Anthrax is an American heavy metal band from New York City, formed in 1981. The band was one of the most popular of the 1980s thrash metal scene and is notable for being the first to combine heavy metal with rap music. When thrash metal began to gain a major following in the mid-late 1980s, Anthrax were dubbed one of the "big four" of thrash metal alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer.
Anthrax was formed in mid-1981 by guitarists Scott Ian and Danny Lilker. They found the band's name in a biology textbook and claimed it because it sounded sufficiently evil to them. John Connelly (Nuclear Assault) jammed with them a few times while trying out for the band, but never actually joined. John Connelly ended up being a roadie for the band for many of their early shows. Drummer Dave Weiss and a bassist named Kenny Kushner were other original members. Kenny Kushner was replaced very early on by Paul Kahn, who was found to be insufficient as well, so Lilker chose to take over on bass and Greg Walls joined as lead guitarist and vocalist Neil Turbin, who the band found after going through a series of temporary vocalists (including Ian's 14-year-old brother Jason). Weiss left and was replaced by Greg D'Angelo (White Lion) on drums, who left the band in spring of 1983 while recording the second demo.
Neil Turbin joined the band in late August 1982 and performed two weeks later at Great Gildersleeves on September 12, 1982. This line-up made frequent live performances in the New York/New Jersey tri-state area. The line-up recorded a NWOBHM-sounding demo in July 1982. Greg Walls left in the summer of 1983, and Bob Berry, who was recommended to Neil Turbin by Rhett Forrester of Riot, temporarily replaced him.
Lead guitarist Dan Spitz soon joined the band, replacing Bob Berry. With Spitz, the second demo was recorded. In September, Charlie Benante replaced Greg D'Angelo on drums. This lineup recorded the "Soldiers of Metal" 7" single, produced by Ross the Boss of Manowar. The B-side of this single still featured one of the old demos with Greg D'Angelo on drums, and is the only official recording to feature D'Angelo. This demo won them a recording deal with Megaforce Records. The band recorded their debut album, Fistful of Metal, in late 1983. The album reached #8 on the British Charts and garnered some international attention for Anthrax. It was released in January 1984, followed by a US tour, during which tensions grew between Danny Lilker and the rest of the band due to Lilker's non-paying of rehearsal rent, lateness, sloppiness and unprofessional demeanor. Lilker was released from the band and he went on to form Nuclear Assault with former Anthrax roadie John Connelly.
Charlie Benante's nephew Frank Bello replaced Lilker on bass guitar. Turbin was fired in late August 1984. Matt Fallon was a temporary replacement on vocals in late 1984. Also in late 1984, the band appeared as a four-piece, "The Diseased", with Scott Ian on vocals. They performed a few hardcore punk covers. Vocalist Joey Belladonna was hired on February 27, 1985, and an EP titled Armed and Dangerous was recorded. Some older material was added to fill out the EP including two live tracks from early 1984, and the two songs from the "Soldiers of Metal" 7". Later in 1985, Ian, Benante, and Danny Lilker appeared on the S.O.D. album Speak English or Die. Anthrax's next album, Spreading the Disease, came out in the same year followed by a US tour and a European tour supporting Metallica.
Neil Turbin formed his own band, Deathriders, in early 2003 and is touring the US and Japan in 2008 and releasing an album entitled Back With a Vengeance in 2009. He has stated that he does not want reconciliation with Scott and Charlie of Anthrax.
Anthrax were, almost from the start, noticeable among their peers for their willingness to experiment with genre and image. During the late 1980s, the band radically departed from the "traditional" heavy metal look in favour of a brightly colored "surfer" jam shorts style of appearance. They were known for introducing a humorous side to their music, in contrast to the serious mindedness of fellow metal bands such as the other "Big Four Of Thrash": Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth.
In 1985 the band released their second studio album Spreading the Disease which contained the hit "Madhouse"; and in 1987, Anthrax released their third album, Among the Living. This album began a lyrical trend that focused on movies, comic books and Stephen King novels. All these elements would for years become typical lyrical themes Anthrax fans would come to expect. "I Am the Law" is a tribute to comic book hero Judge Dredd. "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" (which, when spelled backwards, reads "nise fukin life") is about comedian John Belushi's drug addiction and death. "Indians" and the mosh pit anthem "Caught in a Mosh" are both considered Anthrax classics today. The album was dedicated to the memory of Cliff Burton, the late Metallica bass player. The band continued its success, sticking to the thrash metal genre of Among the Living on the album State of Euphoria. The single "Antisocial," originally by French heavy metal band Trust was a staple on MTV in regular rotation as well as on Headbangers Ball.
