On September 13, Anthrax’s latest album Worship Music hit store shelves, and went on to crack Billboard’s Top 20. The band’s first full length in eight years is also the first in over 20 years with singer Joey Belladonna. The following day, declared “Anthrax Day” in The Bronx, the band played a supercharged live set in Yankee Stadium’s centerfield as part of the Big 4 concert. This came after they played a solo show at NYC’s Best Buy Theater, and performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. With his first gasp of fresh air in two weeks, bassist Frank Bello squeezed in some chat time with Metal Insider’s Joshua Bottomley to discuss the Big 4, the new record, his budding film career, and sliding into third base.
You’ve had an intense couple of weeks, Frank. Are you tired yet?
Yeah, the Jimmy Fallon thing, the press junket for Anthrax, we did the [Metal Masters] clinic, the Anthrax show at Best Buy, the record came out on the 13, the Big 4 show on the 14. On top of all that, what a lot of people don’t know is I just wrapped a film. I study acting, and I’m a big fan of film and all that. It’s called Greetings From Tim Buckley. I just wrapped yesterday morning at 8:30. I play the role of Richard Hell. But I had an 8:30 call the next day after Yankee Stadium. 8:30AM. So that was another four days of straight shooting. Fifteen-hour days. This is the first day, quite honestly, that I’m able to grasp what the last two weeks were about, including Yankee Stadium. I can’t believe it. And thank God for this, it all went well. The reviews have been great, not only for the Yankee Stadium show, but the Worship Music reviews are great. It all went really, really well, and I’m happy about that. Yeah, lack of sleep and all that good stuff, but it’s all worthwhile. People are really getting into Anthrax. I’m really psyched that people are understanding that this is a relevant band with a new album out that’s getting great reviews. We’re back!
How did you feel the morning before the Big 4 show? Was it different than any other gig?
It was a lot of preparation for my family, making sure my family’s guest list was ok, and making sure everyone was able to get in. I didn’t feel the pressure until I walked in the stadium. Then I said, “Wow, we’re playing Yankee Stadium today!” I brought my wife and my son. My friend Mike drove me there. It’s literally about ten minutes from my house. So I don’t think I felt the magnitude of it until I actually waked in the stadium.
It must have felt great, being from The Bronx.
It was an incredible feeling. I got there nice and early, around 11:30 in the morning. My whole goal was to find somebody to get me into the dugout to take a picture, and I actually did that.
I heard they were pretty strict about not standing on the grass.
Dude, there were so many security people. My next plan was to dive into third base. When I was just about to try it, one of the security guys saw me and goes, “You will be arrested and you will not make your show.” That was it for me.
So much for “Anthrax Day” in The Bronx, huh?
Maybe the borough president could of got me out of trouble, but I didn’t wanna try it.
Was there any talk of you guys not opening the show, seeing as it was your hometown?
There’s always talk. At the end of the day, you just do it.
Anthrax stood out at the Big 4 show just by the amount of energy in the performance.
It’s always been that way. There’s no forced anything on the Anthrax stage. That’s the energy from the music. It’s always been an energetic show. I have no idea what I’m gonna do on stage, I don’t think any of the other guys do. It just comes out, and that’s the way it comes out. I’m really proud that we’re known for our live show. It’s the music and the audience that feeds that.
You’ve hit both US coasts now with Big 4 shows. Are there any planned for the middle of the US, maybe Texas or Chicago?
I would love to. It’s up to Metallica. Everybody knows you don’t get Yankee Stadium without Metallica. Put it this way, if they give us a call, we’re ready to go.
The band wrote Worship Music when Dan Nelson was the frontman. How much different is the album with Joey singing on it now?
I think completely. For me, this is the Anthrax that I want to hear. To tell you the truth, I don’t even talk about the past. No disrespect to anybody. It’s so positive, what’s going on, it’s not worth anybody’s time. Some people are digging, ya know what I mean? I’m just in a good place right now with this band and where it’s at. Even personally, I think we’re all getting along well. So why would I even bring up the past? It was a negative time, and we went though all these bumps and bruises. But for me man, it couldn’t be any better right now. I’m so psyched about the future for Anthrax.
Joey has performed the song “Only” a few times live. Are you including that John Bush-era song in the set because it’s a hit, or because the band likes it?
It’s all of the above. It’s still Anthrax. I tip my hat to Joey, because he wants to do the song. And it’s all about the fans man. They want to hear it, why not give it? Even with the new record, they want to hear a song, give ‘em what they want. I’m a fan of the fans. A song like “Only,” it’s a great Anthrax song and people love that, so why not?
Would you be open to doing “Room For One More” or other Bush-era songs live?
Me, personally, I’m open for anything. I’m open for a party, dude. We have a great history and a great catalog. I’m all about it.
I know it’s a little early to say, but do you think we will get another Anthrax record with Joey?
Right now as we speak all I want do is tour the shit out of this record and promote it, because I think it deserves its own respect. It deserves everything we have, because it took so much out of us to do it. Look, I’m all for another Anthrax record, I think it’s a great band that we have together. I have a good time. I would miss it if it wasn’t here. But I don’t know about tomorrow. What I do know is that we want to support the hell out of this record. Put it this way: I want another record. I would love to do another record, but I want to give everything I have to this record first.
Why did you decide to tour with Testament and Death Angel for the first leg of your touring cycle?
With Testament, not only are they really good friends of ours, and Death Angel too for that matter, but it was the second wave of this kind of music. Plus we have a blast with them. Why not go on tour with your friends? And one of my best friends in life, John Tempesta, is playing drums with [Testament] on this tour, so I’m getting my liver ready as we speak.
What’s your poison?
Oh, it’s whiskey. They’ll be a lot of Black Tooth going on, in memory of Dimebag. Johnny and I, we were touring in the band Helmet before, for two years. There was a lot of whiskey going on that tour, and it’s a continued party.
You’ve had the album title Worship Music for years now. Where did the title come from, and did you ever think about changing it?
No. I think people knew, and it was stuck in their head. Worship your music. It’s what we do. Everybody worships music. There’s not a lot of things to worship anymore. One thing that always gets me in a good way is music. So, why not worship it? It gets my head straight, it makes me feel good, so that’s the stuff that I worship. As far as having the record title for so long, if something’s out and well promoted in every magazine, why would you change it at the last second?
Why did you decide to cover The Refused’s “New Noise” as the hidden track on the album?
We were jamming it. It’s right up Anthrax’s way. [The Refused] is a great band. It’s always been something for Anthrax to do B-sides and hidden tracks and stuff. Just a little something extra for the fans, for staying with us and to see a different side of us.
Anthrax has been in the public eye a lot lately, probably the most since the late 80’s/early 90’s. Would you agree?
Yeah, isn’t it cool? Look, we know how fortunate we are. This album is getting a lot of promotion. And people are getting it and that’s the reason. I think if you take your time and write good music and a good record, I think people will listen. Now that MTV isn’t playing videos anymore people are listening to music again.
Looking back, what do you think about Anthrax’s legacy on heavy metal?
If there’s a line underneath the name Anthrax it’s, “Never say die.” We’ve been through a lot and nobody’s crying here. You fall down, you get up, you brush yourself off and you go again. That’s the way it goes. But we have a lot left to accomplish. We have a lot to prove. We have to get back where we belong. We know what kind of band we are. There is a fire under the ass of this band that is driving us. It’s a force. Everybody in the band, everybody knows we have a mission.
Who’s going to be the first member of Anthrax to write a tell-all autobiography?
Probably Scott. He likes that kind of stuff. But I will one day. In a couple of years, I’ll definitely do it.