Cry For The Indian's.
Joey Belladonna, the voice behind Anthrax has been around since the mid 80's been the front man for 1 of the top Thrash bands of all time. Along side Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax have influence so many bands from around the world. Joey Belladonna have an awesome voice that is so distinct that so many metal heads from around the world have become familiar with Joey Belladonna's voice. Joey's debut with Anthrax came with the E.P. 'Armed & Dangerous', since then Anthrax's biggest break came with the 2nd album 'Spreading The Disease' released on Megaforce, MFN's back in the 80's. This album also featured Anthrax's debut video for the song 'Mad House' which became the bands anthem. Joey left Anthrax in the mid to late 90's and was replace by John Bush (Armored Saint). Since Joey's departure, he has done his own solo albums which brought a lot of success. Joey went back to a re-union Anthrax in the early 2004/5 when the band played Download Festival, formely known as 'Monsters Of Rock'. Now Joey has returned with his solo band and a new album soon to be released sometime in 2008. I caught up with the band when they played in Grimsby (UK) in December of 2007 at a awesome show held at the 'Yardbirds' Club. Who would ever think that Joey Belladonna would ever be playing such a small town as Grimsby. I saw so excited to be see in him there and to also interview the man himself along with his band. Joey Belladonna band's current line-up is has follows, R.C. (bass), Paul (drums) & Robb Lotta (guitar). I started the interview off by asking Joey the following questions about his up bringing and why he left Anthrax the 1st time around and what future plans he has for 2008 and beyond. I'd like to thank Eric for setting the interview up and for the guest list, thanx bro!! Also to the band for been such a cool bunch of fuckers, you rule thanx guys!! Here is what they had to say when I put the following questions to them all.
Joey, I'd like to start by asking you, is it true that you are a native American?
"Yeah that is true, my mum is part Indian American, from the Canadian side of it, but I never talk to my mum about it. The rest of me is Italian American. I think it is really neat to be honest."
That is a question I have always wanted to ask you Joe, lets move on now. How did you get into Heavy Metal music? Was their any member of your family who were also into Hard Rock/ Metal? Also what about bands you grew up with, who are your influences?
(Joey) "Well I started listening to 70's Rock and I was playing in bands in 6th grade where we would play in schools and then you leave school and end up playing in bars. I did pretty much anything back then just for the experience, how to develop as a musician and singer. I was a drummer to start with, and then I started to sing whilst playing the drums. It came to a point were I was doing both and I made the decision to become a vocalist. I was about 14-15yrs old and things seemed great back then. Back then I was listening too, The Beatles, Bad Company, Foreigner, Rush etc... Pretty much anything back then. I was and still am a big fan of The Beatles, I love their music. Metal music wise, I like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest, etc.... As for family members, well nobody in my family were musician's, but my sister got me into a lot of the stuff above."
And what about the rest of your band, who are you're influences growing up? Also what do you think of today's Metal scene with the Nu-Metal stufd?
(R.C.) "Back then I was into Kiss, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, The Ramones, and I still listen to that sort of music from time to time. Nowadays, I listen to a lot of stuff besides Country and Rap. I think the rest of the band will dissect some stuff from bands with the way the music was written. I am not into the so called Cookie Monster style of singing.
(Joey) "A lot of people slate me for liking a lot of melodic Rock, but that's where the music came from with bands like Journey, Boston etc....
(Robb) "I grew up on Kiss, Priest, Maiden, Van Halen, then the heavier stuff like Metallica, Slayer, etc.. Later on I got into Classical music and Jazz. In today's music I like a lot of it to be honest, and 1 of my favourite bands at this moment in time is 'All That Remains' is a great band. I still love the old schools stuff."
(Paul) "Well I grew up with Kiss, Priest, Sabbath, and I had a friend when I was in school who ran a metal radio show who played bands like Wargasm, Slayer, Over Kill, Flotsam & Jetsam, so I grew up with a lot of those bands. When Machine Head came out I really liked that band too, I also like some of the Travium stuff, some of Lamb Of God's music, Pantera etc.... I also love the old school Power Metal stuff like Sanctuary, Nevermore, and that si what drives me to play as a drummer."
(Joey) "It's kind of stranger, because when I first sat down with these guys to talk about music we found out just how much of a varied taste in influences we have and how they all seem to jell together."