In 1989, MTV held a contest in which the winner would get to have the band come to their home and trash it. The contest was won by a female fan, and the band subsequently came to her house and caused havoc. This was the inspiration for the band's 1992 appearance on Married... with Children, where the main characters of the show win a similar television contest.
In 1990, Anthrax released the more serious Persistence of Time to even greater success than State of Euphoria. The album was considerably darker but much more technical and progressive than Anthrax's previous work. This made it a hit with metalheads who were afraid to embrace the band because of their "silly" side. The biggest single off the album was a cover of Joe Jackson's "Got the Time". Jackson himself even claimed that he enjoyed Anthrax's cover version of his song. The band's own original song "In My World" as well as "Belly of the Beast" were extremely and moderately successful, respectively. Anthrax was always a band prone to experimentation; in 1987, they appeared on the title track of rap group U.T.F.O.'s album Lethal. In 1991, they collaborated with pioneering rap artists Public Enemy on a joint version of PE's "Bring the Noise", although Anthrax already did a fusion of rap and heavy metal in the form of "I'm the Man" in 1987, a comedic song originally slated to be played with the Beastie Boys (although they did not actually get to play this song with Anthrax until a 1991 remake). "Bring the Noise" was a hit, and the band had a successful joint tour with Public Enemy.
In 1992, Anthrax ended an era by parting ways with vocalist Joey Belladonna and replacing him with ex-Armored Saint vocalist John Bush. The band also left Island Records and signed with Elektra Records to release Sound of White Noise in 1993.
Though it was quite a change from their earlier work (it was more a "heavy grunge" oriented, especially because of the vocals) , White Noise received mostly positive reviews and "Only" was a major hit (in the liner notes for Return of the Killer A's, Ian says James Hetfield once told him it was a "perfect song"). Bush's voice lent a gravitas and weight to a collection of well-thought-out and technically excellent tracks. In keeping with the band's now-trademark eye for unlikely collaborations, classical composer Angelo Badalamenti provided music for the track "Black Lodge," a tribute to the TV show "Twin Peaks". Importantly, the album demonstrated that the band had shed its sometimes cartoonish outlook in favor of mature, thoughtful songwriting, a trend which had begun on their previous studio album Persistence of Time.
During the hiatus between Sound of White Noise and Stomp 442, longtime guitarist Dan Spitz left the band to quit music and become a watchmaker, leaving Anthrax as a quartet for years. In 1995, the band released Stomp 442, an album for which Elektra refused to provide real promotion—it quickly disappeared without a trace. Obviously upset at what they felt was an attempt by the label to kill the album, Anthrax attempted to sever ties with Elektra.
Anthrax signed with independent label Ignition Records, and in 1998 managed to release Volume 8: The Threat Is Real, a punishing album that had the potential to return Anthrax to the top of the metal heap. Unfortunately, almost immediately after Volume 8: The Threat Is Real's release, the label they were signed to went bankrupt and disappeared, making the album difficult to find. Regrouping, the band signed with another label, Beyond Records, and released a greatest-hits album Return of the Killer A's, although Beyond soon went out of business as well. During this period, a two-vocalist tour featuring both Joey Belladonna and John Bush was proposed and set to go, until Bush decided to pull out at the last minute.
During the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, the band altered its website to provide information about the disease, because many people had come there due to simply entering anthrax.com in their browsers. Amid what could have become a PR nightmare for the band, Anthrax issued a press release on October 10, 2001, that jokingly mentioned that they were going to change the name of the band to "something more friendly, like 'Basket Full of Puppies'." The band later put a nail in the coffin of all of the name-change rumors that erupted from the press release at the New York Steel 9/11 benefit concert in November 2001, when they took the stage wearing boiler suits with a different word on each one that, when they stood single-file in a specific order, spelled out the sentence "WE'RE NOT CHANGING OUR NAME". A picture of the band wearing the suits can be seen on the inner tray card of We've Come for You All.
Despite the hardships and various legal entanglements regarding who had the rights to certain albums, Anthrax managed to soldier on. In 2002, new lead guitarist Rob Caggiano joined the band, and the following year the band released We've Come for You All, through Sanctuary Records—an album hailed by the metal press as a long-awaited return to form.
