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Exclusive! Bush & Ian: Anthrax Will 'Refuse To Be Denied'!

By Sefany Jones, Contributing Editor
Tuesday, April 15, 2003 @ 0:05 AM

Vocalist John Bush and Guitari

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Anthrax has been pounding out the metal for nearly 20 years now, every day garnering the respect of metal heads worldwide, but never getting their full due respect from the music industry. After years with their label Megaforce/Island, Anthrax called it quits with them, they found temporary shelter with Elektra, and then Beyond Records, but then found themselves on their own by 2000. Spending three years searching, they finally found their ‘safe home’ with Sanctuary Records, and will debut their ninth album, We’ve Come For You All, on May 6th.

Anthrax is ready unleash the fury of their heaviest album to date, which includes guest appearances from The Who vocalist Roger Daltrey and New Found Power/Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. They are on the brink of some major touring around the US with Motorhead, and then Europe and Russia, doing various festivals and headlining shows. Anthrax is crossing their fingers for a possible fall tour in the States with Iron Maiden as well.

I recently sat down with vocalist John Bush and guitarist Scott Ian at Sanctuary’s Los Angeles headquarters for half an hour to grasp a sense of their excitement and anticipation for what the next few months has in store for them…

KNAC.COM: So how do you like your new home [at Sanctuary Records]?
IAN: Great! [laughs]
BUSH: Nice! Nice big conference table… [laughs]

KNAC.COM: So they’re finally going to put out your long awaited album [We’ve Come For You All]!

KNAC.COM: I’ve heard the album, and I personally think it’s your heaviest record yet… do you agree?
IAN: Sure!

KNAC.COM: On one track on the album, I had to take it out to make sure I wasn’t listening to Slayer…
IAN: I’ll take that as a compliment!

KNAC.COM: And this album has literal elements of Pantera…
IAN: Yeah, Dimebag [Darrell] plays on the record!
BUSH: Yeah, a lot of people ask, “Who is that?” It’s Dimebag!

KNAC.COM: Yeah, so is “Cadillac Rock Box” an ode to his Escalade or what?
IAN: [Laughs] Basically! ‘Cause we saw him in Dallas when we were down there on tour last year, and he offered his services to play on the record again for the third time, and he offered us a freebie this time. He played on Stomp and we sent him a big screen TV, and when he played on Volume 8, we sent him a digital video camera and so this time he said, “Oh I’ll give you guys a freebie this time,” and he’s like, “Send me some tracks." So [drummer] Charlie [Benante] sent him a bunch of tracks, and that [song intro] that’s on the record is him calling Charlie saying, “I’m in the Cadillac Rock Box,” which is his Escalade.. “You know you got some great grooving going on here…” whatever, blah, blah, blah… so that track then became “Cadillac Rock Box” ‘cause that’s like the perfect title for that song. That track as well as “Strap It On” are the two he decided to play on.

KNAC.COM: I was going to ask about “Strap It On” because it sounds very Pantera-like! And so you also had [The Who’s] Roger Daltrey sing on the album… how'd that happen?
"...I got to produce Roger Daltrey singing on the Anthrax record!" ~Ian
IAN: He’s a friend of the family. I got invited out to dinner by my girlfriend’s mom actually – I got to go to dinner with him and sit and listen to him tell stories for three hours about The Who, and I got to ask him every question I’ve ever wanted to ask – I’ve been a Who fan, since, fuck… ’75? Something like that, so… it was amazing. He was asking me all about Anthrax, and I’m like, “Yeah we’re writing a record,” and he’s like, “Well, I’d love to do something on it – let me know!” I was like, “Really?” You know, “Really?” [Laughs] He’s like, “I’d love to, that would be really cool – let me know!” and so from that point I told the rest of the guys, “Roger Daltrey wants to sing on the record… What are we gonna do!” [Laughs] So at some point, “Taking The Music Back” was the one – once we had the words to that and the melodies together – that became that we felt like that’d be the cool one to have him sing on. It just felt right. So I called him up and asked if he was still into it, and he said, “Yeah,” and there’s the studio down the street – he has a house in LA, and he goes, “Book this studio – I’ve been there before. We’ll go do it!” And I’m like, “Alright!” [Laughs] So I got to produce Roger Daltrey singing on the Anthrax record! Three hours in the studio, which is really incredible – I actually have to look back at the video I have from that day to actually think that it really happened.
BUSH: Oh yeah! We have it on video, too!
IAN: Yeah, it’s so unbelievable to me that Roger Daltrey was in here singing and I’m telling him, “Do another one, do another one…” sitting there going, “Yes! Yes!” [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Anybody else guest on this album?
IAN: No, that’s it. Us and them!

