Steven Rosen of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX singer Joey Belladonna. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: [ANTHRAX guitarist] Scott Ian said to me recently, “If you go back and listen to [ANTHRAX‘s 1990 album] ‘Persistence Of Time’, it has more in common with the [1993 album] “Sound Of White Noise” than it does with [1988’s] “State Of Euphoria”. That’s where we were going and we just felt like we needed a new voice to go where we were going because we were trying at the time to move forward with Joey and we were hitting a wall.” How do you respond to that?
Joey Belladonna: To me, I think it’s a crock myself, to be honest with you. I think they just wanted something different. Period. I don’t know what I wasn’t doing that wasn’t fitting their style. Granted, they went down a new road like anyone else does [to do] something different. If that’s what you want to do, be different, but it don’t mean I wasn’t able to do what they would have liked to have done or could have accomplished. You know what I mean? They can argue with it, too, all day long, but my view is they went and got somebody different to fit the new style of what was happening in the ’90s or whatever. I was too melodic; the vocals were too high or whatever. I don’t know — whatever you want to call it. All the stuff that I was doing, it was working and that doesn’t seem to work in their style? And then all of a sudden if you look back now and you wind up right to this point, we’re right back where I could have done anything, really.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You would have felt comfortable singing on the “Sound Of White Noise” album?
Joey Belladonna: There wasn’t anything they did on those records — and forget John [Bush] for a minute — there’s nothing on those records that I couldn’t have accomplished something that would have been comparable to anything we’ve ever done before that. I just don’t see it; I just don’t. I have never even really had this conversation with them nor do they want to go there because A) they probably don’t want to debate it and B) and it’s just something no one wants to dispute. I don’t know… Who knows?
Ultimate-Guitar.com: It could have been interesting if you’d sung on the “Sound Of White Noise” record.
Joey Belladonna: It sure would have been. Forget that you’ve heard it now with someone else singing it, I could have just continued. I sang “Only” [live] and it’s really nothing to me to do that thing. It’s not like, “Oh, my god, this is a style that I couldn’t even have dared to try.” The thing is when I do my own style, I give it then and more so because I have my own little thing going on and that’s what was working and that’s why it’s working now again because it just sits right. I don’t know — it’s just weird.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What feels weird?
Joey Belladonna: It’s a weird place for me to be in; it really is. Sometimes just to debate why I wasn’t there and if I wasn’t good enough?
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What are your memories of the “Persistence Of Time” record?
Joey Belladonna: You know what? I thought it was cool we were taking on a little bit of a heavier route. It seemed like we were getting into little bit more of a pre-production type of thing where we spent a little bit more time, which we hardly spent before writing a record. Of course, then the downside of it was I saw some people trying to kind of like look at me as if I wasn’t right for the band. I saw things start to take that little bit of a note and I didn’t like the feeling towards it and I was trying to figure out why. I was at a pretty good state at that point — I was ready to take that next step with the band as long as we were gonna keep going.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What did it feel like being with ANTHRAX again?
Joey Belladonna: The way they asked me to come in was if something didn’t work out on their end, they’d call you at the last minute to see if you wanted to do it. So right off the bat I’m thinkin’, “OK, I’m the second thought in mind.” I had to think that way.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Did you really?
Joey Belladonna: Yeah, well, that was the fact. They even stated that they asked somebody that nobody knew [Dan Nelson] and they knew full well it wasn’t going to work out. And then you get John [Bush] in there, you try to get him, and he don’t wanna do it so who do you call? Me. [laughs] Fine, I’ll come in, but you have your thoughts of like, “OK, here we go. Now I’m gonna go and do a record and they’re gonna kinda push me around and try to build around something that sort of has somewhat of a foundation.” I mean, granted, the songs were all torn up and we did all kinds of cool stuff to it in the end. But you walk in and you’re thinking, “OK, I’m gonna get pushed around and I’m gonna have to mop up the rest what someone else didn’t accomplish” and all this kinda stuff. And everything is on me, ’cause all there’s left is a vocal, they think. But there’s a lot more to it and hopefully they’ll let me do it and they let me roll.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: These past several years you’ve been out there with your solo projects. Do you think you brought in anything new or different to the ANTHRAX sessions because you’d been working up ideas for your own music?
Joey Belladonna: Well, you advance a little bit when you do things and whether you’re practicing more, playing more or developing more and that kinda stuff. I don’t think I came in with any different or other twist on doing a record: You put the words on the music stand and you start lookin’ at ’em, you roll track and you go. I don’t think anything was really that much different for me. It all seemed very much the same again and the only difference was everybody wasn’t hanging around the control room and peeking in. And seeing everybody talking and not sure if they’re talking about you or last night’s adventures so I didn’t have any of that. Other than that, working on solo stuff and working on my own, it’s good prep and it’s also just good for me ’cause I like to play a lot and it’s just something that I do probably more so than some of the other people that I know.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Did you listen to what John Bush did on the post-Joey Belladonna records?
Joey Belladonna: I checked out some of it; I dig ’em. I was familiar with John back in the ARMORED SAINT days. But to me, when you start to compare us, it’s kind of a drag because you’re just putting us both in a position of, like, who’s better? And I never wanted to go there. Neither of us wants to be put in that spot. When we were on our own, he was him and I was me and we did our thing and everybody dug what we both did and now you gotta compare ’em. Obviously, it’s a little bit styles and there’s no doubt about that. I don’t know, I thought it sounded like him with ANTHRAX more so than what we used to, which was a little bit different. But hey, they did something different and it didn’t mean it was bad. I don’t know if it was that much better though and you go, “Oh, my god, they finally figured it out.” I don’t know anything about that part of it. I didn’t see that. You know what I mean?
Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.