Anthrax to play Chicago January 30 – Frank Bello: ‘Let’s go have a ball!’

Originally published January 18, 2016
by Melanie Falina

A thirty-fifth anniversary is an impressive feat for any band, but particularly in this day and age. With the unfortunate accessibility of illegal downloads having ruined more than one band, the current climate of the music industry resembles that of the Wild West.

And yet, there are still some bands out there who have stood the test of time, faced and then conquered challenges, and still managed to do as artists should – grow as performers and song writers. And thrash masters Anthrax are one of those few bands that have done just that.

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But celebrating 35 years in existence isn’t the only reason why 2016 is going to be a phenomenal year for Anthrax, as they’ve got a new album coming out, the highly-anticipated For All Kings due on February 26 via Megaforce Records. The follow-up to 2011’s hugely successful Worship Music, Anthrax – the band once considered an underdog of metal – has been racking up achievements left and right in their career with six (and counting) Grammy Award nominations, more than 10-million units in album sales securing both gold and platinum sales certifications, and countless additional accolades. Yet, once For All Kings is unleashed upon the music world, it’s going to skyrocket this band into all new territory.

As the first Anthrax album specifically written for front-man Joey Belladonna’s vocal range and style since 1990’s Persistence of Time, For All Kings also marks the studio album recording debut for lead guitarist Jon Donais. Drummer Charlie Benante, guitarist Scott Ian, and bass player Frank Bello came to the table to write this album with a cache of riffs and grooves to begin working with, and as a result created more material to bring into the studio than they ever have before in the history of the band. And after molding these songs and whittling then down to the best of the best – For All Kings was realized.

Now just a few weeks away from the release date, the Anthrax guys are bursting at the seams in anticipation of how the music world is going to react to this album. In a conversation with Anthrax bassist Frank Bello, he explained his joy at the impassioned feedback the band has gotten thus far from those who have been fortunate enough to hear the forthcoming release:

“You know what it is…when you have something for so long and you want other people to check it out and hopefully they’ll like it, right? It’s that thing that you feel so passionate about, it’s letting go of your baby. And now that the record’s in people’s hands…it’s very satisfying and it’s a relief that people are getting it the way we wanted them to get it. You know what I mean?”

“They’re catching on. I just looked at iTunes yesterday – my friend texted me and said ‘Dude, you’re on iTunes Hot-List for [the single] “Breathing Lightning!’” Wow! I mean, Anthrax – Anthrax is on iTunes Hot-List – yes! There’s a buzz on Anthrax and I couldn’t be more excited.”

To which Bello then added: “It’s a really good vibe.”

And still, the 35th birthday of the band and a brand spanking new album on the way aren’t the only things that are new and exciting for this band in the new year, Anthrax has also just begun a U.S. tour with Lamb of God that will be running through the middle of February. Bello spoke in anticipation of the tour as a way to have some fun new experiences with friends, in addition to the possibility of turning some music lovers on to Anthrax’s tunes:

“…Lamb of God, not only are they good friends of ours, but they have people who haven’t heard of Anthrax or maybe haven’t given a chance to Anthrax, and there’s nothing more challenging for me – and what I live for at this point – is to get everybody that I can to see the band Anthrax, and maybe give the band a chance. Because there’s a younger generation there that hasn’t seen us and I’m all about making them Anthrax fans. That’s my plight.”

And then after the tour with Lamb of God, Anthrax will be hitching a ride on the Iron Maiden jumbo jet to play a series of shows with the band throughout the month of March in Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

“Yeah, a month in South America, and that for me as a fan-boy, obviously, I’m so psyched for that,” laughs Bello, “That’s going to be the biggest of the biggest places, the stadiums and all that good stuff. And we’re traveling on the [Iron Maiden] plane with them which is pretty insane so I’m pretty excited about that just as a fan.

Not only does Iron Maiden have their own plane but front man, Bruce Dickinson, will also be piloting the jet as well. “…That’s a completely new experience we’ve never had before,” commented Bello, “Life is about experiences, living day to day and enjoying it – let’s go have a ball!

And Chicago-area metalheads – get ready to have a ball with Anthrax on Saturday, January 30 at the Aragon Ballroom. In addition to Anthrax and Lamb of God Deafheaven and Power Trip will also take the stage.