ANTHRAX's BELLADONNA: 'I'm Looking Forward To Getting Out There And Seeing The Fans Again'

May 18, 2010

By Ryan Ogle

Just three years after parting ways with thrash titans ANTHRAX for the second time, vocalist Joey Belladonna has once again reclaimed his spot in the act he helped make one of metal's biggest names. Unlike his last stint with the band, this time is expected to be a long-term situation, with talks of a new album materializing after they return from this summer's "Big Four" dates with METALLICA, SLAYER and MEGADETH. Shortly after speaking to drummer Charlie Benante, BLABBERMOUTH.NET reached Belladonna and got his comments on his return to the group.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you got that call to come back to the band?

Joey Belladonna: Well, you know, I got an e-mail from Charlie [Benante, drums] saying that the management wanted to speak to me if I was available. So I called them and they asked if I was interested in rejoining the band. I said, "Let's talk. Let's see if we can put this together again." We just happened to be talking a little bit and it hadn't been very long before we said, "Well, let's just give it a go." I was just hoping that everyone was being sincere about wanting to carry it all out.

Q: This all has happened fairly quickly. Is this everyone just saying, "Screw the talking, let's just get to work?"

Joey Belladonna: Yeah, it does seem to be that way. Obviously, we want to make sure everybody is buttoned-up enough where everybody is completely content with all the moves we're making. Let's just be a band and do it right.

Q: Does it feel any different this time around?

Joey Belladonna: Not really, you know?! I don't expect anything to be too different from when we went out on that reunion. It was good. We rehearsed once and went full steam ahead. I think maybe it happened so fast nobody got the chance to analyze what we were actually doing. It was natural for me then and it is again now. Now it'll be the day to day thing that determines how it will all unfold for us.

Q: Have you started rehearsing yet?

Joey Belladonna: Not at all. Scott [Ian, guitarist] is busy doing his thing and I've been doing my thing. I do have some material sitting here and I'm working on stuff on my own, trying to catch up on some things that I may or may not know. As of right now I haven't heard of any rehearsals being planned. We're pretty good with that, though. We can just walk into a room and if everybody has their shit together, we can just let it roll.

Q: I understand that you're already working on vocals for some of the new material. What do you think of the new stuff?

Joey Belladonna: It's good, man. It's really good. It reminds me of some of the stuff from "Persistence Of Time". It's got a really good edge to it. It's fast and it's kickin', you know?! The song was really laid out quite nicely for me so I went at it a little bit. I laid something down over the top of it and played it for Charlie over the phone and he seemed to dig it.

Q: So the new music is something you're excited about being a part of then?

Joey Belladonna: Yeah, no doubt. I'm glad to be a part of all of this if it was all there. It would have been nice. It's really that easy. When we're on the same wavelength it's just a matter of getting things done. We're musicians and we know how to get that done, regardless of all of the comparisons and all that stuff. When we do it, it seems to work out really well.

Q: Was there any hesitation, on your part, about coming back again?

Joey Belladonna: Well, that's always expected. When you're joining and rejoining and stuff like that, you just want to know that everything is intact and it's sincere. That's all I can ask for and I just hope everything remains that way. I'm really not all that worried about it, though. Overall, I'm really just going in there focused like I always do as a musician and a guy in the band who does what he has to do to be in the band. I just want to make it work and not be foolish, which I never am. It's all about the music to me.

Q: You're making your return at the first date of Sonisphere and the "Big Four" tour. How do you feel about being a part of that?

Joey Belladonna: Honestly, those shows are going to be amazing. When you pull up to those venues with that kind of thing going on, there's just this energy. I've been a part of plenty of things like this, where the lineup was obviously different, but those shows are pretty electric. I'm getting e-mails from people all over the place who are even more psyched now than when they bought their tickets. I'm psyched for them and myself as well. I just want to make sure everybody sees a good show.

Q: Given that you were a part of ANTHRAX during that era when yourselves and the other bands on the bill rose to popularity, do you feel like your involvement makes the tour a little more authentic than it would with a different singer?

Joey Belladonna: I don't see why not. It sure would to me if I were on the outside looking at another band. It would be like, "I sure wish so and so were up there." At the same time, it's hard to read anybody's mind, but I would say yes.

Q: How do you feel about singing John's [Bush, former vocalist] material?

Joey Belladonna: I always thought if I were ever to be back in the back for longer than a year I eventually would be singing it. Obviously, they wrote a lot of material with him and at some point, I'd imagine they'd want to play it. For me, it's like doing other people's music, which I do all the time when I cover bands. I've never been in a situation where I'm being compared too much when I'm doing something. I guess that stuff sort of gets in your mind a little bit and you really have to think about who's hearing it and how they're hearing it. I'm not going to worry about it. It's going to be different, that's all I'll say. It's going to be somewhat similar, but it'll be different.

Q: What are you looking forward to more, these first shows or getting in there and writing with these guys again?

Joey Belladonna: Both, really; they're both really, really important to me. These shows just really have to smoke. We've gotta get out there and hit it hard. With the record, you really got to get down and work hard and work fast. It's all gonna be work, that's for sure. We've really got to put everything into it.

Q: How do you expect things to go in the studio?

Joey Belladonna: They've already got a head start on me for this one, which is usual. It's no different than it was long ago. Everybody has enough material sitting around, be it five songs or six songs. Then I'm sure there are few that are just lingering around, maybe not finished yet. It shouldn't be any different really. I just hope that this time I can get in there earlier than I have in the past; before everything is already done. I have had the chance to start work on one new one already, which is way better than walking into the studio and doing things off the cuff.

Q: Since this is your third time in ANTHRAX. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the longevity of the band.

Joey Belladonna: I don't think anybody expected it last this long. It's awesome, you know? I've got to give everyone credit for considering the band overall and everything we've ever done. To like something and to feel this good about it is a good achievement. As far as now is concerned, all I can say is that I'm really looking forward to getting out there and seeing the fans again and making everybody happy with everything we can offer as a band. Hopefully we can make it like it used to be. That will be quite an achievement.

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