While on tour throughout the US in support of Worship Music, legendary Anthrax drummer, and arguable father of the blast beat technique, Charlie Benante spoke with Sonic Excess about this labor of love and Anthrax on tour, along with a few other topics.
"There is no negativity around us, and we want to keep that going."
Sonic Excess: Worship Music has been an album that has been a long time in the making. Were you worried that it might not ever see the light of day?
CHARLIE BENANTE: Yeah. There were thoughts at some point here and there, with some real concerns about it, but something happened that changed all of those thoughts, and we were on track again.
SE: What was it like recording with Joey for the first time in 20 years? Did everyone record collectively and did John Bush lay down any tracks before he left again?
CHARLIE BENANTE: No, he (John Bush) was not involved at all.
SE: OK, when you were in the studio with Joey, did everyone click like they did back in the day, or did a comfort level need to be reached first?
CHARLIE BENANTE: Last September, we went on tour with Megadeth and Slayer here in America. Every day we worked on the record, and we would change a bunch of shit. Joey had a good idea of what he was going to bring to it and his approach and when it came time for him to go into the studio. None of us was even there. It was just Joey and Jay Ruston (mixing and additional production), and they worked together really well.
SE: Critics and fans have been calling Worship Music Anthrax’s strongest release since Persistence of Time. Did everyone have the mindset to out-do Anthrax’s previous releases?
CHARLIE BENANTE: The reviews for the record have been great. It has been amazing how well received it has been. We knew we had something really good. No one knows how something is going to be received until it’s released. You get the feedback and then you really know it’s good.
SE: Worship Music is the first record not to feature guests since Sound of White Noise. Why?
CHARLIE BENANTE: We felt there was really no need for it. The only guest on the album was a cellist, Allison Chelsey and that was it. We felt we were a self-contained band. We really didn’t need any guests on the album.
SE: Anthrax was in a slump for a few years. Have you been surprised by the reaction and attention you guys have been getting, and, at any point, were you worried that Anthrax might implode?
CHARLIE BENANTE: As of right now, there is no negativity near us, and we want to keep that going. We had enough of it.
SE: On We’ve Come for You All, some tracks were written around your drum riffs. Was that the same case with Worship Music, and did you take a new approach while tracking?
CHARLIE BENANTE: The only new approach I took was that some of the songs that were recorded in the studio, like maybe four or five of the songs, some of the guys weren’t even in there, and I was on my own. We would map out the songs, and I would get in there and play it. I would actually record a scratch guitar track just to play off it, because Scott (Ian) was away. We were working on another project, and I just did some of these things on my own.
SE: How did you draw inspiration while writing Worship Music?
CHARLIE BENANTE: It really depends. I could be driving in my car and a thought will come into my head. I usually carry around this little recorder, and I’ll hum the idea into the recorder. When I get home, I’ll work it out on guitar. That’s how it usually happens. I’ll have an idea, and I’ll just go in and record it. Or, I’ll just go play guitar for an hour or two and capture as many ideas as I possibly can. That’s basically the way it happens.
SE: After this US tour wraps up, where in the world will Anthrax play next?
CHARLIE BENANTE: We have a tour in Japan booked, and next year, we have some European shows, some South American shows, and another run here in America.
SE: Any recent discussion about a Storm Troopers of Death reunion?
CHARLIE BENANTE: I don’t think so.
SE: What is your opinion on the collaboration of Lou Reed and Metallica?
CHARLIE BENANTE: I really haven’t heard it yet... but I don’t know. I really can’t comment on it.
SE: Growing up in the Bronx, the Big 4 show at Yankee Stadium must have been a monumental moment for you. Was playing at that ballpark one of your proudest achievements? When can we expect more Big 4 shows?
CHARLIE BENANTE: That show was basically a gift in our career. It was one of those things that you can tell your grandkids that you played Yankee Stadium. It such was a huge event for us, and especially myself growing up in the Bronx. It was an amazing feeling to just go and do it. The day itself was just hectic with press, and just everybody there, but I really tried to just savor the moment.
SE: Any last words?
CHARLIE BENANTE: For me, I want to really thank the fans for sticking with us, and coming out and supporting us with this record. It really means a lot to us.
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