Anthrax: 'New Album Is Going To Be A Combination Of Things'

While the band was in rehearsals for their upcoming tour, Joe Matera spoke to Scott Ian about all the latest happenings in his world and that of Anthrax.

Anthrax: 'New Album Is Going To Be A Combination Of Things'
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Thrash metal titans Anthrax recently announced the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna, who sang on Anthrax's breakthrough albums, such as 1985's Spreading The Disease and 1990's Persistence Of Time to the band's fold. This marks the third time Belladonna has fronted the thrash-metal band during its 25 plus year run, having previously been replaced by Dan Nelson and John Bush. For founding Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, a new found sense of optimism has engulfed the band. So much so that the band plan to return to the road soon for a summer tour with the Big Four, and also return to the studio to re-track the album the band recorded with their former vocalist which they now hope to have out in 2011. While the band was in rehearsals for their upcoming tour, Joe Matera spoke to Scott Ian about all the latest happenings in his world and that of Anthrax. UG: The big news for fans is the return of Joey Belladonna to the group. How does it feel to have Joey back? Scott Ian: It feels great to have Joey back. It was something we started talking about initially when we heard about the possibility of these Big Four shows [tour with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax] that was the catalyst for the whole thing. It is just really nice that for the first time in awhile in the world of Anthrax, something that we really wanted to happen, actually worked out positively for us. It is true that the turmoil the group has been through in the past couple of years with the departure of Dan Nelson amongst other things, brought the group close to breaking up? Well probably yes it was. If it wasn't for the fact that last summer John [Bush] did step in after Dan had quit, and the fact that John came back and did the Sonicsphere shows with us, and did Japan and Australia with us too, he kind of stepped into a situation where we were really stuck. But for him it wasn't a case of something that he was going to continue with, as it is not where he is in his life at the moment. During that time as well, that was when the Big Four thing went from being a rumor to a reality and that was when the first discussions between the band were like, maybe we should do this with Joey' because he was the guy that just seemed to make more sense you know.

"It is just really nice that for the first time in awhile in the world of Anthrax, something that we really wanted to happen, actually worked out positively for us."

What is the status with Worship Music the album you recorded with former vocalist Dan Nelson, are you planning to re-record it with Joey on vocals? It is going to be a combination of things. The one thing I can say and the only positive about having this record basically shelved, was being able to live with it for over a year now. We have got the luxury of hindsight whereas the normal situation would be we'd just finish the record and put it out and go on tour for a year. But now that we've lived with the record and played the songs, we're able to say, maybe this could have been different' or this could have been better'. So we've been living with this record for a year and it hasn't come out and we've been able to look back on it and say, here's the shit we really love' and here's the stuff that could be better'. So there are five or six songs that I think Joey will sing on and of course his voice is different and his approach is going to be different too so that is going to change things or enable us to change things. And then there are a couple songs that we think need to be rearranged and reworked a little bit. We like parts of them but not the whole song and then there are also ideas for three or four new things on top of all that. So it is a combination of all of those things. It is going to be a lot of work but at the end of the day, this record is only going to be better at the end of it. You mentioned the changes you plan to do, so having the luxury to make the changes, does affect the songwriting process overall? Well the songwriting has always been the same process no matter who has been there. Though I can say that with John in the band, he was certainly more he wrote more of the lyrics, he contributed a lot to the songwriting process which was kind of different to Joey where I was writing all the lyrics. But this time we'll see what happens. I would never close the door on any possibilities with anything. I want Joey to come in with a thousand ideas, so we would never close the door on any contribution or ideas that Joey may have, and I'm hoping he comes in with lots of ideas for the new stuff and even for stuff that is already