With a career that began in 1984 when Scott Ian met Dan Lilker and decided to form a band named after a ‘cow disease’, Anthrax have gone on to become one of the biggest and most respected names in metal. From their early beginnings to the thrash metal high points of ’Among The Living’ and 2016’s career cementing ‘For All Kings’, they’ve released some of the most lauded albums in metal history. Deservedly crowned with the ‘Inspiration’ award at this years’ Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, we caught up with Ian, drummer Charlie Benante and bassist Frank Bello on the red carpet at the event in London. Bringing The Noise: Eamon O’Neill.
Good evening guys, you’ve just received the ‘Inspiration’ Award; what does it mean to you?
Scott: Well like we said up on stage, we were inspired by so many bands, and not to put words in Charlie’s mouth, but our album title ‘For All Kings’ it touches on that - all the ‘kings’ that we grew up with, all the bands that inspired us to do what we do, it all kind of comes together.
‘For All Kings’ is such a strong album.
Charlie: It should be Metal Hammer’s album of the year!
Scott: We want album of the year! It was Iron Maiden? All right, we’ll take it, we’ll take it.
How does it feel to be back on top again?
Charlie: You know it all has to do with this man [singer Joey Belladonna] being back with us. It inspired us to actually be a better band, and Metallica doing the Big Four [shows] inspired us to be a better band. Seriously, that’s what it all comes down to, and we’re all very hungry. And we love heavy metal.
Did it surprise you the first time you heard Joey singing on a track, I mean it had been twenty years?
Charlie: Oh dude, the hair on my arms stood up.
Scott: It was ‘I’m Alive’. It was the song ‘I’m Alive’ off Worship Music.
Frankie: It was Awesome, it was amazing.
Do you feel that you are an inspiration to the metal community?
Scott: Well we hear that. It’s kind of weird to say, you know - I don’t know, you’d have to ask other bands, or kids that are sitting at home playing guitar.
Frankie: Because it’s all positive; if we can inspire anybody to pick up a guitar or a bass, a drum, sing, yes it’s all good.
Scott: Live music with real instruments.
Frankie: That’s all we want to do, that’s inspiration, please come out here and play.
We’re here in the Hammersmith Apollo in London tonight. It’s a venue with a lot of Anthrax history, isn’t it?
Charlie: The one thing about being in this venue specifically, is it’s very inspiring. Growing up, Hammersmith Odeon was the place; you know, Motörhead ‘No Sleep Til Hammersmith’, of course? It brings so much back to where we all came from.
Scott: We opened for Metallica here in ’86, we sold this place out a couple of times in ’87. We shot a home video here! [1988’s ‘N.F.V – Oidivnikufesin’]! To be here in this place after almost thirty years later, well thirty years since we played with Metallica here, and we’re still doing, it feels great.
You mentioned Motörhead there. Have you got a good Lemmy story?
Scott: Our first time playing London was at the Hammersmith Palais in May-ish of 1986, and there’s a knock on the dressing room door and Lemmy walks in. He came to see Anthrax. For us, we were a bunch of kids, and Lemmy came to our show which still to this day I can’t quite wrap my head around that. And we were like: “what are you doing here?!” and he’s like: “I came to see your band”, because I had met him before that and I told him we were coming to play and he was like: “you told me about your band, I came to check it out”. I was like; “I didn’t think you would actually come, you know?!” But that’s the kind of guy he was, and we were friends for thirty years.
Did Lemmy ever give you and advice?
Frank: Just Lemmy being Lemmy is the advice; just stay on the road, lay your path, be yourself - that’s the advice.
You were all big Motörhead fans, obviously.
Charlie: He was part of that English sound that we from America all looked up to and the inspiration - he was a god for us, and we put him on a pedestal.
Frankie: He was one of a kind. There will never be another Lemmy.
Charlie: Motörhead was such an original band that crossed most boundaries of Punk, Metal, Rock and Roll.
Scott: Everybody loved him. Everybody argued about all kinds of music but the one thing everyone agreed on was everybody loved Motörhead.
Do you think that without Motörhead, there would be no Anthrax?
Charlie: It’s difficult to say but it’s probably true.
Scott: Motörhead and Maiden, because that’s all we cared about at th age when the formative years of this band. That’s all that mattered to us.
You toured with Iron Maiden recently, travelling on Ed Force One.
Scott: Yes we were, but we’re not allowed to speak about it. *everyone laughing* It was AMAZING! Are you kidding me?! We should have retired, it was never going to be better than that; we’re on their 747, playing stadiums with Iron Maiden in South America to the best audiences in the world. It was like Christmas every day.
You toured with them right back at the start of your career didn’t you?
Scott: First time was ’88. They treat us so well, and still to this day. I’ll give you a good story; we played Paris Download on Friday, and we see our set [time] got cut from an hour to fifty minutes – “what the fuck is this, why did we get cut!?” Someone says; “oh, well because Maiden want a certain amount of gap between the band before them, and when they’re going on”. So, our tour manager talks to their tour manager, and he knew nothing about it, and he said: “oh, the Maiden boys aren’t going to be happy about this at all”. About twenty minutes later, our ten minutes got put back into our set.
Frankie: That’s how cool Iron Maiden are, to this day.
Charlie: Everyone’s welcome there, and on Ed Force One, [when you board] ‘Aces High’ is playing. I’m kidding.
Scott: It was incredible. It was the craziest experience I’ve had in thirty five years playing in Anthrax.
Charlie: That band is the same band that they’ve always been.
Like this interview? Like us on FaceBook and follow us on Twitter for regular updates & more of the same.
'For All Kings' is out now via Nuclear Blast. Anthrax play Bloodstock Open Air on 14th August 2016.