Influential and still exciting Anthrax give Q&A before UK tour

Anthrax are one of the most influential rock acts ever and are embarking on another metal tour.

Anthrax (from left, front) Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, Jonathan Donais, Frank Bello; Airborne:  Joey Belladonna (photo: Travis Shinn)
Anthrax (from left, front) Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, Jonathan Donais, Frank Bello; Airborne: Joey Belladonna (photo: Travis Shinn)

The rock gods grew up alongside Metallica, Dave Grohl is a huge fan and they have just celebrated 40 years together with a big UK tour in September and October.

On the eve of their new tour, which begins on Spetember 27 in Birmingham, the band gave a Q&A session.

You celebrated your 40th anniversary as a band last year, which is longer than most marriages! What’s been the key to your longevity?

Anthrax on stage at Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow, February 15, 2017 (from left) Scott Ian, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna, Jonathan Donais, Charlie Benante (photo: Andy Buchanan) Picture © Andy Buchanan 2017

Scott Ian: "It’s now 41 years of being in a band, eh? I see it as we are walking in shoes that not many people have ever walked in. There aren’t many bands that have been doing it for as long as that, especially ones that are still doing touring, making records and having the core group also be pretty much the same guys for decades. I really don’t know how that is the case, other than I still really enjoy playing in Anthrax.

Do you look at other bands that are still going after decades and take inspiration from them, either in what you do or what you don’t want to do?

Charlie Benante: “We still look up to the bands we always looked up to and some of them are still doing it too. As long as Iron Maiden are still doing it, we can do it too. Some of those bands unfortunately lost members and can’t do it any more, so I applaud the Iron Maidens, the Motley Crues, the AC/DCs of the world, as it gives us something to look forward to, as they’re older than we are.”

Anthrax have been pretty consistent in releasing new music through the band’s entire career. You could easily settle into the heritage act category now and just tour your back catalogue forever, but that doesn’t feel like something you’d ever consider, would that be right?

Anthrax have been together 41 years

Charlie: “Sometimes I think about where we are at in our career after all these decades, do we really need to put out another album? The answer is probably not, but for us the feeling of working on new music and having it to play excites us, so it has to excite our fans as well.”

You haven’t toured for a long time now, which is almost unheard of for a band like Anthrax. How did you find the last few years where playing shows was just off the table?

Scott: “Obviously we had a lot of time to think! We finished touring For All Kings at the end of 2019, which had been almost three and a half years, so we were coming off the road anyway. I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as long a break as it turned out to be, but it certainly would have been a solid year off with us spending more time in the studio and making a record. So that initial first year, for me anyway, wasn’t all that odd, other than not being able to do anything else. So much stuff happened in that first year, you just found other ways to be creative and have fun.”

Does it feel the same again, or have things changed?

Scott: “The shows still have all that same energy, for sure. That’s great to see. Apparently more bands are on tour than ever, now. Every venue is booked solid for the next three years and everything is now twice as expensive for bands to go on tour. So we get to go out and everything costs more, we work harder and for less money! Somehow musicians get the short end of the stick. As always!”

You’re obviously excited about getting back on the road, but what’s going to be the hardest part of it for you?

Scott: “Having that family time these last few years was incredible, so the hardest thing is going to be getting on that bus and leaving them for an extended period of time again, no doubt about it. I am looking forward to it though, as my brain needs that schedule and structure. I’ve been away from it too long. It’s too easy at the moment to just go to the skatepark or jam with my son Revel.”

Will the structure and togetherness of being on the road again also help you get the new album finished?

Scott: “Charlie, Frankie and I have gotten together a few times to write, which gets me into that mode really quickly. I get up every day, have a coffee and sit, listen to what we’ve done and I write. Even if I hate everything, I write, as you have to get into that mode. That’s how I work. It’s been really hard to get back into that, so I’m really looking forward to having the structure of being out on tour, because I think it will really help my brain be creative.”

You’re touring the USA soon, but have your long-awaited return to the UK in the autumn. You’ve had a real connection with the fans over here since day one, haven’t you?

Charlie: “The people in the UK are some of the best audiences in the world. They come out every time, they appreciate it and they make us work harder. For some reason, it’s always been like that. Our first gig there was the Hammersmith Palais in London and there was an immediate rapport. To this day, we still feel that and it’s an amazing thing.”

Dates for the UK leg of Anthrax’s 2022 European tour are as follows:

September

27 O2 Academy, Birmingham

29 Academy, Manchester

30 O2 Academy, Glasgow

October

1 O2 City Hall, Newcastle

3 O2 Academy, Leeds

4 Rock City, Nottingham

6 O2 Academy, Bristol

8 O2 Academy Brixton, London