Within the cavernous backstage area sipping a cup of tea, we find Benante relaxed and in fine form as he talks about his true passion in life – Anthrax.
OD – Firstly, let’s address the touring schedule For All Kings, at this stage you’ve been around the globe with the album and also got to fit in those “Among The Living” anniversary shows also, when you get this deep into an album’s touring schedule do you get itchy feet with regards to creating new material, as I know that originally there wasn’t any shows scheduled in until Slayer got in touch for the US and now the Europe leg of their farewell tour?
CHARLIE – I’d say about eight to ten months ago, I started to get that itch again and began working on some new ideas, doing some demos and I’m really happy with what I have in the bag so far. So, at the beginning of next year, we’re gonna get together and start working on the new tunes for the follow-up to ‘For All Kings‘.
OD – Scott (Ian, guitarist) mentioned recently – as have you, that the follow-up to For All Kings is taking a much more heavy and aggressive formation to that of the last few studio albums, is that still the case or are the ideas changing?
CHARLIE – You know what, the stuff I’ve been working on at the moment is quite aggressive, well some of it is and there are some other vibes also but the basic vibe and direction that the writing is going right now, it seems to be more aggressive if anything else. I don’t know if the lyrics are going to be aggressive, but the current political/social climate is almost dictating of how that may go. Do you know what I mean?
I’ve stopped posting things about my own beliefs and political standpoint on things because the bashing I think I’ll take for it and I don’t think that’s fair. I’m an American, I pay my taxes and all of this stuff affects me just as much as it affects the next person.
OD – Do you think that because of who you are, and what you do for a living distorts peoples perception of you when you express how you feel about matters such as the political landscape in America?
CHARLIE – To some extent. Just because other people happen to work in an office or work construction and no way shape or form, do what I do, or understand that playing music is also a job. I get the same shit that other musicians or actors get for expressing their opinions and I think it’s really unfair. It’s like they think we should just shut up and play our music or whatever like it’s not a real job. The feeling from this people is like; “We don’t want to hear your views, just play music!“.
The whole thing that they misunderstand is that I’m not trying to bash anyone in the political field, I just have my own opinion on things and if they keep an open mind it may open some new ideas or thoughts of which they haven’t thought of before, just like when I listen, watch or read some other person’s opinion, it makes me think and assess my own feelings.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll say shit about Democrats just as much as I’ll say things about Republicans and at the end of the day, that’s my opinion. Those other people that can’t handle any other opinions but their own are just ignorant. These are the same people that don’t own a passport! They don’t travel abroad and have just one very close-minded view on life. That’s just so depressing when you think about it. How are they going to understand the world or other cultures if they have never travelled anywhere? It’s just bizarre.
OD – The re-issue of State of Euphoria has finally been released and with reference to happenings with the band around that time, it was interesting to hear your thoughts on the events that took place during the creation of that album. Did you find that going deep into that period of the bands legacy, was an interesting exercise for you to carry out?
CHARLIE – It was definitely a learning experience. If you look back at pre-State of Euphoria, that very name came from the feeling that we were all experiencing during that period of time. We had just come off the back of two very successful albums (Spreading the Disease (1985) and Among the Living (1987) and we were totally on a high and it wasn’t until State of Euphoria (1988) was out for short while when we started to get some negativity from the press.
Bear in mind, during this time, our fans loved that album. It was the press that started to pick out things like; “Why are these guys smiling all the time?” and with the photos; “Why are Anthrax wearing these type of clothes, they’re supposed to be a thrash metal band?” it was all of that type of stuff and it really started to take its toll on us, so I remember we actually stopped doing press for a while as they were focusing on everything but the music.
It was kind of like when the press was more concerned with what haircuts The Beatles had rather than what was happening with their music.
OD – Now with State…. reissue completed and released, would you ever go back into anything else from the bands’ discography and give the same treatment?
CHARLIE – Well, I’ve already begun work on the Persistence of Time (1990) stuff. I have a lot of stuff going on with that right now and I think that it’s gonna be even better than the State of Euphoria stuff.
OD – Do you enjoy going back into the old stuff and giving it a ‘facelift’ for want of a better word?
CHARLIE – I really enjoy it. I’m a fan of music, first and foremost. I still get goosebumps when I hear a band that I really like release something new or re-master a classic album. Like, I love The Beatles and when they released The White Album (1968) re-issues (2018) and brightened up the mix, I just loved it.
