Hippo Manchester
October 6, 2005

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Nite: Unfinished business

Get your disease and Antichrist tendencies here, baby!

By Richie Victorino   rvictorino@hippopress.com

Both Judas Priest and Anthrax have proved the ability of bands to break apart, live their own lives and still come home again.

Those old enough can recall the major impact Judas Priest had on heavy metal in the ’70s and ’80s, and the impact and innovation Anthrax brought to the world of metal, and rap, in the ’80s.

For those not old enough to remember all that, the freshest memory of Judas Priest might be when frontman Rob Halford came out of the closet a few years back or that the band was the inspiration behind the Mark Wahlberg movie Rock Star. Rock Star is so similar to real-life Judas Priest lore that it goes beyond the gay frontman scenario. Halford’s replacement in Judas Priest, Tim “Ripper” Owens, was playing in a Judas Priest tribute band before hitting the big time with the real band.  Your freshest memory of Anthrax might be the pesky, powdery white stuff that had folks across the country on edge shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

But there’s so much more.

OK, youngsters, did you ever watch Beavis and Butthead when Beavis ranted “Breaking the law, breaking the law.” That, my friends, is a little Judas Priest flavor for you from the song “Breaking the Law.”

And back when heavy-hitting rap artists Public Enemy owned the hip-hop world — before it was even hip-hop — speed-metal enthusiasts Anthrax decided to team up with the rap group for a break-them-barriers-down experience, with the song “Bring the Noise.”

Since leaving Judas Priest in 1990, Halford has kept busy forming various bands, including Fight and Two, as well as Halford, a side project on Trent Reznor’s Nothing Records. In 2003, Halford rejoined the band to put together Metalogy, a box set which encompasses the band’s entire career. This meeting of the minds brought Halford back to Judas Priest, even though he had publicly stated he would not return to the band. That year, Owens left, allowing Halford to pick up as if he never left. The band recently released its latest album, Angel of Retribution.

As far as Anthrax is concerned, different members left at different times.  The only original member to remain firmly planted in Anthrax is guitarist Scott Ian. But, after putting some space between them all, the original Anthrax is back together touring. Bassist Frank Bello,  who left the band a year ago and joined Helmet temporarily, took time out from touring to talk to us about finishing the job, Rolex watches and the ideal rap-metal collaboration that will never come true.

You’ve mentioned that Anthrax has something to finish as a band. What do you mean?

Well we need to finish together. When we ended it with Joey [Belladonna] and Danny [Spitz], it just wasn’t on the right note. I don’t want to say it was a sour note but it was left unset. It just went somewhere it shouldn’t have.

How much truth is there to Danny completely leaving music behind 10 years ago and mastering the skill of watchmaking? He’s not really a watchmaker, is he?

Danny? Yeah, he is. He went to Switzerland and did the whole thing. He dropped music for a while. He can tell you everything he knows about a Rolex … and he has.

Well how can he juggle making watches and music at the same time?

Right now it’s all about Anthrax. He’ll go back to [watchmaking] sometime.

Are there any rap artists out there you’d like to collaborate with as you did with Public Enemy?

I would have loved to have done something with Biggie [Notorious B.I.G.]. He was doing some innovative stuff. Right now I don’t see anybody that’s saying something that’s getting me really crazy.

Soon after 9/11, you guys considered changing the band name. Did you really consider changing it to Basket Full of Puppies?

No, it was just something I said to someone at CNN, talking to him the way I’m talking with you. But still, at that time it was pretty much out of control. The name wasn’t ours anymore. Then we did this New York Steel Show for policemen and firemen, and I’ll tell you, the outcry of ‘don’t change your name,’ from all these cops and firemen. They were saying ‘don’t change your name, don’t let them win.’ That showed us so much integrity.

Is there an album in the future, now that the band is back together?

Right now all we want to do is concentrate on the shows and take it day to day. When all the touring is done, then we’ll talk about it.