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Interview with Frank Bello of ANTHRAX

Interview with Frank Bello of ANTHRAX

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ANTHRAX is coming to Madison Theater on Sunday, September 13th. I caught up with Bassist Frank Bello to get some insight on the band that has been rocking since the 80’s, to get his perspective on the new album and what the band is up to these days. Please go support these guys and rock out! 

Jeremiah:  No problem, man.  How are you doing right now?
Frank:  I am doing okay.  We had a show last week in Denver and we are revving up for the tour with Motorhead coming up next Friday, which starts in Chicago.  I’m trying to get everything together.  I have family here in New York.  I'm just trying to get everything tied up and then go on the road.  It's completely two different lives. 

Jeremiah:  It keeps you busy, I'm sure. 
Frank:  It keeps me nonstop.  It's just nonstop, but I love it and I am fortunate enough to do it.  That's just the way I look at it. 

Jeremiah:  Let's see here, you guys have been making music for, I would say at least without looking it up, at least 30 years I would guess. 
Frank:  Yea man. 

Jeremiah:  I’m just curious, what keeps you guys fresh and excited about making new music? 
Frank:  Well, I will put it into a perspective you can understand.  There is fire in the belly.  It's alright right now.  The band is 30 some odd years in and I think this band, ANTHRAX, is hungrier now than we've ever been.  This is not a hype thing; this is not because we are about to release another record.  There is something, I don't know what it is, but it’s something we have to do.  I can't even understand what it is.  I don't even know what the word is.  All I know is it's a very hungry band right now.  Especially with the record we have coming out; that we are mixing as we speak.  We couldn't be more stoked right now.  We are absolutely ready to rage in a real way.  I can't wait to hit the road with these new songs.  That's not even hype for the new record.  I'm just psyched right now.  

Jeremiah:  That awesome man.  When you guys come here to Kentucky, are you guys going to be playing some songs from the new album? 
Frank:  Not yet, just because this is the Motorhead tour.  We are in the mixing stages.  I think we are going to start playing one of the new songs after we release it because we are going to Europe.  I don't know if you saw the website.  We are going to Europe for 7 weeks with Slayer and I think we are going to release a song by then and that will be the song we play.  We are literally in the mixing stages, so I think it's good to hold it off until the record comes out.  

Jeremiah:  Yea, that makes perfect sense. 
Frank:  The anticipation.  I gotta tell you, dude, the greatest thing about all of this good stuff from Worship Music, god, we did over 200 shows.  It was insane.  We did not expect for that to happen with that record.  It was taken by people so well.  We really felt fortunate and honestly humbled.  It makes us really psyched about the future.  It really does, man. 

Jeremiah:  When will the new album be released? 
Frank:  Oh, early next year.  We have a tentative release date for January 22nd, but it's tentative.  You know how record companies are.  We want it!  We're ready, but you need to set up time and all that good stuff.  We want to make sure this record has all the promotions and everything else.  We worked really hard on it and we've taken a long time to make sure it's the right record.  We think it deserves the promotion in the right way.  

Jeremiah:  I know you're very excited about the next album you guys will be releasing, but because I haven't heard that album, what previous ANTHRAX album would you say was you guys at your best?  Out of all the years you've been together, which one would you say?
Frank:  I have to say this, in a real way, if you listen to Worship Music, I think it captures everything about ANTHRAX.  It was great to hear all the good reviews when it came out; and thank god, we were really fortunate for that.  For people to say, at this stage in our career, that this was our best record to date, wow.  Think about that, all the years you've been doing this and then you come up with a record 30 years in.  All you want to do is write great songs and give the best possible songs you could.  That's all you really want to do when you are a writer, a song writer.  The year that blew up and the accolades we got for that were incredible and humbling and it makes you want to do more.  It really gives you the energy and the drive to go out and do more.  That's where we are now, man.   So yea, I think Worship Music.  But I have to say this, just because I know what we've done with this record, I think we tapped a good vein of writing within the band and I just think we're in a good place right now.  It's a really cool place that I'm really excited about.  

Jeremiah:  That's good to hear, man. It was a great album and I can’t wait for the new one to drop!
Frank:  I'm stoked! 