been done because if you can make something better, then why not? Still on the topic of songwriting, how does process work within the frame work of the group? A lot of the times, Charlie [Benante] will be the instigator, he'll have the catalyst riff for a song and then everything will build off that. And then sometimes it just comes from Charlie playing a drum beat. He is always playing around with beats and stuff and I may hear something that will inspire a rhythm or an idea for a riff. It is a combination of everything, but mostly it's just from us being in a room together, is how it mainly works. With the Big Four tour you'll be undertaking in the summer, what can fans expect to hear from your set? For a lack of a better term, a greatest hits set, even though none of them are actual hits if you know what I mean. It will certainly be a great representation of the time with Joey Belladonna of the Eighties and even a couple of John Bush era songs thrown in as well. Jackson Guitars announced recently that they're producing a Scott Ian Signature model guitar that is based on your original Jackson Soloist. You must be pleased with that? Absolutely, I'm currently using three of my new Jackson signature models which are basically based off my 1987 Jackson Soloist that they made for me. The original had a New York logo and was fretless above the fourteenth fret, not that these are fretless, though they actually did me one as a fretless, but it would have to be a custom thing if somebody wanted that. So in short, it's the same Soloist, based on the same body though we kept it about one quarter of an inch bigger all away around. It is a mahogany body with a maple top and it sounds fuckin' killer. That old guitar from the Eighties always sounds so good and plays so good, that I felt like, why fuck with this thing?' I did some custom inlays for it too, lightning bolts. And I'm using my old school Seymour Duncan JB pickup in it so it is super clean and super simple. What are you currently using live when it comes to amps? I'm currently running my Randall prototype modules which are going to be actually become a head. We're going to do the modules first out, then eventually its going to be a three channel head. I'm running those prototypes into two Nuno Bettencourt 4 X 12 cabinets. The Nuno cabinets are the best sounding speaker cabinets. Also I have just redesigned a 4 X 12 for them which unfortunately I'm not going to have ready for the summer tour as we're still going through the process, where things are going back and forth in regards to changes. But I'll have my own signature cabinets later in the year, but until then, I'm using the 4 X 12s. Did you ever think that some 30 years later along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, you'd still be here doing what you love and influencing a generation of other metal bands? It is fuckin' amazing. I started this thing 29 years ago, I co-founded the band with Danny Lilker and its amazing to me. And I'm sure it is not only for Anthrax but for all four of the bands involved in the Big Four as well, they feel the same. It is like about 26 years since our first album came out and the fact that on a worldwide level, so many people still care about what we're doing and that it means so much to so many people all around the world, that just makes me feel great. And the fact that after all this time it is the first time that the four of us have ever played together, and that its happening after all this time on such a massive level, it is just incredible. These upcoming shows are probably going to be some of the biggest gigs any of us will ever play.

"It is going to be a lot of work but at the end of the day, this record is only going to be better at the end of it."

Aside from Anthrax you have several side projects, one is playing guitar in the group Pearl with your wife [Pearl Aday] and the other is playing guitar in The Damned Things. Are these other bands a way for you to reinvent yourself as a player outside of the Anthrax mold or are they just another creative outlet for you? They're just another outlet for me. Playing in Pearl is amazing for me because I started out as a rock guitar player, the first stuff I ever played was AC/DC, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, things like that, so playing with Pearl totally brings me back to who I am as a guitar player. Getting to play big rock songs is so much fun to me. And with The Damned Things, it is way more in a classic rock and heavy metal type of sound, where we're doing a lot of harmony playing. There is a lot of Thin Lizzy-esque stuff, Queen-esque stuff underscored by a Maiden-ish kind of feel to it all. And it too is so much fun to play. Getting to be in three bands is really good for me. It is a lot of work but at the same time, it is like being on vacation. Aside from your musical endeavors, you have a passion for writing comic books? Yeah last year I put out my first book