New album due out in 2011

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  Interview and Photos by:Birgit Haugen


The mighty ANTHRAX finally rolled into town, and I am not kidding with finally. The last time they were supposed to play Colorado was 2006!

 ANTHRAX went through the "and who is the singer now" phase the last couple of years and are once again fronted by JOEY BELLADONNA. They just finished a very successful run in Europe and got confirmed to open for MEGADETH and SLAYER on the second leg of the "American Carnage" Tour. I was a bit disappointed that it had not come to this region, only to be super excited once ANTHRAX announced an off-date in Downtown Denver, CO.

 Full of anticipation to see the Among the Living line-up (minus DAN SPITZ guitar); again, I headed up to Denver. I also had the chance to chat with lead vocalist JOEY BELLADONNA before the band hit the stage at the Summit Music Hall.

 "We are having some interesting fun moments that just happen out of the blue, and you know that kind of stuff makes it more interesting"


Sonic Excess: Hello JOEY, nice to have you back! So how has this tour been going so far?


Joey: Well, it's cool you know. It's nice to wind it all back up again, just like where we left off. I think everything runs smooth, and the musicianship is tight. We are having some interesting fun moments that just happen out of the blue, and you know that kind of stuff makes it more interesting, but all of the shows have been extremely good.



SE: ANTHRAX is only doing two off-dates on the Jagermeister Tour, Oklahoma City and Denver. Was there no time to do any others?


Joey: Not really, it's tough. You have to watch where you play. You can't be too close to a venue where the main tour is also playing. The gear is on their truck (Ed.: MEGADETH), so it's a lot of complications. Even this gig here in Denver was a little tricky. We had to unload everything off MEGADETH’S truck. Then, we got a rental truck for tonight and have to drive to the next gig and unload it all. It's just a little bit inconvenient.


SE: In the last couple of years ANTHRAX really has not been touring in the US, mostly overseas, is there a reason why?


Joey: Well, when I came back the shows were already booked. So the opportunity was golden to have ANTHRAX, MEGADETH, SLAYER, and METALLICA together. That's overseas, that is where we go. Europe has always been great.


SE: You personally, do you prefer touring in Europe or North America?


Joey: It doesn't matter to me. Of course, when you go overseas, you have different currency, travel arrangements, language barriers; you know it's all different. But the shows are extremely good. God you can't beat those shows, but you are also further away from home.


"There will be great opportunities to make that happen. It would be a great history for the fans and us all."




 SE: This year at Sonisphere in Europe was the first time since the 1991 Clash of the Titans tour that ANTHRAX shared a stage with SLAYER and MEGADETH. How was that experience, and how was the fan reaction?


Joey: Totally awesome. It was extremely well organized. There were a lot of people at those shows, over 110,000 people at the first gig in Poland alone. I mean it doesn't get much bigger than that. METALLICA puts on a great show. Everything they have is huge. It was an awesome thing to be on it, and hopefully we can do it again.


SE: Of course, this will all be up to METALLICA, because they are by far the biggest of the Big 4, but I heard rumors that it might happen here in North America.


Joey: Yes, it will be up to METALLICA, but anything is possible. Sure, it's probably better now than it would be. Hopefully, there will be great opportunities to make that happen. It would be a great history for the fans and us all.



SE: DAVE LOMBARDO (drums) was the only member of SLAYER when the Big 4 played "Am I Evil" in Sofia. Do you know why?


Joey: No. You know it could have been anything, but I don't know specifically why.


SE: Who chose the set list for this tour?


Joey: We chose the songs according to popularity, but we had time restrictions.


SE: You have 45 minutes on The Jagermeister Music Tour?


Joey: No, we have 40 minutes. We did get 45 minutes on two shows and snuck in a brand new song, but we got that taken away from us. We went over like two minutes and got scolded, so that was that. You know how it is. (laughs)


"It's open to anything at this point, because you get a whole other shot at everything. But they are really happy with what they have"



SE: Speaking of brand new song, the new album was already recorded with prior vocalist DAN NELSON and has to be redone now. I heard that five or six tracks will stay the same, and the rest has to be reworked. So are you putting the final touches on the new album now?


Joey: Well, there are new lyrics being done right now and just the overall vocals are going to be brand new. Music wise there might not be a lot of recording, who knows. Again, it's open to anything at this point, because you get a whole other shot at everything. But they are really happy with what they have, so there is not a lot of finagling going on; if it can be helped, of course. I mean if it’s good and all satisfactory why change it.


SE: Who are the main songwriters in ANTHRAX, music and lyric wise?


