Still a Threat
CoC interviews Anthrax
by: Adrian Bromley
You'd think that after all that Anthrax has been through in the last few years (label switch, loss of original members, constant touring in a non-metal industry), the legendary thrashers from New York would have thrown in the towel by now. Y'know? Called it quits. Well, let me tell you something, my fine metal friends, Anthrax are not quitters. And contrary to popular belief, the band has never gone away.

The 90s have seen some of the best Anthrax material surface with LPs like 1993's brilliant _Sound of White Noise_ and _Stomp 442_ in 1995, both managing to hold up against classic 'Thrax LPs like _Spreading the Disease_ (1986) and _State of Euphoria_ (1988). Now the band returns with their eighth LP titled _Vol 8: The Threat Is Real_. Oh yeah, the boys are back in town. "It has been a hard road for us the past few years with all the problems," starts drummer Charlie Benante over the phone from a tour stop in Quebec. "But we've continued on. Things are going good with Ignition Records. They are doing a good job pushing the record for us. They are really promoting the record a lot. The thing about labels -- all labels -- is that it's gonna be great sometimes, bad another time, and okay other times. You have to roll with all of those situations. That's just how it is. This business is a fucked up place to be and you have to be able to roll with all of these changes. Changing from label to label is a pain in the ass, going from Island to Elektra to here was something we had to deal with. We were with Island Records for a while and then hooked up with Elektra for two records. The problem we had with Elektra was that at the end of it we were lost. We were a small fish in a big pond. With Ignition, we are a big fish in a small pond. Things are looking good for us." Benante -- along with fellow thrashers John Bush (vocals), Scott Ian (guitar) and bassist Frank Bello -- have been at this for years and, as the years go on, their love of what Anthrax is about is all that matters. One important ingredient to the success of the band during this decade has been the inclusion of singer John Bush. Bush, who was in Armoured Saint and joined the band in 1993 (after original singer Joey Belladonna left the band), has been an integral part to bringing out new ideas and a cool sound to the band. Benante agrees. "I think it's because of him [John Bush] that the band is still together, to be honest with you. When you are making music and it's happening, that is such a great feeling. I hate to use this expression, it sounds so cliche, but it just seems so magical, the way things work with us now. It sounds so good for us right now. We all get along so well right now. Prior to John being in the band, we were getting on each other's nerves. The thing about us was when we needed to be Anthrax, we did. But there were problems with Joey [Belladonna], but that's all under the bridge now. We actually saw Joey in Utica, New York early this year and he came up on stage and sang "Indians" with us. It was great to see him and talk a lot. I was glad it happened. But we move on as this band and keep things focused."

"_Vol 8_ is a great record from start to finish. There is not a weak part on this whole record. It's a great record," says Benante enthusiastically of the new record. "The thing that makes this special is that we reinvented ourselves with this record. There are songs on this record that would have never been on any of our other records. There are many songs here that make me so happy when I hear them because they are things that we wanted to really try with this band."

And the changes that Benante talked about within the new material? "A few years ago we were probably too scared to take a chance with anything. We did take chances back in the day and we took some shit for it, but we stood by it. We stood by it and did it 'cause we wanted to. We didn't want to be like every other band and sound like Metallica. Maybe it hurt us, but we kept doing our own thing."

"I know exactly what we wanted to create here and I hear that with these songs and the feedback from this record has made me very happy," he continues. "The material here works so well, and to be honest with you, if these songs weren't here, I would have not wanted anything to do with this LP. These songs make the LP. I am so sick of all the music out there right now. We want our record heard all over the place and for people to say that this is the music that they have been missing out on. I know people know the name Anthrax and go, "Oh yeah, Anthrax. I know their sound." But do they? We have altered our sound and brought so much into it over the last few years that our music has taken on a whole new vibe and when people hear it they get into it. People need to hear this LP and turn around and take notice of what we are doing." He adds, "Word of mouth has spread about this record. There is a good street vibe going on and that makes me happy."

When asked about bands jumping on trends, Benante "jumps" in: "Oh, you know that is happening so bad right now. So many bands out there are copying others and it makes me sick. There seems to be no real initiative to have originality anymore. It makes me sick. I say this now, and I'll say this at the end of everyday: It's all about the song. And right now, all people care about is how they look. It's not like that. It's all about music and it should always be that way."

(article submitted 1/9/1998)

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