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Ahhh, the memories. Anthrax have endured it all: Danny Lilker, Joey Belladonna, Dan Spitz, Armored Saint and S.O.D. reunions, the "big four" thrash bands, "I'm the Man", touring with Public Enemy, long printed shorts, "Not!", touring with Slayer, Megadeth and Alice in Chains on the Clash of the Titans tour, Married With Children, stealing Yankee memorabilia, Scott hosting the VH1 Rock Show, departing vocalists, label splits, the post 9/11 controversy over the band's name, appearing on the inaugural episode of the new edition of Headbanger's Ball. . . and the list goes on. In spite of this long, colorful history - and perhaps because of it - Anthrax keep coming back to kick your ass. To prove the point, the new album 'We've Come For You All' has just hit U.S. shores. The Metal Update sat down with guitarist Scott Ian and vocalist John Bush on the eve of their new studio release to talk metal with these venerable metallic legends.

METAL UPDATE: Let's talk about the metal scene in general. What do you guys think of the "black" and "death" metal sub-genres?

SCOTT IAN: I'm a big Dimmu Borgir fan. As far as black metal goes, I think they are the best. And I hate to even categorize them and pigeon hole it, but obviously that's what people consider them to be. But I think they kind of transcend that genre because musically and songwriting-wise I just think they're the best I've heard of any black metal band, so I just listen to them, because to me, everyone else kinda falls short as compared to them. I think they're the best. As for death metal, we took Cannibal Corpse on tour with us a few years back - there's a bunch of death metal that I dig. Truthfully, I'm not a big fan of that style of vocal - it does nothing for me - but the musicianship and the power of those bands, and specifically the drumming I find myself most attracted to. I like the really good drummers in those bands. That's what I really dig.

MU: Is it weird that Cradle of Filth is signed to Sony Music and Anthrax is on an indie label?

SI: I would rather be on an indie than a major, any day of the week.

MU: Why aren't you guys on Ozzfest?

SI: Ask Sharon Osbourne.

MU: For years you were too extreme, and now you're not extreme enough. You must be asking yourselves,"What the fuck?"

SI: I don't even know how to answer that question. No, you either get a tour, or you don't get a tour. If you're going to sit around and say, "What the fuck," then I'd still be sitting in 1984 saying, "What the fuck - how come we're doing this?" So you just have to move forward. You don't sit around and worry about shit like that.

JOHN BUSHWe're going to do what we're going to do. We're going to tour - that's what we do. We're going to go play. So, I mean, it'd be great if we were on it. We're not, so we're still going to go and do what we do. We're not going to have any animosity towards those bands. Good for them, you know?

MU: Is coming up with a killer "riff" the most important ingredient of an Anthrax song?

SI: It has nothing to do with the riff. It all comes down to the songs. It comes down to a song when we write. And with Charlie and I working together, it's just what's best for a song. If there's a riff, that's great, then we'll fucking run with it. Or if it's just one chord - it doesn't matter. It just comes down to when we're writing a song is what feels the best, and what's best for an actual song. We don't care about any of that kind of stuff, all we care about is songwriting. That's all we've ever cared about.

MU: "Intro" is killer.

SI: Yeah, for sure.

JB:Yeah, it's really cool.

SI:Actually, Charlie created that. That was his idea, and then I put those big, fat, fuzzy chords in the background.

MU: Is Charlie the best musician in Anthrax?

JB: (laughs)

SI:Overall? Yeah. I would think so. I mean, that would be hard to say because Rob is a great musician. Charlie is a great guitar player and a great songwriter. Charlie, when it comes to writing songs, musically, yes. Rob's probably, technically a better guitar player than Charlie. Rob's insane. And Rob's a drummer, too. But Charlie's a much better drummer than Rob is a drummer. So, it would be a good battle between them, if the two of them had to battle it out.

MU: On the new album, "Strap It On" gives a shout out to the years '75 to '79 and '85 to '89 - is that just what rhymes, or is there any significance to those particular time periods?

