Anthrax New Album Update: “There’s More Of A Thrash Element”

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Metalhammer
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Anthrax: the new album’s taking shape…

We grabbed Anthrax bassist Frank Bello for an update on the new Anthrax album, and what he had planned for this year’s inevitably epic Metal Masters event.

The fifth Metal Masters instalment will be celebrating the history of heavy metal with a chest-beating setlist of classic metal anthems played by members of Pantera (Phil Anselmo, Brown), Slayer (Kerry King and Gary Holt), Megadeth (David Ellefson and Chris Broderick) and Anthrax (Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian), not to mention timekeeping legend and original Metal Master, Mike Portnoy.

The show, going down at the Anaheim, CA House of Blues, kicks off Wednesday evening (Jan 22) at 11PM ET/8PM PT, looks set to be a stunner. As he gets prepared for the final rehearsals for the sold-out gig, Metal Hammer chatted with Frank Bello to get the inside scoop what was going down…

This is the fifth Metal Masters event, and as each one grows, the format has expanded as well. What will this week’s show look like?

“You know, I have to say that with every Metal Masters, you’ve got to expect the unexpected. When Dave Ellefson and I started doing this thing way back when, it was just a dual bass clinic. Then Mike Portnoy wanted to get involved, so he jumped on, which was great, and then Charlie Benante got in and this thing has its own life now. With this Metal Masters, the song list is crazy, and I’ll say that right off the bat because it’s insane. We definitely threw some curve balls into this one, which I like, because it keeps us spontaneous and it keeps it thriving. It’s very much a live thing, man, which is the whole pulse of this it—that it’s live.”

Metal Masters founder Mark Menghi has announced that the setlist for this event will chart the history of heavy metal. With nearly a dozen grizzled metal legends taking to the stage, how do you all begin to choose a setlist?

“We have some standard songs that we play at pretty much every Metal Masters at this point, but some of the songs are just thrown into the pot as ideas from different people. Mark Menghi had some favourite songs that he wanted us to consider and it turned out that we were all fans of those songs anyway, and we really like to jam on them. I’m telling you, I don’t want to ruin the surprise because it’s fun to see people’s reaction when we play these songs, but there’s some definite curve balls in this one.”

For fans, it’s certainly interesting to hear what it’s like for you all to play together, but from a practical perspective, you’ve got two vocalists, four guitarists, three bass players and two drummers. How do you decide who gets to play on what?

“Well, we’re all friends, so it’s like a big high school reunion; we all grew up in this music scene together. I’m good friends with the guys in Slayer, I know those songs anyway, so if they ask me to play bass, I’m gonna play bass. Pantera—I’m a die hard Pantera fan, so of course, I’m friends with them. We’ve got Phil and you know what’s great about this one? Rex is playing. He’s playing those songs again, and there’s a great vibe on them, which is a really cool thing. Ultimately, everybody just picks and chooses, you know?”

Frank Bello of Anthrax

Frank Bello: slappin’ da bass-ah

Is there ever a sense of friendly competition on stage, or maybe a bit of good-natured ball busting when you guys get together?

“Not competition, but for me, I love the ball busting. I’m all about ball busting, every second of the day, every time I breathe. (laughing) That is absolutely why I live. But this is just a lottery at this point. We’ve all been through the battles and everybody’s been on this ride, which has been a great metal ride, and I think Metal Masters is like a celebration of it. To see people’s reactions when they come to these shows and see members of different bands playing together on different songs, it’s just a great vibe. Everybody wins, man.”

One of the interesting things about Metal Masters is that it’s always been more than just an all-star jam—there’s always been a clinic component, which carries over from the original Metal Masters event. How important to you is the opportunity to share your techniques with newer players?

“As you say, the Metal Masters events originally started as clinics. David (Ellefson) and I were doing clinics in the beginning of all this stuff and it turned into a big jam, so we gave a little bit of each. This year it’s oriented more towards us jamming, but there are still some clinic parts that I think people are going to freak out about, which is cool. I think it’s just fun and at this point I just want to see where it goes. I want to live it and take it moment by moment.”

Speaking as a metal fan, if you could induct one more living Metal Master, who would it be?

“Ugh…that’s a big one, man. Actually, it’s funny you ask that because I was thinking about this the other day—how great would it be to have Glenn Tipton play? Just the other day I was listening to some Priest—because obviously, they rule—and thought How great would it be to have Glenn Tipton involved with this someday? I’ll play any Priest song with him, any day, any time he wants! Or think about this, how about Rob Halford as a Metal Master? Who’s more metal than Priest, you know what I mean?”

Switching gears a bit, we caught Anthrax on the road a few times in 2013 and you couldn’t help but notice how much fun you all seemed to be having. Looking back, how did last year’s extended global tour turn out for you guys?

“We really were having a lot of fun up there. You know, when that Big 4 thing happened—and we still thank Metallica for that—it opened us up to a whole new audience that had maybe heard of Anthrax, but they never saw us or really heard us. So I think that maybe between the DVD getting so big, a lot of people got to see us and to experience the live show and our songs, so there’s a whole new audience now. We have our audience along with this whole new audience who have just caught on, and we know how lucky we are for that, and we’re very grateful for that. We just want to nurture it and be true, be honest and write a great record.”

Speaking of that, any updates on the new record?

I think we’ve got twelve songs for the new Anthrax record right now, and I don’t know what happened, but for some reason, there’s a great jam going on. Scott, Charlie and I have been getting together and it’s been running smoothly. Maybe it’s been from all the touring we did for Worship Music, but we’re not used to it coming together this fast. Let me tell you, there’s more of a thrash element in the vibe. It’s a heavy record. I’m really psyched about it. Scott and I were talking about it recently, how some of it is really tough to play. We need to warm up into it, and that lends itself to some fun, so I love the challenge of it all, and we just want to push it to the next level. That’s all we want to do. We’re having fun, man.”

Anthrax will release their new album later this year.

Interview by Joe Daly.

from Metal Hammer
via Merlin


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