Elliot Levin of the NY Hard Rock Music Examiner recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: You’re the drummer, but I know you’ve played guitar on some ANTHRAX records, too. What is it about the guitar and drum playing that differentiates thrash metal, what you and METALLICA do, from other metal bands like, say, IRON MAIDEN or JUDAS PRIEST?
Charlie: I think a lot of times, with our form of music, and I know it’s the same with METALLICA, the drums and the rhythm guitars follow each other, where with other bands the bass and drums are locked in. But for us it’s always been the rhythm guitars and the drums that have been locked in. So maybe that’s where the difference lies. Me and Scott [Ian, ANTHRAX guitarist] play off each other, his right hand is going with my kick drum most of the time.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: Can you name your favorite MEGADETH, SLAYER, and METALLICA songs?
Charlie: METALLICA would be “Master of Puppets”. If I’m somewhere near the stage and I hear that song starting, I have to go watch because there’s something about it. And it has another significant meaning, about [late METALLICA bassist] Cliff Burton to me. Both bands were on tour in 1986 overseas and they were on the “Puppets” record, and one day we had a day off in England, and it was me, Scott, Kirk [Hammett, METALLICA guitarist], and Cliff, and we went to breakfast. And we sat down and were just talking about stuff, and I said, “In the song ‘Master of Puppets’, right before the lead break comes in, James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] screams something out, and I can never understand what he says. What is it?” And Cliff looked at Kirk, like, “I don’t even know.” And we were ordering breakfast at the time, and there was a bit of silence at the time, and Cliff said, “I think he says ‘pancakes.'” And we all started laughing, and it was funny, and then every show after that on that tour, when I would be on the side of the stage watching and that part would come up, Cliff would always look at me and mouth the word “pancakes.” So let’s go forward 20-something odd years, and here we are at the dinner before the first “Big Four” show in Poland, we had this dinner set up, METALLICA had all the bands there. And I was talking to James about some things and that story came up, and I told him, and he thanked me so much for telling him that story, because so much from that time is a blur to him, so when he hears stories it helps him remember the good times back then. So first show, in Poland, they did “Puppets”. But I wasn’t on stage. And the next day Robert [Trujillo, METALLICA bassist] goes to me, “Where were you? James screamed out ‘pancakes!'” So he does it now.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: That’s amazing. So you’re saying that anyone at the “Big Four” in September should listen, and they’ll hear James scream “pancakes” at that point?
Charlie: Well the lyric is “fix me,” but you never know, he might blurt out “pancakes.” So that’s another reason why I love that song.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: How about MEGADETH and SLAYER?
Charlie: Well, MEGADETH I love the song on “Peace Sells” called “The Conjuring”. It’s just a great fucking song, great guitar playing on that record, on that song, everything about it I just love. And, of course, SLAYER, I’d have to pick “At Dawn They Sleep”.
Read the entire interview from NY Hard Rock Music Examiner.