Formed 1981, New York City,
Scott Ian (b. Dec. 31, 1963,
Queens, N.Y.), guitar
Dan Spitz (b. Jan. 28, 1963, Queens), guitar
Dan Lilker (b. Oct. 18, 1964, Queens), bass
Charles Benante (b. Nov. 27, 1962, Bronx, N.Y.), drums
Neil Turbin, vocals
Anthrax began as an average
posthardcore thrash band, but eventually developed its own distinct sound by
blending rapís street sense with heavy metalís brute force. The band hit a
career height in 1991 when it joined forces with rap group Public Enemy for a
recording and video of the latterís rallying cry, "Bring the Noise."
Two years later the band inked a reported $10 million, five-album deal with
Anthrax hit New York Cityís
postpunk metal scene in 1981 when Bayside, Queens, native Scott Ian, still in
his teens, formed the band along with friends Neil Turbin and former Overkill
guitarist Dan Spitz. The group literally began following managers Johnny and
Marsha Zazula, heads of the independent metal label Megaforce Records, around
the city. Eventually the couple signed the band and began directing its career.
By album number three, Anthrax had landed on Island, and its cult following had
begun to expand. The groupís 1987 EP, Iím the Man, sold platinum and
hinted at Anthraxís growing social consciousness in songs such as
"Indians" and "One World."
One of the few heavy
metal-oriented bands to get consistently high critical marks, Anthrax -- along
with Metallica and Megadeth -- redefined the metal genre in the Eighties,
stressing anger, speed, and emotional intensity over big hair and power ballads.
Anthrax altered that style somewhat after replacing longtime lead singer Joey
BellaDonna with L.A. native and ex-Armored Saint singer John Bush in 1992. Bush,
a more traditional, smooth-voiced vocalist, gave the group a slicker sound,
though the basic speed-metal foundation remained.
In the 18 years since they
formed as a band in Queens, N.Y., Anthrax have made a career out of doing the
thing they want to do, instead of doing the thing that they're expected to do.
Whether it be teaming with Public Enemy on a guitar-heavy update of "Bring
The Noise" or ousting their longtime lead singer at the height of their
success, these metal mavens have no interest in rocking by the book. So it
stands to reason that when it came time to compile their 16-song greatest hits
package The Return of the Killer
B's A's, the fearless foursome
did it the only way they know how, their way.
Drummer Charlie Benante said of
the compilation set for release on Beyond Music on Nov. 23, "Sometimes I
feel that bands put out a greatest hits album and it's almost like a waste. The
audience has all these songs already and some sell really big and sometimes they
don't. We did this thing a few years back 'Attack of the Killer B's' and there's
B-sides and other little oddities that appear on it, so we were like, 'Let's do
part two to that record. So for this we've got a collection of older songs,
newer songs, B-sides, remixes and stuff like that."
Rather than just trot out all
the same songs fans have collected from the 11 Anthrax studio albums, the band
dug into the vault and unearthed a pair of remixes juggled by Ministry's Al
Jourgensen, including "Potters Field," which is unreleased and a
shuffling of "Hy Pro Glo," which has only ever surfaced in Europe.
Along with the rarities are longtime fan favorites such as "Indians,"
"I Am the Law," and recent standbys "Crush" and "Inside
The chance to get re-mastered
versions of the early songs that were never re-mastered for digital on disc and
alongside the band's picks of their most recent material was a little too good
to pass up. "The old stuff was not re mastered for CD and it sounds thin
compared to the re-mastered versions of 'Indians' and 'I Am the Law,' said
guitarist Scott Ian.
Since the 1991 release of
Attack of the Killer B's, Anthrax replaced former front man Joey Belladonna,
with longtime Armored Saint singer John Bush. In a unique move, Anthrax
recently recorded a cover of the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion," for
inclusion on The Return of the Killer
B's A's, with Bush and
Belladonna sharing vocal duties. Although the Temptations' silky soul might seem
miles away from the grinding guitars of Anthrax, singer John Bush said the tune
had long been a favorite of his.