JB: (laughs)

SI: No. Those are the years - for all of us.

MU: So what happened from '80 to '84?

JB: It's all part of that too.

SI: But it's not. '75 to'79, for me, I say, "Take me back to a golden time" - '75 to '79. And then, "Take us back to a heavy time" - '85 to '89. So it's like, '75 to '79 was like where we came from, and '85 to '89 is where we went with what we came from as Anthrax, as a band.

MU: And what happened to '95 to '99?

SI: We didn't have a third verse.

Anthrax - Scott Ian

MU: Would it be there if you did?

SI: I don't know.

MU: Do those years deserve the special attention?

SI: Sure. There'd be something to say, absolutely.

MU: At the end of that song, I hear a lick from "Love Bites" by Priest.

SI: That's Dimebag playing it.

MU: Do people pick up on that?

SI: Not everyone does.

MU: Let's talk about Judas Priest. What do you think of their current state of affairs?

JB: We just toured with them, and we had a great time. It was awesome.

MU: As fans, do you want to see Rob Halford come back?

SI: Of course. You know, of course you do. But at the same time, I could sit here all day long and talk about what I would want, but it comes down to what those guys want and what they're happy doing. I'm not Glenn and KK and I'm not Rob and I'm not Ian and I'm not Ripper, and you know, those guys all have their own thing going on in their own way. And, yeah, of course I want to see Rob back with Priest. I want to see Les Binks back with Priest.

JB: (laughs)

MU: It's easy to say that they should do whatever the fuck they want to do, which is true, and of course that's what they're going to do, but I want to know what you think as a fan.

SI: Of course I want Rob to come back and I think, at some point, it will happen, as long as they're all still around and capable of playing. I, as a fan, believe that it will happen because. . . why not? Because, apparently, they're all getting along again - from what I read. So, I would love it to happen. That's no dis against what they're doing now or any disrespect to Ripper, or Rob's band, or anything like that. That's just from a pure fan's point of view of. I love Judas Priest and I want to see Rob singing with them again.

JB: Let's say this though, if that happened, and, you know, I think I feel the same as Scott does. They've got to want it for more than just - like, if they want it for just to do, you know, a nostalgic tour and record, great, that's fine too. If they want to do it for, you know, maybe five years, make a couple records, that's fine - but be obvious about what you want to do. There's a couple of bands that have gotten back together, done the thing - one being Kiss - that I wish they would stop now.

SI: Yeah.

JB: Because they did a great thing. . .

SI: In '96, it ruled, the reunion.

JB: And we were all fucking crazy. We were stoked. And now? What?! Well, what is this?

SI: It's still going! Without Ace!

MU: Are you going to go see Aerosmith and Kiss on tour this summer?

SI: No! No, no, no. Absolutely not.

MU: So if you had nothing else going on that night. . .

SI: I'd sit at home. I would sit at home and jerk off with sandpaper. Seriously. I love Gene Simmons. He's the hero of my life. But after '96, after the reunion, I would not give one more penny - nor did I have to in '96 because he was nice enough to comp me every time I went, which I will thank him for the rest of my life. But no, after '96, I was done with it again. And the fact that they've gotten Tommy Thayer dressed up in Ace Frehley's makeup - that just makes me angry, as a fan. And I can't believe anyone would pay money to go see that. But Kiss fans are mostly retarded, I think, so. . . I mean, look, like Iron Maiden - they spent all those years with that Blaze guy in the band, and as big of a fan as I was for years, I just kinda lost interest in Maiden. Then Bruce came back, and it was like, fuck yeah! I'm fucking so stoked again. I got the 'Brave New World' record and I saw the tour six times, and I was so excited because my band was back. As a fan, I was like, "Fuck yeah!

JB: They're doing it for the right reason. They're doing it because they're making another record.

SI: They're passionate about what they do and they're happy as a band again, and they want to do it. I don't know the reasons why Bruce left in the first place. I don't want to know. I'm just glad they're back together.

