’ve gotta play everything on this thing and I’m making him sing. That’s exactly what happened, and I won’t take full credit for every little note played because Skitz from King Parrot ended up playing bass on “Tonight’s the Night We Die,” Kevin Vibe from Super Joint did some EBow work on one of the tracks. My irreplaceable and absolutely handsome engineer Steve the Big Fella Baragan composed and wrote the entirety musically of “Bad Donut,” which is, I think, one of the best songs! So hey, we get by with a little help from our friends, and we did, and here we are, doing interviews!
CrypticRock.com – Very cool! This collection of songs is very diverse. Each track is a little bit different from one another, so congratulations on that. Phil, you had said you wanted to kind of place the song around Bill’s lyrics.
Phil Anselmo – I wanted to complement what he was trying to get across. That’s all I did was catch a vibe from the lyrics that he presented. I did the best I can musically and trying to capture the vibe he was trying to get across. One thing I forgot to mention here is the discovery that Bill can sing his ass off. I was shocked, amazed, and gasping for air at the truth of his voice. He’s got great range and excellent pitch. He’s easy to work with, to chart out, and build songs with.
He’s a pleasure to work with as well, so for me this EP is just like a foot in the door of what could be. Like wow! We were just kinda discovering each other’s strengths. Next time around I’m going to challenge William. I’m going to challenge him both as a songwriter and a vocalist because, to me, this was I guess a simple, indirect application of his lyrics along with music. Next time I can be more complex and even more diverse musically. There are so many instruments at our disposal. We could do a piano song.
Bill Moseley – Let’s use a zither!
Phil Anselmo – Hell, let’s throw a zither in there, whatever the hell that is. Enlighten us here, Bill.
Bill Moseley – I believe that’s the Pan flute, but I’m sure we can figure that out. You know what, I don’t even know if I’m up to the challenge.
Phil Anselmo – You’re up to the challenge, I’m not hearing any of this and that’s all there is to it.
Bill Moseley – I thought everything was already complicated (laughs). It surprised me when I came down to Bill’s place in Louisiana and thought that he would do most, if not all, of the vocal chores. I was shocked when he said, “No, no, you’re going to be doing the vocals.” I was shocked and I ended up doing all the vocals in one day. That’s the day that I got up really early and drove down to the local Piggly Wiggly and got some yogurt just to calm my butterfly stomach. I got some apple juice to coat my singing throat and came in and we went song by song.
He did an amazing job of creating these different soundscapes for the lyrics. He was very patient with me; he was gentle yet firm, as I like to say, and got me to not only sing the lyrics once, but double the lyrics. Each phrase I would sing, he would say, “Okay, double it.” So I would have to sing the same phrase a second time. Somehow, someway, we made it through the day. I was in awe of his patience and his wise coaching. Somehow, we made it, and what I love especially is that the lyrics are not alike and the music is really tailored to each song. So you end up with 6 songs on the EP, but all 6 are unique and don’t sound like each other. I think that’s really a great testament to Phil’s musical genius.
CrypticRock.com – Well, it all seems to work well together. Bill, tell us a little bit about your lyrical style. You have some very compelling lyrics in here.
Bill Moseley – I just write them. One lyric that I can talk about with some authority in terms of its origin is the song called “Catastrophic.” I was thinking about if I were ever to work with Phil, what lyrics could I bring to the table. I was up in Bozeman, Montana, seeing my agent and infirmed mother. I was staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman, I woke up in the middle of the night out of a dead sleep and I had the lyrics to “Catastrophic” in my head. It kind of woke me up. It shook me and woke me up. I had a notebook and a pen by my bed and I started writing down those lyrics. I just felt like, for some reason, Phil was really my spirit guide when it came to “Catastrophic.”
Then, the lyrics to “Dirty Eye,” I was just kind of goofing with my older daughter and started coming up with the words to “Dirty Eye” months, maybe even a year later; they just kind of come when they come. “Corpus Crispy, “I can’t remember what the origin was, but I have certainly been to the town of Corpus Christi in Texas. That kind of gave me a general idea, but it’s very interesting because I was pretty adamant about “Corpus Crispy” and Phil was trying to persuade me to call it “Corpus Christi.” There were some creative hornblocks there from time to time, but I’m glad he finally relented and let me keep it “Corpus Crispy.”
Phil Anselmo – Yeah, that was a savage battle. I think you even mentioned that your wife had said, “Goddamnit Bill, just call it Corpus Christi!” You were even unrelenting there. I knew if the wife tried and you resisted, but there was no battling that.
Bill Moseley – It was like the book of Job in the Bible where Job’s wife kept saying, “Curse God and die, Job,” and Job kept saying, “No! Let it be Corpus Crispy!”
