David E. Gehlke of Blistering.com recently conducted an interview with ANTHRAX singer Joey Belladonna. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Blistering.com: Was there any set approach for you in terms of the new songs?
Joey Belladonna: I took them song by song. I just go in there and do what I can do. All I know is that I wanted to do the best I could with it. And we all know the expectations with it were interesting, but I couldn’t do any more than what the songs were letting me take on. I’m glad this stuff wasn’t too un-singable or something that didn’t fit me. That would have been the worst part of it, to muster up something that wasn’t there in the first place. Glad it wasn’t something like “Gung Ho” [from “Spreading The Disease”] where everything has to be a mile faster than what it needs to be and there’s 50 words per verse. You’re lucky if you can get a word in to say it. The songs are laid out fairly decently. I didn’t get as far into the record as I could have, though. I sang in a day, three to four hours until I was done with a song entirely. We demoed it, looked at it, changed this, re-do that… none of that. Bang-bang. For some reason, it worked, like my first time I did better than I thought. It’s nice when it’s spontaneous like that. Would it have been nice if I could have been there from the beginning? It’s not always necessary and it doesn’t make for a better record. There’s no evidence of that. There’s people that have spent years on things and I don’t even know if they know what they got until they’re done with it.
Blistering.com: Did you hear anything that Dan Nelson [former ANTHRAX singer] did [on the original version of “Worship Music” which was never released]?
Belladonna: I heard some ideas, but I can’t refer to that stuff. I don’t want to be persuaded from anyone else’s doings. I heard from the band, we just talked about that stuff. We discussed it as much as we could and even that, none of it was in my head. I had some basic tracks to the songs at the house just so I could hear where the songs were going. Other than three-to-five songs, I had no idea what was coming at me until I turned them on. It worked great for me. That’s how I write anyway.
Blistering.com: I’ve heard you sing “Only” [off “Sound Of White Noise”] so how do you think you would have done on “Sound Of White Noise” or “Volume 8” [which featured John Bush on vocals]?
Belladonna: I would have done fine. They already have someone else on there, so live, I don’t want to venture too much into that stuff because I don’t want to hold myself to a certain standard of if it’s heavy or cool enough. All that shit. I’m not up for that competition now. It happened before and it was just a drag. I don’t want to be demeaning. I look at Scott [Ian, guitar], when he said when they did “The Greater Of Two Evils” [2004’s remake album, with John Bush re-recording Belladonna‘s songs], that’s how the songs should have or could have been. I was like, “Wow!” I felt like I got smacked across the head on that one. Like, “I was really that bad? You didn’t like anything I did before?” I don’t hear [those remakes] as remotely close to being better. So I know I could have done those records. If you take what I did now, on the new record, and throw it on the pile, you would get something in that vein. If anything, it was laid out more for me than it is now. I don’t think they “thrashed out” anything more than we did earlier in the day. Like “Fuel” or “Room For One More”. I could have done my own thing with it. But I never looked at it like, “I wish I could have done it.” I never heard it as anything exponentially better than what we did before. Then, of course, when you start comparing [sales] numbers and I can’t go there. They did it and I don’t know if they needed to go that far, but you get what you get. I’m still in the band and I feel a little bit like, “Are you guys sure? Are you content? Or you just need me right now?”
Blistering.com: Were you as confused as anyone when ANTHRAX kept switching singers?
Belladonna: I got wind of it. I wasn’t their first choice to come back into this thing. Put it this way: If John said he wanted to do it, they probably would have taken him. If they would have done the “Big Four” with him and it would be successful? Who knows? Would they finish the record? Who knows? If they didn’t have a fight with a guy that first had to finish the record [Dan Nelson] and would have put it out, they would have done that. To me, you got what you got. Somehow, we’re all unfortunately happier this way because it’s the best solution. I’m not trying to pat myself, it just seems to be the right thing. Unfortunately, I had to wait 20 years to put out another record.
Blistering.com: To me, it’s always seemed like you’ve been ready to do it at any time.
Belladonna: I have. I have been WAY ready. I’ve always been ready. Even with the  reunion, I was ready to roll. Then they got someone out of the blue. I’d like to know who actually did that. I was like, “What the heck happened? Why do you even bother?” It was two to three years of that. I guess he [Nelson] came up with a great demo for everyone, an expensive one for everyone to try things. But to sell it, that it would be the right way to go, it just shows that it’s not an easy thing to muster this up. We are a unique package of musicians and there’s no band out there that has a lineup that if you’re trying to recreate it, you’re not going to have much luck. For ANTHRAX, it’s hard for us to pull it off. This thing is a little more intricate.
Read the entire interview at Blistering.com.