MU: So do you think there's anyone clamoring for Joey Belladonna to return to Anthrax anymore?

SI: Well they'll never see that!

MU: Unlike Priest, though - they probably get asked that in every interview - everyone wants to know, "Is Halford coming back?"

SI: Right.

MU: I don't feel that the same way when it's Anthrax.

SI: No, it's not. There are some.

JB: When we do press, some people want it, sure.

SI: I'd say that is a very small percentage. Now, most of those fans, they don't come to shows anymore. They don't buy records anymore. Those are the people in their 30s, who, if they go to concerts now, the one concert a year they'll go to is Metallica. You know, a big event show or something like that. These aren't people who are going to shows every week. They're not out buying CDs all the time. They ain't listening to anything new. They're only listening to what they listened to in the '80s. You're not going to find a System of a Down record in their record collection - it's just not going to happen. They probably don't even like Slipknot.

Anthrax - John Bush

MU: Would you say that's true for all people of a certain age?

SI: Not all people. I would never just stereotype, but that's a large percentage of the fans that were huge fans of this kind of stuff in the '80s and now have families and jobs and they're just not a part of whatever scene there is. They're just not a part of that anymore.

MU: Who came out to see Armored Saint when you reformed and did those shows, John? What was the motivation there?

JB: The motivation was just for that reason. 'Cause, I mean, Armored Saint was never a big band. It was actually more based on the friendship of a couple guys in the band. When we did it, it was a time to get together and hang out with friends and that was the motivation. It was for fun and that was the primary reason. We weren't going to make a bunch of money. So that was the reason, and we did that, and that was cool. And that's it. With Anthrax, I think the difference between maybe some of the people that might want Joey and where we're at now, is we are a band that are making. . . we love our new record. It's all about that. We keep moving forward. So, I mean, somebody who wants that, they kind of want Anthrax to go back, and I don't think that's it for us. We keep moving forward.

MU: Do you think new fans will buy the new record?

JB: Yeah! They have in Europe.

SI: They have in Europe, for sure.

MU: Who are these new fans, let's hypothesize - are they young kids?

JB: Yeah.

SI: Absolutely, because there's more young kids coming to our shows.

MU: And it's kids that like Slipknot and that stuff, and then they say, OK, this is cool too?

SI: Absolutely.

JB: Well there's some old fans too, of course. And we want them. It's not like we're discouraging them.

SI: No, no, not at all.

JB: We want them to be there, you know, of course.

SI: I'm actually confused why more old fans still don't come to shows. I understand why they don't, but at the same time, I'm like, "Why would you just give up on something you were so passionate about?" Well, I understand you've got kids now, or you work this job and you do this, and you have all these responsibilities, but I'm like, what happened? You have no time in your life for music and shows? I don't get that. I don't get that at all.

MU: All right, let's talk about Metallica. Do you guys pay attention to them at all?

JB: (laughs)

SI: I can't wait for the new record.

MU: I get the sense that this happens every time they put out a new album - you hear, oh, it's going to be heavy, it's going back to the roots. What are you expecting?

SI: I don't care what anyone says. I'll get it and I'll hear it for myself and make my own opinion.

MU: Did you like 'Load'?

SI: No. I didn't.

MU: So what are you expecting?

SI: I have no expectation. I know people who've heard it, who've told me what it sounds like, but I can't even comment until I hear it for myself.

JB: It would be weird to me for people to say, "I hope it's like 'Master of Puppets' - which people say - because that would still be going backwards for Metallica. It can be heavy, and it can be powerful, and it can be raw, and it can be explosive and not be looking backward.

SI: And it can be "now."

JB: But it shouldn't be "then" 'cause that's in the '80s. As long as they're still Metallica. It's still Lars, and James and Kirk.

SI: Yeah, as long as it sounds like Metallica.

JB: It should sound like them now, but with maybe the attitude of what that was.

