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Interviews : “Everybody’s really genuinely excited”- An interview with Frank Bello (Anthrax)

By on February 23, 2019
LEFT TO RIGHT: Charlie Benane, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna, Scott Ian, Jonathan Donais

Frank Bello has been the bass guitarist on every Anthrax album since 1984, aside from a very brief departure to join fellow New York noise merchants Helmet in 2005, each evolution of the band since then has featured his signature granite bass tone.

Bellos’ dry wit and enthusiastic stage presence have become familiar characteristics of the Anthrax package. For a band that have had their share of line-up shifts, particularly in the vocal department, Bello is as identifiable to the Anthrax sound as drummer/ percussionist Charlie Benante and guitarist Scott Ian’s wrist snapping rhythmic chops.

Anthrax are booked to play on the duo of shows comprising the Australian leg of the Download festival. There was much speculation in the public domain as to the line-up, so when did Bello find out Anthrax had made the bill?

“In this world of music now, you don’t really hear about it until they have it set. We did hear that there was a Download… this matches up great for Anthrax because we haven’t been there in way too long in my opinion. We love it there.

I had a feeling we’re going to be on it. We had heard that we were submitted, and they were talking about it and it just all lined up. When we got the acknowledgement that was a notice that it was happening, I was ready, willing and able! We’re all stoked about it. Everybody’s really genuinely excited because we were, I mean, we’ve been really trying to get back there.”

Much of Anthax’s recent success can be attribute to the invigorating 2016 album, For All Kings. The album serves to reintroduce long time vocalist Joey Belladonna back to the audience as a participating member of the Anthrax song writing team. How much of that album’s success was a surprise for Bello?

“Here’s what I was surprised at… you know, I’m a metal fan. I’m a music fan right off the bat. We take our time to write songs. Not that everybody doesn’t, it’s just I, I know the painstaking things that it has to go through to let a song go into the wild because it has to really get our gut. It really does make you move. It has to make that fire in your belly move. I use that term a lot, it just really has to meet that criteria for us. When we let the record go and when I say let it go we’re actually saying it’s finished… it went through a lot”.

Armoured Saint vocalist John Bush recorded four studio albums of material with Anthrax between 1993 and 2003, many consider his era to be an underrated contributor to the heavy metal legacy. Joey Belladonna’s voice holds vastly different qualities to that of Bush. That aside, is there a chance some choice cuts recorded with Bush will be performed with Belladonna on vocals?

“I’m very tight with John. Still text with him (and) we have a good laugh. There’s no animosity. There’s nothing like that. It’s just, that was a separate band with John and that was, that was a great fun band and great songs. I love all that. But with Joey, it’s just a different band.

If you put it into perspective here and you think about the catalogue, we have for both bands… it’s even harder to think about going to a different kind of era without going deeper into Joey’s era. There is so many songs that I truly want to play from the Joey era… There’s songs from Persistence of Time (’90) that I wanted to play that just can’t. You can’t fit in this set and I guess that’s a good problem to have right?”

Indeed, it is! Expect a superb performance from Bello and his comrades in Anthrax across the festival dates at Download Australia and the exclusive dates in Brisbane and Adelaide with special guests Slayer and Behemoth.

Thursday, 7th March
The Riverstage, Brisbane

Saturday, 9th March
Parramatta Park, Sydney

Monday, 11th March
Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Wednesday 13th March
AEC Arena, Adelaide


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith