Photo Credit: Joseph P Dorignac IV
Interview by Marianne Jacobsen
Growing up I was always the new kid in school and even on the job. So, of course I have a soft spot for the New Guy in every band.
Meet Walter Howard IV (or as I affectionately call him Walter Intravenous) the newest and welcome addition to Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals.
Walter shares some insight into the Texas music scene, Vaginal Bear Trap. As well as what it’s like to be kidnapped and taken hostage at Housecore Records/Nodforatu’s Lair and survive to tell the tale.
Ring ring (via facebook with a Texas twang)
Mgm: Hey how’s it going?
WHIV: Pretty good man, I ’m just finishing my tacos.
Mgm: Omg you were serious?
WHIV: Oh yeah! It’s what San Antonio is run on – tacos and coffee.
Mgm: Yeah I ’m pretty sure I ‘ve only been to Dallas and fort worth.
WHIV: Well then you need to come to San Antonio – this is where we have all the good Mexican food.
Mgm: So what’s it like living in Texas?
WHIV: Well, its massive! It’s like it’s its own crazy world. It’s so spread out and especially being so far south in san antonio you are about 300 or 400 miles (mj – what’s that in kilometers?) from a lot of things.
Mgm: I guess everyone has a car then eh?
WHIV: Yeah it’s a lot of travelling. That’s why you can do a week and a half tour and be able to hit everything.
Mgm: Ok so let’s get right into it then. Who are you? Did you start with the guitar?
Whiv: Yeah I started playing guitar when I was 14 and playing actively since 2008.
Mgm: So what made you say “ I want to give up all the good things in life and become a musician?”
WHIV: When I was a kid (he still is he’s 26) – I used to go to club shows and big shows and it was awesome seeing those kinds of shows and I thought to myself “ I want to do that!”
Mgm: Ok what was the band that knocked your sock off? Mine was Sabbath with Dio.
WHIV: Oh man!
Mgm: Yeah I got to see all the good bands. I’m sorry (Canadian translation: ahahhahahahha)
WHIV: For me its was the band Kreator. It was my first club show and I was just blown away. It was the first time I had been in a smaller venue than an amphitheater!
Mgm: Well I think it takes a lot of guts to get up on stage. I could never do it.
WHIV: For me I always just have my hair in front of my face so nobody really sees me and I don’t see them.
Mgm: That’s like the guy from Seether that’s what he does! But really – do people come to a show and tell you that you suck? I mean if I ’m at a show and even if they do suck I still clap.
WHIV: Well I ’ve never had anyone come up to me and flat out tell me that we are horrible.
Mgm: Yeah I was at Carolina Rebellion a few weeks ago and the drummer from 3 doors down was behind some sort of plexi-glass barrier and I couldn’t figure out if it was for sound or protection from projectiles.
WHIV: Yeah I can’t imagine that. That would be like riding in the pope mobile.
Mgm: So Voivod, King Parrott and child bite are about to play a really northern area of my home province Ontario called thunder bay and I ’m really proud that they are doing that. When are you coming to Canada?
Whiv: Yeah Canada seems so big – but then in comparison to Texas where you can drive for 10 hours and still be in Texas. I haven’t been to Canada yet but I want to.
Mgm: So then you will!!! The last time PHA and the illegals played here (in Toronto) they played a club called the phoenix and the place was packed! Next day was Gigantour with hellyeah and BLS and its was empty. So yeah, I think you are gonna be up here sooner rather than later.
Mgm: As long as your boss’ knees are healed! Can’t fuck around with that stuff.
WHIV: Yeah I actually studied kinesiology in college before I began focusing full time on music.
Mgm:Holy shit! You are the perfect person to take on tour then! On and off bus stretches and pre and post show!!! You were made for this band!!!
WHIV: Yeah I can make them a whole tour workout cycle.
Mgm: That’s fucking genius. So not only do you come with talent – you come with skill sets that are an asset!
WHIV: Exactly! (hahahah)
Mgm: Ok so how did you get involved in the music scene and performing with a band?
WHIV: When I moved to San Antonio the first person I met was the guitar player for Vbt and he wanted me to join the band right away so I actually started on vocals. That lasted for about 3 or 4 months. Shortly after that I said “you know you guys don’t have a bass player so I ’m just gonna do that.”