Anthrax - We've Come For You All

MU: What's the difference between being "now" and "current" and "heavy," and being a "nu-metal" band?

SI: We're now and current and heavy, and we don't sound like a nu metal band.

JB: No.

SI: 'Cause we sound like Anthrax.

JB: But it sounds like it has evolved, and that's natural, and I think Metallica should - 'cause you know what? It's not going to sound like 'Master of Puppets'. I can guarantee that. It's not. And I don't want it to. That's bad.

SI: Yeah. They already did 'Master of Puppets'.

JB: They did it! Yeah, exactly.

MU: Does Anthrax ever have a shot at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

SI: I could give a fuck, truthfully. I could give a fuck. I could give a fuck.

JB: (laughs)

MU: You really don't care? If someone called you up and said, "You guys invented rap metal," in ten years, and "we'd like you to come be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," you wouldn't be psyched?

SI: We'd show up. Sure. And we'd get to jam with Paul Shaffer - big whoop.

JB: (laughs)

SI: I'm fucking. . . um, I can't wait.

MU: What if somebody started a heavy metal hall of fame?

SI: That would be even lamer.

JB: (laughs)

MU: What if they put a place in LA, on Sunset Strip?

SI: That I'd definitely not want to be a part of.

MU: With wax busts? (laughs)

SI: Absolutely not. No thanks.

MU: So, what's the end game? You're just having fun? You'll just keep doing this?

SI: This is what we do. We love being in a band, we love making records and we love touring. It's still fun for us and that's why we're still doing it.

MU: Did doing the VH1 show give you a different perspective on any of this?

SI: Yeah, the perspective of: I picked the wrong fucking business to get into. I should've gone into TV, where you do nothing and you get paid a lot of money. That's the perspective it gave me. You don't have to work, and they pay you a lot of money.

MU: Did you guys hear Headbanger's Ball is coming back?

SI: It is. And we're part of the big opening - us and Godsmack.

MU: What's that going to be all about?

SI: We film May 1st in Cleveland, and we're just happy that they asked us.

JB: Yeah, it's cool.

SI: 'Cause it's been eight years and it's about time they brought it back.

JB: It could change things.

MU: Who's the host?

SI: They don't have a host yet.

MU: I heard it was Juliya.

SI: It's not.

MU: Have you ever seen her show on Much Music?

SI: Yeah. It's not her.

JB: It's not her.

MU: Are you guys busting out with a video?

SI: We're filming in Chicago on May 16th.

MU: Which one's that going to be?

SI: We're filming two, actually. "Safe Home" and "Taking The Music Back".

MU: What do you think of "Safe Home"? Is that the single?

SI: It is the single.

MU: Isn't that pretty mellow?

SI: I don't think it's mellow, no. I think it's one of the strongest tracks on the record.

MU: Shouldn't you have made a more "metal" song the first single to make sure you caught the attention of all of the core fans so you could show them the true heaviness of this new record?

SI: Those fans hopefully are going to buy our record anyway. We don't need to preach to the converted, we need to preach to the people who have never bought an Anthrax record before. "Safe Home" is the song that would get you on the radio. "Black Dahlia" is not going get you anywhere, other than the 50,000 kids who will go buy your record anyway. That's why you've got to put some thought into these things. I'm not worried about the kid who's counting how fast our double bass is. Those kids will go get our record anyway.

MU: It's pretty fucking fast on "Black Dahlia".

JB: It's very fast. The record is a fucking great heavy metal record from top to bottom, so people should buy it based on a great record with 12 great songs, not one or two songs.

MU: You guys have gotten a lot of mileage out of the video for "Inside Out" off of 'Volume 8'. That didn't get a lot of play at first, but over the years, it's actually been played a lot.

SI: Did it? I don't watch TV.

JB: Where'd you see it?

MU: VH1, on that show.

SI: Well, yeah.


MU: And on Extreme Rock on MTV2.

