Ex-ANTHRAX Frontman NEIL TURBIN Shoots Down SCOTT IAN's Claim Singer 'Fired' Original Bassist DAN LILKER For Being Too Tall

May 18, 2024

In a new interview with Almost Human, former ANTHRAX singer Neil Turbin addressed the oft-repeated claim by the band's guitarist Scott Ian that Turbin "fired" original ANTHRAX bassist Dan Lilker for being "too tall". Neil said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, if you believe that, then I can tell you about the Brooklyn Bridge, and I'll tell you about the moon landing. But there's some bullshit that people wanna keep gaslighting and flipping the script.

"Dan Lilker had one fifth of an opinion in that band, and I only had one fifth," Neil explained. "And there was three other guys [in the band who had a vote]. Now, they could have said, 'Fuck you, Neil. We're gonna take Dan and put him right back in the band.' But they didn't want that. They had a different agenda. Charlie [Benante, ANTHRAX drummer] wanted his nephew [future ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello] in the band. Scott wanted to do that for Charlie."

According to Turbin, who was the vocalist on ANTHRAX's 1984 debut album, "Fistful Of Metal", musicianship was also a factor in ANTHRAX's decision to replace Lilker with Bello.

"Let me just make it very clear," Neil said. "I mean, I've made it clear before, but it's not clear enough. So, [Dan] left his bass in rehearsal. He never took it home and practiced. Is that important to a band to have someone that practiced and sounded good? … There was … a lot of noise and there wasn't a lot of accurate playing. To me, Dave Ellefson [former MEGADETH bassist], what a phenomenal bass player that understands thrash metal and understands not making a lot of noise on the bass. He's very accurate; he plays really well."

Asked what he thinks about Lilker rejoining ANTHRAX for less than a dozen shows in South America and the U.S. this spring and summer while Bello is sitting out the dates due to personal reasons, Turbin said: "Good for him." Pressed about whether he has spoken to Lilker at all in recent years, Neil said: "Oh, he was never my friend in the first place. Some people, they seem like they're wonderful on the outside until you find out what's on the inside. And he was never nice to me — never a friend. There was never any warm and fuzzes. And I always wondered, why didn't we hang out back in Bayside [Queens, New York, where ANTHRAX was formed]? Why didn't we go hang out, have a few beers, get together and hang out? But that's not who he was. He wasn't interested in that. Actually, in the old days, the very old days, the very beginning, I actually did hang out with Scott. I actually went to Great Adventure amusement park with him and his girlfriend. We hung out a few times. We went to the Village. There was a few times we hung out. I did go with him and we drove to Jonny Z's [founder of '80s metal label Megaforce Records who was also managin ANTHRAX] flea market, which was [the famed record store] Rock N' Roll Heaven in the beginning. So, you know, we did those kinds of things, but then it became more like — it wasn't about fun; it was about business. There was a purpose for it. It wasn't just, like, 'Let's go have some fun.' And then I stopped being included in many of these meetings. So, I was excluded. So that seems to be the M.O. So, that is what some people think like. They're thinking from a place of their ego, and they think, 'Well, how does it make me look? Well, I wanna exclude this guy.'"

Turbin added: "They didn't like the fact that I was a singer. I mean, it sounds strange, but they didn't like the fact that I… I think certain people in the band wanted to be the singer — not for the singing part of it, but they wanted to have control, and they wanted to be the person that gets a pat on the back. But I don't care about a pat on the back. I never did, and I still don't. I'm not there for that. I don't give a shit."

In his 2014 autobiography "I'm The Man: The Story Of That Guy From Anthrax", Ian detailed his tensions with Turbin and the band's split with Lilker, a period of time that Scott describes as "the worst moment for me in the history of ANTHRAX."

"As soon as we started touring to support 'Fistful Of Metal', Neil got ultra-cocky," Scott wrote. "He felt like he was the boss man, and he became inflexible. His attitude was, 'I'm the singer and it's my way or the highway.' He thought we'd be dead without him. The shitty thing is, he was right. We were on the fast track. Jonny Z was managing us, and he was bringing RAVEN back in the summer of 1984 to tour like they did the year before with METALLICA opening, and this time we were scheduled to open all the dates, starting May 30. Everything was already announced and planned, and if we lost our singer, we'd have had to cancel. Jonny wasn't going to wait around for us. There were other bands he was talking to like OVERKILL and LEGACY (which became TESTAMENT). We had to strike while the iron was hot, and that gave Neil the ability to pull all these power plays.

"The biggest dick move Neil ever pulled was when he fired Danny Lilker behind our backs after 'Fistful' came out in January 1984," Scott added. "The main reason he did it, in my opinion, was because Danny is taller than him. He honestly didn't think someone should be taller than the front man onstage. He thought it made him look bad, so he tried to stand as far away from Danny as possible, which was hard when we were playing stages the size of ping pong tables."

In a 2009 interview with VoltageMedia.com.au, Turbin stated about his departure from ANTHRAX: "I was a member of ANTHRAX from August 1982 up until August 1984. I was a member of ANTHRAX for exactly two years. The reason I left… well, there were a number of things, actually. The whole relationship started to deteriorate after a while, there was definitely backstabbing from certain people who chose to hang around with other people instead of focusing in the band. I was into metal… focused on music while Scott Ian and Charlie Benante formed an alliance, and Dan Spitz [guitar] just followed. In a matter of months, it was simply a case of them versus me. It was very difficult to deal with them, because it was obvious that we wouldn't get along and they were also more interested in other things than music… at least back then. We didn't establish a trusted friendship within the band, that's for sure."

ANTHRAX has had a number of vocalists — including Turbin, Joey Belladonna, Dan Nelson and John Bush — over the last 43 years, with Ian and Benante remaining the sole bandmembers who have appeared on every one of the group's studio albums.

Turbin sang on "Fistful Of Metal" before getting booted and being replaced by Belladonna. Belladonna performed on four ANTHRAX albums, including the fan favorite "Among The Living" (1987) before he himself was fired over creative and stylistic differences. Bush fronted ANTHRAX between 1992 and 2005 but was sidelined when the band reunited with Belladonna for a 20th-anniversary tour. When that collapsed, and relationships disintegrated with next frontman Nelson, Bush returned for a time before Belladonna took the job back in 2010.

Turbin performed and recorded with ANTHRAX on the original demo recordings and "Fistful Of Metal". He wrote the lyrics to all songs on that LP with exception of the cover of Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen", and also has writing credits on five of the seven songs on the band's "Armed And Dangerous" EP, as well as two songs on "Spreading The Disease".

In April 2023, Turbin celebrated the 40th anniversary of "Fistful Of Metal" by embarking on a three-date tour of Brazil.

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