Dimebag death spurred Anthrax back into action



By Steve Newton

In the mid-’80s, Anthrax was one of the most popular thrash-metal bands around. Vocalist Joey Belladonna, guitarists Scott Ian and Danny Spitz, bassist Frank Bello, and drummer Charlie Benante won the hearts of headbangers far and wide with ear-busting albums like Spreading the Disease and Among the Living. Belladonna left the fold in ’92, replaced by former Armored Saint howler John Bush, but now, for the band’s 20th anniversary, he’s back.

As Bello explains from his townhouse in Yonkers, New York, it’s being hailed in the music press as the return of the band’s “classic” lineup, but he just sees it as “five knuckleheads having some fun”. The on-stage shooting death last year of metal guitar-hero Dimebag Darrell Abbott was also a galvanizing force.

“Everybody could say the reunion’s for the money,” he points out, “but if they saw the amount of money that’s comin’ in they wouldn’t say that anymore. The truth of the matter is, the death of Dimebag really took a hold of us all. It’s like, if we don’t do it now, some of us may not be here tomorrow.”

Before it’s too late, Anthrax fans can relive the quintet’s glory days on the Gigantour, which visits the Pacific Coliseum on Friday (September 9). Along with headliners Megadeth, noisemakers include Fear Factory, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Nevermore, and Bobaflex. “The Gigantour’s gonna be great,” says Bello, “but I’m psyched about the Priest thing, because they specifically wanted Anthrax out on tour.”

Judas Priest recently recruited Anthrax to open on its own highly anticipated reunion jaunt, but the Yanks’ three-week stint will be over by the time the British metal legends hit the Pacific Coliseum on October 23. Anthrax had travelled extensively with Priest in the past, when Ripper Owens was filling original screamer Rob Halford’s spot. “We did a full run with them,” recalls Bello, “and it just goes to show you that if you have a good time on tour you want to hang out again.”

Although Anthrax has never risen to the ranks of a Judas Priest-or a Megadeth, for that matter-it was making waves on the radio back in ’91, thanks to its rap-metal collaboration with Public Enemy on “Bring tha Noise”. The Big Apple riffmongers were certainly willing to indulge in a hip-hop side trip back then, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find the latest 50 Cent disc in Bello’s CD collection.

“I’m not the biggest fan of the newer kinda rap,” he relates, “because I don’t think it has grown in a while. To this day Run-DMC is still one of the best to me, and Public Enemy, obviously.”

The CD and DVD collections Anthrology: No Hit Wonders (1985-1991) are set for release on Sanctuary Records later this month. While the title refers to Anthrax’s inability to land a single of its own on the charts, Bello notes that a bullet on Billboard hasn’t been the group’s priority. “We’ve had a good run,” he points out. “The hit of this band is the longevity of it all.”

Leave a Reply