In early 2004, the band returned to the studio to record The Greater of Two Evils—a "live in the studio" re-recording of the band's early work with the then-current lineup. Around the same time, bassist Frank Bello announced he was leaving the band to join Helmet and was replaced on tour by former Armored Saint and Fates Warning bassist Joey Vera.
On April 1, 2005, the official website announced that the Among the Living lineup of Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz, Joey Belladonna, and Frank Bello would be reforming. On solo-dates of the tours, for the first time ever, they performed the entire 1987 classic album Among the Living.
On January 24, 2007, Scott Ian posted a message to Blabbermouth.net.
"Finally, we're going back to work. We're going to Chicago to work our asses off and write a record. It's time. We're ready. One problem... no singer.
We were offered a direct support slot on a major tour this spring and Joey decided he did not want to move forward. The reunion is over. We tried to make it work but I guess that's the problem, you can't 'make' something work. It's gotta be natural and at least becoming a band again and playing live was.
Over the course of around 140 shows we became a better band than we ever were before from 1984–1992. The shows we played from April 2005 through October 2006 were incredible and some of the best gigs we've ever played. Doing Donington again was mind-blowing, Graspop was insane, the insanity in Finland, Chicago, Milwaukee, three times in L.A., three times across Western Canada, Glasgow, London, the Nokia show in NY, the Starland show in NJ, Gigantour, Australia, Japan, really, there's not a bummer in 19 months.
Thank you from the very depths of my soul for being the best fans in the world. We got to relive something that I never thought we could and it turned out better than I ever thought it would. We didn't have to force it, it just happened and it was great.
My curiosity was piqued by the idea of what Anthrax would sound like now with Joey singing. Over the last few months we've discussed this endlessly to no avail. The problems that were there could not be fixed no matter how hard we tried and in the end Joey made the decision.
I know a lot of you out there are disappointed by this and that's the last thing we ever want. None of us want to disappoint. If we were meant to make a reunion record we would've. Some things look easy on paper but the reality is that they are impossible and what works for one band doesn't work for others. Maybe we could've forced something and cashed in on a new record but that's not the way we operate. My reality is I feel we have some unfinished business with the We've Come for You All line-up and I will do my best to finish it. I hope you can find it in your hearts to support all of us in whatever happens going forward. Charlie, Frankie and I are excited about creating new music and for now we will focus on that and write another killer Anthrax record."
After the end of Anthrax's reunion tour, much speculation was cast over whether John Bush would return. Bush has stated that (as of February 7), he was not ready to commit to Anthrax again. In May 2007, Scott Ian said that the announcement of who will be singing for Anthrax would be made at the end of June, though the actual announcement didn't come until December.
In June 2007, John Bush was interviewed by Rock Hard, about being asked to return to Anthrax, and whether or not he is bitter about the reunion. He replied: "No. Bitter is not the way I wanna be about anything. I'm not bitter at all. There was probably not a perfect way to do that, what they did. It was like, how are they gonna say...? I mean, they asked me to do it—the tour with Joey—and it just wasn't right for me, I couldn't do it. So, whatever...if they felt they had to do that, I understand. It wasn't like I was going, 'Yeah, do it. That's great.' But once it happened, I was like, 'okay.' It was like a book ended. It's okay. I mean, it's much better to look at it that way than to be angry or frustrated, 'cause I really don't feel that way."
When asked if he was approached to rejoin the band once Belladonna left the group, Bush said,
"I was asked to write, and it just wasn't right for me. I couldn't go back and say, 'Here I am...' It would be like coming in with my tail between my legs, and that's not right for me. I just couldn't do that. It just didn't feel right to do that. It was about soul, your gut. How does that feel? Does it feel right? Good enough. Sold. Answer."
John Bush did appear with Anthrax for Sonisphere 2009 festival in the UK. Due to the overwhelming fan response following John Bush's performance, a 'Bring Back Bush' campaign was set up and subsequently endorsed by Scott Ian.
On September 3, 2009, it was announced that John Bush will be yet again singing with Anthrax at the Loud Park '09 Festival in Japan on October 17, 2009.
