Metal Maniacs' Liz Ciavarella recently spoke with ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian and singer Dan Nelson for the June/July issue about the recent acquisition of Nelson as the band's fourth vocalist. Excerpts follow.
Metal Maniacs: Where do Dan's vocals fit? Are they more Belladonna? More Bush? A new thing completely?
Scott Ian: I've compared him to John Bush on steroids because he definitely comes from more of that tone, but also because he's only 31 or 32 years old. He listens to the more extreme side of heavy metal. He was in a lot of bands that were certainly more extreme than ANTHRAX so he's able to take what he has a lot further. That's not to say you're going to hear an ANTHRAX record with death metal or hardcore vocals or anything like that. The guy's a singer and a great singer at that. I'm just saying that he's already got this really powerful singing voice and he's able to take it to a level we've never explored before. We have a bunch of spots on this record where it really works.
Metal Maniacs: Was everything already pre-written for him or did he come in and write some of his own lyrics and melodies?
Scott Ian: Before Dan, we had ideas for maybe two songs and not even any lyrics yet. Once Dan got involved, that's when the light bulb went off over my head. I wasn't writing anything because I had no focus as far as who was actually going to be singing this stuff. Once I had Dan's voice in my brain it totally opened the door for me writing-wise. It's been really collaborative since then. We all get together, listen to the music and work on the melody lines until everybody is happy. We have two songs done. There's a song called "Revolution Screams" which is a straight-up thrash tune. There's another called "Fight 'Em Til You Can't" which sounds like ANTHRAX from 1987 but in 2008. It's total old-school thrash. We could go play those songs tomorrow. I'm totally stoked on them!
Metal Maniacs: It must be cool knowing he's such a big ANTHRAX fan in the first place.
Scott Ian: Yeah, it is. He didn't have to go and learn a bunch of shit; he already knows it. To have a guy walk in and already know 20 songs definitely makes our life easier.
Metal Maniacs: So Dan, did you geek out a little when you got there for the initial "tryout?" Here's a band you grew up loving and there you were, accidentally auditioning to join.
Dan Nelson: I'm not trying to sound cool or anything because normally I would have, but going through the experience I went through with my wife getting sick and almost dying [Nelson's wife underwent emergency heart surgery some months back], I can honestly tell you, I was more determined than anything. Even Scott said to me, "I've never seen a human being more poised and determined for something he should be shitting his pants for." I was ready; I was in the mindset. I said, "OK, I'm gonna make this happen. I'm gonna be the singer of this band. It's do-or-die time."
Metal Maniacs: Did they hire you on the spot?
Dan Nelson: Well, [drummer] Charlie [Benante] has a funny way of doing things. They tell me now that they knew I was in the band after the first song but I didn't know until about a month later when the rest of the world found out [via the Internet]. As long as I'm in the band. I don't really care [laughs].
Metal Maniacs: How do you see your vocals? Are you better suited for the Neil Turbin/Joey Belladonna era or John Bush?
Dan Nelson: If I had to pick among the three, it would definitely be John Bush. Most people who've heard me [sing with ANTHRAX] say it's like a John Bush meets Phil Anselmo meets Chris Cornell type of sound. But that's not me saying that. I just like to say that I love to sing and hopefully I can be Dan Nelson. Obviously, as you can hear, I have a gruffer and deeper voice. I have more of the John tones going on but I can hit Joey's notes.
The June/July issue of Metal Maniacs is on sale now.
For more information, check out www.metalmaniacs.com.
Fan-filmed footage of ANTHRAX's May 31, 2008 performance with Dan Nelson at the second of the two shows the band played with IRON MAIDEN at Irvine, California's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater can be viewed below.
"Only" (uploaded by YouTube user "realrocker777"):
"Caught In A Mosh" (uploaded by YouTube user "realrocker777"):
"Madhouse" (uploaded by YouTube user "realrocker777"):
"I Am The Law" (uploaded by YouTube user "realrocker777"):