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Live performance and meet and greet session photography of Anthrax at 2016 Carolina Rebellion Festival

Anthrax Interview

Mar 172017

Anthrax just finished their European “Among The Kings” tour and are already preparing to get straight back on the road for the Killthrax US tour. Monster Energy’s Karolina Karbownik caught up with Joey Belladonna and Frank Bello in Poland for a lengthy conversation covering which songs translate the best live, the history of the band and of course their favorite Monster Energy drinks!

I guess you’ve been asked the same questions, over and over…

Frank Bello: No! There is always something different to say. It’s tricky sometimes.

Joey Belladonna: All those questions come from different people, so they are different.


Were you ever tempted to make up a different story?

Joey: We joke around a lot. It may be fun.


Which Anthrax song do you think should have gotten more recognition or attention than it did?

Frank: I would answer like a kid: all of them (laughs). Honestly, the people grab out their favourite songs. They catch them, it gets them inside. Another some sometimes don’t catch. We [as a band] can feel strongly about the song and maybe the people won’t catch up to them, right?

Joey: Playing live reactions are completely different than when you sit home. If people make noise it doesn’t mean that they like the song. Sometimes it’s tricky.

Frank: We’re just happy they like any songs. That’s important for us. If people like our songs, they keep coming to our shows, they keep finding the records. They are our fans and we’re very thankful for that.


Did you find that certain songs are more or less popular in different parts of the world?

Frank: It’s very possible. I don’t know details about that. 

Joey: I think it’s pretty neutral everywhere. In different places different songs gain different reactions. Now we play a new song “Blood Eagle Wings” and reactions are really fantastic! Huge applause. It’s a song to watch because there is a lot going on stage. It’s a deep song and I thing people feel it. When it’s over, you see how people love it. There are some songs, and this one is one of them, people really want to watch. I think that our songs evoke many different emotions. And I like that.


If there was an exhibit in memory of Anthrax, what pieces of memorabilia would you like to see displayed?

Frank: A picture of Joey. That’s it. This is Anthrax. Or a clean toilet. That’s mostly important to us.

Joey: Maybe just a heavy guitar? We’re metal. What about something from New York on it?

Frank: Yes, New York because we are a New York metal band. We can be living anywhere else now, but we are labelled as a New York band. It all started in New York.


Are there any places in New York that remind you about early years of your music career?

Frank: Yes! Those are The Ritz where we played, also…

Joey: 57, Roseland Ballroom…

Frank: This one closed down now. Everything is closing down because they keep on replacing those club with places for rich people. I live in New York.

Joey: Radio City Music Hall is also one of my favourite places. I guess it’s not closed down but we’ve never played there.

Frank: Yes, that’s a landmark. Beacon Theatre is still around. We played in all biggest places in New York, also at Yankee Stadium. It was a very special show for us with the Big 4.


Isn’t it a different now than it was in the 1980’s?

Frank: You’re absolutely right. It’s a different world now. You can see it everywhere. But we’re standing strong.


No matter how long your history is, you still attract young generations. Does your endorsement with Monster Energy is a kind of link with the youngsters?

Frank: It goes everywhere. We’re very energetic band, very live. There is a lot of energy on stage when we play. We have fun with the live shows. They excite us. So this is what Monster Energy stands for.

Joey: On stage we’re giving everything we’ve got. And we leave all our energy on stage. Full show is really entertaining.

Frank: Yes. We give 110% every time. If you look up on the stage, you will see a lot of Monster Energy stuff there. We have always some branded towels and some drinks.


What is your favourite Monster drink?

Frank: Java. Java is my personal favourite, I love the Java.

Joey: Job in the morning, I don’t get you goin'. Mmmm....yeah.

Frank: Monster Energy is a really great company. We support them and they support us. It’s a nice collaboration and friendship. They branded our tour bus in the States and gave us a lot of support. This brand is very cool. They  also get involved in many sport events. I see Monster Energy is growing in Europe and it’s great. It needs to grow. I hope we’re helping in that. Joey hands to the fans Monster Energy cups during the show.

Joey: Yes, I’m gonna serve some drinks in the night. In cups in case no one throws a can back to the stage.


What are the major differences in the way your young fans and the old ones admire you? When they approach you, what do they want to talk about?

Joey: The younger people very often see us for the first time so they are just experiencing Anthrax. The older audience knows what to expect. They are there for the whole history.

Frank: And they want to talk about everything: the records we have done, our history, what are we doing next… I think we did a Big 4 show here, did we?


Yes, you did!

Joey: I remember it. It was amazing!

Frank: It was absolutely great for us. From that Big 4 tour we’ve had a bunch of new fans. Many of them were Metallica fans, who had never seen Anthrax. A lot of them became Anthrax fans. This is really great for us. They saw us and they liked us. Great thing about our fanbase is that we have fans from 12 years old to people in their fifties and sixties. Look at the audience a tour show − there are so many kids! It’s great to see them. Generations are growing older and another new is coming. It’s a fun thing to see. It’s great that people hear about Anthrax and want to taste it.


If “For All Kings” is the best album in your career, what makes it the best?

Frank: I don’t know… I think the songs.

Joey: In my opinion it’s about the whole quality: putting songs together, the sound is so much better now − we have a very good way of making it.

Frank: It’s also because of our experience. We are older. Now we know what to do, how to write songs in the right way. I think we are in the right place now.