At the time I had never done vocals before at all before I did that. Like my first attempts to do vocals are recorded (mgm attempted to obtain these “hidden gems” however at press time they were still unaccounted for – to be continued) from a demo from like 2008. They are brutal and I would rather play guitar.
Even from what I’ve done I hope people can see that in 8 years I ‘ve just pushed and pushed and pushed diy (do it yourself). Just record everything yourself and find someone to record you if you can’t find a studio. Get out there and pass around your cd’s at other shows. All the stuff that people are doing less and less of. Promoters – especially in San Antonio they are hard to find because its just an expensive thing to do and nowadays people want to make money but they don’t want to try and help the scene. When you are in it just to make money nothing ever works out well.
Mgm: So how can a fan support a band better in this era of music?
WHIV: Just go to the shows, buy merch, buy band-camp music.
Mgm: And that’s how you did it for vbt?
WHIV: Yeah just go to shows. Even if we weren’t playing we would go to shows and hand out our cd’s. I was at dri one time and there were like 500 people there and I brought two huge shopping bags of about 300 Vbt cd’s to hand out like candy.
Mgm: That’s a heavy bag.
WHIV: Oh yeah I passed them out everywhere. And at the end of the night I didn’t see too many of them laying on the ground so I was happy.
Mgm: Ok…how the fuck did you come up with such a fucking insane name for your band vaginal bear trap? Just saying it makes me blush!
WHIV: When I joined the band Shane already had the name. He came up with it in 2006 when he had read an article where it said that in South Africa they have a bad rape problem. So they have those reverse condoms that had like barbs inside of it. So it’s a vaginal bear trap and Shane was like “dude that’s a badass name”!
Mgm: That is badass!!!! Who knew you’d be empowering women with a name like that!
WHIV: Yeah no one really suspects that and everybody is usually tripped out when they find out where the name originates from. Vbt really is just about getting stoned and playing death metal but the name is cool.
Mgm: So how is Vbt doing these days.
WHIV: Actually it’s picking up a bit of steam lately. We had a few member changes – the drummer moved to korea and now he’s back which is a bit of a trip because I haven’t played with him for so long.
Mgm: So is there new stuff coming up?
WHIV: Yeah! We have around 10 new songs. It’s been really nice that my buddy is back playing drums. He hadn’t played in a while and it didn’t take him long to dust off the cobwebs and really get back into it.
We actually have a little mini tour coming up in the middle of June where we are going to play Austin, Lubbock, Albuquerque and Colorado Springs. Which will be pretty fun.
Mgm: So anyone else touring with you?
WHIV: Nope this one’s a solo tour. The colorado springs is a festival called the foothills gutfest http://www.Ticketfly.Com/event/763697-foothills-gutfest-7-over-colorado-springs/
Mgm: Ok, so here you are – active musician – minding your own business – how do you get caught in the tsunami of all things Housecore? How does that happen?
WHIV: Yeah I ’m still trying to figure out how that happened. Really how it happened was I was playing a show in San Antonio with vbt with mike deleon’s (another housecore hostage) band called flesh hoarder. He had just got back from jamming with Phil(ip h anselmo) at the lair (nodforatu’s lair – where legend has it strange things happen) and I guess they were jamming and they said “yeah we need a bass player”.
So I guess mike was watching me play. I was actually playing guitar ironically. I wasn’t even paying bass. After I got done playing mike came up to me and was like “dude, the illegals need a new bass player and I want you to try out.” mike is pretty much the one who got the wheels in motion.
Mgm: Ok… I gotta ask. How did you feel when someone comes up to you and tells you that they want you to be in a band as popular as pha and the illegals?
WHIV: I never expected anything like that. When mike told me he was gonna be in the illegals I was like “yes that’s fucking awesome! I don’t know how you can do that but it’s so fucking cool!” I have no idea how I got in there.
Mgm: Well what I have found with the Housecore bands is that they are all the people are extremely uniquely talented that are connected to the label. It’s not something to wonder. You have something good happening man!
WHIV: What’s crazy is that, what I did not expect at all was when I showed up there (nodforatu’s lair) I didn’t even tell Phil what bands I was in and three days after the fact he found out about vbt though his engineer Steven. He saw us play in Austin and told Phil about us and we had sent a submission to Housecore and he actually got it and loved it. That’s the crazy part is that Phil loved Vbt and he didn’t even know I was in the band.
