Matt Coe of Eternal Terror webzine recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Eternal Terror: It’s well known that you are a prominent songwriter for the band and can play decent guitar in addition to your great skill on the drums. Is it easy for you to separate your mind when you’re writing versus performing in the band? Do you employ any specific practice routines or regiment to keep your drumming level sharp?
Benante: When I’m writing music, it’s primarily on guitar. And I’ve said this before, when there is a riff in my head and it’s coming out on guitar I’m almost possessed by the riff to play it through the guitar. I will have 10 minutes’ worth of a song and all different types of riffs built around that theme. Once the song is finished, I’m done with it and then I become drummer guy again. I have to warm up at least 45 minutes before we go on stage; the older you get the harder it gets as well. It does help me to warm up before I get out there and really play; it’s like running a marathon some nights.
Eternal Terror: ANTHRAX have always been a band that I believe keep an ear on the pulse of current music. How do you make sure you stay relevant with your 30-plus years as ANTHRAX?
Benante: Well, this is something that happened without even knowing that it happened. A lot of people have been saying with this record it seems that we reinvented ourselves. To that, I say that’s the best way that it could have happened to us. To go in to re-invent ourselves, it happened naturally. For other bands, it’s like an accident to re-invent themselves. Maybe it was a good thing that we haven’t released a record in eight years. Maybe that’s not the pattern all the bands should take, releasing a record every other year. Give it some time and write a great album.
Eternal Terror: We are coming up upon the 10 year anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing. Do you feel safer and more secure as you travel a lot across the world in terms of the global touring you do with Anthrax?
Benante: No, no I do not. I think it’s just the same. Going through airports that whole thing is a joke. In other countries, you don’t have to do things that you do in America or, say, Canada. They will let you walk through with your shoes on, not even take your computer out. I think it’s ridiculous. I’m all for security, but I don’t know, man. To be honest with you, the Bush years really messed me up in a sense I don’t trust anyone anymore in the government. They put so much fear into the general public that it’s a total scam to mess people up.
Eternal Terror: Do you feel like there are any new areas for Anthrax to explore in the coming years — be it recording-wise or touring-wise? Or even any particular individual goals you want to accomplish that you haven’t been able to get to yet?
Benante: The thing I would really love for this record is to reach people who may not normally even listen to this style of music to give it a listen. These are goals that you may not say after being in music for 30-plus years, but we’ve kinda starved ourselves and as a result we’ve become so hungry again for this whole thing. It’s the most real it’s ever been. I want people to give this record a fair listen before they say they don’t want to listen to ANTHRAX.
Eternal Terror: Do you think the metal scene struggles because of this lack of hunger sometimes?
Benante: I think the metal scene struggles… How can I put this it without sounding bad? Most true metalheads are not the most open-minded people when it comes to music. They like what they like and they want that — and you have to deliver that. If you go a little left field, I don’t know, man, that’s taking some chances there and you have to deliver. With this record, it is truly a heavy metal record. There’s no other influence on this record other than hard rock and heavy metal.
Eternal Terror: Do you still keep in touch with most of the former members, like [ex-guitarist] Dan Spitz?
Benante: I saw Danny about a year ago when we played in Florida; he came out to the show. For a while there I was really concerned with Danny‘s health. I know Dave Mustaine [of MEGADETH] talks to Danny quite a bit. I love Danny; he’s a great human being.
Read the entire interview from Eternal Terror.