Joey: It’s hard to say why. We are just doing it. We are eager to make it right.


If I were to answer this question, I would say that there is something about melody and indivisible entity that I had never heard on your previous albums. It particularly appeals to me.

Frank: When I listen to albums I have to like everything about the music: I want melody, I want good vocals. Joey’s voice is really great. When the great voice is on the top, it really helps making music great. I think that it’s the magic of Anthrax. This is why people like it. Only when everything put together works well, you can have a great song. In Anthrax we have never put anything that wasn’t right. When we work on our music we always look at each other. We see what’s right and what doesn’t. You can’t do it in two weeks and then just let it go. It’s got to be studied…

Joey: …and unique too.

Frank: Yes. And it’s us.


Let’s take a look at what you just said from the other side. Is it possible to work on an album for too long?

Frank: Yes, of course! You can’t get stuck.

Joey: There is always so much to do with every song. You can overdo it. I wouldn’t stay at a studio for too long.

Frank: The best way is to make sure the song are ready and then just go in and record them as live as possible: all the drum tracks, guitar tracks, bass tracks and Joey’s vocals.

Joey: Once we are ready to go to the studio, everything goes pretty quick. 


Joey, what makes a song perfect to sing?

Joey: The key of the song, whenever it's written in a certain key. It helps, but we don't consider that 'cause the song is already written anyhow at that time, but you know, somewhere there is rule to sing in the parts. Where the verses come in, sometimes we cut down lot of words because it’s much easier to cut them to fit the melody in. A lot of times there are so many words you couldn’t do very well to do a lot of melody 'cause there is too much to say, you know... Lately, it's been much more structured and stuff.


And what makes a rhythm section perfect, Frank?

Frank: A room for everything you’ve heard. You know, drums and bass are something without taking over the part. It’s a rhythm part. But what I would like to do is, if I hear something in my head, I want to put it down on the bass but if it goes over the vocal, I never do it. I do it only if it helps the vocal or the song. I love being a part of rhythm section.


How has your approach to songwriting changed over the years?

Frank: It’s pretty much the same. We gather in the room together, that’s it.


Are there any things that trip you out when you play a gig: fans taking pictures or anything like that?

Frank: I’d rather see the people getting into the show instead of holding their cameras up.

Joey: Yes, but this is how they get something from the show nowadays. They’ve got to get a picture, they’ve got to get a video.

Frank: But we are very lucky that we see people in our audience just enjoying themselves. That’s our job to make their time.

Joey: I remember days when security was like “oh, they have a camera, it’s not allowed”.

Frank: Yes, I remember them too. I don’t like when people are texting during the show. I’m like “are you enjoying the show?”.


How would you define success?

Frank: I think we’re very lucky, humble to be able to make a living from playing music. That’s success to me. That people still come to see us playing.

Joey: I agree. It’s amazing that people are excited that we are coming to their town to play.


What has been the greatest lesson that you have learned on your own about being a professional musician?

Frank: Always have a Monster Energy drink next to you (laughs). It’s for me about being really efficient to succeed, to build a career and go through it. Be consistant.

Joey: Yes, be consistant. Believe what you do. It’s all what we’ve been about pretty much of the time. Your name is your name.


Of the thousands of words which have been written and said about Anthrax, do you recall any which have been special or somehow important for you?

Frank: It’s always nice to hear a good review. I'm sure there’s been some negative things, that’s not so fun, but that's a part of gig. See, I don't really take anything too hard. All I know is, I just wanna do the best job I can. Leave it all on the table, I think we all do. Anthrax has always been a hard-working band and we will always be a hard-working band. We wear true colour. We wear it on a stage every night and we leave it on a stage every night. We wanna be exhausted by the time we leave at this job. Then we've got a Monster Energy. That's the whole point, to we’ve done right.


Don’t miss Anthrax on the Killthrax USA tour with Killswitch Engage, Jasta and Code Orange


(Support from Jasta)

03/29 Montclair, NJ – The Wellmont Theater
03/30 Columbus, OH – Express Live
03/31 St. Charles, IL – Arcada Theater
03/31 Knoxville, TN – The International
04/01 Mainstee, MI – Little River Casino
04/01 Norfolk, VA – The NorVa
04/03 Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore
04/04 Wallingford, CT – The Dome At Oakdale Theatre
04/05 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
04/07 Grand Rapids, MI – 20 Monroe Live
04/08 Detroit, MI – The Fillmore Detroit
04/09 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE


(Support from Code Orange)

04/11 Raleigh, NC – Ritz Raleigh 

04/12 Atlanta, GA – Tabernacle 

04/13 Orlando, FL – House Of Blues 

04/15 Austin, TX – Grizzly Hall (‘Texas Independence Fest’)
04/16 Pharr, TX – Boggus Ford Events Center 

04/17 Houston, TX – House Of Blues 

04/18 Dallas, TX – House Of Blues 

04/20 Tempe, AZ – The Marquee 

04/22 Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern 

04/23 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore

04/25 Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
04/26 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater 

04/28 Denver, CO – The Fillmore 

04/29 Omaha, NE – Sokol Auditorium and Underground
04/30 Kansas City, MO – The Midland 

05/01 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant 

05/03 Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall 

05/05 Huntington, NY – The Paramount 

05/06 Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall
05/07 Boston, MA – House Of Blues