Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

10/14/2016

Q/A: 'Breathing Lightning' with Frank Bello of Anthrax

By Ruben Mosqueda // Oregon Music News spoke with Anthrax bassist Frank Bello about their new album ‘For All Kings’, their sold-out show in Portland and Anthrax’s 35th year anniversary; amongst other things.

“We went through a bit of gap where we didn’t Portland” recalls Anthrax bassist Frank Bello. “Fans think we intentionally passed on Portland but there weren’t offers from promoters. We can’t play somewhere when there aren't offers [to play there].” Anthrax is making their way out the Northwest [with Death Angel in direct support] on October 21st they’ll perform at The Hawthorne Theater. Anthrax is promoting their latest effort ‘For All Kings’ which was released in February of this year. ‘For All Kings’ picks up where 2010s ‘Worship Music’ left off; with stellar tracks like “Evil Twin,” “Breathing Lightning,” and “Blood Eagle Wings;” ‘For All Kings’ is a must own album. Oregon Music News spoke with bassist Frank Bello about their new album, their sold-out show in Portland and Anthrax’s 35th year anniversary; amongst other things.

Worship Music’ was released 6 years ago and it still seems fresh to me. So to get a new Anthrax record [‘For All Kings’]  when you’ve not grown tired of a band's previous effort; that’s a huge plus. Any worries about following up ‘Worship Music?’

I’ll be honest with you dude, there is no secret; they key thing is caring about the music. It’s not an easy thing. You can’t write a record in two weeks and put it out. We’re fans of this music and we have to be into what we’re writing because we’re going to be playing it every night. Listen dude, we’re fans; we didn't want to disappoint ourselves. We didn’t want to release anything that did give you that fire in your belly and get you going. We hope that our music connects with the fans which thankfully judging from the reaction it has. If you write a good record or a write a good song the rest will take care of itself. You know we’ll be touring forever behind it, which we are. It’s great feeling when people connect with your music. We’re incredibly grateful for it.

As a fan I knew that Anthrax was creeping up on 30+ years in the business; it’s been 35 years of Anthrax in 2016. I can’t believe it. We’re getting old. What’s been a memorable musical memory in your time with the band?

First, the old thing. I look at it like this; everyone on earth is getting old. I’m up for a challenge I think everyone in Anthrax is up for a challenge. I look at it like ‘bring it.’ In spite of us getting old we should write the best music of our careers and we should be putting on the best shows. We do just that. We go for it and we leave it all on the table. That’s how we grew up.

With getting older I also would like to think that I’m getting better. You never stop learning that’s my take and that’s how I live my life. We have bumps, bruises, backaches all that stuff from touring. We keep in pretty good shape we eat well and take care of ourselves. Anthrax wasn’t a ‘party band' so we didn’t get into all of that. I think we’re good to go. I’m a yoga guy so that helps a lot. I look forward to the future with this bans and I think we have a lot more to say.

As for a career highlight? I think to still having a record label and to have a record like ‘For All Kings’ come out. People are acknowledging it and hearing from people in the press referring to it as “our best work to date;' that really feels good man. That’s the real deal right there. After 35 years and we can put out two consecutive records that connect with people like that and that are referred to as “our best work?!” How can you not love that? I think we’ve really captured something really cool and we’re in such a great place.  

We’re seeing our fan base growing. We’ve been seeing a younger fan base coming to the shows. There are people who hadn't heard of Anthrax before we’re getting people from 12 years old to people into their 50s. The great thing is everybody is invited come out party and have fun.

I’ve been a fan of this music for years there’s something about it that keeps you young. I might be in my 40s but I’m still a fan. There’s people that I bump into that say “You’re still into that? Oh, I grew out of that years ago.”

How do you outgrow metal?! I’m 51 years old and I’m just as into it as I have ever been. This is a way of life and I don’t consider it a trend, you know what I mean? I’ve always love the music from the early days of metal. This is a way of life for me. Really? This is not a trend for me! It’s a community that I really appreciate and I’m loyal to. I agree this music keeps you young and if you’re a true metal fan you’re in it for life.

