Liam Cormier of the Canadian hardcore punk band CANCER BATS has weighed in on last month’s incident when ex-PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo made a “white power” gesture onstage at a concert.
Anselmo performed the PANTERA classic “Walk” at the January 22 “Dimebash” event at the Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood, California in honor of his former bandmate, late PANTERA guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. As he left the stage, he made a Nazi-style salute. He appeared to say “white power” as he made the gesture, but he later claimed he was referring to drinking white wine as part of an “inside joke.” Anselmo has since released a video message, saying that he “deserves completely” the “heat” that he has been getting over his actions and claiming to be “a thousand percent apologetic to anyone that took offense to what [he] said.”
Several notable musicians have come out and criticized the DOWN singer for his actions, including MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn, who uploaded an eleven-minute video response to the incident in which he called Anselmo a “big bully” and described Philip’s behavior as “fucking wrong.”
Now Cormier has commented on the incident in a new interview, saying that “the most important part about any of this is that it’s actually bringing up a dialogue” about racism in metal. He told France’s LoudTV.net (see video below): “Yeah, [the Anselmo thing is] definitely something we’ve been following really closely.”
He added: “We’ve always grown up… Anti-racism is such a huge part of punk rock and anti-fascism, here in Europe… The first shows I ever played were anti-racist punk shows; that’s how we all grew up going to shows. So, for us, yeah, I still think that that’s an important dialogue that needs to happen and I don’t think it’s something that should be swept under the table. This is a huge figure in metal who is saying insane things on stage. And apologies or whatever… But I do think that the most important part about any of this is that it’s actually bringing up a dialogue and that it’s bringing up other things — like, people being, like, ‘Well, Phil Anselmo said these insane things. People are speaking out against it.’ It’s, like, okay, well, let’s also talk about [the Norwegian black metal band] BURZUM. Let’s also talk about other racist figures in metal that not enough people are actually being vocal about, ‘cause I think it’s just as bad, if not worse. So I’m glad that that dialogue is actually happening and I’m glad that those things are actually coming to light. ‘Cause I think there’s a lot of people that don’t realize that BURZUM is super racist as well. So I think that there are those kinds of dialogues that need to happen.”
Cormier also commended the organizers of the Dutch festival FortaRock for pulling DOWN from this year’s event in light of Anselmo’s actions. He said: “It’s, like, yeah, you shouldn’t [have DOWN on the bill]. There’s tons of [other] bands that are great. And I think DOWN’s a great band and it’s unfortunate that that happened, but if something like that comes to light, then it’s, like, you need to own up to it.”
Liam went on to say that he didn’t know whether Anselmo truly has any racist views, but explained that there was no excuse for what the he did at Dimebash. “Yeah, I mean, he said it,” Cormier explained. “Whether it was because he was drunk or whether it was because he was joking or a combination of the two, it’s, like… I mean, you said it onstage. You also said it… that where it was recorded and put on the Internet. So there’s no way to get around that. Which is… I mean, it sucks. It sucks all around. ‘Cause it’s, like, I love PANTERA. I love DOWN. So it’s, like, is this guy super racist? I don’t know. You know what I mean? I don’t know Phil. I know that… I know what I saw on the Internet and it’s definitely insane. It doesn’t look like someone who’s just joking around.”