During a concert in Bulgaria on Friday, May 26, PANTERA‘s lead singer, Philip Anselmo, publicly disavowed the Confederate flag.
An audience member was displaying a sign featuring the Confederate flag imagery, which Anselmo addressed. This imagery had previously been used by PANTERA as part of their stage production and merchandise designs, including the “Hesher Dream” shirt, which was sold on their official webstore in 2015.
Philip addressed the audience before playing the final song of PANTERA‘s performance, “Cowboys From Hell,” at Arena Sofia in Sofia.
He said: “Sofia, I gotta say this: incredible audience. One more thing: there’s a person over here holding up this sign trying to ruin the f**kin’ show. I disavow, I disavow the f**kin’ flag. I’m sorry. It’s ridiculous, man. Keep politics out of s**t. It’s boring.”
In September 2016, Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown were interviewed by Rolling Stone about the “A Vulgar Display of Pantera” photo book. During the interview, they were asked to provide their thoughts on a photo from the band’s 2001 “Reinventing The Steel” tour, which prominently featured Confederate flag imagery as part of its stage display.
Anselmo said at the time: “If we’re really going to get into commentary here, yes, I see the projected Confederate flags. Well, for one, I’ve always said, ‘Flags don’t mean a damn thing to me.’ Two, by using the Confederate flag, despite what anyone says — and I don’t give a s**t, because no matter what I say, I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t — but the truth of it all is, it was about as innocent as innocent could be. We weren’t confessing to any clandestine power of structure or however you a*sholes wanna put it these days. I think we used the Confederate flag merely because of LYNYRD SKYNYRD. We had learned from people before us. And it was never about anything other than that.”
Brown added: “The Confederate flag is on the back cover of [1996’s] The Great Southern Trendkill. That was the ‘Southern’ part of it. There were still states that had that on their state flags. Nowadays it’s forbidden to use it. It’s not so politically correct. But it had nothing to do with racism. None of us were like that. It was just a tie-in to the artwork on the back cover. Even back then, I said, ‘This is not the way to go.’ LYNYRD SKYNYRD used one for years and still do. Now people confuse it with racism and hatred. That’s not what this band is about at all; quite the opposite. But it’s the only thing I would say in the P.C. days that I have any regrets about.”