for DC Comics. I wrote a two issue series for their character Lobo. A two issue Prestige Format and each book had 64 pages, so it was like 128 pages of Lobo and it was called Lobo: Highway To Hell. It was so much fun for me and was a dream come true. It was something I have always wanted to do. I spent a long time, about a year working on the book with Sam Kieth the artist and it turned out great and I loved the whole experience. I'm currently working on my second thing for DC Comics right now for another character which I can't mention at the moment as DC are going to announce it soon so I can't really jump the gun on it. But it is coming along great and it is even more story intensive and more layered. And obviously the more I do the better I'll get at it all. I've been reading comics my whole life and to be involved in that world is something I never thought I'd get to do. Speaking of writing, would you consider writing a book on either your years with Anthrax or the group's history? Maybe that will happen somewhere down the line, but there is no ending yet in sight to this band as we still have long way to go. Finally out of all your years spent in this tough music industry, what's the most important lesson you've learned? To just do things your own way, the business is a necessary evil obviously, but you just got to have your own vision as an artist. And you have to know what you want and you have to know who you are because if you don't, somebody is going to mold you into something you're not and then you are going to suck. We've only ever done things our own way and that is the only way I know how to do it and whether it is right or wrong. That's the best lesson I've ever learned. So you better show up with a good sense of who you are as an artist otherwise, you're going to get fucked. Interview by Joe Matera Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2010

51 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    smalRaptor
    It's going to be a combination of the meedlies and the squeedlies with some chug chug chug woooooahhhh
    chiefmegadeth
    Id choose Anthrax over metallica anyday!!!! Metallica or has some good old stuff...butthere last 5 albums where crappy...and there last 2,where just god awful!!!!Terrible terrible albums
    a7xf@n43v3r
    Neil and Joey are the only two vocalists Antrhax ever should've had. Any other vocalist for them makes it not worth listening to.
    Skuzzmo
    Love the thrax esp with Joey... but TBH if I was joey, Dan or that bush person I wouldn't trust Ian or Benante(?) as far as could shit up hill... But whatever, Joey's back... Whoot!!!!!
    T3HM3T4L
    CrimsonBizzare wrote: Metal thrashing mad was originally done by Neil Turbin. He was their best vocalist - hands down. But I doubt he'll ever come back. S.O.D should reform, Scott was much better there.
    Neil Turbin is still my favourite Anthrax singer, but yeah, he's the one they'll NEVER get back. Joey still does a great job of replacing him partly and still make his own songs sound imo. I just never got into the Bush songs, especially not The Greater of Two Evils where he covered the songs I liked best ;__;
    Dawgs4Vick
    Fuck Anthrax, I want the VH1 Supergroup back!!!!! Anyone?... HaHa just playin, Anthrax is the shiz, just because they aren't quite as influential as Megadeth or Metallica doesn't mean they aren't one of the best thrash bands ever. Though I believe their is room for Testament there and I actually prefer them over Anthrax and definitely over Slayer. Not saying Slayer sucks or anything I just think Anthrax and Testament are better than Slayer, just my opinion.
    Galvatron
    The problem with Anthrax has always been their cheesy lyrics. They are included in the big four because they were in the right time at the right place. I have known a ton of metalheads in my day and none of them were ever playing or discussing anything to do with Anthrax.
    blackened5150
    John Bush is the man. I wish he would get back in the band. I like Joey but I like John the most.
    bs23666
    I never realy liked anthrax until they did that song with public enemy. and I'm the man was pretty awsome too!
    MzMetal
    I'm really bummed that Bush isn't rejoining the band. Joey's a nice guy but I don't care for his vocals. I'll buy Worship Metal, but honestly, I would have been a lot more excited about it if Bush was re-doing the vocals instead. Oh well, I guess I'll just keep waiting.
    OXL
    I really don't care what Anthrax does these days but still, I really love the first three albums!
    Zamdrang
    These guys are worse than a afternoon soap opera...been a fan since the beginning but I really dont care anymore. Last this bad mouthed Joey on TMS was how Bush was the perfect lead singer... now Joey is the savior. If even part of whats been written about Nelson is true...added to this...these guys sound like a bunch of pussy girls who cant get along. Gimme a break.