Joey, what was the first band who joined before Anthrax?
"God that's a tuff question, my last band before joining Anthrax was a band called 'Bio Black' which was Ronny Zalf from Rainbow, which was across between Rainbow and Black Sabbath, kind of a hard rock, blues band. We only ever just rehearsed, never played anywhere or even recorded a CD. We did a demo which Anthrax got to hear and I had no idea who they were."
Joey, what did you think of the 1st Anthrax album with Neil Turbin on vocals titled 'Fistful Of Metal'?
"Well Anthrax played that album for me when we were recording the 'Spreading The Disease' album and I had never heard the album before then. I later on played all the songs expect for 2 songs from that album live, which were: Death From Above' & 'Subjugator'. I'm not sure why Neil left the band, I was in the band after he left so I have no idea to why he left the band."
How did you get the part of been Neil's replacement in Anthax?
(Joey) "Well they heard a demo I did before I joined the band. They liked what I was doing before Anthrax and they decided to call me and have me flown in to do the album. Next thing I knew I was on a roll and things were going great for me and the band. Things happened so fast I really didn't know what I was doing there as I really wasn't too sure about the Thrash Metal music. I really liked the way the band worked, I thought they were very professional as the music was great but the music at the start was a little foreign for me. The things with my new band is, that we are rolling on and things are just progressing really well for us as we are getting to know one another with each day."
What are your memories of playing with Anthrax on the 'Spreading The Disease' tour? I saw you in 86 supporting Metallica, that was a fucking awesome tour Joey!!
(Joey) "That album was done really quickly and I really didn't get time to rehearse anything, all they needed was the vocals to be recorded. It is 1 of my favourite albums I did with the band along with 'Among The Living'. I like the 'Spreading....' album because, they were fresh to me and I was hungry to play them live."
What is your recollection of that tour, especially when hearing about Cliff Burton's death. How did it effect Anthrax?
(Joey) "Well, the tour was awesome, but hearing the new of Cliff's death was very up settings for us and Metallica. Metallica came to our hotel after it happened & told us the rest of the tour is cancelled. When they told us why it was cancelled we were all totally shocked. It was a sad loss in the history of Metal music."
Moving on, what did you think of the rest of the albums you recorded with Anthrax?
(Joey) "Well, 'State Of Europia' was a strange record. Some of the songs on that record were tricky and some of the songs on 'Resisitance Of Time' were good and the songs on 'Spreading..' were really fast and went really quickly when we recorded it."
Why did you leave Anthrax the first time around?
(Joey) "I didn't leave the band, they wanted another singer, and I was asked to leave the band. I personally think they wanted to shoot into the 90's with a new style and new direction and front man. It all seems strange that they wanted to try something different and I just felt that they thought I would not be the most suitable voice for the next level in Anthrax's career. I wasn't about to hang about and tell them I was staying, so I left the band. (ED: Anthrax's biggest mistake & to this date). I am very loyal to what I do, it was just time that they wanted to try a new singer and they found John Bush."
You know Joey, I'd love to see a re-union tour for all 3 original line-ups that Anthrax have ever had, the Neil Turbin line-up , Joey Belladonna and John Bush era, that would be fucking killer all on the same bill!!"
(Joey) "That would be fucking awesome!!! Like a family tree tour, that's a great idea Jase!!! We could also have Armored Saint and Neil Turbin band playing on the bill as well as my own band!"
Moving on to Paul, R.C. and Robb, how did you hook up with Joey Belladonna?
(Paul): "Well I had actually met him through Robb just before 2003 and I saw the ad from Robb, so I answered it and over a period of time I had kept in touch with Robb over that time and and I spoke to Joey just before he got back with the Anthrax re-union tour. So we kept in touch and after that tour was done he called me and asked if I was still interested in joining the band. So Robb, & R.C. and myself were sat around my house pretty much doing nothing. I called Joey and asked him if he wanted 3 musician's we were here and ready to play in his band."
(R.C.) "Well in 17yrs of playing our instruments, we all played in bands together at some point, so we knew 1 another over that period of time. Joey placed an ad, and to be honest he never got that many replies because I think people thought it was a wind-up ad."