I think back to the reason why I was drawn to this music was that as a kid I had a lot of angst in me. This music met that angst; it really did. I’m pretty sure into your 40s you never lost that? You’ve got that fire, you know what I mean? I’ve still got it. I think it’s probably grown over the years actually. So to me this generational thing or the getting older thing is all bullshit. I feel the same inside as I did years ago. I can’t wait to play tonight! [laughs] I’m full of fucking energy I’m ready to go! The whole band is! [laughs]

My first taste of Anthrax was watching the “Madhouse” video on MTV. I immediately scraped extra lunch money here and there to pick up the ‘Spreading the Disease’ cassette. What’s your recollection of the making of that video and what was the budget for it?  

[laughs] The “Madhouse” video was so long ago the people in that video were mainly our friends. We called up a bunch of friends to be in the music video and we shot the thing in this abandoned insane asylum. That’s what it truly was! [laughs] I remember it was freezing. There was no money! Let’s be honest until later in our career we didn’t have any money for video budgets! [laughs] It was like here’s some coffee and some doughnuts! [laughs] It was really cold, long hard, miserable fucking day! It was a lot of fun having our friends screwing around all day with us and being part of the music video. I still watch that from time to time a think of it with fun and fond memories.

What was the contrast between ‘Clash of the Titans’ and touring with some of the same bands on ‘The Big 4?’ Obviously Metallica not being a part of ‘Clash of the Titans.’

Well, like you mentioned on ‘The Big 4’ Metallica is one of biggest bands in the world; along with AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses. I’m going there first; ‘The Big 4’ was an amazing thing that they did for all of us. It was celebration of all of us growing up together with this thrash thing. We’re all friends. It was like a high school reunion. I really hope before we all go away to that big thing in the sky that get to do that again because it was such a great experience.

“Clash of the Titans’ was also a very fun touring experience because it was three bands that were on their game and on fire. It was just great. We’re all still friends this many years later. It’s crazy. Right now we’re on tour with Slayer; we hang out so much it’s unbelievable. We’re always in each other’s dressing rooms. I’ll give you an example; Tom Araya [Slayer] was in our dressing room last night playing songs that you’d never imagine he’d play and talking about music and stuff it was wild! [laughs] Then we went into Slayer’s dressing room and had a couple shots of Jägermeister with Kerry King! [laughs] It’s just a really fun time. We’re having a great time it’s just such a cool hang.

Getting back to ‘Clash’ it was a great vibe, great package and we had Alice in Chains! Let me tell you something, I watched Alice in Chains each and every night and I loved them each and every night. That band went out and they gave it all on that tour and they still do to this day. I love them, they’re my friends and I’m so happy for their success.

You know what was insane was watching Alice in Chains opening an arena show [Clash of the Titans] after you’ve caught them opening for local Portland bands months before.

Yeah, well at the end of the day they write some great songs man. I think that’s an example of how it’s supposed to happen you work hard and hopefully good things come, right?

Also everyone that was on that tour [Clash of the Titans] was touring behind what would become a landmark record in their career.

It’s a crazy thing when you think about it when you look back. That’s the great part about the journey that we’re on I think we’ve been very fortunate; from our current tour, ‘Clash’ to ‘The Big 4’ we’re thankful and grateful for everything. Who would have thought that as kid from the Bronx I’d be where I’m at now? I thank the metal community for everything. I’m proud to be a part of it.

What record do you think is THE definitive Anthrax record and why?

‘For All Kings!’ I’ll tell you why and it’s not a shameless plug. After all these year we still care about what we do; we know how important it is to write that ‘right song.’ We can not ‘phone it in.’ It’s more important now than ever because no one makes a dollar on records? It’s still that important to us.

Here’s some songs that are the new record and you tell us the likelihood of them making your headlining set in Portland?

[laughs] Sure got for it! [laughs]

“Breathing Lightning?”

Very good possibility.

“Evil Twin?”

Very good possibility.

“Blood Eagle Wings?”

We’re working on it! [laughs] You’ll probably see that next year.

“Monster at the End?”

Very good possibility.

Last question any idea what was in Peggy Bundy’s ‘mystery pack?!’

[laughs] No. All I know is that fucking smelled! That’s all I know! [laughs]

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