Jeremiah:  When you guys are out on tour, you guys play like you said 200+ shows last time, what do you think would surprise people that you guys like to do when you are out on tour?  What's something you guys are into? 
Frank:  Hahaha!  All we try to do now is stay healthy on the road.  If there is someone in the crew or someone in the band that's sick, believe me, they have to be sectioned off.  Ha!  You stay away and all that crazy stuff.  I think at this point all you want to do is stay healthy.  Our show is a bit lively; lots of energy there.  You can't do that if you're sick.  That's what we do. Relax.  I try to eat healthy now.  I still eat a pizza and a burger, but I try to really eat well.  And a good glass of whiskey, man.  We just use the normal stuff.  The funny thing is people ask what we do on the bus after the show.  We watch our favorite shows that we taped.  You just try to maintain the life that you have because you are on the road a lot and you miss your family.  You just try to keep close to home with technology.  

Jeremiah: Speaking of whiskey, I just read that you guys have your own line of bourbon, Indians bourbon right?
Frank:  Dude, have you tried it? 

Jeremiah:  I haven't, but I'm going to go check it out soon. 
Frank:  You can go to anthrax.com.  Let me tell you something, the last one sold out so fast.  When we first got that, we tasted it and all that good stuff.  I couldn't believe how good it was.  It wasn't like the obligatory, “oh the band is putting it out” kinda stuff.  This is good stuff.  Here's what I want you to do, when you taste it, please tell me.  You have my number.  Please call me back.  I'm interested in the feedback.  

Jeremiah:  With all the albums you guys have and all the good songs, when you guys play a live show, do you guys stick to the same rotation of these songs or do you like to switch it up for the different shows? 
Frank:  We like to switch it up.  The only problem with switching it up is, say you have a short set maybe 45-50 minutes, you have to play certain things otherwise you'll hear about it.  You try to please everybody.  They want to hear Caught in a Mosh, they want Got the Time.  I get it, because I'm a fan, I get it, but at the same time we like to change it up sometimes.  We'll sprinkle in different songs along the way just to keep it fun and interesting and just to throw curve balls.  We did this show at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, say the last metal show ever there last month.  It was a great honor.  We went out there and did songs we haven't played in forever, like years ago.  It was an over two hour set and it was a lot of fun to go back and relearn those songs, but you can't do that everywhere.  It's got to be special.  

Jeremiah:  That makes sense. I bet that House of Blues set was amazing!  My last question is this.  I remember, back in 1992, you guys were on an episode of Married with Children.  I remember that episode very clearly and it was great. I must have seen it 20 times. What was something cool that happened being on the set of that show at its height?  That was a huge show back then.
Frank:  Huge show!  I'll tell you the truth, the great thing about that show was we rehearsed for the week and, I think it was on a Friday, we taped two shows, two completely different shows for two different audiences.  During the middle of those two shows, during the break time between the two shows being recorded, they actually changed some of our lines.  That was on the fly because they wanted something different.  I guess that's what they do on sitcoms.  If the line isn't working they just give another line and you have to learn the line.  They had great, seasoned actors on that show.  They were automatic.  I thought with the challenge of that, we did a pretty good job.  It was fun and they treated it us like gold.  They were so cool.  My favorite part of the whole thing was after the show, having beers with Ed O'Neill, Al Bundy.  Having beers and just talking about anything and just having a ball with Ed O'Neill.  It was awesome.  

Jeremiah:  That's awesome man.  A lot of people from that show are still very relevant.  I mean he has Modern Family now and she was just on Sons of Anarchy.  You guys are still playing. Times are good.
Frank:  That's the whole key, man.  You just have to keep chugging away.  At the end of the day there are peaks and valleys in this business.  With anything there are peaks and valleys.  You have your highs and your lows and you just fight back and get back to the highs.  I think we are on our way back up.  It really feels good and we have a real hungry band.  I just have to say that again.  'm telling you, there's a kick in our step and we're really stoked about the next stages of ANTHRAX.  

Jeremiah:  I cannot wait for the show.  The last time I saw anyone from the band was, I think in 2008.  I drove to New York to see Rock the Bells and Scott was there with Public Enemy. 
Frank:  That's great.  Speaking of Chuck, he came out to the House of Blues show I was just telling you about.  He came out and we did Bring the Noise.  It was a really special thing.  It was amazing.  He had such great energy.  I love him.  It was the best.  

Jeremiah:  That's really cool.  I was a big Public Enemy fan back in the day, for real!
Frank:  Of course, man, there's a lot of good stuff there.  I love it. 

Jeremiah:  Well, I appreciate you taking the time and speaking with me. I look forward to seeing you guys in two weeks at the show at Madison Theater, here in Kentucky.
Frank:  Yea, let me know how the bourbon is, if you get a taste of it. 

Jeremiah:  Alright, man.  I will do, Frank, thank you so much.
Frank:  Cool.  You be well, bro.