    Zamdrang
    melowar wrote: Scott Ian-"after Don Nelson quit" Although I'm ecstatic that Joey is finally back I've lost some respect for Scott over the years. Back in the day he came across (at least to my perception) as a straight shooter, someone with some integrity. Now I think he's bit of a shady individual. Its obvious that Bush is their "boy" and Joey is back only because Bush turned them down. No matter who you prefer as front man you can't describe the way they have treated Joey (and Don)as anything but deplorable in the past. He even has the balls to assert that Don "quit". That he "loves Joey like a brother". I think its rather a cynical type of love. Damn! I'm glad you're back Joey and I hope the money they're paying you is good because I would have told Scott (and the band) to blow it out their ass.
    Amen.
    madnaz
    blackened5150 wrote: melowar wrote: Scott Ian-"after Don Nelson quit" Although I'm ecstatic that Joey is finally back I've lost some respect for Scott over the years. Back in the day he came across (at least to my perception) as a straight shooter, someone with some integrity. Now I think he's bit of a shady individual. Its obvious that Bush is their "boy" and Joey is back only because Bush turned them down. No matter who you prefer as front man you can't describe the way they have treated Joey (and Don)as anything but deplorable in the past. He even has the balls to assert that Don "quit". That he "loves Joey like a brother". I think its rather a cynical type of love. Damn! I'm glad you're back Joey and I hope the money they're paying you is good because I would have told Scott (and the band) to blow it out their ass. Who's Don Nelson? I thought his name was Dan.
    Don Nelson is the Golden State Warriors head coach in the NBA.
    blackened5150
    madnaz wrote: blackened5150 wrote: melowar wrote: Scott Ian-"after Don Nelson quit" Although I'm ecstatic that Joey is finally back I've lost some respect for Scott over the years. Back in the day he came across (at least to my perception) as a straight shooter, someone with some integrity. Now I think he's bit of a shady individual. Its obvious that Bush is their "boy" and Joey is back only because Bush turned them down. No matter who you prefer as front man you can't describe the way they have treated Joey (and Don)as anything but deplorable in the past. He even has the balls to assert that Don "quit". That he "loves Joey like a brother". I think its rather a cynical type of love. Damn! I'm glad you're back Joey and I hope the money they're paying you is good because I would have told Scott (and the band) to blow it out their ass. Who's Don Nelson? I thought his name was Dan. Don Nelson is the Golden State Warriors head coach in the NBA.
    Ohhhh okay. Well he might be singing for Anthrax this time next year when Joey is kicked out of the band or he quits again. That is, of course, after John Bush comes back for a month and then quits and then they try to get Joey back and fail. Then, and only then, can they bring in Don Nelson.
    one987654321
    EmoSceneKid wrote: What the ****, man? Joey's back? I ****ing hate him. He can barely sing.
    You obviously have not heard him lately. He sounds so much better than he used too.
    Yoyo Of Death
    EmoSceneKid wrote: What the ****, man? Joey's back? I ****ing hate him. He can barely sing.
    i agree, i think the frontman to fall out boy is way better
    CrimsonBizzare
    rootbeer999 wrote: i'm glad joey is back. he's my favorite anthrax vocalist. I havent listened to much of anthrax's recent stuff but hopefully this new album will be good. METAL THRASHING MAD
    Metal thrashing mad was originally done by Neil Turbin. He was their best vocalist - hands down. But I doubt he'll ever come back. S.O.D should reform, Scott was much better there.
    Delucinat
    I can't say that anthrax is on the same level as the other three in "the big four". To my ears and taste they seemed to be missing something. I don't know, I just couldn't get into them. Props for doing what they do for so long and having success. Ian seem ls like a cool dude too
    queenslander47
    ibrahimasood wrote: Anthrax are ptretty underrated compared to the big four.
    Agreed. I saw them in February and thought they were fantastic. They probz lack the real classic albums that the other three bands have (Master of Puppets, Rust In Peace & Reign In Blood respectively). Among the Living is probz their closest thing. But maybe that really influential album is what they lack.
    espChris93
    ibrahimasood wrote: Anthrax are ptretty underrated compared to the big four.
