Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anthrax: Belladonna wasn’t band’s first choice

Reported by Eric Wilson

Since its release on Sept 13, “Worship Music" - the long-awaited new album from Anthrax - has racked up impressive first week sales numbers of 28,000. Compared to the less than 10,000 sold of their previous offering "We've Come For You All" (2003) during the same time frame, all parties involved must be very pleased, especially given that 2003 and 2011 are completely different worlds in terms of overall music sales in general.

Anthrax was one of several bands who believed switching singers would help them create a new identity (ie. Motley Crue), so after five years and four albums with Joey Belladonna on vocals, he was shown the door in late 1990 in favor of John Bush (ex-Armored Saint).

While their initial release with Bush (1993’s "Sound Of White Noise") was well received, the following years would see the band's fortune decline, forcing a rethink at the end of 2004. This led to an ill-fated reunion of the Belladonna-era lineup in 2005 that lasted less than two years; in December 2007 it was announced that Dan Nelson (ex-Devilsize) would be the new vocalist.

After completing an album of new material and performing a handful of shows, Nelson was terminated in July 2009, leading Anthrax to call back John Bush to fulfill scheduled live dates for the rest of the year through early 2010. The plan was to move forward with Bush (despite some misgivings on his part), and have him re-work the Nelson material, however it was announced two months later that Belladonna would be returning, once again.

They couldn't get John…so they got Joey.

Anthrax’s triumphant return with Belladonna was in June 2010, when they were part of the history making Big 4 shows through nine European dates. The salvaging and rebuilding of the Nelson sessions commenced shortly after, finally resulting in the long-overdue "Worship Music."

In a recent interview, Belladonna was surprisingly frank, and realistic, about his current place in the band and the revolving door of vocalists. "I wasn’t their first choice to come back into this thing,” Joey tells Blistering. “Put it this way: If John said he wanted to do it, they probably would have taken him. If they would have done the Big 4 with him and it would be successful? Who knows? Would they finish the record? Who knows? If they didn’t have a fight with a guy they first had to finish the record (Nelson) and would have put it out, they would have done that. To me, you got what you got."

Acknowledging the often complicated relationship with the rest of the band, Joey said, "We are a unique package of musicians and there’s no band out there that has a lineup that, if you’re trying to recreate it, you’re not going to have much luck. For Anthrax, it’s hard for us to pull it off. This thing is a little more intricate."

Regarding the positive reception, online, of his return:

"Personally, I don’t really care because I can’t do anything about it except do what I do and hope the band will see enough of it for them to stick by me. And Frank [Bello, bass] says, ‘I guess I gotta kiss your ass in interviews.’ I said, ‘Do it naturally. I don’t need any favors from you if I don’t need it.’ Just say you’re digging what we did. Is that too much to say?’"

Anthrax Anthrax

Anthrax – Only
Vasil Levski National Stadium - Sofia, Bulgaria - June 22, 2010

See also:

VIDEO: Anthrax rock Jimmy Fallon
VIDEO: Anthrax rock Heavy T.O. festival
VIDEO: Metallica, Big 4 rock Sonisphere UK
VIDEO: Metallica – Big 4 jam at Sonisphere UK
VIDEO: Metallica - pro-shot footage of Big 4 jam in Germany
VIDEO: Big 4 jam at Milan show
VIDEO: Big 4 - Watch full Metallica set from Sweden
VIDEO: Big 4 - Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax jam at Sweden show