JB: It's a great video. It should have been played - it's cool.

MU: It looked like a big budget affair.

JB: It wasn't really.

SI: Surprisingly it wasn't, because we had a really great director who was able to pull it in for really cheap and make a great video happen.

JB: Yeah, that guy went onto do a bunch of Blink 182 videos.

SI: Now he directs that show Fastlane - that TV show.

JB: Oh, does he? I didn't know that.

MU: Isn't there some marginally famous chick in that?

JB: Tiffany Thiessen or whatever?

MU: I mean in the video.

SI: In "Inside Out"? No, no one famous in that.

JB: No, not in that video. "Black Lodge" has Jenna Elfman.

MU: That's right, that's the one I was thinking of. Right. Anyway, who are your musical peers?

SI: There's a lot of bands right now I would consider our musical peers. Off of the top of my head right now, I'd say Stone Sour, Slayer, System. I don't know, who else is around?

MU: I was kind of thinking, in terms of peers, like other bands that came from the same era you did, or have a similar mindset. Do you feel a connection to any bands that way, and maybe not even just in metal, that stand on their own two feet and keep churning out records?

JB: I'm sure we have. We can think about it.

MU: It's kind of hard to think of System Of A Down as your peers in those terms, maybe you're at the same level in the same kind of music, but they're coming from a different place, aren't they? You know what I mean? They don't have the same perspective.

SI: I don't know. They've been churning it out for years too - not as many years, but same attitude. Give them a stage and they'll go play. There's no prima donna bullshit. Any band that wants to go out and work is a musical peer, whoever it may be. I don't care if they just started last month, you know, it doesn't matter to me.

MU: Do you guys have a take on Newsted and everything he's done since leaving Metallica? Particularly Voivod.

JB: He's happy.

SI: Yeah, I respect the fact that he made the decision in the first place. How do you leave the biggest band in the world? That's a hard fucking decision and he had the balls to make that decision and walk away because he wasn't happy. I can understand that. I don't care if you're making a hundred million dollars - especially if you're making a hundred million dollars - why do something you're not happy with? You've got all that money in the bank, why hang around if you're not happy. Go do something that's making you happy because obviously the money doesn't matter anymore.

MU: Does it seem random that he joined Voivod?

SI: No. Why not? Why is it random?

JB: He was probably influenced by Voivod when he was growing up.

SI: Absolutely. I don't think it's random at all. It's kind of like he's in the position where he was able to resurrect that band in a sense.

MU: That's what I mean, that band definitely has more juice now than it did a couple years ago.

SI: Of course. It's great. They have more juice now than they ever had.

JB: Good for him.

MU: If you quit Anthrax, what old band would you join?

SI: You'd never hear from me again.

MU: Is Anthrax your last band?

SI: I'll disappear. You'll never hear from me. People will wonder, "What ever happened to Scott Ian?"

MU: Seriously, are either of you considering doing anything outside of Anthrax? S.O.D. - you had your second coming and that is probably on hold, right?

SI: (burps) On hold?

MU: Over?

SI: I don't know.

MU: What's the status of S.O.D.?

SI: You'd have to talk to him (pointing to "Sergeant D" tattoo on his arm), and he's not speaking right now.

JB: It's all about Anthrax right now.

SI: Yeah.

JB: You know, we just made this record. We're all about Anthrax right now.

MU: And you're going to tour with Motorhead, is that right?

JB: That's right.

MU: And how long is that?

SI: It's like three weeks, it's short.

MU: And what happens after that?

SI: Then we go right to Europe. We have festivals and headlining shows until mid-July.

MU: Are you going to play all the big summer outdoor festivals?

SI: A bunch of them, yeah.

MU: So you'll get to see every band possible.

SI: We'll probably get to see a lot of bands.

JB: Yeah.

SI: That's what's cool about doing those shows over there, you get to play with so many different bands over the course of a few weeks 'cause there's always different bands on different festivals, so it's killer.