Mgm: You know what I also love about Housecore? Is that there is no drama when new members appear. It’s like a changing of the guards with the king’s blessing. And its all good!!! I love that!
Mgm: Ok so mike says that to you and then what happens next? Do you get a phone call – like what happens?
WHIV: What happened was nuts. Like I found out about that September of 2015 and then I didn’t really hear anything from anyone for months.
Mgm: I ’d be freaking wanting to know what was going on by that point.
WHIV: I just figured it wasn’t going to happen. I was like “they must have got somebody else.” so I kept it in my mind that this was awesome but that it was probably not going to happen. Keeping it in my mind that if it does happen awesome. But if it doesn’t that’s ok too because its not going to prevent me from continuing with music.
Mgm: Good attitude!
WHIV: Then finally in march I got the phone call from mike saying, “hey man we are gonna go down”. I told him I ’d drop anything I had just let me know – like I ’m ready to go. That’s what I did – I dropped everything and went to Houston to meet up with Steven and blue. That’s right when they had all that flooding in Louisiana.
So we ended up staying in Houston and not going down to Phil’s place because we couldn’t get over there. So it was kind of a blessing in disguise because I got to meet and jam with the rest of the guys before. So that way it was not like overwhelming having to meet so many people at once.
Blue and I have known each other since we were 15 (mj-not that long ago) we were in this monster organization called pit-bull. I met him at a record store in Dallas.
Mgm: Did you stay friends?
WHIV: Yeah we stayed in touch but I moved away – I used to live in Dallas and then moved away in 2008 and blue is always doing his own thing so we really didn’t keep in touch too much. I’d see him at shows and we’d say what’s up!
Mgm: So it must have been cool when blue and you realized that you were gonna be in a band together.
WHIV: Yeah we both were saying that if this were 11 or 12 years ago the thought of what is happening would have never crossed our minds. We are still unsure how we got from point a to b but it’s pretty awesome!
Mgm: Ok, so you go to Houston and it falls through. You jam with the rest of the band and then what? When you finally get to go to nodforatu’s lair do they blindfold you on the way in? Do they kidnap you in a panel van? How does this go?
WHIV: Ok well me and mike drove to Houston and met up with Steven and blue and we carpooled (carpooling is metal folks!) over there. It was such a long ride and when I woke up in the morning I kinda forgot where I was.
Mgm: Ok…so do you actually know the directions to the house or did they drug you before you arrive? Shove you under a blanket?
WHIV: Actually it was so dark because we were driving all through the night and we didn’t get to Phil’s house till almost 4 in the morning. It was pitch black and we were out in the woods so I could not tell where we were at and it wasn’t until the next morning when I actually looked outside and went “wow there’s a lot of trees and scenery”.
Mgm: And animals!
WHIV: Yeah he has a shit ton of animals. It’s a really little zoo out there!
Mgm: So you wake up in the morning and you realize that all of a sudden that everything you realize that you thought was wrong was real? Did they lock you in a cell overnight? Did you have to sleep under black sheets? Did you have to make a blood sacrifice before entering? Was the next morning when they brand you? Did you have your own room or did they make you sleep in the barn?
WHIV: I slept in a room with mike that they called the office because I guess it’s their office but there were two beds in it. We just crashed out in there. Everyone else had their own room but me and mike bunked up. So it was kinda like a metal sleepover.
Mgm: So you wake up in “the office”. What do you have for breakfast? The flesh of the innocent?
WHIV: Actually the first thing I had when I woke up with crawfish and eggs. Kate made us breakfast of crawfish and eggs and it was so fucking good.
Mgm: Yes! Kate Richardson or as I call her Kate the great! I honestly believe that she is going to take Sharon Osborne’s place in the music industry and that she is going to do great things for the future of music. She can cook on top of all the other great things she does?
WHIV: Yeah she is amazing. Every day we would be jamming for like 10 hours and somehow every time we finished, we would be walking back to the house and food would either be ready or she would be cooking something. And it was always the most delicious stuff! I went up to her at the end of it and thanked her for the food. I ate better there than I do at home. I was so tripped out at how comfortable they made the experience for me.
Mgm: So did you meet Philip at breakfast then?
