“Australia better be ready! Don’t let us down because we’re not going to let you down!!!” Declares Charlie Benante, drummer, writer and a major creative force in New York metal legends Anthrax. “We’re excited, we’re full of energy for Australia!”
Anthrax will be here as part of the second Australian Download Festival in March, as well as selected venues around the country with Behemoth and fellow heavyweights Slayer as that band continue their final tour. “We’re thinking about playing different shit, we’re not coming to Australia to play the same set as last time, we’re definitely going to play a bunch of different songs.”
Having just finished the year touring Europe and reissuing the classic 1988 hit album State Of Euphoria, it’s been a hectic time for Anthrax, not that the upcoming holidays stop any momentum “I’ll still be working on the new music, which is at demo stage. Early next year we will go in and work on that.”
Charlie just doesn’t stop, as well as being writer of the band, he is very much the artistic driving force behind them as well, designing shirts, album covers and having a huge say in the aforementioned State Of Euphoria reissue. “Dude, that’s what I love to do the most; the creative aspect of the band, that’s where I shine the most! Man it’s not a job if you enjoy what you do! This wasn’t just some album we got remastered, I went in and listened to it with fresh ears, without the pressures of time frames and having to do a new album. I could just appreciate the music and get all this other cool stuff involved in it, really really work on that release.”
With all this talk of getting down and dirty for the love of it all, talk turns to what other future projects could bear the Anthrax name. Would the band do another collaboration, like they famously did with Public Enemy, with different styles for example? “If something was presented and really good, we’d be totally into that, but it’s got to be up to standard. We would always be open to something different, although somethings have been done to death, but if it’s good enough and a really good song, then yeah!”
Charlie will only go so far though, a spoken tour like band mate Scott Ian, even drum clinics, shine the light on the softly spoken New Yorker, who laughingly agrees if he wanted that sort of spotlight he’d be a singer.
To almost prove how dedicated and focused Charlie is to the band, talk turns to the DVD Kings Among Scotland released earlier this year. “Glasgow and the Scottish people in general were some of the first people to really get us.’ The Barrowland is a tight and hot place to play though? ‘Yeah we wanted that, we could’ve got something that would’ve made the band look visually better however we also wanted to capture our show and that moment in time, and were really happy with that cause it did.”
For a guy who is so dedicated to the Anthrax cause, and pushing music boundaries, talk turns to modern music which creates a passionate yet yearning cry from the drummer. “Dude there is so much plagiarism in music. Rap music for instance, I feel has lost it soul from when it was pure with Run DMC and Public Enemy. It used to be an art and now it just music stolen from people, a bastardised version of itself, and it has lost its loyalty to what it is was.”
Which brings us full circle; if the drummer in one of the most successful metal bands ever gets passionate talking about rap music, you best believe every word when he says about his own band then. “Australia better be ready! Don’t let us down because we’re not going to let you down!!!”
Australia, consider yourself warned!
Interview by Iain McCallum