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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

Tartarean Desire's own Slammin' Sammy Warren had the opportunity to sit down with the newly back in the fold and widely considered "classic" Anthrax vocalist Joey "I Love Journey!" Belladonna on the band's October 7, 2005 tour stop in Lowell, Massachusetts. Most of the hot topics were hit in the scheduled 30 minutes and some of the usual answers were given, but Joey did manage to open up about shorts vs. pants. Oh, and Journey, too. Read on, friend....

So for starters, what's it like being back with the boys? From what I've heard you guys are really enjoying yourselves.
Yeah man, it's really been just the way I imagined it [would be]. I mean, I don't think anybody really felt like there would be any problems or any kind of miscommunications of how it's supposed to be.... We're all professionals and we've all been around for quite a while so everybody really has quite the experience at this point in time.

Definitely. So here you are touring with the legendary [Judas] Priest again. Did you guys have to do anything to secure your spot on the bill? Or did it go along pretty easily after the success of the 2002 tour?
Actually, they contacted us.

Oh, really?
Yeah, man. Scotty [Ian] was talking to Rob [Halford], and some of the crew was saying they'd love to have us out again. So, you know, we were all for it, and here we are.

Sounds about right, haha. So Anthrax's image has been a topic of some debate for a while now, and I remember reading somewhere that you said one of your favorite things about Anthrax was "being able to go out on stage and play in your shorts and sneakers." Does that relaxed attitude still hold true for you today?
Well, I haven't worn shorts in while, haha, but, y'know, I kinda like wearing shorts. But sometimes I think people think we're just out there horsin' around -- [with or] without the shorts... which is kinda weird. But then, I dunno, I've just been stickin to pants lately. I mean, I'm wearing jeans and the good ol' black shirt, so it's not like [there is] some kind of uniform or anything [to be in Anthrax].

So it's still great to just let it all hang out and not worry too much about superficial things while on stage?
Oh, yeah man. It's nice to avoid the shiny boots and everything.

Haha! Okay, so on that note, what do you think of the criticism you guys received from people like [Slayer's] Kerry King, who claims that Anthrax has chased trends too often, particularly with the recent inclusion of the pentagram symbol?
I don't even know where [the pentagram] came from. Y'know, when I got [back in the band] it was on the shirt and I don't really know where they originally got it. Although I think it's been changed a little bit recently....

Oh, I didn't even notice. Yeah, it's not really a pentagram anymore is it?
Yeah, y'know, at this point I've been with these guys so long, a lot of times things happen and I don't even know where or when they've happened. I just roll with it. And sure, there are times when I wonder [what happened], but then I can't really [say anything]. I don't know. I mean, I guess there's a lot of people using stuff like this, so it's really hard to differentiate, y'know?

Alright. So lyrically the band changed around the early 1990's. Do you think maybe it's for the best that you weren't around during the [John] Bush period so that you can just pick up where you left off and kick ass without worrying about many of the changes that the band went through in your absence?
Yeah, I think so. And, I mean, I've gone through some different stuff myself, so I don't really have any problems doing changes. Change is good, y'know. With me and say Danny [Spitz] and Frankie [Bello] being here, maybe we'll add a new twist without doing anything entirely new. But with the old stuff, it's really easy to just slam it out, y'know. And again, I think it's even better than before. It's kinda fresh, y'know, because we haven't done it in a while.

Yeah, I read where you said in an interview that you feel like you're even heavier than before.
Yeah, I do. Well, we should put it this way. Whether or not my stuff is considered to be [heavier than before], I feel like I am, y'know. It might be just because I'm more accustomed to doing my own style, which is maybe a little more advanced in a way.

I also read in an interview that you said you could or would have done a reunion without Dan or Frank. Did you mean to say that it didn't matter to you whether or not they came back, or were you just saying that if circumstances had proven more difficult for Dan and/or Frank that you would have been able to do it without them?
No, no. Someone asked me if I wanted to do the reunion and [asked] "would I do it without Frankie and Danny?" And I said, "Yeah, I would love to do something with Scott and Charlie or whoever." But God, if Frankie and Danny wanted to play together in a band or something, I might do something with [just] those guys, too. Y'know, I'm with these guys in a very round about way, but of course I'd rather do it all together and of course I'm glad that [the reunion] happened this way.

Gotcha. So in comparison to the earlier years of the band, are you enjoying yourself more or less [now]? Do you still get the same rush to be on stage and is it everything you remembered it to be?
Totally the same. In fact if anything, other than not knowing the future [of the reunited band recording together], or knowing where we stand [in terms of the reunion's longevity], I'm totally psyched about this whole thing because it's really neat to just pull it all back together. Plus we're one of the bands that's had the longevity and it would be a shame for us not to come out again [with another tour or a new album in this "classic" lineup]. I think that's where everybody's coming from.

Any developments concerning the future [like a new recording] or is it all still up in the air?
Well, I don't really know. It's always a possibility. I mean, I don't wanna rule it out, but it is gonna be.... Well, it would be very important to make sure that we all have the time and effort to sit down in a room and put something together, y'know? It would have to be pretty slammin', y'know. We could hack something together, but we're not gonna do that.

