Anthrax Drummer: “I’m Old and Out of Touch”
Man, wasn’t I just singing the praises of Anthrax and how they’re currently the coolest Big 4 band going?
That is still most likely the case, even in light of Slayer’s very cool move to hang it up for good. But damn, Charlie Benante is really doing his best to hand over the reigns with his latest comment that may as well read “I’m old and out of touch.”
Benante recently told The Metal Command radio show in an interview (posted in full below) that “Apple had a big hand in destroying music,” insinuating that if dastardly Apple hadn’t invented that pesky iTunes thing the record business would still be what it was 20 years ago. He also knocks bands that give away their music for free or utilize a “pay what you want” model and chastises fans who listen to music on “these little earbuds.”
The absurdity of making these statement in 2018 should be self-evident, but because older dudes in older bands keep this kind of hogwash in the press I’ll break it down for you:
- Benante’s statement assumes that if Apple hadn’t figured out how to sell music on the internet, no one else would ever have figured it out either. That’s ludicrous.
- Once the stranglehold on distribution was broken — a few big players controlling the flow of physical products — market forces took hold. The people stood up and said “Music costs too much,” so Apple (and others) produced a product that catered to that. It’s very simple supply and demand, really.
- All the record labels were willing participants in iTunes, Spotify, etc.
- Charlie’s comparison of the “pay what you want” model to a chef employing the same tactic at a restaurant is total bunk. This is another old man argument that old men have been shouting oldly for 20 old years, but the analogy doesn’t hold up because food can’t be made digital. (At least not yet.)
- We’re talking about iTunes here. iTunes? Really? Relatively few people still download digital files. If you’re gonna complain about something at least make it current, like streaming (but that’s a bunk complaint, too, as I’ve written about endlessly in this space).
- YOU CANNOT STOP THE PROGRESS OF TECHNOLOGY. It can’t be done! Stop trying! Complaining about it is pointless!
One thing I’ll say about Charlie Benante is that the guy has written a fuckton of killer riffs in his career, and continues to do so as one of Anthrax’s chief songwriters. So to Charlie I’d say this: you’ve got hundreds of thousands of fans who continue to enable you to have a career doing what you love, even in these tough times for music, so maybe don’t complain too much about how they consume it, mmkay?
Here are the relevant quotes from the interview, transcribed by Blabbermouth:
“… what happened with the music business is the ground kind of fell out from beneath all of us, and everybody kind of scrambled to think of ways of compensating for what had just happened or what had taken place. And I think some bands who thought they were maybe smarter than other bands started to do things where, ‘We’ll give the music for free,’ and, ‘You tell us what you wanna pay for it,’ and I thought that was really stupid to do, because… Maybe they thought that was a great thing at the time, but I felt it was just devaluing music and what we were doing,” he said. “I mean, why… why would you do that? Does that mean that all these chefs from around the world are saying, ‘Just come to my restaurant. If you like the food, just pay what you want or don’t even pay at all. Don’t worry about it. I’ll survive.’ I just thought that was a real ignorant thing to do.”
“As much as everybody loves Apple, I also think Apple had a big hand in destroying music, and nobody really says that; everybody’s still on the side of Apple,” Charlie said. “But I believe Apple was one of the big hands in this that helped destroy music. The record companies had a big hand in it, because they got greedy. The artists got greedy when they felt, ‘Oh, I can get a three-album deal for 75 million dollars,’ but at the end of the day, if they’re taking all that money, what happens to the lesser-known bands who are striving to become something? Where does that money come from? I mean, it was just such a mess, and it really dug a hole for itself. And now who is paying for it? Everybody.”
“I’m an audiophile and I have to have the best quality of a song from my favorite band, but to a lot of people, that doesn’t matter to them — it really doesn’t,” he said. “They’ll listen to music on these little earbuds that really shrink everything, and that’s it, man. It’s, like, ‘Oh, where’s my workout [music]?’ That’s how it is.”