KNAC.COM: So you’re going on tour with Motorhead…
IAN: Yeah, May 7th.

KNAC.COM: But the night before you play with Ministry.
IAN: Just the one show...

KNAC.COM: Why just the one?
IAN: We were supposed to start Motorhead and Anthrax that night in Philly, but I guess there was an availablitly problem with venues, and Ministry was playing there already, and Motorhead was playing in [Washington] DC, and had something to do with—that’s also the day our record comes out, May 6th, so it had something to do with a record in-store and proximity to New York… so we’re doing the one show there with Ministry, and co-headlining with Motorhead starts the next day.

KNAC.COM: So, that’s just for a couple of weeks… then you’re going to play LA?
BUSH: Headlining in LA…
IAN: House of Blues.

KNAC.COM: With whom?
IAN: Whoever’s opening for us with Motorhead, which we don’t even know yet, will be with us here, I’m assuming.
BUSH: Do we have three dates here on the West Coast?
IAN: No it’s just the one – Anaheim wasn’t available.

KNAC.COM: And then where do you go?
"[To tour with Maiden would be] so organic and so… just right, and it’s not contrived – trying to fit in a niche or a market place, it’s all about… this is fucking metal!" ~Ian
IAN: And then we go right to Europe. We start back in Europe on June 5th playing festivals – our first one’s in Budapest, then they go on and on and on – festivals and headlining shows all the way to July 15th. We’re going to Russia for the first time, we’re going to Bulgaria. We’re playing a bunch of festivals with Iron Maiden over there… like all kinds of really cool bands like Slayer—that’s why Europe rules in the summertime, ‘cause we get to play with all these great bands at all these different festivals…
BUSH: Headlining shows in England…
IAN: A whole other headlining tour in England because we just played there last month and all the shows were sold out, and so the demand is bringing us back! [Laughs]
BUSH: It’s exciting!
IAN: And so we’re hoping right after that we’ll come back to the States, and hopefully be supporting Maiden here in the States – we’re keeping our fingers crossed! There’s nothing we would rather do—for me, that would be the coolest tour of the summer… head and shoulders above Ozzfest, or Lollapalooza or anything else. Iron Maiden/Anthrax would be the coolest thing ever! And that’s not only because I love Iron Maiden and I would love to get to be out on tour with them again, but I just think it’s so organic and so… just right, and it’s not contrived – trying to fit in a niche or a market place, it’s all about… this is fucking metal, and we don’t care!

KNAC.COM: When was the last time you toured with Maiden?
IAN: ’91. ’91… we did like 6 months with them back then.

KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Well, I think that’d be the tour of the year!
IAN: Hell yeah!! So, we’re hoping, we’re hoping! I know they just mastered their record or something, ‘cause uh, I go to their web, heh, like a nerd. Bow and tie… and keep up with the Maiden shenanigans, ‘cause I’m looking forward to their record.

