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Anthrax | interview | Charlie Benante | metal | Lollipop
The "classic" line-up
An interview with drummer Charlie Benante
By Tim Den
photos by Adam Bielawski
A lot of people are dying to know whether or not current vocalist John Bush and lead guitarist Rob Caggiano are no longer in the band because of this reunion...
John and Rob are both still a part of the Anthrax family. This reunion thing, we're doing it because this year is our anniversary and we wanted to celebrate it with something special. We haven't made permanent plans with this (classic) line-up because we want to take things as they come and see what happens. John and Rob are definitely still a part of Anthrax.
Some of the press releases have been...
Yeah, kinda vague. But we've only been able to announce what we know up to that day. And who knows what will happen or what we will decide to do?
I have to say I was very surprised when the first announcement was made, what with the Attack of the Killer A's tour disaster a few years back (former vocalist Joey Belladonna agreed to do the tour alongside John Bush, but pulled out at the last minute).
Yeah, well, that whole thing wasn't built on solid foundations to begin with. We didn't give it enough time to build, to plan, to figure things out. We had people who really took care of things this time around.
The buzz has been so big that there were even rumors of you guys being on this year's Ozzfest.
I can't tell you how many people are pissed because you guys aren't on that tour.
Good. (meaning people should be pissed, not "getting people pissed is good")
Can you say, for the record, if any negotiations ever went down?
I can say right now that we were never even contacted. The Internet's a crazy place: Stuff gets posted, and then immediately it's repeated on this site and that site, and -- before you know it -- people think it's true even though there was never any truth in it. I admit: We even got caught up in it for a while. We were like "uh, we know we're touring Europe, but do we have time to do Ozzfest too? How are we going to work this out?"
Let's talk about the U.S. shows: You're kicking things off in Chicago, naturally.
I love this town. Since the beginning -- and I mean the very beginning -- Chicago has been home away from home for us. Every time we've played here, the people have embraced us and taken us in like we're one of their own. So we've always tried to do special things, like record the live album, the live DVD, play special shows, in Chicago.
And you live here now too, right?
Yeah, I'll've lived here a year this Sept. I'm a baby.
I moved here last summer, and it's seriously an unbelievable place.
As I said, I love it. I made three friends the week I moved here, and they're still my friends. Don't get me wrong, I'm a New Yorker: You can take the New Yorker out of New York, but not New York out of the New Yorker. But right now, this place is like a cleaner, nicer New York. With bad pizza.
I completely agree! Chicago pizza is horrible! All that dough!
It's the worst! I hate it.
Know of any good pizza places you're willing to pass on?
Yeah: My house. My wife and I are gonna start a Real Italian Pizza Club and invite friends over to show them how it's really done.
It's great to see that, despite the recent split, you guys were able to get Frank (Bello, bassist/backup vocalist) back into the fold so quickly.
As we've said about the split, it happened because it needed to happen for both parties. Like a marriage, sometimes you need to separate to realize what you've been missing. It was good for both of us, I think. He played with Helmet and had a great time, and I think he gained a lot of confidence. Now he's back, and it feels great!
Do you know if he'll continue with Helmet after the reunion?
I have no idea.
How did you guys track down Dan (Spitz, former lead guitarist)? Didn't he disappear into watch-making?
Danny and I emailed each other from time to time. He'd tell me about what he's doing, how his kids are... He made a complete lifestyle change. He went from playing the world's biggest stages to doing something 100% different, and he was successful at it. I think that's amazing. He says he's got the fire again, so we'll see...
You're only playing stuff up until Attack of the Killer B's during the reunion, right?
Yeah, including "Bring the Noise."
Will you be playing "I'm the Man"?
I'm not sure what we'll be playing cuz, to be honest, we haven't even rehearsed yet.
Really? But the show's in two weeks!
Uh, yeah... I'm not worried. I like the spontaneity of it.
So can American fans count on more U.S. shows later on in the year?
There'll be a full U.S. tour in the fall. We will definitely do a proper American tour when we get back from Europe.