    Agreed, I saw the theater broadcast because im a diehard Metallica/Megadeth fan and like a few Anthrax songs but i thought Antrhax was phenomenal. They had so much energy and everything sounded spectacular. I think they even outdid Megadeth and it goes without saying that they out performed Slayer who was 3rd on the bill for some mysterious reason. They should've played first to get it over with.
    rootbeer999
    i'm glad joey is back. he's my favorite anthrax vocalist. I havent listened to much of anthrax's recent stuff but hopefully this new album will be good. METAL THRASHING MAD
    blackened5150
    melowar wrote: Scott Ian-"after Don Nelson quit" Although I'm ecstatic that Joey is finally back I've lost some respect for Scott over the years. Back in the day he came across (at least to my perception) as a straight shooter, someone with some integrity. Now I think he's bit of a shady individual. Its obvious that Bush is their "boy" and Joey is back only because Bush turned them down. No matter who you prefer as front man you can't describe the way they have treated Joey (and Don)as anything but deplorable in the past. He even has the balls to assert that Don "quit". That he "loves Joey like a brother". I think its rather a cynical type of love. Damn! I'm glad you're back Joey and I hope the money they're paying you is good because I would have told Scott (and the band) to blow it out their ass.
    Who's Don Nelson? I thought his name was Dan.
    NickGiovanni
    stondagain wrote: Meh. Anthrax hasn't put out anything worthwhile since Among The Living. Sooooo overrated. The only reason they're in 'The Big Four' is the East Coast needed someone in there.
    That's definately not why they're in the big four. Anthrax is right up there with Megadeth in terms of awesome. Slayer, on the other hand, wtf are they doing in a thrash show? Slayer is like chaotic noise set to a drum beat. Shoulda put somone like Testament or Dokken in there. Screw Slayer
    melowar
    blackened5150 wrote: melowar wrote: Scott Ian-"after Don Nelson quit" Although I'm ecstatic that Joey is finally back I've lost some respect for Scott over the years. Back in the day he came across (at least to my perception) as a straight shooter, someone with some integrity. Now I think he's bit of a shady individual. Its obvious that Bush is their "boy" and Joey is back only because Bush turned them down. No matter who you prefer as front man you can't describe the way they have treated Joey (and Don)as anything but deplorable in the past. He even has the balls to assert that Don "quit". That he "loves Joey like a brother". I think its rather a cynical type of love. Damn! I'm glad you're back Joey and I hope the money they're paying you is good because I would have told Scott (and the band) to blow it out their ass. Who's Don Nelson? I thought his name was Dan.
    Same difference.
    stondagain
    Meh. Anthrax hasn't put out anything worthwhile since Among The Living. Sooooo overrated. The only reason they're in 'The Big Four' is the East Coast needed someone in there.
    TheEsupremacy
    Anthrax with Joey on board is such a better band. His tribute to RJD at the ceremony was "spot-on". (He sang Man on the Silver Mountain". He will save Anthrax. Hope the rest of the band finally "gets it".
    CrimsonBizzare
    They recorded the album with John as well as with Dan, and now they're re-recording and changing it with Joey? They should release a "box-set" type thing where you get all three album versions in one. That'd be cool. I have no real preference between John and Joey. They both sound so different, and they're like totally different bands depending on the vocalist. I love both vocalists, but I guess it's cool that Joey's back.
    melowar
    Scott Ian-"after Don Nelson quit" Although I'm ecstatic that Joey is finally back I've lost some respect for Scott over the years. Back in the day he came across (at least to my perception) as a straight shooter, someone with some integrity. Now I think he's bit of a shady individual. Its obvious that Bush is their "boy" and Joey is back only because Bush turned them down. No matter who you prefer as front man you can't describe the way they have treated Joey (and Don)as anything but deplorable in the past. He even has the balls to assert that Don "quit". That he "loves Joey like a brother". I think its rather a cynical type of love. Damn! I'm glad you're back Joey and I hope the money they're paying you is good because I would have told Scott (and the band) to blow it out their ass.
    plmokn12
    Hopefully its a combination of things like, guitar and drums, possible singing with solos too... But on a serious note, I cant wait!