"You’d think we would have been on [Ozzfest] already, but I guess things just don’t work that way…" ~Ian
KNAC.COM: A lot of people thought you’d be added to Ozzfest – are you glad you weren't?
IAN: Well, no! I wish we would’ve! Of course! It’s just – I think Ozzfest, I don’t know… there’s so much political crap that goes on with that, that it’s just…. You’d think, you’d think we would have been on it already, but I guess things just don’t work that way…
BUSH: We’re about the only band who hasn’t been on it!
IAN: Exactly. So, we really thought we were going to get it this year and it seemed like a lot of people—even very close to Ozzfest thought we were getting on it this year, only to find out we weren’t getting on it. So, we were a bit disappointed, but at the same time it’s like, well you know what, we’ll hopefully find something better to do.
BUSH: Well, at least something else to do. We’re going to be busy regardless.
IAN: Don’t get me wrong – we’d love to do Ozzfest.
BUSH: Of course!
IAN: But at the same time, I don’t want to be on at one o’clock in the afternoon, you know, it’s not something we’d look forward to doing.
BUSH: Second stage…
IAN: I think with Ozzfest, if you’re in a position where they want you to come do it, then that’s the way to do it – you can’t be lobbying them because… it’s such a big, huge powerful thing, they don’t need bands – everyone wants to be on Ozzfest. So, you know, maybe someday we’ll do it… You know, before Ozzy retires!
BUSH: I don’t even know that Ozzy has to be on it at this point… It’s Ozzfest, people go ‘cause… it’s a metal thing.

KNAC.COM: Anyway, getting back to the album, I want to know a little more… How long had your guitarist Rob [Caggiano] been with you guys?
IAN: 3 years.
BUSH: And producer! He produced the record with us.

KNAC.COM: And the artwork on this album is very different… how’d you hook up with [comic artist] Alex Ross?
IAN: Our webmaster emailed him, through Alex’s web site, to see if he would be interested in working on an Anthrax album, and he said, “Yes!” which is mind-blowing to me, because he is the biggest artist in all of comics. I was pretty excited, but then at the same time I was like, “Don’t get your hopes up, because there’s no way we’re ever going to be able to afford him.” And then it turned out he painted our album cover for us, for what I assume is a lot less than he gets from Marvel or DC [Comics] for that stuff he does for them. I think it was a thing where the guy’s so big, and so huge, he’s able to take on projects that he thinks would be a cool thing to do and fun, and not have to get paid a million dollars to do it. I actually haven’t met the guy yet, Charlie’s met him and talked to him quite a bit because Charlie’s very involved in all the art direction, and says he’s just unbelievably a cool guy, great guy, and Alex told him, “Yeah I’m going out on a lot of comic conventions this summer and if you want to send me stacks of CDs, I’ll sign ‘em and sell ‘em for you guys – I’ll sell thousands of ‘em for you” because he’s the most in-demand guy in comics.

KNAC.COM: What type of comics did he do?
IAN: Everything. Two of the biggest things he’s done—for Marvel, was a book called Marvels, and for DC he did a thing called Kingdome Come. And they’re like two of the biggest selling books of maybe the last 20 years…
BUSH: [The cover] is very vivid and colorful… it’s awesome.
IAN: And now we’re Superheroes!
BUSH: That’s right! [Laughs]