Joey: You know, it really moves in every direction. Everyone has ideas. SCOTT IAN (guitar), for the longest time, was doing all of the lyrics. He was coming up with a lot of things. CHARLIE BENANTE (drums) comes up with a lot of guitar parts and FRANKIE  BELLO (bass) with melodies. And I come up with my own little ideas once I finally get the drift on what's going on. You know, everyone has moments, but I don't think there is a sole writer per say, as I know of, and I am not there for a lot of it too. So I don't know who in the end finalizes which part.


SE: Who will be producing the new album?


Joey: I have never met him. I don't know who is doing it right now or before. At this point, I have not been introduced to whoever is doing it. Sorry. (Ed.: Joey has only been back in Anthrax since May 2010.)


SE: Actually, just today I read an interview with JOHN BUSH (former Anthrax vocalist), and he was asked how he felt singing songs from your era. Now, how about you? How do you feel singing songs out of the JOHN BUSH era?


Joey: The thing is they have such a great catalog that we could easily do everything and not touch any of their old stuff, but, you know,  we already tried one (Ed.: "Only"), and it comes off pretty cool. I don't know if it is necessary to do though. They had years of playing new stuff, so it’s only inevitable that somebody would like to try something. But, if anything, maybe the new material will kind of counter some of it. Well, I don't have a problem with it. It's just getting familiar with the songs and feeling comfortable with it. (Ed.: Joey was not a member of Anthrax for the last four albums.)


SE: As far as I know, you also will be singing a NEIL TURBIN era song, "Metal Thrashing Mad". So you are familiar with songs from other records?


Joey: True. Done the whole record almost, except for a couple of songs. I have done that before. I am always forgetting about that. Like, hold on, when I first joined the band, I had no material, except for the brand new stuff when it finally came about.


SE: Are you doing any vocal exercises before a show?


Joey: Nope


SE: What are you doing during your downtime on this tour?



Joey: Watching lots of sports. Actually, since the football season is in full bloom, I am digging that.


SE: And you are a fan of whom?


Joey: The Minnesota Vikings. I love them. They won yesterday, and I am happy about that. Overall, there are a lot of things, and we are actually working on some new material on the bus as well. During the day, everyone is working on some stuff, and a lot of eating. (laughs) There is a lot of food going around.


"I am also working on my own new album right now. I have three quarters of it done. It's more heavy metal, rock, heavier kind of stuff."


SE: What job would you do, JOEY, if you were not a singer, performer, and musician?


Joey: Well, actually this has been my job. I have been doing this since I was in seventh grade; sooner actually.  We were jamming in my garage when we were very young. Right out of the box, as soon as I started listening to the BEATLES, I knew that I wanted to be a musician.


SE: So worst-case scenario, would you have a day job to fall back to?



Joey: I have done stuff. I have worked for this lady; her name is BEEZIE PATTON. She is an Olympic jumper (Ed.: Equestrian), and they are pretty successful. She won two Olympics. They have a huge complex, kind of like a sports complex with million dollar horses, and I was going in and taking care of the whole facility; the ground's grooming and grasses. We were doing everything, like painting the jumps, cutting the grass, weed eating, painting the fences, you know. I was doing this when I was out of the band. I have done some jobs.


SE: Quick question about the RONNIE JAMES DIO tribute, were you asked to perform?


Joey: Yes, RONNIE'S wife WENDY asked me to, but I had known RONNIE. I had known him for a while. I have been in a band with members of ELF, (Ed.: Previous band Ronnie James Dio had fronted) before I joined ANTHRAX, and the guys lived up by me. So, I was honored to be asked, and hopefully we can do a tribute record. I want to put out the song that I did, you know. I really want to put that out and am just waiting on Wendy to give me the go-ahead; what she wants to do and how she wants me to do it. I want it all to go to charity.


SE: Trivial question, but when ANTHRAX recorded "I am the Man", did CHARLIE BENANTE play the drums or did you?


Joey: CHARLIE did. See, I have my own cover band. I play drums all night long, and I sing. I cover RUSH, JOURNEY, FOREIGNER, LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, BAD COMPANY, THE WHO, and PINK FLOYD, and I am also working on my own new album right now. I have three quarters of it done. It's more heavy metal, rock, heavier kind of stuff.


SE: But playing "I am the Man" live, you didn't want to sing?


Joey: Well, that stuff, it was all kind of put together (laughs), and I fell into the shoes of playing it live. It's ok, and it gave CHARLIE a chance to go there. That was the cool part about it, I got to get up behind the drums, and he was up front.


SE: And now the famous last words...


Joey: Hey, it's good to be back. I am very happy, and hopefully you'll get a new record soon. Thanks for being supportive.  








































































































































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