Anthrax: how The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus ended up joining us onstage

The internet went into meltdown when Anthrax were joined onstage by The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus during a concert in Atlanta. Reedus, who plays crossbow-wielding Darryl Dixon in the hugely popular show, played bass on the song Indians alongside regular Anthrax four-stringer Frank Bello. Here, Bello reveals how it came about – and just how much he knows about the next season of The Walking Dead.

So how did Norman Reedus end up joining you onstage?

A couple of weeks ago we went to see AC/DC in New York and met Norm there. Long story short, Scott [Ian, Anthrax guitarist] is friends with Greg Nicotero, the show’s director, and the band was invited to come and check out the set when we played in Atlanta. They gave us such a wonderful tour of the place that we forgot we had a show in the evening.

Really? It was that good?!

[Laughs] We were so enthralled by what was going on there, none of us wanted to leave. We’re all huge fans of the show and the cast and crew were so good to us, we were treated like gold. So we invited everybody to that night’s show, and Greg and Norm both came. Norm stood right at the side of the stage by me, which was very cool. I wanted to pay him back for such a great day and told him, ‘Dude – last song of the night, you’re coming out here’. He took some persuading but eventually said, ‘Fuck yeah’. I handed him my back-up bass and, well… the YouTube’s out there, everybody saw what happened.

It looks like the place went bananas.

Yeah, the energy was incredible. What a buzz for everyone that saw it.

Frank Bello and Scott Ian with The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus

Frank Bello and Scott Ian with The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus

Did you already know that Norman could play the bass? Has he been in bands before?

No, that’s the funny thing. He said, ‘I can’t play!’ so I replied, ‘Just follow me!’

And nobody twigged?

No! Everyone’s talking about Norm playing with us, but he doesn’t even play. But now he says he wants to learn and form his own band. I’ll help him out with that if I can because he lives in New York.

The footage went viral.

Yeah, it spread like wildfire. It went everywhere. I know how big that show is but the story even went to TMZ, for God’s sake. That’s crazy.

Anthrax and their crew backstage with Norman Reedus

Anthrax and their crew backstage with Norman Reedus

Scott Ian has already appeared as a zombie in The Walking Dead. Any plans for either of you to cameo in the next season?

Believe me, I hit up Greg Nicotero and told him I want to read [for a part in the TWD]. When I told him that I had studied theatre he said, ‘I’d love that’. It’s a long shot but you never know.

Scott also appeared in Game Of Thrones, as did Mastodon. Why is there such a connection between metal and horror/fantasy TV?

They’re both dark and very creative. Metal music gives you that gut feeling and it matches up really well. Think about it, you can add a heavy riff to just about any horror scene, they’re really well suited.

There’s another rock music connection with The Walking Dead – Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, is the son-in-law of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson?

I heard that for the first time yesterday. It’s pretty amazing. That’s why I believe those kinds of art – music and acting – are interlinked. All art is expression. Those guys write great stories and I’d like to think Anthrax does that too with our songs.

And what does the nerd within Frank Bello think about it all?

Well, it doesn’t happen every day of the week but I saw within his eyes that Norm wants to be a rock star. People were screaming for him, dude. I felt so fucking good for Norm. I wanted him to feel how much people dig what he does as an actor, and I think he got it.

Season seven of The Walking Dead premiers later this month. Did you get the inside scoop on what’s going to happen?

[Laughs]: We saw a few scenes, but I can’t talk about that. We had to sign all sorts of disclaimers just to get onto the set. We didn’t see much [of what was being filmed], but I can tell you that it was amazing. I didn’t really press for spoilers; I’m such a fan, I want to see it for myself.

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Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.