"[Rob is] like the Stanley Kubrick of fucking album producing – you know, two hundred takes, ‘I don’t care if you think it’s perfect, it can be better.’" ~Ian
KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Really? What are your names then?
IAN: Scott Ian! What more of a name would I need?! [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Something I never noticed as much on your previous albums… but on this one, Charlie just goes off on every track.
BUSH: It’s easy to hear that.
IAN: It’s just part of the songs… Songwriting, the way things happen. And then being in studio, and just really, really working it… just really, really working hard. Rob really worked our asses off, for lack of a better word, and he knows us better than anyone, and he’s been a fan his whole life, and now he’s in the band now! He really knew what he could get out of us, and what he wanted from us as players and musicians. He didn’t leave any fucking stone unturned, so slack, no fucking vacations, none of that, “Oh, good enough.” None of that. I was just fucking, “Do it again, do it again, do it again…” He’s like the Stanley Kubrick of fucking album producing – you know, two hundred takes, ‘I don’t care if you think it’s perfect, it can be better.’ Rob’s got amazing ears for tonality and music and timing, and not only is he a guitar player, but he’s also a drummer, and… he’s just got incredible ears and he hears everything. And I would tell him, “No, no, no – I’m telling you that’s right,” and he’d be like “No, listen.” And I’d be like, “Alright, I’ll do it again (sigh).” [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Working ya like dogs!
IAN: But it’s great, because he got performances out of us that nobody else ever could’ve.
BUSH: It’s good for Charlie, too, because everyone knows him to be one of the drummers in metal, but he’s set a new level and I think—for himself—and now other people are going to have to meet that level because he just went a step above for himself, which is pretty amazing.
IAN: The stuff he plays on “Nobody Knows Anything” – that’s never been recorded before, that’s never been played before… that breakdown in the middle of that song when he does that drumbeat, that sounds like he’s got eight arms going… people are asking us all the time, “Well how’d you do that? Did he record it like 3 times?” and we’re like, “No, he just fucking plays like that – come to the show, you’ll see.” People are blown away. I’m blown away. It’s just fucking great – he’s playing double-kick on “What Doesn’t Die,” which is faster than anything we’ve ever played before. It just feels so great. I mean, here we are on our ninth record, and we playing stronger and harder and faster than we ever have in our careers. And it’s also better, just from the aspect of—I look at it as, it’s not just a case of we can play harder and faster, but the songs are better. So in the context of the song, we’re able to do all that, and yet still have a song that’s not dated sounding, or sounds like it ‘s from 1985 – it’s current.

KNAC.COM: How many new tracks off the album will you play in your set this tour?
IAN: 4 or 5…(pause)
BUSH: Yeah…(pause)

KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Do you know which ones?
IAN: Yeah, we do. (pause)
BUSH: Yeah. (pause)
IAN: [Laughs]
BUSH: It may change from what we do in Europe, and if it does, then let it be a secret!
IAN: Look, at some point by the end of the whole cycle for this album, I’m sure we’ll have played every song on this record, live, at least once, and a lot of them probably way more than once, obviously, some will probably be in the set for a year, but through the whole cycle of this record--- but yeah, already we’ve played 5 songs off the record and I’m sure there’s already two or three that are knocking at the door…
BUSH: We rehearsed them!

KNAC.COM: I was going to ask that – but actually this record’s been done for a while…
BUSH: (sigh) Yes it has…
IAN: Yeah, so we’re chomping at the bit! We just did this unbelievable tour of Europe – and we can’t wait to get out here in the States.

"People have asked us, 'Would you go over there and play for the troops?' Fuck yeah I would! I’d go tomorrow if they told me to go!" ~Ian
KNAC.COM: Do you have any concerns with going over to Europe with the “war” going on?
IAN: Hell no.
BUSH: We were there when the war started – didn’t change anything. If anything, it made the shows better, I think.
IAN: Actually, the song “Refuse To Be Denied” is actually what it’s all about – it’s about not changing your life—I don’t care. I don’t care what parents think, I don’t care what the government’s is telling you to do or not to do… Until the planes aren’t flying – I mean, you physically can’t go somewhere – that’s when I won’t go. People have asked us, “Would you go over there and play for the troops?” Fuck yeah I would! I’d go tomorrow if they told me to go!

KNAC.COM: Do you think you’ll get that opportunity to do that?
IAN: You never know… It might be a little weird being that we’re called Anthrax… [Bush laughs] but you know, I would think a lot of those guys over there who are fighting… I think a high a percentage of them are Anthrax fans. I mean, judging that by the Gulf War in the early ‘90s, after that war I can’t tell you how many times we heard from people who come to our shows, “Yeah, I was in the Gulf War, in a tank or flying a plane, and we used to get pumped up listening to Anthrax,” and we’d be like, “Really?!” [Laughs] That’s kind of scary!
BUSH: That’s the only drag about the war going on, ‘cause a lot of those G.I.’s would probably be at shows, now they’re in fucking Iraq.
IAN: Hopefully they’ll get home safe, and come to our shows.