(Joey) "I have to respect these guys for answering my ad, not many people replied to it for some strange reason, I guess they thought it was a joke ad."
I heard when you left Anthrax you wanted to record material that sounded like bands like Journey etc... is This true?
Joey "No not at all, you see I like those sort of bands, but it doesn't mean I have to form a AOR band does it? I am not sure how the next record will sound yet? We are working on some ideas right now. My previous solo albums are catchy, and have heavy riffs, but there not thrash like Anthrax. I think a lot of bands these days can not kind their own identity so it is hard for them to create their own style of music. I think we can be original and I think the new material is gonna rock the house down!!"
"Moving on, the bands debut album was self titled on Mausoleum Records, how did you get that line-up together and the deal with the label?
(Joey) "Well they were just local guys from my area close by. I met them threw people I know who recommended them to me and that was a 1 shot label that fell to bits very quickly. I was lucky to get 6 months out of that label. I did however tour with Motorhead for a few months after that record was released. The guys who played on that recorded weren't really into the tour side of the band, whereas, I love touring and recording. I am hoping that this line-up will continue to keep on rolling and become stronger throughout our career as a band. I am not sure if the debut was a success or not, for me it was just a nice thing to record and put out. That album is mainly demos that were put out from my house which later on became a record. It was a little disappointing for us to record the album and then the label go under. The same thing happened or us on the 2nd album which was released on a German label called USG Records. They called it a day before I even left the house and I don't remember been with that label for more than a week."
How many albums has the band actually recorded as the Belladonna band?
(Joey) "Well I actually have the Belladonna release on Mausoleum Records, and there are also 2 demos CD's with songs from that album with un-released songs and there is also a CD which I put out before the Mausoleum release."
So how long has this line-up been together as a band?
(Joey) "We got together in August 2006, we started talking and we started rehearsing in October and in January we started playing shows. We played with Metal Church & Over Kill. Things are going so well between us all and its good have a great bunch of loyal guys to work with. These guys want to play because they love the music and not because of the money. There are no ego's within this band and we all get along great together and take the good with the bad."
How many new songs do you have recorded or written for the next album? You must have a enough material by now.
(Paul) "Well there are a lot of riffs written down so far, and I think there could be about 20 songs of material wrote so far". (Joey) "I am sure we will have a new album released in 2008 at some point. We do have people who are interested in signing the band, but without any material recorded it is difficult to get them to be more positive towards the band, which I totally understand. Without any material nobody will sign you. We have a bunch of labels who are interested in us, but I am sure the new material is gonna kick some serious ass, watch this space!! At present we don't have any song titles, but like I said some riffs which we will make into songs shortly."
So moving on, how many times has the Belladonna band played here in the UK, any one off UK shows?
(Joey) "Well, this is the first time for me as a solo artist and for these guys too. We are very excited about playing here in the UK and we hope to return later on in 2008."
Moving away from the Belladonna band for 1 moment, how did you get to play the reunion show with Anthrax at Download 2006? Last time I remember Anthrax playing Monster Of Rock was in 87. How was it for you to be playing that festival under a new name and after so many years ago later on?
(Joey) "Well it all started when Charlie made a few calls and got the ball rolling and everybody kind of made time to get together to make it work. We arranged a meeting and rehearsed and a tour was booked."
Do you feel Joey, if you hadn't of joined Anthrax that you wouldn't be as popular as you are now?
(Joey) "I really don't know to be honest. I guess I could of joined another band and somehow made it big without Anthrax, it is just hard to say to be honest. Anthrax are a neat band and we worked very hard in the later 80's to mid 90's."
Is the Belladonna band pretty big in New York?
(R.C.) "Yeah we get a few 100 people at our shows, Metal is really big in New York so any band could really get a good crowd to their shows."
Right guys, I'd like to thank you for doing this interview, best wishes for 2008 and enjoy the shows here in the UK. Do you have any thing to say to your fans?
(Joey) "I'd like to thank you Jason, for taking your time out and coming to the show this evening. (Rest Of the Band) We'd all like to thank the fans for their support with the Belladonna band and for helping me with my time with Anthrax. Come out and check out the shows and we hope to have a new CD out soon."
"I'd like to Thank Eric for setting this interview up & to the guys in the band for been super fucking cool, stay in touch guys and thanx again!!