Last May, vocalist Joey Belladonna returned to the band that brought him fame and fortune- Anthrax. With Belladonna’s return, Anthrax was back and ready to rock with the vocalist that most of their fans wanted back in the band. And rock is what they most certainly did. Soon after his arrival, Anthrax went on to play some of biggest shows of their career by performing on the Big 4 tour in Europe that featured Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. This year, Anthrax has plans on releasing a new CD with Belladonna that has been rumored to be coming out towards the end of this year. Also, Anthrax will be playing at least one Big 4 show in the US, with rumors of more to be added.
Here at RockMusicStar, we caught up with our good friend, Mr. Belladonna to find out what the hell is going on in the Anthrax camp and also with his solo band Belladonna. Here’s what went down.
RockMusicStar: Your solo band Belladonna has just scheduled a few shows in the upstate NY area and the mid-west. Why did you decide to do solo dates at this time?
Joey Belladonna: Well, I’m always putting dates together. Right now, I’m working with some agents and we found some places to play. But, I’m always pursuing that, regardless. I’ve been doing this solo for so long and even though I’m with Anthrax now, I’m still doing it. It’s not just because I have nothing to do, but because it’s what I do. We really aren’t working that much (with Anthrax) anyhow, but at the same time it really doesn’t have anything to do with that. But, the dates are just falling in this year, as opposed to last year. I also play out every weekend, locally. I have a cover band called “Chief Big Way.” And we do a classic rock covers from Boston, Journey, Foreigner, Led Zeppelin and bands like that.
RMS: When you perform with the Belladonna band, do you play any Anthrax or cover songs or do you just stick to your solo material?
JB: Well, it’s all of the above. Depending on the night and what everyone feels comfortable with. Some nights we could do all Anthrax, and it’s totally different with Belladonna because we are a three piece. Everyone’s take on the songs is a little different. So, it’s kind of cool that way. But, we’ve been leaning towards doing Anthrax material, because it just feels comfortable banging them out.
RMS: Do you plan any releasing a new Belladonna CD anytime soon?
JB: I have about ¾ of a record ready. And we are trying to finish it up. It seems like it takes forever, but it’s really a matter of who is available to work on it and finish it. And of course, I have to start working on some Anthrax material as well. I have been, but there is still more work to do on that one. So that’s going to take some time, but that shouldn’t interfere with what we are doing to finish up the Belladonna release. But, I’m really enjoying the music that we are creating.
RMS: How would you compare your new solo material to that of your previous solo work?
JB: I think that it’s a bit more metal in some ways. It’s harder, it has different tunings and it is a bit more intricate. But it’s still hard and heavy rock. There is a bit of old school thrash. But I really don’t want to put any labels on it.
RMS: Because of the fact that you have such a melodic voice, have you ever thought about putting out a release that’s a little more contemporary or a little more like traditional classic rock?
JB: Every time I think of doing something like that, it just seems like it doesn’t work out for whatever reason. But, it’s always been a consideration. But at this point, I’m not gearing towards it. However, it would be cool. I enjoy that type of music. When I’m doing my classic rock band during the weekends, it’s all about that. But, you have to get the right people. When you hang out with people that want to do Metal, it’s difficult to get them to commit to changing styles or slowing it down. It’s not that they are not capable; it’s just that it’s then forced. But, I’ve rather do it with people who are committed to the style of music. But, who knows, maybe someday.
RMS: I always thought that you would have been perfect to be the vocalist in Journey. If they would have asked you would you have done it?
JB: I would have loved too! I was around them when they were looking for a singer. But it just didn’t happen. I got beat out by the YouTube sensation. But yeah, I could have done it. I actually have a band that does Journey covers.
RMS: Wow, that’s cool. But, it’s really too bad. You would have been great in that band.
JB: Yeah, thanks.
RMS: Now let’s talk a bit about Anthrax. There’s a ton of talk about the Big 4 right now and a possible tour of the US this summer. Can you give us any insight on that?
JB: Well, there is suppose to be a big announcement today, it will be interesting to see what it’s going to be. I’ll have to check out Blabbermouth, but it’s not up to me, I have nothing to do with it. But, I wish that I knew more about it.
