CHARLIE BENANTE Says Hardcore Metal Fans Turned Their Backs On ANTHRAX For Collaborating With PUBLIC ENEMY
The ”Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” podcast recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the impact of SLAYER calling it quits after completing a ”farewell tour,” which features ANTHRAX in one of the support slots:
Charlie: ”I think what it does, it definitely reduces the game a bit here. They were a part of a movement in the ’80s, this American metal that took over from its previous stars like the IRON MAIDENs and the JUDAS PRIESTs, stuff like that. We took from them and now here we were, wow, coming up and SLAYER was a big part of that. Their style, their brand of music, a lot of the topics they talked about, really influenced bands to come, a whole other subgenre of metal.”
On whether SLAYER’s pending retirement makes ANTHRAX think about when they will be calling it a day:
Charlie: ”I haven’t really entertained that thought as clearly as I need to at this point. I know we’re all getting kind of a bit ’road weary’ here and there and some of our joints and bones tell us, ’You got to slow down a little bit here.’ But when we’re up there doing it, we kind of forget about all of those things and all these years of touring and playing and you see the audience and you feel the audience and your muscle memory just kind of takes over for you and you forget about it until later on, you know what I mean? I really don’t want to think about the day when we’re never going to see those people. I know it’s going to come.”
On whether the physical nature of ANTHRAX’s music would play a deciding factor in how long they can continue to perform live:
Charlie: ”It’s funny because you would think that aspect of it would be the toughest part of it, but I’m so conditioned to be playing like that is that’s the way it is. I just know that way. It’s as if Charlie Watts knows how to play these [ROLLING] STONES songs and it’s easy, but maybe it’s easy for him because it’s that level of how he plays. For me, when I get up there, I only play at this type of level. That isn’t the problem, it’s afterwards when I’m feeling it a little bit the next day.”
On whether ANTHRAX’s new material is still shaping up to be aggressive and angry:
Charlie: ”I have three more demos that I’ve been working on and these particular songs have a very old-school thrash metal-y feel. One doesn’t sound like that, one sounds kind of in the realm of a ’Breathing Lightning’/’Antisocial’ type of song. Not everything is sounding angry and pissed off. I’m just angry and pissed off about the state of the country and things that I hear every day that piss me off. I get pissed off about that. I get pissed off about the state of music. I get pissed off that nobody is trying as hard as they used to anymore to make music and people are just sheep, they go along with the herd and play whatever they feel. Seriously, do you think there’s any individual band out there anymore that’s saying anything different? I think it all sounds the same.”
On the importance of ANTHRAX releasing new music:
Charlie: ”It’s very important, and I’ll tell you why: For me personally, it keeps me on my toes, it keeps the band, I feel, relevant. It keeps us wanting to do better, because when we do a meet-and-greet and a record signing, or whatever it is, and you meet these young kids, and they come over with your record, and they tell you how much they love it, that goes a long way, believe me. How many times can you hear a band — I’m being serious — how many times can you hear a band playing that same, tired KORN riff with someone screaming over it? When I use KORN as a reference, it’s because they ripped of KORN so much and I think KORN knows it too and it’s, like, ’Jesus Christ, everything sounds like us.’ Then you got this dude screaming over it, and it’s, like, ’Okay, that’s good for the moment, but where are you in a year from now? Where do you go from that?'”
On the importance of 1993’s ”Sound Of White Noise”, ANTHRAX’s first album with vocalist John Bush:
Charlie: ”In order for me to kind of talk about that record, I have to go back to that place that we were at that time. We had just come off this huge thing that we did with PUBLIC ENEMY [the rap-metal collaboration ’Bring The Noise’] and pretty much, I think it helped changed the climate of music and in some ways, it hurt us after that, too. I think a lot of hardcore metal fans, I think kind of turned their back on us for doing that, and that’s the truth. I don’t think they were ready for it. What did we do after that? We even changed things even more. We changed the singer, whose been a part of our sound from the beginning and now here we are, changing that. I think we were in a state of definitely not looking to the future; we were just doing it now. We were challenging ourselves. We were definitely a musical statement there, but I don’t know if I look back at it, I don’t have any regrets about, but there’s things that I would have done differently. I think the record itself is great. I think the person we chose to produce it [Dave Jerden] was also tagged to the whole grunge thing that was coming. I think it sounded a little like that genre of music and less like the genre we helped create.”
ANTHRAX’s upcoming disc will be the band’s third full-length release since the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna, who came back into the fold for the ”Big Four” shows, in the process helping inspire a new wave of creativity.
ANTHRAX is supporting SLAYER on the first two legs of the latter outfit’s last-ever North American run of dates. Also appearing on the bill are LAMB OF GOD, TESTAMENT and BEHEMOTH (with NAPALM DEATH replacing BEHEMOTH for the second leg).
ANTHRAX’s most recent release was the live-in-concert DVD ”Kings Among Scotland”, which came out on April 27 via Megaforce.