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Ik herinner me de eerste Europese Anthrax tour nog wel. In 1986 speelde de band toen met Overkill in Boskoop. Op de parkeerplaats aldaar ontmoette ik een van mijn toenmalige favoriete zangers, Joey Belladonna. Ik vroeg hem om een handtekening en praatte met hem over muziek. Twintig jaar later ontmoette ik ”The Voice” weer, nu in de catacomben van de 013. Ik vroeg hem weer om een handtekening en we praatte wederom over muziek…

Door: Koen B. | Archiveer onder speed / thrash metal

band imageSo how are you doing?
Fine actually, I'm having a good time. I enjoy playing with the guys again, it feels like it was before you know. Playing is a lot better, we're tighter, it's just better musicians. We're all that much more into it. Over the years I think everybody is gotten more focussed and the business too. There's a lot of business involved. Everybody tries to make sure they're on top of what's going on.

Of course people will say Anthrax is selling out with this reunion thing going on…
I don't see any of that really, I wouldn't know what that would mean. The thing is: we were together first, so why not? Say “The Who” was to play and they'd put another line-up together and that line-up was OK, but not as good as the first time, maybe close, but not cool. But when they get together again, they would say: “Well that as a good band, there was a good chemistry”. Well we're together as five guys, we do a good thing. It's been a long time, so why not? I don't see any of that. We're really conscious of what we're doing, we are not horsing around. We're doing everything we can to be a great unit together. It's not that nobody can play or like hacking it or don't know what to do, or we don't know the songs good or we could care less…it's none of that. I don't think any of that. What's a sell out?

Maybe a sell out is that it's easy to play the old songs again and not record some new stuff…
The old stuff is very busy and fast, it's just as hard as it can be and in fact anybody I tried to get to play it never played it very well. People like the one line-up, others like the other line-up, you can't beat that!

Did you follow Anthrax's career when you were out of the band?
Yeah, I keep an eye on everything as much as I can, I was conscious in a good way too. I was very observant. It is nice to know what people are doing. Well, how can I not? It was a shame we couldn't have continued because I think we could have.

When you were out of the band, Anthrax didn't sell a lot of CD's 'till they were contracted by Nuclear Blast and did an European tour with the likes of Motörhead, which was really a come back for the mosh kings. Therefore it was a surprise for me the old line-up was brought together again, because things were going really well…
It was a surprise to me too because I wasn't the one that instigated it all or made it happen. Charlie (Benante) called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it and I said “yes” and then he had to call Danny (Spitz) and Franky (Bello) to see if everybody was there and it was no problem. Everybody was like: “is it all of us? Well great!” Not one or two, but all three of us. Well all five!

Was it important to you that the whole bunch was there?
Yeah I do think so, I mean I would have liked to join in any kind of situation. I enjoy playing and whoever is in this band. I can play with Danny alone, I could play with Franky in a band, I could play with Charlie in a band, I could play with Charlie and Scott (Ian) in a band, I could play with whoever, but there's nothing like you put the package together. You know Jimmie Page and Robert Plant by themselves is a GOOD band, but when you add John Bonham and John Paul Jones to the pack, you've got a GREAT band, because they have a chemistry. When you put them together everybody just yells!

You mean this is the so called “X-factor”
Yes! It's nice to be back with the rest of the guys because we all know each other so well and it hasn't changed a whole lot at all…

band image

What have you been doing the past few years?
I write, I've been doing shows at home and I'm writing on material all the time with various musicians, jamming and stuff…

Of course you made some CD's under the “Belladonna banner”. The 'Spell Of Fear' album was achievable over here, but the other ones are almost impossible to get…
Both the labels they were released on disappeared the moment they came out. When I look back on the 'Spell Of Fear' recording sessions: we did it so fast I hardly remember doing it.
I met a guy, who wrote some songs, we recorded it real quick. Not the best way to do things but it was fun to do but I rather do things and keep it together but I did it again. Basically, every record I have ever done was with a couple of guys and nothing really stuck together because they were really not sure what they were going to do and it as a quick thing and they wanted to move on. Well we concentrated on the music, but we never became a full band and no record did have a solid line-up, except for the first one, but even then there weren't the right people for the length of time. When you do things real fast you don't have the time to analyze everything. There's nothing wrong with that but I rather had a line-up that would last longer.

On your website you sell the 'Belladonna 03' and 'Artifacts I' CD's, but what struck me is that the CD's cost $10,- each only but shipping costs to Europe are $ 12,- each. Isn't that odd?
Yeah, that is one of those things, you've got to put those things in a package and the mail is like five or six bucks. That almost makes it an imported CD, I'm aware of that. I suppose I could do less than that, but I don't get any buys from here so I don't know anybody sees it or what. I probably should bring them by hand….

…and throw 'em in the audience…
…and give 'em away, something like that haha…

Anthrax did the 'Alive 2' CD/DVD last year, but I'm very curious about the bands future right now. What about a studio album in this line-up?
We haven't really gotten that far. Everything is happening step by step. Obviously the next thing to do is possibly do a new record, but we haven't rehearsed anything, we haven't discussed anything. There's no way to say what's going on. There's a good chance for it to make it happen, I think we all have the means to do it and obviously we wanna do it well so it takes a little bit of time to get it to get it right, and even if we do finish something soon it takes time to get it out. We could have a record done in, let's say in August for instance, hypothetically, then it might not come out 'till the first month of next year, so it's hard to say….

This concludes part I of this interview. In part II – that will be published in our June 2006 issue - we'll look at the John Bush era, the future of Anthrax and Joey´s favourite singer in metal, mr. Rob Halford, so stay tuned!

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