On July 27, Artisan News spoke to ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Frank Bello at the Camden, New Jersey stop of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival about the band’s trip recent to the studio to lay down several cover versions of some of their favorite rock classics.
“By studio, you mean the back lounge of the tour bus, with Rob‘s [Caggiano, guitar] laptop,” Scott quipped. “Yeah, the drums are done and some of the guitars are done, but we’re trying to finish off these last two songs — ‘Smokin” from BOSTON and ‘Anthem’ from RUSH — for this re-release thing of [ANTHRAX‘s latest album] ‘Worship Music’ that will hopefully come out in time for the fall tour with a bunch of these bonus tracks on it.”
Asked how the band selected which songs to cover, Ian said, “Like everything else, it’s kind of like someone says a song and everyone else is like, ‘Yeah, that’s a good one.’ It’s really as simple as that. It’s songs that in some shape or form we’ve been playing or jamming on for our whole lives. Because you really don’t wanna have to work too hard on these things, although the RUSH song is a bit of a bitch; I can’t say that’s an easy one. But it’s a song we all know and we’re all familiar with, so then, of course, you take on the challenge of just really trying to nail it and do it justice.”
According to ANTHRAX, they’re paying particular attention to the cover of RUSH‘s “Anthem” in order to recreate the nuances of the original song.
“I have to get every little part of Geddy [Lee, RUSH bassist/vocalist] down, ’cause I’m a fanatic with that stuff, and I have to,” Bello said. “I’m still working on little bits. It’s great. I love it.”
Added Scott: “Charlie [Benante, ANTHRAX drummer] bumped into [RUSH drummer] Neil Peart at the [Revolver] Golden Gods Awards a few months ago, and Neil actually said to Charlie, ‘Yeah, we heard you guys are covering ‘Anthem’. That’s so cool. We put the clip of you playing drums [to the song] up on our web site.’ And Charlie, I swear to God, he was like, the light, the glow that was coming off him after that was… I’d never seen anything quite like it.”
In addition to the RUSH and BOSTON covers, ANTHRAX is also recording its versions of AC/DC‘s “T.N.T.”, JOURNEY‘s “Keep On Runnin'” and BLACK SABBATH‘s “Neon Knights”. The latter song is expected to appear on the upcoming Ronnie James Dio tribute album which is being assembled by the singer’s widow and longtime manager Wendy Dio.