Anthrax (USA)

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.

Slayer Tour FlyerM-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.

TICKETS HERE:  Sideshows   |   Download

Show Dates:

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

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Anthrax (USA)


Metal-Roos: Anthrax is about to release album number 14. How did the recording of this album go?

Anthrax has been super busy since… I guess the Big Four started and we released Worship Music. From the success of that album we have been on the road playing over 300 shows for Worship Music alone. Then we figured we need to start writing some more tunes, so I reckon around the 250th show Charlie, Scott and I got together periodically and started getting some skeletons for songs together. We did that for a bit but then we got the call up to play more shows. So it’s always good to get that call off the back of an album. Eventually we got it written and recorded and here we have For All Kings, due for release shortly.

Metal-Roos: The public hasn’t heard the new album yet, but what have you heard from the music media about the new album?

We are so humble and thankful, we have done a lot of press so far and a lot of the reviews for the new album across the board have been amazing. As a band who has been around 34 years and this is our best record to date… it’s really overwhelming. With all the hard work that has gone into this record, the payoff is great. I think that we are at our best right now. I honestly feel the band is as tight as ever, we’re getting along. I think this our best record to date, our heaviest record for sure. Couldn’t be more excited to be in the band right now.

Metal-Roos: You’re on tour right as we are speaking, what do you do in your down time when you’re not on stage performing?

It would be great to do stuff but our days are quite filled because of the anticipation of the album and its really great to be doing all this press because it’s the only way we can get the word out about our record is talking to people like you and tour because quite honestly what else is there? I mean we have some good radio going on in America, but there are no big stations around that will play stuff like this. I hope that all changes…

Metal-Roos: How has the tour been so far?

It is insanely fun for me right now. You can probably hear on the record that there is resurgence in us as a band, we are playing the best of our career. We are touring with Lamb of God at the moment and the fans have been getting crazy with us. We have introduced Breathing Life and Evil Twin into the set and are going down as well or better than some our older songs – things couldn’t be better.

Metal-Roos: Anthrax has been that fun loving party band that didn’t take themselves too seriously. Was this because the other bands at the time did, or is it just your personalities we are seeing shine through?

I think that was just us. We all grew up in a certain way, Scott was into skateboarding in the 80’s and we all wore shorts because it was way more comfortable. As in life things move on, but I’m happy to have done those things and shared our experiences with others. I look back with great fondness because that’s what got us here.

Metal-Roos: In the early days of the band you were the bass tech for Danny Lilker. What was the day like when he left and you joined the band?

Well I auditioned for the band like everyone else did at the time and I got the gig. I’m still friends with Danny, he’s a great guy and great song writer and bass player. Anthrax for me has been a great run. This is my family and it’s very much a way of life for me.

Metal-Roos: The band has been through a lot of crap over the years – you’ve had fires, things lost or stolen, member changes… a whole bunch of things go on. Was there a time where you may have thought, this is too much and it’s time to pack it all away?

No, like the old saying when the going gets tough the tough get going. That’s how we look at things; we have a lot of fight in us, we have jumped all the hurdles in front of us and I’m sure there are more to come but the whole thing is how one reacts to those hurdles. I can tell you there is going to be a lot more Anthrax to come.

Metal-Roos: When 9/11 took place and the whole world took on a whole new perspective on thing, Anthrax took to the stage wearing boiler suits proclaiming, “we’re not changing our name”. What reaction did you get?

Look, you have to understand we are from New York. I live here so when 9/11 happened that was in MY city being hit – I live and breathe New York. So I took it very personal and when the thing changed, Anthrax’ name was the 9/11 responders the fire fighters, the policemen and EMS. We did a show with the help of one of my friends Eddie Trunk for all of their families and during the show they were coming up to us and they were saying, “Don’t change your name, don’t let them win”. They took it as a spirit thing to not give in – we took that as a rallye cry. So we weren’t just speaking for us but all of those first responders on 9/11 as well.

Metal-Roos: How did the whole “I’m the man” song come about?

Well I’m not sure if you know but that song was originally supposed to be recorded by the Beastie Boys… long story short schedules got messed up. Charlie, Scott and myself went into the studio, literally looked at each other, laughed a lot and it worked! As simple as that and it took its own life on and went crazy… people caught on to it and it’s just one of those things.

Metal-Roos: Another career defining moment for the band was when Anthrax and Public Enemy came together. How did that all come about?

We are big Public Enemy fans. Scott Ian got a hold of Chuck D, and he saw he was wearing a Public Enemy t-shirt. He connected with us and we did the song together. We embarked on a hugely successful tour together and it just broke down a lot of barriers. I think in music you shouldn’t be safe… we always try to do new things. That is what Anthrax has always been about, never staying the same.

Metal-Roos: Did you ever predict the Big Four gig to happen?

Well, think about life and how fast things happens… we hoped that it would happen and thankfully it did because of the Metallica guys – who are the biggest metal band ever. It’s great they did that because, let’s face it, they really didn’t need to do it. They brought us all together and we had fun doing it. It was a great experience. I would love to do more but that would really be up to Metallica. It was a great life experience for me.

Metal-Roos: With the sad loss of Lemmy just recently, did he influence you at all – as a bass player and in life generally?

Oh yeah we toured and played with Motorhead a lot of times. But Lemmy was a friend. Let me tell you the thing that Lemmy left with me personally was that’s ok to be yourself and I cherish that. He was a great musician but most of all a great guy and will be missed.

For All Kings

Interview Date: 2016-02-11

Interviewer: Adrian ‘Dren’ Barham

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