"Personally my favorite
music is old soul. Al Green, anything by the Temptations, but then I also love
'Killers' by Iron Maiden," said Bush. "I grew up on metal but since I
was a little kid, I always felt connected to soul music. Plus I have that
singing style, and a smoky, raspy voice. I always thought that would be a heavy
song. It's lyrical content is cool and it sounds like a rock song to me."
"Ball of Confusion"
is hardly the first time Anthrax has dabbled in a genre outside the speed metal
their known for. Also included in the compilation is Anthrax's famed 1991
collaboration with Public Enemy on an update of the P.E. tune "Bring The
Noise." Keeping the in-your-face lyricism of the song, Anthrax added
thundering guitars and a blistering beat to the PE track, in a pairing that
predated the current metal/rap fusion craze by nearly a decade.
"I got this riff and we
got this idea to have Chuck come over and rap," said guitarist Ian of
Anthrax's groundbreaking effort. "We called Chuck up and told him what we
did. His initial reaction was that he felt it would be redundant. They'd already
done it on a record and a single, so it was already out twice for him and at the
time it wasn't even one of his favorite tracks, but I was like, 'Just check it
out, you have to hear this. Listen to the track and make a decision.' We sent
out a tape and the next thing we heard was Chuck saying, 'Let's do it,' and the
track came out great."
Soon after, singer Joey
Belladonna was asked to leave the band in 1991, a decision that guitarist Scott
Ian described as difficult, but crucial for the band's survival.
"It's like in a
relationship with a woman, where you get to that point and you know it's
finished. There's no more give and take, there's nothing there anymore. If we
were afraid to make a change, the risk of not making it would've been worse. We
wouldn't have lasted if we stayed together at that time."
In the early days, Ian said the
criteria for joining the band tended to be as basic as any new member being
required to have their own gear, but this time around the bar was higher.
Anthrax had released several albums and were veterans of the Monsters of Rock
tour and had become accustomed to playing for thousands of fans each night and
just having your own gear was not nearly enough to get onboard anymore.
John Bush, singer for Armored
Saint at the time, said when Anthrax approached him and asked him to join the
band in early 1992, said the most compelling aspect of signing on was the band's
inventiveness and willingness to take chances.
"The thing about it that
was interesting to me and maybe a little scary was the way the band was very
willing to try things that involved sticking their neck out. That's a real
admirable thing, a real bold thing, especially now in the music world."
The current lineup of drummer
Benante, guitarist Ian, singer Bush and bassist Frank Bello released Volume
8: The Threat is Real in 1998 to rave reviews, only to watch their label
dissolve and support for the second leg of their tour disappear along with it.
"It's still kind of a
mystery, like the X-Files," said Ian of the label's collapse. "They
just disappeared. We were in the midst of a great run. The record came out in
the middle of '98 and we were on tour the rest of the year. December rolled
around and our manager had a meeting with the label and we were planning to go
back out on tour in January and we were stoked we thought things were back on
track. Then in January nobody was returning our calls and then we heard they
lost their distribution and that Tommy Boy had pulled the funds."
With a new label to call home
and a new greatest hits package out, the next step is a tour, planned for early
Bush adds "It's cool.
Anthrax has never been a conventional band. It's about making music. I love
making music and I want to keep making music, to me that's what's important and
I think it's something fans might get off on."
1984 -- Fistful of Metal
(Caroline/Megaforce) ( - Turbin; - Lilker; + Joey BellaDonna [b. Oct. 30, 1960,
Oswego, N.Y.], voc.; + Frank Bello [b. Sep. 7, 1965, Bronx], bass) 1985 --
Armed and Dangerous; Spreading the Disease (Island)
1987 -- Among the Living; Iím the Man EP
1988 -- State of Euphoria
1990 -- Persistence of Time
1991 -- Attack of the Killer Bís
1992 -- ( - BellaDonna; + John Bush [b. Aug. 24, 1963, Los Angeles, Calif.],
1993 -- Sound of White Noise (Elektra).