John Parks of Legendary Rock Interviews recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX singer Joey Belladonna. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Your performance on the latest [ANTHRAX] album, “Worship Music”, is real good. It feels real cool having you back up front. I have always been a fan of the material the guys did without you but it never felt the same for me, no matter how good it was. These years since you haven’t been in the band have been tough on us old-school fans. Most of us are resistant to change, whether we wanna admit it or not.
Joey: Yeah, it’s neat that somebody can try something new and experiment and see what it’s like or whatever, but to me, it all felt like it was for weird reasons or something. I never got it and really couldn’t do anything about it one way or another nor did I wanna sulk or focus on it, but it was a drag. I imagine what we could have done together all those years and, of course, people can argue about it or whatever, but to me it’s just a shame that I didn’t get a chance to work with the guys and do more during such a lengthy period. I guess the best thing is that it all led us to where we are now, which is great. The situation now, what we do and the way we do it, the lineup now, it all seems to be the way things need to be and the fans are responding. This is working out to be the best thing possible for all of us.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Back to that “Clash Of The Titans” era…. Was there any writing on the wall or any hints that there was about to be a bump in the road?
Joey: No, not at all. That was the last thing on my mind at that point, because we were rolling so hard. Back at that time, we were really going amazingly well, we were nonstop, and I never felt anything was about to derail that. There were sometimes later on when I might have got that vibe during the PUBLIC ENEMY era, but even still… who the hell thought that would happen? I didn’t. There were a few times I can remember guys being kind of cold or not giving me any kind of recognition or acknowledgement to make you feel right, but it wasn’t during that “Clash Of The Titans” era.
Legendary Rock Interviews: It’s been a long time since you recorded an ANTHRAX album, and yet when I listen to “Worship Music”, your voice and performance sounds as solid as ever; it might be your best performance yet. I’ve seen the live shows and you’re killing it there, too. Did you kind of know while you were recording where to take your voice and what would work great in a live setting?
Joey: Yeah, I think so. And thank you for saying that. I went in to do my end of it the way I wanted to do it, which felt good. Obviously, there was a certain structure and arrangement to the songs that I wasn’t going to rip apart or change, but Jay Ruston (producer) and I worked together alone to make them all work and incorporate my best performance into them. We worked every day at his house, knocking out a song a day, and we pounded it out pretty easily because it all worked pretty simple. This was the first time in the history of the band that I had ever had that freedom to work and it was the most awesome for me. There was nobody looking through the window waving their hands or suggesting things to me or cutting you down or making you feel like you’re doing something wrong. When you’re doing something so important, you wanna be in a good spirit and in a good place and that was definitely the situation with “Worship Music”. If there’s a reason for my performance being strong, it’s because I was comfortable and left to do my thing. I didn’t need to oversee what they were doing musically, because I trust everything they do. I’m not gonna say that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the task at hand and living up to our history, but I am thrilled at the progress we made with this album. It all really worked out great and was my personal favorite recording experience thus far. The songs on “Worship Music” are so strong, the guys have only gotten better in their songwriting abilities, and I think we have all grown and made so much progress over the years. That’s what makes it all sound so seamless. We’re doing five of the new songs live, which is a fair amount to be doing from the new album considering the catalog we have, but I’m always open to singing anything new. I think eventually we will be bringing more new stuff into the fold. We just keep going forward.
Legendary Rock Interviews: You come from the era of homemade demo tapes and then giant recording facilities. Now so much is possible with even just personal computers. Does that blow your mind?
Joey: With the technology now and the ability to easily record things, even if they’re just ideas, it makes it easier. It’s amazing to me that we can do stuff without even being in the same room now but it sounds just as good as when we’re all together live. Charlie [Benante, drums] can put a guitar part down on a track in Chicago and send it to the rest of us on the other end of the country. It’s amazing. Rob [Caggiano, guitar] was doing lead breaks in the back of a bus while it was driving. (laughs)
Legendary Rock Interviews: What the hell happened a few months ago when you were tackled onstage by a security guard onstage? I saw the video and it was insane.
Joey: It was just a moment where someone just jumped up there onstage and I kind of approached it with an attitude of, “Woah, man, take it easy. It’s all good. You don’t wanna get thrown out of here or get beat up or anything. Just kind of trying to diffuse any potential situation that might occur. It didn’t take but a second and one of the bouncers jumped up and tackled me and him both really hard and I got slammed really hard and don’t really remember anything past that. I know I got piled on by, like, eight people and all that and was pretty banged up down there. It all happened so fast and there was no way anyone could react, you know?! I felt bad that Frankie [Bello, bass] got involved because he could’ve got banged up, too, but that was nice of him. I was hurting but we finished the show and fortunately everyone got out of there OK. It was all really unnecessary.
Read the entire interview from Legendary Rock Interviews.