“He didn’t find any of my jokes funny, and never bothered to tell me,” Wingo says. “He just stewed in it…he’s a burly fucking lunatic, is what he is.”
Can you already tell this is going to be an amazing story? So, The Sword are on tour with Down and Metallica in Eastern Europe, and flying to most of the shows. That means that the bands spent a lot of time in airports. And Wingo often found himself near Anselmo when they were waiting for flights. “I’m a huge fan of Pantera so I was really in awe of Phil. I couldn’t beleive it, you know? This is the fucking guy, man. So anyway, on a couple of different occasions, I was talking to him and made a joke about something and he got real serious with me.”
One day, at the airport, Phil let one go. “It was a real juicy fart, right? And I was like, ‘Man, you need to be careful, man. I think you may have shit your pants.’ And I guess he didn’t register that it was a joke, and he turned around, and he goes [Edit: Wingo does a phenomenal Anselmo], ‘I will tell you if its a wet one.’ Like that. And I was like, ‘OK. Sorry. It was just a joke.’ Then, he was wearing a cross one day, and I was kind of making fun of his cross at the airport. I thought we were peers and it was OK.”
But Wingo was on Phil’s shitlist, and raising the man’s ire with every word he muttered. “We were at this restaurant one night and I said something to him. I was passing him in a hallway, and I was just like, ‘Hey, what’s up, dog?’ and dude grabbed me by the throat and was holding me by my fucking neck man, and he goes, ‘You will address me like a white man.’ And he didn’t let go of my neck, and I was standing there — frozen in fear. I didn’t know what was going on. I was like, ‘So, what should I call you?’ and he goes, ‘You will call me Philip or dude.’ And I was like, ‘I will call you dude from now on, man.’ He let me go and I got away with that one. That was cool.”
But Anselmo’s anger just continued to build. He considered The Sword a bunch of punks, and didn’t take the news that he’d be touring more with the band well. “The last day of the European tour came around, and I guess there was some mounting tension between Phil and myself that I was not aware of, but Phil was like getting sick of me pretty quickly.”
On the last day of the tour, everyone said their goodbyes. Wingo tried to say bon voyage to Phil. “He turned around and he put his hand out and I grabbed it to shake it and he just let it hang. I shook this limp hand, and said, ‘Great tour,’ and he turned around and walked off. He wouldn’t look at me. I didn’t know what I had done. I figured he was just having a bad day, because he’d had a lot of those.”
Minutes later, Metallica informed both Down and The Sword that they’d be doing U.S. dates. “I was in our dressing room, and dude comes over, and I think he was pissed off about us being on the bill. We were this new young band and he was fucking Phil Anselmo and he was entitled and we didn’t deserve to be there. He comes over like he’s going to give me a hug, and he goes, ‘Prepare to get your fucking ass blown off the stage.’ And I went, ‘What?,’ and right when I said that, he just slapped my face, man — like, so hard. He slapped my glasses off. They flew across the room. I was just standing there, stunned, face burning from the hard slap, and it was loud; you could hear it all down the hallway, and everyone turned around, and I am just standing there frozen and Phil is like, ‘You will respect me! You will know your place!,’ and he starts yelling at me, doing this whole thing, and these dudes came over and dragged him off somewhere.
“The morale of the story,” Wingo says, “is that you have to be careful what you say about anyone, even in jest, because some of these motherfuckers are insane. It was the craziest shit ever — the guy who sings ‘Walk’ totally slapped the shit out of me. Not only that, but his management or somebody made him apologize for me. He left this voice mail for me on my phone and I lost the phone, but it was really hilarious. ‘This is Phil…aaaahhhh, I’m sorry about what happened. But you need to respect me and respect my back and do not talk about me behind my back and we can be friends.’ It was really funny. Yeah, ‘respect my back.’ That guy was fucking nuts, man.”