WHIV: Because we got there so late Phil was already passed out. So when I got up in the morning I was walking around and he was just chillin out in the living room listening to music, drinking his coffee and smoking his cigarette. He was just jamming out to this music and saying like “man this is the heaviest fucking band I ‘ve ever heard!”
Mgm: So are you freaking out? Are you a big fan?
WHIV: I ’m not a huge Pantera fan although I am a fan of Phil’s stuff like Superjoint and arson anthem – I fucking love arson anthem.
Mgm: Ok so you’re not a philkorekid but you are a fan.
WHIV: Yeah, exactly. I mean if you are from Texas you know who Pantera is at some point but after a while you just move on to other music you know – you don’t want to get stuck in it and you want to keep growing.
Mgm: Yeah I used to be a big Metallica fan but now I like clutch so I feel ya.
WHIV: For sure man, just keep moving.
Mgm: Although I am Canadian so of course my band is rush
WHIV: Fuck yeah! Like rush is the best band! I love rush!
Mgm: Primus too.
WHIV: Yeah man there are always very interesting people at Primus shows!
Mgm: So Phil’s jamming out on the couch and you walk in. Have you ever met someone of that status before? I guess as a musician you’ve met a lot of people?
WHIV: Well I ‘ve jammed with a lot of musicians but mostly grindcore and other metal bands. It’s like the people I have jammed with have done stuff – but not that level. I mean Phil’s music and what he is a part of changed metal
Mgm: To make it sound like stripper music?
WHIV: Yeah yeah exactly! From that came an entirely new genre after that!
Mgm: That’s kinda the reason I never got into Pantera because everyone who liked them liked strippers and blow and that’s not my jam.
WHIV: Yeah well Vinnie and Dimebag had/have the clubhouse which is a strip club in Dallas – one of the strangest places.
Mgm: Wait till you come to Canada where at strip joints the girls get totally naked and they sell alcohol. And they dance on you naked
WHIV: Whoa! I’m really curious to see that.
Mgm: I’ll make sure you have a full rain suit for your upcoming Canadian visit and send you to the brass rail with $100. That’ll get you a beer and three songs.
WHIV: Ok I want one of the songs to be 2112.
Mgm: The whole first side? I don’t think that could be considered one song but go for it!
As I say, have as much fun as you can. Just don’t make an asshole out of yourself.
WHIV: For sure.
Mgm: Ok so back to the story. How many days were you held hostage?
WHIV: About 5 days.
Mgm: 5 days in captivity.
WHIV: Yeah we would like literally go into the lair and just jam. We would jam all fucking day until the sun was going down.
Mgm: What did you jam? Was it just illegals songs?
WHIV: Yeah we were playing a lot of the new songs and we wrote a song while we were there too. Actually we wrote two songs because we finished a song that was half written as well. We jammed those and some old illegals tracks. But then every once in a while we would break out into van halen or something stupid.
Mgm: Wait! I love Van Halen! You must have played running with the devil?
WHIV: Actually we played panama and ain’t talking bout love.
Mgm: What was the creative process like at the lair?
WHIV: It was actually pretty cool. Everyone has a different way of writing songs and Phil, Steven and mike are kind of like – they have a way of communicating. It was amazing to watch because they have a certain take on things. It really was a surreal moment and I kept wondering in my head “what the fuck am I doing here?”
Mgm: I saw a video of you I think blue posted it and he said your name. I didn’t know who you were but I liked you right off the bat because you wear glasses and so do I .
I think the illegals should bring out a series of sports bands for glasses so we can bang our head and see the show at the same time!
WHIV: Blue wears glasses too so there’s three we can make! People might not get it yet but it will be the future!
Mgm: So when do they tell you that you are in the band? Is it like Jason Newstead when he joined Metallica and he’s flipping off tables? Or have they got you strapped to some electro torture thing and zap you until you submit?
WHIV: Well really they didn’t even say anything. I started to realize that it was happening when they started talking about me in the future you know? So they were saying things like “when we do this” and “when we do that”. I was like “what me?”.
Mgm: So basically becoming an illegal was organic. Dang I was hoping they would have put you through some sort of hazing! I was hoping they were gonna do a metal grasshopper to you!
WHIV: Well at least I had mike with me and he’s a new guy too.
Mgm: However, technically you are the newest new guy.
WHIV: Yeah I guess.