RMS: It must be pretty exciting to be involved in such a huge event like that. So many people are super excited about the Big 4 playing here in America. What was it like doing the Big 4 shows over in Europe last summer?
JB: Yeah, it was great. And to have a package like that, with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, it was really great. Metallica has a helluva organization. They do things so well, and so proper, and have for so long. It’s really great to be a part of that. And we all know each other pretty well; we’ve toured together here and there. So, it just really made sense to do this. I’m looking forward to more, if there are more to come.
RMS : The Big 4 concert dvd is really incredible. It seems like every band was performing at their all time best. What was your mindset going into that particular gig?
JB: To me that show was just another gig. Yeah, there were cameras, but I didn’t do anything differently that day from any of the other gigs we did. In fact, I think that I was better a few gigs after that one, to be honest with you. When we filmed that, it was only a few shows into the tour. But, what you see is what you get.
RMS: Anthrax had such an intense performance. You are the man when it comes to vocals for that band. There’s no Anthrax without you.
JB: Well. Thank you. It really stinks that you have to be compared to someone. Maybe now there really isn’t too much of that. But, I don’t really pay attention to it too much because I have my own style and I have done what I’ve done. We work well together and this band really jells. Yes, those guys wanted to make a change at one time and bring in someone else and have a different vocal style. But I think it really works with me and I just hope everyone enjoys what I do. Even with the band, it’s at the point where I feel comfortable with what I do and how I do and not to worry if it’s going to be ok with them. At this point, I’m really not in the mood to worry if I fit in or not. I just want to be as good as I can and do what I do, instead of trying to be somebody else.
RMS: I agree. Now, how much of the new Anthrax CD is completed at this point?
JB: Well, there are three or four more cuts that need to be recorded. Vocally, I’m already into my forth or fifth song as far as pre-production. I’m not laying down anything for real yet. I’m working out what I can move and what I can do and how I can make it better.
RMS: Is all the material already written?
JB: Yeah, the three or four that I’m talking about may have some changes. But, I’ve had my moments of looking at some of the tracks and thinking “How I’m I going to do this one,” and make it cool. It would be cool if we were starting from day one, but we are moving from ‘point A’ to ‘point C’ at this point.
RMS: It must be a bit of a challenge because of the fact that most of the material was written for a different vocalist.
JB: I kind of hate that someone was already singing this stuff and now I have to kind of dance around it and do it all over. They (Anthrax) have in their mind already how they want it to sound, so it’s kind of hard to shake it away. They are not going to say to me “Go on and do something totally different and we will just dig it.” (Lol) It’s hard, but I’m not worried about it.
RMS : Is there a tentative release date for the CD?
JB: No. Next month would be great. lol
RMS: I think that it would be good to have it out in time for the summer, especially if there is going to be a Big 4 tour.
JB: I’m afraid that is a possibility…not afraid, but I would like to have a little more time so I can get (done) what I need to get (done) vocally as opposed to having to watching a clock that’s saying that time almost up.
RMS: It’s interesting that Scott Ian is working with his new band The Damned Things, when so much is going on with Anthrax.
JB: We’ll he’s just doing his thing, people do that nowadays. It’s not like back in the day when you just worked with one band all of the time. It’s a little different now. But, more or likely this was already set before I joined the band, I’m guessing.
RMS: Have you heard the CD?
JB: I just saw the band on Jimmy Kimmel and that was the first that I’ve seen anything visually. I’ve heard two or three cuts, actually four because I saw that on t.v. and I didn’t hear that one before. But, yeah it’s different. It’s not bad, it’s a good band. It’s a little bit of a different style then I’m use to. But, I really don’t pay too much close attention to it, just as I’m sure the other guys in Anthrax don’t pay attention to what I’m doing outside of the band.
RMS: My last question for you Joey is what would you consider the highlight of your career?
JB: Well, just being in something that has some longevity and was proven successful. That means more to me than any award. Being nominated for three Grammys was cool too. Also, touring with some great bands such as Ozzy, Maiden, Metallica and Priest.
For more on Joey Belladonna check out www.Joeybelladonna.com