I want to hear every little nook and cranny that they put into that record and hear everything that was going on with that album as with many others. That’s what I want to give to the Anthrax fans. I’m a huge fan of our music and want to ‘geek’ out with the re-mastered stuff as much as I can. (laughs)
OD – When do you think we’ll see the release of ‘Persistence of Time‘ remastered album?
CHARLIE – Well, the anniversary will be in 2020, so somewhere along those dates or a little bit after. Trust me, it’s gonna be awesome.
OD – One of the big things for me still to this day is album artwork and Anthrax have some incredible, iconic covers. Of all of your covers, which is your favourite and why?
CHARLIE – Ohh man, that’s a hard question. (laughing) I’d have to say from the classic stuff I’d say ‘Among the Living‘ as it still to this day, freaks me out a little bit. From the more present-day releases, I’d have to go with ‘For All Kings’ (2016) as it just has so much depth and I’m a huge fan of the artist, Alex Ross. I really cherish that album cover.
OD – With this being ‘Slayer’s swan song’, should that day come when Anthrax are calling it a day, would you like to do it the way Slayer are currently doing it as it’s impossible to not feel a sense of celebration and appreciation with these shows?
CHARLIE – Sure, I really respect the way Slayer are doing things as they are totally going out on a high. Maybe in a few years, who knows what will happen? There’s a lot of bands that have done the ‘farewell‘ tours and some of them are still out there doing it (laughs).
Who really knows, I’m not in their heads but from what I hear, and what they say, this is really it.
OD – Being a huge Queen fan, have you yet seen the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ movie yet?
CHARLIE – Yes, I have seen it and I really enjoyed it. There were a few things that were a little off for me. Being a huge Queen fan myself, it was kind of obvious to me. I understand why they did it the way they did, for the sake of the movie as some things are going to get lost here and there to keep it within the two or so hours, or whoever long it is and that’s understandable.
Overall, I really enjoyed Rami’s (Malek) performance, who plays Freddie Mercury. It was obvious that he had really studied just about everything that Mercury did and he nailed it. He clearly did his homework. You will find yourself being lost in that movie and afterwards being super-charged about Queen.
OD – We’ve seen so many bands reform over the last decade including The Misfits which nobody saw coming! Do you think there will be any possibility of S.O.D ever doing anything again down the line?
CHARLIE – (Sighs, laughs) Next question. (laughs)
OD – With Frank (Bello, Bass) doing his thing with Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) Altitudes & Attitude and Scott with The Damned Things, have you ever had the desire to do something outside of Anthrax with you perhaps taking a different role on guitar or anything at all for that matter? Even a solo album?
CHARLIE – Believe me, I have a tonne of material to do a solo album but for right now I’m all about Anthrax. Maybe someday, who knows, but for right now, I kind of feel like Anthrax is my solo stuff.
OD – Scott has put out a couple of books now, could you ever see yourself doing something like that in the future?
CHARLIE – Someone asked me about doing a book and it got me thinking. If I was gonna do a book, I’d have some stories in there, some cooking ideas, comic stuff, drawings etc.
OD – You’ve just described the new Beastie Boys Book which came out this week
CHARLIE – Oh really? I didn’t know that was actually out yet. (Laughs) I totally gotta get that man.
OD – Finally, what would be the most important album to you in your collection regardless of genre. Just a great fucking album
CHARLIE – Wow! That’s so hard. There are literally so many albums that I can’t live without, but I’d have to say, Led Zeppelin, ‘4’, (1971) that album is outstanding on so many levels.
Get the full review of Anthrax with Slayer, Lamb of God and Obituary in Dublin’s 3Arena last week, via this link.
‘For All Kings‘ is out now via Nuclear Blast Records and ‘State of Euphoria‘ re-issued 30th Anniversary edition can also be purchased via this link.
Anthrax are currently on tour with Slayer, Lamb of God and Obituary across Europe on the following dates;
November 7, 2018
November 9, 2018
November 10, 2018
Metro Radio Arena
November 12, 2018
November 14, 2018
November 15, 2018
November 17, 2018
November 18, 2018
Palau Sant Jordi
November 20, 2018
November 22, 2018
November 23, 2018
November 24, 2018
November 26, 2018
November 27, 2018
November 29, 2018
November 30, 2018
December 2, 2018
December 3, 2018
December 5, 2018
December 6, 2018
December 8, 2018
Helsinki Ice Hall