KILLSWITCH ENGAGE singer Jesse Leach has weighed in on the incident two months ago 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.”
During an interview with Artisan News, Leach commented on the incident, saying (see video below): “It shouldn’t rock the metal community; they should have known. The guy [Anselmo] has done this before. It’s not a surprise. What’s a surprise is backstepping. If that’s what you are, and that’s what you’re all about, then so be it.”
He continued: “To me, there’s no place for that in music, but that’s just my opinion. I think it’s terrible. I wrote a lot of songs about actively fighting against racism.
“Every time I get this question, my answer is the [KILLSWITCH ENGAGE] song ‘Hate By Design’ [about prejudice and discrimination being passed on from generation to generation]. Just read the lyrics. There’s your answer.”
Leach went on to say that Anselmo’s actions have not affected his opinion of PANTERA as a whole. He explained: “PANTERA is a legacy, absolutely. But, to me, PANTERA was a band; it wasn’t just Phil. It’s PANTERA. I’m not gonna hate PANTERA because of what one person did. But, you know, the way I think about it now, he dug his own grave, and good luck to him.”
Several other notable musicians have come out and criticized Anselmo 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.”
One musician who stuck up for Anselmo was Adam Crosier of the Arkansas band HYMNS, which is signed to Anselmo’s Housecore label.
“This slanderous attack against Phil Anselmo in the metal media right now is reaching a despicable level of ugly, inept judgment,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “There are no words that can accurately describe how false the racism claims truly are … I know, without a doubt, that Phil Anselmo is NOT racist. This accusation could not be further from the truth.”
Crosier told BLABBERMOUTH.NET: “I think he has just made some mistakes in the past and obviously at the Dimebash — which, added together, may paint an ugly picture of his personality. It’s very unfortunate, because he truly is a very compassionate and loving person.”
Video of “Dimebash” incident:
PANTERA performing live in 2001: