Scott Ian says that ANTHRAX should have given singer Joey Belladonna “a shot” before firing him more than two decades ago and replacing him with John Bush.
Belladonna, whose most recent return to ANTHRAX was officially announced in May 2010, was originally the lead singer of ANTHRAX from 1984 to 1992, and was considered part of the band’s classic lineup (alongside Dan Spitz, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante), which reunited and toured during 2005 and 2006. His voice was featured on over ten albums, which reportedly sold eight million copies worldwide.
During an appearance on the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast — recorded earlier in the year but only recently uploaded to YouTube — Ian spoke about ANTHRAX‘s decision to part ways with Belladonna, explaining: “I just truly didn’t have the patience anymore. I think my biggest problem was I was writing the words, and I couldn’t deal with the fact anymore that someone else was singing my lyrics, but I couldn’t sing; there was no way I could be the singer of ANTHRAX. I think it really, really did come down to that — that I couldn’t stand it anymore. These are my words, these are my feelings, it’s my emotions, and you’re not me. And even learning the songs and hearing them back, that’s not how I hear it in my head. ‘No, no. Like this. Like this. Like this. Like this.'”
He continued: “My solution at the time was turning around to the rest of the band and saying, ‘It’s either [Joey] or me.’ I pulled the same shit Neil Turbin [former ANTHRAX singer] pulled years before that. I said, ‘I can’t do this again. We need to make a change.’ And it wasn’t just me holding the gun. Everyone was on the same page. Everyone felt like what we had done as ANTHRAX in the ’80s into the early ’90s, we had already moved past that. The sound was changing.
“If you listen to ‘Persistence Of Time’ , musically, that record has more to do with ‘Sound Of White Noise’ , the first John Bush record, than it has to do with ‘State Of Euphoria’ , the previous ANTHRAX album. Musically, we were already going somewhere else, but Joey, for us, I guess at the time, felt like, ‘He’s not representing us anymore.'”
Ian went on to say that he has since come to see Joey‘s unique vocal contributions in a different light than he did more than twenty years ago. “Of course, I spent a year of my life writing a book [‘I’m The Man: The Story Of That Guy From Anthrax’] and looking back on that time and really kind of getting back into those shoes, and… we should have given the guy a shot,” he said. “Why we didn’t give him the shot, I really don’t know why we weren’t able to… Because I even remember, I remember Jonny Z, our manager, he was, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure this is the decision you wanna make?’ ‘Yes, yes, yes.'”
The guitarist added that at least part of the reason ANTHRAX made a singer change was to take the sound in a heavier direction, something that they didn’t think was possible with Belladonna at the helm.
“I wanted it to be harder,” Ian said. “I couldn’t do it, but I wanted someone who could almost… I wanted it to be harder. I didn’t want Lemmy — I didn’t want it to sound like that — I just wanted it to be harder. And John [Bush] brought it, for sure.”
Belladonna has been critical of ANTHRAX‘s decision to fire him at the height of the band’s success, telling MikeJamesrRockShow.com a few months ago: “Personally, it sucks just to think all those years went by that I didn’t really have a chance to do anything. ‘Cause I could have sang on any of those records [that were made during the John Bush era]. Not to say that what they did was… whatever reason and whatever style and all that stuff. I could have easily sang that regardless, no bones. It would have been easy to sing. It’s just I think they were chasing some other idea. I always say that, whether they disagree. I don’t think there was any reason to move. But you know what? We’re here now.”
Bush told Metal Talk about the task of replacing Joey Belladonna in ANTHRAX back in 1992: “I respect Joey Belladonna; he did great for ANTHRAX in his heyday and in the years that he made records and they were popular. You know, I think I just went out and did it from my heart and just said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go out and kick ass and sing to the best of my ability.’ And I think we made some great records. I just think they were different records than what ANTHRAX did in the ’80s.”
He continued: “The funny thing is, sometimes there was this, ‘Oh, we’re the same band. Oh, we’re the same band,’ and looking back, well, we kind of were a little different band. I think we were. But at that time, we kept trying to convince people, ‘Oh, it’s the same band. It’s the same band.’ But when you make a singer change, the sound will change a little bit, which, that was what the intention was at the time.”
ANTHRAX is continuing to tour in support of its latest album, ‘For All Kings’, which came out on February 26 via Nuclear Blast.