ANTHRAX Drummer Talks About ‘Worship Music’ Recording Process

Modern Drummer magazine recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow velow.

Modern Drummer: The production value on “Worship Music” is quite aggressive, yet there’s still a great deal of warmth and liveliness on the recording, especially from on the drums. It seems that’s been missing from other modern metal releases. How did you track your drum parts?

Charlie: I recorded the drums to tape, and then they were bounced. I miss the warmth and tape saturation you get from analog. I actually don’t mind hearing some hiss on records, because it adds to the atmosphere. We live in the days where some drummers feel the need to record digitally and then have their drumming edited together and quantized, and it ends up sounding very robotic. It takes the life out of the song. I like when choruses naturally speed up, because it shows that a human is playing it — that human factor is what’s been missing.

Modern Drummer: How long did it take you to track the drums for “Worship Music”?

Charlie: I started recording songs for the record back in 2009. The first batch was recorded over a four-day period, and maybe fifty-five percent of what I recorded then stayed on the record. A year later, in a different studio with a different kit, I recorded some more songs. And then I went back in again to record the last batch and re-record some songs that I changed after we started playing them live.

Modern Drummer: What songs were reworked or changed after playing them live?

Charlie: “Judas Priest”, “In The End”, “Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t” and “The Devil You Know” were all reworked along the way, or recorded at different times. “Fight ‘Em” changed quite a bit. Maybe sixty percent of what I initially played is the same, but it became a whole different animal when we started playing it live. I was playing it much better, so at the end of that tour I went back and re-recorded it. The song was sounding pretty ferocious, and that’s what I wanted to capture on tape.

Modern Drummer: I imagine having the opportunity to go back and re-track songs is not something that presents itself often.

Charlie: We had the luxury of being able to go back and do that, but doing so made for a better performance. Typically, drummers are the first to record, and then ten months later the album is done, and you listen to the finished product and think, “Wow, I wish I would have played that fill differently.” I think Sting once said that the process of making records and then touring is backwards, because by the end of the tour you’re so familiar with the songs and playing them so much better.

Modern Drummer: How did the title “Worship Music” come about?

Charlie: The story behind the name is that I fell asleep with the TV on one night and woke up at five in the morning, and there was this show on called “Worship Music”. It was a Sunday morning sermon thing, and a light bulb went off — “That’s a great title!” I wrote the opening title track instrumental because I wanted something that would set up the record. It reminds me of the sun rising, and the day is starting, and then…boom, “Earth On Hell” crushes right in. That’s how each day starts for me. The sun comes up and then bam… the shit happens.

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