There's no doubt of that. I think it's safe to say that you guys generally go all out.
Yeah, you know we'll give it our all.

Back to the 90's again, in some of your recent interviews, although you were professedly happy about the way things had been going [prior to you leaving Anthrax], you seemed a little upset with some of the changes that the band went through [after you left and] prior to your reunion. Did I misinterpret you? If I [read you] right, can you elaborate a little on your feelings about Anthrax in the mid 90's?
Well.... I don't really care [about what happened when I was not in the band]. I mean there's nothing I can really do to change that, y'know?

Kinda like water under the bridge?
Yeah, y'know.... I mean, I could say "well I didn't like that trend...." Well, so what? I just won't listen to it. I mean, I've learned a lot from some bands that are out now that are definitely influenced by us. So, y'know, I'm not offended or anything. I like to listen to anything really. I'm just not a big country fan. Or smooth jazz either, really. I might not listen to that stuff very frequently.

[Changing gears a bit,] you guys are competing with other popular bands today and, in fact, you have a proverbial upper hand since you're the big dog, if you know what I mean. Do you think you're drawing in a whole new fan base of younger listeners who didn't know Anthrax very well prior to the buzz surrounding your reunion?
I do see a lot of new people coming. I like to do a little check on who's out there, y'know? And it's quite nice to see such a large new following. There are definitely some not so new fans out there, but overall I think we're bringing in a lot of new listeners, regardless of their ages. I mean, if you had seen us a long time ago, now you're seeing us all over again in a different time, so I think old fans think it's worth coming out [to see us again,] also.

So about the recent record label developments, what's your opinion of the crazy number of Anthrax items that just hit the market? I thought I read where Scott Ian said he would only buy the [Reunion] DVD if he was forced to choose one of the [four] recent re-issues/compilations and that the large number of them [appearing at once] was due to the label....
Well, it's confusing because there are a couple of labels going, and there's competition, and [record label] people [supposedly] know what [the fans] like to buy -- I don't really. It's really out of my hands, y'know. Like, I haven't even been into that kinda thing lately. With my band before the reunion, [Belladonna,] I really just put a couple things on the internet, got a few orders, and I'm good to go, y'know? Now I've got all these options, but I really have no idea what the deal is with it. I'm sure it would be better if you could just get one product and then bring out another one later, but like I said, there's really not much I can do about it.

Alright man, let's set the record straight here. There's constant talk about you and Journey, and them being your favorite band, etc. Give me the dirt man.
Well, haha, I mean, I like Journey, yeah. But I like a lot of things that are in that sort of genre, like Yes, Kansas, Bad Company, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin. It's just one of so many bands that I like. But so many people are like "God, he listens to Journey." But, y'know, I know those guys and I've sound checked with them and all that sort of thing. So, y'know, they're just one of those bands.... There's really too much good music out there to like one band the most. Y'know, I could name names of people I've been to concerts with.... I mean, I don't care if it's Toto or Nickleback, there's plenty of bands out there that I've hung out with.

Alright. I hear ya man. One last question, a "big picture" question if you will. Is this where you most want to be right now? "This" referring to Anthrax's reunion tour.
Yeah, y'know, aside from me ever leaving, I was content to just keep doing what I was doing. Because when you have something that really works.... Well, I don't know if you've ever been in a band before, but when you get two, three or even four guys that can possibly stick together and roll for a while, it's a really great thing. Especially when there aren't egos involved, when people aren't frustrated or "not sure" of whether they're committed or not. I mean, this is a full time thing, and this is great. So for me to be here and stay here again.... Other than not really knowing what to expect all day, every day, I'm glad to just let it roll. Of course, [the rest of the guys] have done something with someone else [on vocals], and maybe that's lurking in the back of my mind or something, but I'm really not thinking about it, and it's not important enough to matter to me right now. So I'm totally cool with what's going on. I really, really like to play. I mean, even when I play on my own. I mean, God, I was playing drums and singing for the last year. For me to do that is pretty much insane, but I did it, I had fun and I didn't care, man. I didn't care if I was out setting up the drums or driving the car as long as I got to play.

As long as you're enjoying yourself man, that's definitely the most important thing.
Yeah, man!

Alright, well that's pretty much it from my end. You don't have any time left anyway, haha.
Oh, I don't? What time is it?

10 minutes before you're supposed to be on stage.
Oh, whatever, man. All I've gotta do is stretch for a minute and put my brain into "working" mode.

Haha -- get the gears turning?
You got it, man. You gonna be around later?

You bet, man. Anything you wan to say to the fans before we cut this?
I'm just pleased to be here, and I'm really psyched to kick it up a notch and keep going. Hopefully everyone enjoys it. And I thank everyone for even considering anything I've ever done throughout the years.

Don't be so humble! You rock, man.
Haha. Cool, man. Thanks.

Many thanks to Jensen at Adrenaline PR for setting up the interview.


Links of interest:

Anthrax
Nuclear Blast