Phil Anselmo – That’s exactly what he said. It’s in the Bible.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) This really is a fun EP. Is there a possibility of some Bill & Phil live shows in the future?
Bill Moseley – Well, certainly we have talked about that, and we can almost guarantee that’d be sometime before 2020. Before America elects another President, let’s put it that way. Although we may need to hit the road a little bit before then.
CrypticRock.com – Fair enough. My last question is aimed towards both of you. CrypticRock covers music and we also cover Horror movies. I wanted to ask you both, what are your favorite Horror films?
Phil Anselmo – That’s like asking, “What is your favorite hair on your body.” It’s impossible. Just go through the decades, you can start at 1900 if you want. Every decade has its moment. Every decade has its Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). Every decade has its The Shining (1980). I couldn’t even tell you my favorite decade, let alone my favorite Horror movie of all time. That’s impossible.
Bill Moseley – What about Deafula (1975)?
Phil Anselmo – Deafula is definitely up there. Not many Horror fans know about Deafula, but if you’re a true Horror movie buff, perhaps you would know Deafula.
CrypticRock.com – Ashamed to say, never seen Deafula.
Bill Moseley – You don’t know Deafula and run CrypticRock??? Come on, man!
Phil Anselmo – (laughs) He’s giving you a hard time, but you’re not alone. I’ve got a box copy that I showed Bill. It’s a real movie, the Director Peter Wolf was out to make a severely real film. They did, and hence, Deafula in glorious black and white.
Bill Moseley – In fact, go to YouTube and type in Deafula and you will find a trailer.
Phil Anselmo – Bill, do you have a favorite Horror film?
Bill Moseley – It does change from time to time, but I have a top five. The top five would have to be, of course, number one, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). The Night of the Living Dead (1968). I also love Evil Dead II (1987) and I’m a big fan of Carnival of Souls (1962). Candace Hilligoss I believe it is. They shot in Lawrence, Kansas, which was the home of Williams Borrows and also shot in Salt Lake City at the great old Saltair Pavilion before it burnt down. Carnival of Souls, a great little black and white gem from the ’60s.
Phil Anselmo – Excellent flick! Not that far removed from a dark, great episode of The Twilight Zone if you think about it. To take a spin off of what you just said, fuck Evil Dead II. The Evil Dead (1981) by far is the best Evil Dead and only Evil Dead under my roof. You mentioned The Night of the Living Dead, now when you say that it makes me think of the Vincent Price shot version of The Last Man on Earth (1964). Based on the novel I am Legend.
Bill Moseley – Which gave birth to The Omega Man (1971) with Charlton Heston.
Phil Anselmo – Correct! Another motherfreaking damn good movie; which makes me think of television Horror as a child. Do you remember Satan’s Triangle (1975). It was an excellent made for TV flick.
Bill Moseley – I remember Killdozer (1974)!
Phil Anselmo – Na, I’m talking about a more enriched era. I’m talking about How Awful About Allan (1970). Bad Ronald (1974). The original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973), god, did they ruin that! The original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark with one of your favorites, Kim Darvey.
Bill Moseley – We have a hard time pinpointing it, and it’s one heck of a good question. I’m sure other of your interview subjects probably have a quick concise answer off the top of their heads, but for us, we have so many Horror movies that we love and that have moved us and shaped us that it’s really hard to pinpoint it.
Phil Anselmo – There’s so many beautiful films out there that haven’t been seen that need to be seen by true, would-be, younger Horror aficionados. The ones that are curious as to the chicken-egg theory, what came first. When you have kids out there that know of stuff like a Found Footage movie that was made popular in recent times to a degree like The Blair Witch Project (1999). Go back a decade or two and that entire concept can be found in Cannibal Holocaust (1985); by far, leaps and bounds, the superior film.
For me, Horror, a great deal of it has to do with atmosphere and there’s a great nod to great Italian directors of the past, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, etc. The House with Laughing Windows (1976), talk about a film that not many people have seen that is beautiful to look at with an insane ending. I won’t ruin it, but goddamn! What a mind fuck, literally. I know a little bit about Horror films.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) It sounds like you guys have a great connection and it is cool to see Phil can show you some good Horror flicks Bill.
Bill Moseley – I hope that’s not a little too overwhelming with our own scholarly discussions of Horror movies, but I gotta say Phil turned me onto The House with Laughing Windows and another movie called Chasing Sleep (2000).
Phil Anselmo – Whole different decade, whole different feel. What a movie! Very, very under the radar flick right there! Another one out there that I don’t think I’ve even shown Bill, is The People Who Own the Dark (1976). What a great flick, what a great title, and it lives up to it.
Bill Moseley – That’s why I call Phil my Horror Yoda, because he knows a lot more about it than I do. I just work here.
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