KNAC.COM: Okay, I gotta ask: What’s up with the end of “We’ve Come For You All”? You wait for a minute there, and then… what? Is that someone jerking off with sandpaper? What’s that about?
IAN: [Kidding] That is what it is actually! We had Ron Jeremy come in the studio – jerk off with sandpaper! [Laughs]
BUSH: It was a bloody mess after!
IAN: You know, I don’t know why they put that on there – it’s nothing! It’s nothing! It’s Charlie playing the shaker part in a song – a percussive part – and it was on a track, and somehow it ended up on the advance – it says, “Bonus track – ‘Shaker’.” It’s not a bonus track!

KNAC.COM: Serious, it really sounds like someone jerking it with sandpaper for thirty seconds – and there’s some odd humming…!
IAN: Well, that’s—from now on when people ask what that is, that’s what I’m going to tell them it is!
BUSH: Actually, I haven’t even heard that – I need to hear it!
IAN: I gotta ask Sanctuary in New York, “Why did you—what is this? This isn’t a bonus track!”
BUSH: We have bonus tracks!
IAN: Yeah, we have bonus tracks – that’s not a bonus track! How did that end up on there?!

KNAC.COM: Do you have an enhanced CD coming out with a video?
IAN: Yeah, that’s what’s coming out in the States.

"We did Europe, and Europe was amazing! So everybody better be on their game in the US in the crowd…" ~Bush
KNAC.COM: So, is there anything else I need to know about, guys?
BUSH: We’re just excited to be back – it’s been too long. We’re happy to back – we can’t wait to play the States. We did Europe, and Europe was amazing! So everybody better be on their game in the US in the crowd…
IAN: When we were over there in Europe, you sit in your hotel room and watch CNN, and you hear about the supposed anti-Europeans, or from the other point of view, if you’re in Europe, all the anti-American feelings over the war and all that crap… well you know what, we were there for a month and there was none of that! It didn’t exist at all, and so I’ll I can say for over here is, if there is that kind of feeling over here, I’ll tell you right now, we played a month of fucking unbelievable shows – shows that haven’t been that good since the ‘Among The Living’ tour, and if America is not as good or better than that, that, then… hey, you got a lot to fucking live up to, and you got some fucking learning to do because metal is where it’s at in Europe right now – couldn’t be any better, actually, as far as I’m concerned, so we’re really hoping it’s going to be similar here in the States and that the vibe is going to be killer. And I’m not just talking about for Anthrax – talking about in general, the scene for hard rock and heavy metal. I mean, if the US doesn’t catch up to where things are at in Europe… it just sucks, it’s sad. People here really need to turn off their fucking televisions, stop listening to what the media is telling them is cool or they should buy, or what’s hip and what’s trendy… and go to KNAC.COM, and watch the Headbanger’s Ball that’s coming back on MTV[2] and stop worrying about—or falling into this trap of, “Well, I guess it’s only cool to like hip hop, so that’s what I’m going to get into.” Fuck that shit! Heavy metal! That’s what I say! And we made a record that I guarantee will not disappoint you.

KNAC.COM: Well, we’ve had your singles “Refuse To Be Denied” and “Safe Home” up on the site, and I can tell you the response has been great!
IAN: We had that up for a day!
BUSH: No, KNAC had it up for a while!

KNAC.COM: Yeah, well everyone seems to love those, and honestly, I don’t know what else I can say about the album with being a geek about it – I love every single song!
BUSH: Well, that’s good! That’s how we feel about it! [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: I truly think this will be one of the biggest metal albums this year…
IAN: It deserves to be! I mean, song for song, it’s a really deep, complete record.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, there is just no song you skip over on this album.
IAN: Exactly!

KNAC.COM: It’s great all the way through to the jerking off at the very end of the album!
BUSH: [Laughs]
IAN: [Laughs] Except now everyone’s gonna skip right to that!

KNAC.COM: Thanks guys! We’ll get another report from you when you’re in Los Angeles in May!

(Photo by Sefany Jones/KNAC.COM)

Click HERE for the Anthrax/Motorhead co-headlining tour dates.

Click HERE to check out their single, "Safe Home."

Also check out Anthrax.com and Sanctuary Records.

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