In 2016, New Yorkers Anthrax – one of thrash’s original Big Four along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth – celebrated 35 years as a band by releasing their eleventh studio album, For All Kings. On what will be their first headline UK tour for more than 10 years, they’ll be playing their breakthrough album, 1987’s Among The Living, in its entirety.
Anthrax are about to celebrate thirty years since the release of their album Among The Living. Are you comfortable with such an exercise in nostalgia?
Well, that’s why we’re doing For All Kings [in its entirety] as well. It would be pretty weird to come over and just play old songs, though we haven’t yet figured out how the set will work.
Several albums later, Among The Living is still many fans’ favourite Anthrax record. Do you share that opinion?
It’s certainly the best of that era, from 1983 to 1992. But I’m incredibly proud of our last two records [Worship Music from 2011 and the new For All Kings]. Over the catalogue as a whole, those are the three I like best.
Among The Living made Anthrax stars. How did the band deal with success when it came?
[Laughs] We went fucking crazy with fur coats and diamond teeth… No, no. We didn’t start making any money until 1991, on the Clash Of The Titans tour in the States – not even a dime. I got home from that tour to receive a cheque for a sizeable amount and called my accountant saying: “There must be a mistake.” We were of Iron Maiden’s style of mind-set where we had to have these huge stage sets, and everything went straight back into the band.
Was it exciting to work with producer Eddie Kramer (Hendrix, Zeppelin, Bowie et al) on that record?
Oh man. When Eddie said yes to us it was a total head-fuck, and what was more incredible still was when our record label responded to my throwaway suggestion that we mix it the Bahamas. I’d only said that because Iron Maiden had worked there.
At the time of Among The Living’s release Anthrax were still a long way from the crisis point at which you insisted: “[vocalist Joey] Belladonna goes or I do.”
Yeah, but what happened in 1992 had to happen. Looking back, I was an angry twenty-seven-year-old kid who knew nothing about anything, and of course I made the wrong decision. Though that’s not to detract from what we did [afterwards] with John [Bush, Belladonna’s replacement]. What I will say is that nobody around me was saying: “Don’t do it.” Everyone was on the same page – band, management and Elektra Records, who we were just about to sign to.
It’s now seven years and two albums since Joey rejoined the band. How has the relationship between the two of you healed?
Oh, all of those problems are so far in the past, and Joey is singing better than most people on this planet. He’s up there with a handful of guys like Glenn Hughes, Bruce [Dickinson], Ronnie [James Dio] and Robin Zander that seem to get better and better. We’re going to do these Among The Living songs in their original tunings.
What do you know about the support act for your upcoming tour, The Raven Age?
We’ve played with them before, with Iron Maiden in South America. They’re a great band and a cool bunch of dudes, so we’re excited to have them out with us.