JOEY BELLADONNA Looks Back On His ANTHRAX Audition: 'I Had No Idea What I Was Dealing With Musically'

July 21, 2023

ANTHRAX singer Joey Belladonna was interviewed for the latest episode of "The Kenny Aronoff Sessions", the podcast hosted by Kenny Aronoff, one of the most accomplished drummers in rock and roll history. You can now watch the chat below.

Speaking about his audition for ANTHRAX, which happened after singer Neil Turbin had quit the band ahead of the studio sessions for the group's second album, Joey said: "Just to show up and see four guys from New York City playing this hard, heavier stuff… Even though I listened to [IRON] MAIDEN and [JUDAS] PRIEST and stuff, but this was different. And then plus I hadn't really heard myself really sing full in a capacity where I had to do something completely different. And all of a sudden there's this originality from that band and myself form this kind of cool thing, with the little tenor vocal, with some fast and speeds. It just was cool, the way it went down. And I don't think of it any other way. But I had no idea what I was dealing with musically, 'cause I hadn't heard it before and I didn't know the people."

Joey went on to say that he hadn't sung anything that was as aggressive and heavy as ANTHRAX was on the band's first album, "Fistful Of Metal".

"I was doing all classic rock at the time," he explained. "[My then-band] BIBLE BLACK was a blues kind of SABBATH-y, DEEP PURPLE stuff, but we never really got our feet on the ground. Everybody was just really at the last bit of their wanting to do it. It almost was, like… Wow, it was kind of a shame that we never really got to doing something for real, but at the same time, it afforded me just to move on and see something else. And then that's where my name, from that band, [resulted in] a possibility for [the ANTHRAX guys] to have someone come in without really having to search around and do a cattle call, which I don't know if they did, that I know of. And I walked in, and they asked right away, if you you would be interested in stick around and do some more. And it just kind of led to what it did. I had no idea. In fact, I wasn't sure what we were gonna be. There was just no way to tell."

Belladonna addressed his initial reluctance to join ANTHRAX in a 2017 interview with "The Metal Podcast". He said at the time: "When I walked in [to audition for] ANTHRAX, I hadn't done a whole lot of originals. I just began doing more [original songs with my previous band], 'cause we were just doing covers after covers. And then, just walking out of there after finishing that record ['Spreading The Disease'], I was, like, This is it? This is interesting,' not knowing that it was even a band that I even wanted to join. 'Cause I wasn't quite sure. I didn't even know them. As a musician, I wasn't sure that that was the band I wanted to join. They seemed to have their stuff together and it was really cool. I have to say it was decent. But I wasn't too sure, you know."

In a 2005 interview with MusicDish, Belladonna was asked about the rumor that he came to the table with a JOURNEY tune during his 1985 audition for ANTHRAX. "Actually, what happened was I went into the room and they said, 'Just go on in,' and they hadn't heard me sing," he said. "They'd heard of me and they asked me to come in, but we were going in to start tracking and stuff, to get the mic set up and all that and they said, 'Let's get you in there and get you warmed up.' I hit the mic and belted out some JOURNEY… I think it was [the song] 'Lights'. I didn't know what the hell I was getting into in the first place. I just wanted to lay some vocals or something. Just to kinda give an idea and that's what happened. It wasn't really anything more than that. I just kinda belched it out. I think I did 'Oh Sherrie' [written by Steve Perry], too, or something. I dunno why, but I just did. It was something off the top of my head I could do a cappella and it was kinda challenging. I thought maybe in range or something that would be kind of intriguing. It was definitely one they weren't expecting."

Belladonna, whose most recent return to ANTHRAX was officially announced in May 2010, was originally the lead singer of ANTHRAX from 1984 to 1992, and was considered part of the influential thrash metal group's classic lineup (alongside guitarists Dan Spitz and Scott Ian, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante),which reunited and toured during 2005 and 2006. His voice was featured on over 10 albums, which reportedly sold eight million copies worldwide.

In a 2016 interview with Kazagastão, Belladonna said about his exit from ANTHRAX in 1992 before officially rejoining the band in 2010: "It's sucky that I was gone for that long, you know what I mean? I never understand that. It does bother me [that I was fired], even today, 'cause… We didn't miss a beat and I think we would have done… I can't imagine what we could have done along the way. No offense to anything else, but I just didn't see any reason for it."

"The Kenny Aronoff Sessions" is available now on all podcast streaming platforms, including iHeart Radio, Spotify, Apple Music and Google.

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