MU: You're going out with Motorhead, which is sort of another older act, do you have a sense that you'll get a different tour the next time you come back to the US? Since you are now on Sanctuary in the United States, obviously somebody's going to think maybe you should open up for Iron Maiden on their tour.

JB: We'd love to.

SI: I hope so. We would love to. I would pick that over any other tour, personally. If I had a choice to tour with anyone this year, it would be Iron Maiden.

MU: That's pretty cool because a lot of guys would be like, "Well, we're a new band and we don't want to associate these older acts."

JB: Motorhead is a legendary band. We opened for them in Europe and it was fucking great. It was a lot of young people as well as old people, and it was a fucking awesome show.

SI: And here it's a co-headline, so we get to play a full set.

MU: I'm thinking in terms of opening for an Iron Maiden arena tour, like Queensryche did that time.

SI: Yeah. Are you kidding? Like I said, if someone asked me what band would you want to open for in 2003, it would be Iron Maiden over any other band. I'd rather do that than Ozzfest. I'd rather do that than Lollapalooza. That's what I would want to do.

MU: Have you heard the new stuff?

SI: Nothing yet.

MU: What's your favorite track on the new Anthrax album?

SI: I'd have to say my two favorites right now would be probably "Safe Home" and "What Doesn't Die".

MU: How about you?

JB: Um, probably "Safe Home" and "Nobody Knows Anything".

MU: What are you going to play live? Have you got it figured out?

SI: Yeah.

JB: Some old songs. We don't want to reveal too much.

MU: Are you going to switch up?

JB: It could happen, yeah.

SI: We've been playing a bunch of songs. We know most of the songs on the record, and in Europe we were changing things around almost every night the last month.

MU: What about old stuff?

JB: Old stuff too.

MU: I know you've busted out with "Gung Ho" recently. Any surprises like that?

JB: Who knows?

SI: Come to the shows and see.

JB: We don't want to reveal too much.

MU: But you've got it figured out? You're just holding out?

SI: Yeah. Why are we going to give you our set list? (laughs)

JB: But we might come up with something. We might go, hey, let's play that song, 'cause there was about five or six songs we rehearsed that we never even played.

MU: There are people that would read the interview and say, "Damn, they're playing that? Maybe I do have to get off my ass and go to the show."

JB: Well if it's one song that they're making a decision on us playing, they don't really want to go that bad.

SI: People get surprised when we play "Gung Ho" and you'd be surprised because generally we play "Gung Ho" and there'd be 1,500 people there, and you play "Gung Ho" and you see the three people who are stoked to hear that song, and everyone else is kinda like, "huh?" It's fast, but you can just see the recognition factor. They initially go crazy, and then they're like, "We don't even know what song this is."

MU: When John first joined the band, I loved to see you guys play "In My World" because that song kicked ass even more with John singing it.

SI: We did it on this tour.

JB: We started playing that again.

MU: Are there any others that feel this way? It's great when these old songs come out better than ever.

SI: You gotta come see the show.

JB: Yeah, you gotta come see it. We've changed around some old songs and some newer songs, I mean, more recent songs I should say. I think of everything as old except for this record, quite honestly. But we're playing some different tunes that we haven't played for a long time.

MU: Did you ever read Motley Crue's 'The Dirt'?

SI: No. I wasn't interested.

MU: It's pretty fucking funny.

SI: Yeah, I don't care.

MU: I heard you were thinking about writing a book. What would it be like?

SI: It would be the history of the uh, history of the. . .

MU: Insert wise-ass answer here.

SI: . . .the history of the, the Jewish persecution in the, in the Southeast of America.

JB: (laughs)

SI: I don't know what the fuck it's going to be about. What do you think it's going to be about? It's going to be about. . . I'm just going to rewrite Motley Crue's 'The Dirt' and just insert our names.


review of Anthrax 'We've Come For You All'

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review of Anthrax 'Spreading The Disease'





Interview: Eric German [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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