Metal-Roos: A man that truly needs no introduction, Charlie Benante of the mighty Anthrax. You have done and seen it all in this business. Now Anthrax are bringing their Thrash Metal to Australia during a very special time, the biggest ever Download Festival in Australia and the farewell tour of Slayer.
Yeah man, it’s a very special time for us to. This is the very first time we’ve been in Australia on this new record cycle and we’re always excited to come down and play.
M-R: Now, the “Brand” of Download as a festival and a show makes the event seem even bigger to the normal punter, is this the same for you? Does Download feel like the biggest thing Anthrax have done in Australia? Does that effect the excitement toward your visit to Australia?
We’ve done festivals down there in the past like Soundwave and we’re used to playing big festivals. For us it’s a way of connecting with a larger audience. A good amount of those people would never come and see us at a normal show, you know. So, for us, it gives us a chance to show off in front of a lot more people.
M-R: Speaking of huge, what do you think of the line-up for Download Australia, pretty epic? So sad about Ozzy not being able to make it….
Oh yeah, it’s killer. I was kinda bummed out about Ozzy. But you know, I just want Ozzy to be all good and just get well. It would be great to see him but, I totally get it, you know, health comes first, so get well Ozzy.
M-R: The latest two albums from Anthrax have been received as some of the bands best work to date, is this one of the best times to be in Anthrax? What do you think has inspired this kind of renaissance for the band?
Well, I think what happened was, we had to rediscover things again. We had to reach back into our past and find our future. When we were doing all those records, back in the day, we just lived in the moment. We never had a chance to do things in retrospect. Nowadays, you gain wisdom, you put things in perspective a lot more now than when you’re younger.
M-R: I hear rumours of new Anthrax material in the very near future, with the bands hectic touring schedule, do you write on the road? If so, how does that process work for the band?
No, that’s a very rare thing to write on the road. We’re so busy throughout the day with so many things that it’s hard to allocate time do things like that. I find I’m best and the most creative when I’m alone and just getting the creative juices going. I could be anywhere, I could be on an airplane and I’ll think of a riff and hum it into my phone, then I’ll go home and then put it down on tape. You never know when a good idea is going to come about and when it does you have to be prepared to put it down somewhere.
M-R: You are not only heavily involved in writing the music but the art of Anthrax, how does the creative energy in developing the art compare to creating music?
So, to me they go hand in hand. After a few songs have been created I start to get a feel for it and an idea, or a concept will just pop into my head, then I just run with it. Even with this new album, I already have these ideas going through my head, about the look of it, the style. Stuff like that, I think, comes immediately.
M-R: This Slayer tour must be surreal for the whole of Anthrax. You were literally there at the beginning of the whole movement and now Anthrax are supporting them during their final tour…That scope of time is just incredible…How have your feelings toward being in Anthrax evolved, is it the same as when you started?
What hasn’t changed for us is the excitement and the thrill of it all. I think the music has evolved because we just push it that way, we push ourselves to make the best record we possibly could, the best music we possibly could, it won’t leave us until we know that it’s perfect.
M-R: How has the tour been so far? Is there any show highlights that stand out? Any unforeseen disasters that you had to work through?
I love those shows that we’ve done, especially with Slayer. It started back in May and from the start it was just a great tour. Every night was packed, people were so receptive of every band on the bill. It was a really good vibe. You read so many different stories from one dip-shit to the next dip-shit about how ‘rock music is dead’ and all that stuff, it’s like, ‘man, shut the fuck up’. We’re out here living it and experiencing it first-hand. It’s not dead, don’t ever say that ‘rock is dead’. Remember one thing, I don’t care how big Rap is, the term ‘Rockstar’ will be said forever, it will always be that image of Mick Jagger on stage.
M-R: Since you are a big Beatles fan, did you happen to get the 50th anniversary white album? And what do you think of Peter Jackson directing the up and coming ‘Let it Be’ film?
So, I got the album when we were on tour in Europe and every night, I would go in my bunk afterwards, shut the lights off and listen to one thing at a time. My favourites were some of the outtakes and stuff, I had those Esher Demos in some form or another for a while, most of it, but some of them I’d never heard before. It’s just amazing that those guys we’re so creative. The shit that they were coming out with was so amazing and a lot of those songs were written when they were in Marrakech, with Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence, which is where Dear Prudence came from, it was written about her. I guess those people were just so fucked up on drugs that things got kinda weird…hahaha. But, yeah but the 50th anniversary was one of my favourite releases of last year.
When started thinking about Peter Jackson doing a Let It Be film, I read that there was like hours and hours of footage and that just gets me so excited. Let It Be was my least favourite Beatles album at the time because it was during the breakup, you know, so, I’m interested to see what else is unearthed.
M-R: Getting back to Slayer’s final tour, how would you describe the main emotion behind the shows, is it more; sad to see them go, or, celebrating the legacy? Or is it something else? Does it change from night to night?
I think those guys, probably at this point, they feel it’s starting to wind down and maybe they’re going to get very emotional towards the very last few days of the tour it may hit them. But the thing that they can always take into consideration is, when it’s all said and done and they’re the sitting on their couch, they can think, ‘wow we’re done’. You’d know the legacy you left behind that will live on forever. Plus, let’s face it, those guys aren’t so old or sick or anything that they couldn’t get back and do it again…
M-R: ANTHRAX will be performing at Download in Sydney and Melbourne with Sideshows in Adelaide and Brisbane.
Thursday 7 March – The Riverstage, Brisbane
Saturday 9 March – Download Festival, Sydney
Monday 11 March – Download Festival, Melbourne
Wednesday 13 March – AEC Arena, Adelaide
Interview Date: 2019-03-03
Interviewer: Jonathan Hurley