Interview with Charlie Benante
Charlie Benante has been the dervish of mayhem for years and years behind the drum kit for heavy metal icons Anthrax. While other bands of his genre seem to have been publicized much more (not rightly so in most cases), Anthrax has always talked the talk and delivered the goods to their fans. You will never hear great debates by Anthrax fans of how they might have slipped over the years, and there is a reason for that: They haven't. They are getting ready to deliver a new onslaught come April 15th with their new album We've Come For You All. Charlie was kind enough to spend a few moments to answer some questions for me here following the turn of the new year.
[Billy Donald] I saw Anthrax live here in Louisville back in 1998 when you were touring with Pantera, and I thought you guys blew Pantera off the stage, honestly! Are you ready to hit the road again? Any ideas when Anthrax is hitting the states on tour?
Charlie Benante Thank you! I think we'll hit the road in the U.S. in April, after the record comes out here.
[Billy Donald] I know you have probably been absolutely saturated with this question since the events of September 11, and I apologize in advance for it's redundancy, but how much did the anthrax scares in 9/11's aftermath around the country affect the band's PR? I heard that there was a glimmer of consideration about changing the band's name. How messy did it get?
Charlie Benante Well, it could've gotten a lot worse. Thank god it didn't become wide spread and it was contained. We were quite nervous about the whole situation. People told us "don't change the name" but the way we felt was - if it would bring up bad feelings, we didn't want any association to it.
[Billy Donald] On a much lighter note, I know that you had a good Christmas and New Years and you got a lot of new toys! Knowing that you are an avid toy collector, I was curious to what your most unusual or rarest toy is in your collection? Personally, my rarest toy in my collection is my 1976 John Travolta “Vinnie Barbarino” doll in the original box!
Charlie Benante Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, I have some of the very first “Simpsons” and Nightmare Before Christmas stuff and a ton of Star Wars things.
[Billy Donald] Speaking of toys and games, were you aware of your song, “Madhouse,” being included in the soundtrack of the PS2 game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”? If so, have you played the game and enjoyed it?
Charlie Benante I know all about it, how do you think it got there in the first place?
[Billy Donald] Let's talk drums a bit! I know that you said you have been playing drums since around the age of five. Throughout the years, who have been some of your biggest influences?
Charlie Benante John Bonham, Neil Peart, Steve Smith and Bobby Brady.
[Billy Donald] What is the single most joyful or significant thing to you about playing the drums?
Charlie Benante I am safe when I am playing, nothing can touch me- I'm in my zone.
[Billy Donald] What kind of gear are you using on the road or in the studio right now?
Charlie Benante Tama drums, Paiste cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans drum heads...what else?
[Billy Donald] Charlie, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to join me here. This has been a real treat for me to have you here. I wanted to finish by asking you what other projects you and the band have for the next few months?
Charlie Benante We'll be heading to Europe in March and then back here for a tour of the states. The record is killer and thats that!!!!!
Be sure to visit the Official Anthrax Website for more album and tour information.
Reprinted with permission from Billy Donald’s Rock Interviews