Anthrax with John Bush on vocals are also scheduled to take part in the February 2010, 5-show touring Soundwave 2010 festival in Australia. While details still aren't clear as to whether or not Bush's membership in the band is permanent, drummer Charlie Benante has said that the band is "in the process of regrouping with John Bush. We played two shows with him, and we are looking forward to proceeding with this lineup." Anthrax has also confirmed a "big 4 tour" (with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer). This will be the first time that all four bands have played together
On December 10, 2007, it was announced the band's new vocalist would be Dan Nelson, formerly of Devilsize. Around the same time, it was confirmed that Rob Caggiano would return as lead guitarist.
On May 28, 2008 Anthrax played their first show in 19 months at The Double Door in Chicago. Along with new singer Dan Nelson, the band played new material which was well received by the sold-out crowd. This was despite having some equipment problems—which the band took in stride with the classic humor for which they are known. Also with singer Dan Nelson, Anthrax played Korea for the first time on August 17, 2008. In his monthly Food Coma column, which was posted on December 22, 2008, Anthrax's Scott Ian revealed that he'd "been in the studio working on the new Anthrax album since November 4." Ian went on to say that drums, bass and rhythm had been laid down on a total of 19 tracks, and that the process of laying down vocals had begun. "We should be mixing at the end of January and soon after that giving birth to a really pissed off, loud, fast and heavy child." In a subsequent May 2009 Food Coma column, Scott announced that the album was being mixed by Dave Fortman whose previous credits include both of Evanescence's multi-platinum selling albums and Slipknot's fourth studio album titled All Hope Is Gone. In a post to the Anthrax website, Charlie Benante stated that "Worship Music should be out in May".
On Saturday March 7, 2009 Anthrax played Bogota, Colombia for the first time in their career, opening for Iron Maiden. On July 21, 2009 Anthrax's manager, Izvor Zivkovic, confirmed the departure of Dan Nelson, due to an as yet unspecified illness, which Nelson has since denied, saying: "I was never seriously ill or sick at all, as reported in Anthrax’s 7/17/09 press release. This extremely inflammatory statement hurt me tremendously. This statement misled fans, friends and family members into believing that I was seriously ill when I was not. I was not aware such a statement was being issued and it came as a total shock to me, as I’m sure it did to all of you. It was the other band members’ decision to cancel the tour dates, not mine. I was ready, willing and able to do my job. After issuing the press release the other band members decided, on their own accord, that I had 'resigned' from the band. I never resigned from the band.".
Several members have launched affiliated side projects, such as Scott Ian's project with Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, original Anthrax bassist/lead guitarist Danny Lilker and Billy Milano called Stormtroopers of Death. After leaving Anthrax, Joey Belladonna began a series of solo albums, Belladonna, Spells of Fear, and 03, and John Bush is involved with his former band Armored Saint and Original Anthrax vocalist Neil Turbin has been touring Japan, Europe, Mexico and US with his band Deathriders and recording their debut album "Back With A Vengeance" slated for release in 2009. A number of Anthrax albums have featured guests, most notably Dimebag Darrell, who appeared on "King Size" and "Riding Shotgun" from Stomp 442; "Inside Out" and "Born Again Idiot" from Volume 8: The Threat Is Real; and "Strap It On" and "Cadillac Rock Box" from We've Come for You All. Vocalist Roger Daltrey of The Who has also appeared on the band's We've Come for You All disc, providing backing vocals for "Taking the Music Back". Phil Anselmo of Pantera appears on Volume 8: The Threat Is Real, on the song "Killing Box." Public Enemy worked with Anthrax on a metal version of, "Bring the Noise" from Public Enemy's album "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back".
Main article: List of Anthrax band members
John Bush – Lead Vocals (1992–2005, 2009–present)
Rob Caggiano – Lead Guitar (2001–2005, 2007–present)
Scott Ian – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals (1981–present)
Frank Bello – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals (1984–2004, 2005–present)
Charlie Benante – Drums, Percussion (1983–present)
John Connelly (1981)
Dirk Kennedy (1981)
Jason Rosenfeld (1981–1982)
Neil Turbin (1982–1984)
Matt Fallon (1984)
Joey Belladonna (1984–1992, 2005–2007)
Dan Nelson (2007–2009)
Danny Lilker (1981)
Greg Walls (1981–1983)
Bob Berry (1983)
Dan Spitz (1983–1995, 2005–2007)
Paul Crook (1995–1998)
Kenny Kushner – bass (1981)
Paul Kahn – bass (1981)
Danny Lilker (1981–1984)
Joey Vera (2004–2005)
Dave Weiss (1981)
Greg D'Angelo (1981–1983)
Official Website: http://www.anthrax.com/