Anthrax – Across The Ocean


Anthrax has delivered! Album number eleven For All Kings is a massive statement to the world that they’re back and ready to rock. Five years is a long time between albums but as drummer Charlie Benante explains to Across The Ocean that they played three hundred shows on the last album cycle and wanted to make sure they delivered a quality album from start to end for their fans.


It must be exciting times with the release of For All Kings and charting really well here in Australia?

Yeah! There was never any pressure to do another album. The reason why it took a few years to do it was that we did three hundred shows on that Worship Music cycle. That took a lot of time away from doing another record. I can’t write music on the road as there are too many distractions for me. I need to be by myself and concentrating on that. It did take a few but there are good reasons for it you know.

With song writing do you need to do something special to get in the writing mode?

I come home and go in to my studio, zone out and start playing or I’ll have a few ideas in mind when I go in there then make them take shape. Once I feel that I have a good chunk of stuff I’ll do demo for a song and I’ll send it off to the guys and see how they feel about it. Usually nine times out of ten I get the thumbs up, that’s good! Then we will meet together and start playing these songs, these ideas and it takes shape from there.

Do you carry around a notebook so you can get the ideas down as soon as they come to you?

I have this little app on my phone that I either sing or hum in to if I’m driving in my car or doing something else. I’ll just hum something and at least the idea is not forgotten so I can go back to it, listen to it and transcribe it to guitar then I’ll play it through a guitar. That’s how I do it sometimes.

Were the ideas For All Kings fairly well established before the recording sessions got underway?

There are some songs that are just ok and that’s the way it is. That’s it and that’s the way it is. Of course, the other guys will play a song or a riff in a different way, the way they interpret sometimes that it’s good. Then it’s like that’s cool, leave it that way.

Do any particular influences drive or inspire the creative process? Some reviewers have make comments that some songs were inspired by the terrible events that took place in Paris.

No, no, no! No songs were inspired by Paris at all. I think this is getting a little misconstrued. We have a song called Evil Twin and the week that we released that song the attacks on Paris happened so nothing was written because of Paris. It was very coincidental how that happened but nothing was written because of Paris.

Eleven albums in does the recording process still present many challenges to overcome?

This one was really easy to do in the studio. I’ll tell you the reason why it was very comfortable was that we didn’t try and do it in one shot. We split it up, we did some recording in December and then we did the rest of the recording in the beginning of March. It kept us interested rather than going in and recording twenty something songs or drum track twenty something songs. It was like in the past it became now what, which song is this? This time it was way better and kept us interested, kept us hungry and kept us excited. It is a big thing when you’re in the studio because you’re going for your best performances. I think it is better to do it in blocks of two at two different times. I really think it helped us a lot.

Is this the happiest you’ve felt about recording an album during your whole career with Anthrax?

There’s always situations for let’s say when you make your first album you’re so excited because it is a totally new experience, you’ve never experienced this before, you’re like a sponge trying to absorb as much as you possibly could from this experience. Then the second album comes you have a bit of experience to you but wow, all of a sudden you’re learning still more. I think for me that’s my favourite thing about being in the band with the creative side to it. I would take the creative side to it over playing live any day as being in the studio I feel like I’m in my element, I love it and I just love being in the studio. Just because of the whole technology portion of it the feeling of what you’re about to create is eventually going to be heard by so many people. That to me in its self is so exciting.

With that in mind does that still amaze you with the power of the internet how quickly and easily new songs can be heard by fans?

It’s great and I’ve always we can always have something special but it isn’t until other people hear it that you know how special it actually is or how terrible it actually is. I like feedback, I like constructive criticism but I don’t like criticism just for the fact that I can give you criticism. I don’t appreciate that but if you or I have a specific problem with something I would hope that it would be in a somewhat structured way to that, ‘ok, I see what you mean there’. To me, music was never wrong in a sense particularly if you’re working hard on it. How can music be wrong? If anything music can be copied or attempted to be copied. Sometimes you just fail at it, sometimes you copy it so well that you’re really hidden the place where you got it from, you know what I mean?

That’s a good point you raise, it’s not like anyone tries to make a bad album.

Yeah, the intentions are good every time but I think somewhere along the line they probably spent more time on four or five songs and neglected the others. What you come out with is basically four or five songs deep and the rest you’ll never ever play or listen to. I see that a lot lately where bands are making records so they can go out and do a tour, which I’m totally against that. I’d rather spend the time making a record that is full of good songs.

It is great that bands like Anthrax still believe in the full album experience and not short changing fans with only half a good album of material.

I don’t really dig that when people just buy certain songs off a record. Making this record as a whole piece is important to us and I want the listener to have the whole experience. I don’t want them in some shape or form go out to a restaurant and just order potatoes with some ketchup, you’re missing the meat.

The artwork is top shelf and must lend itself well to the vinyl release?

That’s my favourite part really is working on the cover because I do want the music to reflect the cover and I do want the cover to reflect the music. I met with a friend Alex Ross who is an awesome artist and we were talking about concepts and stuff and came up with this concept. We started bouncing ideas off of each other and this is what came out of it. You have to remember that both Alex and myself are album cover geeks. We love certain album covers and our first love is the Queen cover News Of The World. I just love that cover and he loves that cover to. I want our fans especially to have that experience of sitting in front listening to the record and having the cover in front of them starring at the cover getting lost in the whole thing. That experience is now something that is really forgotten about. Who does that anymore?

Is there an Australian tour on the cards?

We have no plans at the moment but there is a bunch of stuff we have booked but I don’t think we’re going to miss Australia this time. I hope we’ll get down there and play a handful of shows.

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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