An Interview with Charlie Benante of Anthrax
I vividly remember during my junior year of high school, sitting in front of my locker eating lunch (a can of Pepsi and a box of Red Hots) while listening to “Among the Living” on my Walkman cassette player. To the teenage me that was the perfect day. Anthrax was one of a handful of bands that ushered me from the safe confines of radio friendly hard rock to the exciting and rebellious world of metal.
They continued to be a huge part of my teenage soundtrack with “State of Euphoria” and “Persistence of Time”, and when I finally got to see them in concert, on the “Clash of the Titans” tour, they were every bit as awesome as I hoped they would be.
Anthrax is currently in the studio hard at work on the follow up to 2011’s Grammy-nominated “Worship Music”. I was extremely fortunate to be granted an interview with their drummer, Charlie Benante.
Derek: Hi Charlie! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! Anthrax is in the studio right now working on a new album. It’s been said that the new songs are more “thrashy” than on the previous album. Was this an intentional decision or did the new tunes just come out that way?
Charlie: Nothing is really intentional; it’s just how the riff comes out of me. I get an idea and then the rest of the guys hear it and we all lock in and it becomes this Anthrax Sound. I will say that there are some thrash tunes on this one and I guess that’s just how the way it went.
Derek: This is your first album with your new guitarist, Jon Donais. How has it been working with him in the studio? Has he contributed any song ideas to the new album?
Charlie: I think Jon is a great player. I’ve been working with him closely on this record and I think what he’s playing is fierce! He’s my new guitar hero.
Derek: You recorded a killer track, “Soror Irrumator (Lords of the Rock)”, for the “Catch the Throne: The Mixtape Vol II”. With Scott’s turn as a zombie on “The Walking Dead”, have you ever considered writing a custom track for that show?
Charlie: I would love to do something like that!! I remember doing the John Carpenter movie “Ghost of Mars”. We would watch a clip and then get inspired by that clip and BAM! Music would flow. I would love to do this again…JOHN, ARE YOU LISTENING???
Derek: You released a concert video, “Chile On Hell”, in 2014. The performance is simply awesome! My first Anthrax concert was the “Clash of the Titans” tour in 1991. I was blown away by the relentless energy of your show! And when I saw you at Mayhem Fest a couple years ago it was just as fun and energetic. With almost thirty-five years of touring and playing these songs, how do you maintain that level of excitement and enthusiasm?
Charlie: I guess it’s the power of the music, the audience, the vibe. I think all of these things come together to make for an exciting show. We always work better when the audience is matching our intensity and vice versa.
Derek: There was quite a bit of turmoil in the Anthrax camp between “We’ve Come for You All” and “Worship Music”, but I think the band came out of it stronger than ever. Do you feel like the band has finally stabilized?
Charlie: I think the turmoil only helps our attitude (sometimes) . We have always had that New York mentality, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ I am glad that we have in some way “stabilized.”
Derek: Now it’s time for The Marvelous Three Round of Questions! What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Most metalheads have large concert t-shirt collections. What’s your favorite band t-shirt? And last but not least, are you a cat person or a dog person?
Charlie: Honestly…Coffee and a Good batch of Oatmeal with Brown Sugar. I have too many t-shirts and it would be impossible to narrow it down to one. DOG! Cats are weird.
Derek: Thank you so much taking the time to answer my questions! I can’t wait to hear some new music and hopefully see Anthrax on tour very soon!
Check Out “Soror Irrumator (Lords of the Rock)” from “Catch the Throne: The Mixtape Vol II”