Friday AXS spoke with Frank Bello, bassist to “Big Four" member Anthrax. These powerhouse thrash masters have a new DVD, "Kings Among Scotland" coming out this Spring and are hitting the road for round two of Anthrax’s tour with Killswitch Engage. Click here for part one of this interview.
AXS: It has been said that one can hear Anthrax’s influence on a number of bands, who were your influences?
F.B.: For all of us it was the same, Black Sabbath, Rush, Iron Maiden, Kiss. All that stuff that stand the test of time. Have you seen that Rush special on Showtime? I was riveted. I got a beer out, sat down and watched it two times in a row. I am such a diehard Rush fan. There was stuff in there that I have never seen. Just getting into their heads and discovering things that happened that I never knew. It was such a pleasure. There will never be another Rush. I was sad to see them retire and I am so glad I have all their records. There was something so special about those three guys when they play together. Charlie and I grew up together and we always jammed Rush. When you listen to Anthrax play it is a rarity if you don’t hear us play some Rush.
AXS: How did you go from Rush to the speeded up thrash sound?
F.B.: You know what? I don’t really know where that came from. It was the energy we felt. The scene in the 80s had a lot of bands with a lot of angst. Let’s face it. That is why you and I like heavy metal. There is angst in our gut and we have to meet it somehow. We listen to heavy music because it feels f**king good. I love this music more now than ever. I am very passionate about it and I want to see it continue on. I am so thankful to see a whole new generation of younger bands come up. I want to see this type of music succeed because I think it needs to succeed.
AXS: When NASA played "Got The Time" to wake up the Mars rover on December 13, 2016 Anthrax became the first metal band to have their music heard on Mars. How did that feel and how did that come about?
F.B.: First of all I have to give kudos to Joe Jackson, it is not our song it is his. I love the fact that everyone loves our version of it. I love Joe Jackson and I love his version of it. His bass player is phenomenal. It was the ultimate compliment that they put Anthrax on Mars. I think my press agent called me and then I read it in the New York Times. I thought to myself, holy sh*t this is resume stuff! It really is the coolest thing. If I make it to 90 I am going to be sitting there thinking about how I have a song on Mars. I have to say this, at this point we all feel very fortunate to be in a band that is still thriving. We are so thankful that our music is still relevant and there has been such a great buzz for the last two records we put out. We feel like we are doing our best work now. Imagine that. 30 years into your career and people are saying you are doing your best work. That is the ultimate compliment. Not only that but it gives us a kick in the ass to want to do more and do better. We are in a great place when it comes to writing. The live show has never been better. We have no intention on resting on our laurels. I want to write a f**king heavy record. The guys in Anthrax now are hungrier than we have ever been. There is a fire here and that lends itself to a heavy record. When you feel that energy and that fire in your belly, I can’t wait to hear what we come out with next. I am psyched. I know what we are capable of.
AXS: You play an ESP signature bass, what grabbed you about that bass that made you say that is the one for me?
F.B.: I used ESP in the 80s on Among The Living. My last signature bass was a reissue of that bass. They didn’t even have it anymore. I asked them to make me this bass again. I gave them that bass from Among The Living because it had a magic to it. I knew players would like it. I am all about musicians and I think it is important to give a good quality bass to players. It is one of ESP’s most successful basses now. I am very happy that people listen to that bass and can hear the quality. It makes all the difference.
AXS: What about that older bass made it so special?
F.B.: It is made out of alder wood with and ebony fret board. I put these EMG pickups in it which I love. They are almost passive and active together, if you can understand what I mean. It is a great combination. It is an active pickup but is sounds passive so it lends itself to that sound. There is a lot of room to play with. I have a new ESP signature bass model that just came out and they will be showing it at NAMM in January. All I want to do is put out a good quality bass that people can jam with. It really means a lot to me.
AXS: Anthrax is out on the road with Killswitch Engage for round two of this tour. How did that come about?
F.B.: We love playing with those guys. We each get full sets on the tour and just flip flop each night as to who goes first. You know what? It doesn’t matter. The fans love both bands, stay for both bands and get into both bands the same way. We have Havoc opening this show. I think it is a great package. We did a run of this show in the states already, but promoters kept coming up to us during the tour and asked if wanted to do another run of it because we were packing houses and selling out everywhere we went. We had no idea. We knew we were having a good time and the shows were doing great but we didn’t know the extent. We said sure, set it up. Fans love it and ticket sales are great! It is a good bill. I think it is a great show to see. There is a lot of value to it.
AXS tickets are available for Rams Head Live in Baltimore on March 1, 2018 as well as other select venues. A complete list of tour dates can be found on the Anthrax website. Follow Anthrax on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more information.