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In Words: Belladonna

- Joey Belladonna - August 1995 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Joey Belladonna

Joey Belladonna - Cologne, August 19th 1995

Nearly every heavy metal fan knows Joey Belladonna as the singer, former singer of Anthrax. Now he is back with his own band. While Joey was in Ger­many I had the chance to talk with him about his debut and the band in general.

Here in Europe we just heard that you left Anthrax, that's all we know. Please tell us a little bit about? 'Why does it take such a long time until you present your debut?

I didn't leave Anthrax, 'cause I didn't wanna do. They wanna move to a new singer, make a change. They did change. The music is changed. Why? Nobody knows. And to me is it better? To me, no! It didn't make much difference, it didn't make much sense. But if it make a few people happy, it's okay. it taking so long? I've been working ever since. It's been very hard, because of the grunge music and everything. I heard so much good rock music which no one will sign.

That's the problem, they just sign bands which follow the actual trends. They don't give a chance to other musical directions.

That's true. That's why I said to people what I've done now is what I really wanna do. It may sound a little bit like Anthrax, but it's in my head. It's what I know.

You've been a long time a part of Anthrax. Sure, you're still into that, it's a kind of your own roots.

Right. Plus I listen to all my stuff and also to U.F.O., Priest, Maiden and Rush, etc.

You're open-minded to other stuff.

Sure, vocally I'm very, very in client to sing a lot better for my own thing than Anthrax. Anthrax is so striking. I'm really didn't get a chance to write, it's the group. It wasn't very open-minded since the beginning.

I saw Anthrax a couple of times in 1986-1988.

That was the best time. I always tried to give my best. The people didn't know if I had a long bus ride or what ever. I always gave my heart. I was really into the music.

I was more into the 1st albums than into the last.

I think the new stuff is ... You really didn't care, if you like something. Than you wanted to hear more of them. I didn't change that much.

You keep your own musical identity.

Some people, are like these, sounds the same. The guys do something different, for me, I rather hear more the same. They are different and even the same members. I mean, Danny is not in the band either.

I heard it.

That looks good for me that they just kick anybody out.

But I think in the end it won't work for 'em.

It's trouble. I'm sure that new record is the same. Probably the same stuff and John, the new singer, he sings the way he sings. You can never hear anything different. I had gotten a tape, I didn't know what it was and I put it in. I heard his voice and to me it sounds exactly like Armored Saint. I thought it was an Armored Saint tape. I started listen and it was the new Anthrax. I didn't know who sent this. I was totally fooled. That wasn't good.

Let's focus on your own. That's the past.

People always ask about Anthrax. They want to know if I be interested or if I be mad. I talk about anything. But I need to focus on stuff I do my own.

Sure, I think talking about the past is a kind of getting through it.

It's so much of it. It been 8 years.

Yes, it's been a long time your life. It's your past and you should talk about. Not try to forget it.

Speaking about them one more time, we do a lot of Anthrax songs with the new band. Probably about an hour with the music you wanted to. We got a long set.

I'm looking forward to see you live in Europe.

Well, we released in September, the end of September. I believe if we get the right tour we come as soon as possible. But it may take some time to get the right group. Whether it's a headline or a support act. We wanna make sure that we have the right situation. Don't like come over to quickly and "Oh, I didn't know they were coming!"

Perhaps winter or next spring?

I think maybe January. i mean that's just a guess. That wouldn't take too long. Sometimes people ask "Why do you wait so long?"

No, 'cause I think it's better. People don't go to the shops to buy the record on the release day. It takes time.

No way, it's like movies. I mean I wait so long to see a movie.

It's better, 'cause the people got used to the music and enjoy a show much more.

They can sing along with me when they know the song and have more fun.

That's what it's all about.

Every time I go to a concert I listen to the records and albums I got of them. So I know everything about the song. I listen to see how they play it, you know? Yeah, I think it's good to wait. That's my opinion, too. The word of mouth, people get to tell everybody "you heard it?"

Do the lyrics reflect your own life, what happen to you? Or do you write about other things, too? What is more important for you?

Yeah, a lot is you think about an idea, what can I say? What can I talk about? Some of the stuff is about something you heard about. Sometimes been hands down. " talked to him last night, he said..." And he talked to me and said something different. He is two faced. I have this idea which came down to it and I have the melodies and everything. It's so much easier that way. I know what I wanna say and just note it right down. There are times where it just make it up like U.F.O. - Taken By Force. I had the title Taken By Force and figured out about U.F.O.'s. Because there is so much talk about it. But nobody knows anything.

People try to present so called facts, but it's nothing.

Yes, nothing. I make up this guy and he saw and saw and he try to tell the police. They just thought he was crazy and took away all his rights. It's a kind of a really fantasy-type of story. When you're singing this stuff it gives you more opportunities to sing this. I didn't know anybody who really know U.F.O.'s. Just being accounted by anyone. I just read stuff and it seems so bizarre, but I enjoy it.

That's also a difference to Anthrax. The songs are always focused on something.

Oh, yes. God, Ian is a big book reader, he read, read, read. Some of the stuff was really great, but often I didn't know what I was singing about. I was exposed to know like I was the book worm. it was such a lot words, that it was singing like a machine gun. to me I didn't get the time to sing.

You can't express your feelings.

Yeah, that was more a vocal tune, i was sometimes more interested in the vocal than the lyrics. As far as I was younger I ever listen to lyrics. You know, just sing without think about the other guys.

I think it's important to give a little bit more feelings into the vocals, 'cause many people don't understand the words, the meaning. They can't catch it. They should get something from the feelings.

Yeah, plus you get an idea. If you didn't ask me in an interview about the songs, right, and you read the song "That is what I was thinking!" Sometimes it's good to not even know about.

That's okay. With the new material you can express yourself more, show more of your musical identity. People can get more out of the music for themselves.

I think it's good, too. Now I believe that. sometimes I try to find things in a real cool title, sometimes the title doesn't even go with the song. Because I have a cool title. it's hard to title a song. I got a couple of new ones and the titles are not even sang in the song. I have 10 new songs and I'm always thinking about the cover of the new album. it's in your head, you know?

Injun remembers of Anthrax.

Call me Injun Joe and so I titled it Injun. Yeah, that's quit a bit about me. But it's just like a small window of me. Just a little view, literally to that, one afternoon before we entered the studio I wrote the words down. And I really haven't a song to it, yeah. It just came out. It's better to find out yourself.

Sometimes it's good to just let it flow, don't think much about it.

Yeah, not always.

Which song is for you the most im­portant on your debut?

The most important? I don't know if that is important, but the one who always stuck with me is Rob You Blind! It's so cool. You knew it's gonna be there, you can tell that it's going down. This is gonna be serious. That's a strong song. Powertrip is even a strong song. At that time a lot of wheels were tuning. Ideas were coming up and most were like back-to-back songs. You get something going.

Can you tell a little bit about the other band members, 'cause we know just their names?

The hidden guys. They live very close to my house, we practise every day. They been in club-bands of the area. I met them through a few tapes and I go to see the drummer. He played at a club and he was in a speed metal band called Manslaughter. He's so good, he really is a good guy. He was the only one of the bunch who know Anthrax. The guitar player is more in Randy Rhodes-/ Ozzy-type of thing. He was doing that cover band stuff. He gave me his tape and I called him up. And we started practising together. It was really cool.

That's what the new stuff makes a lot better, the different influences.

That's very true. I mean, your in­fluences are very, very strong and what you do. It's what you like, how you wanna do it. The same with the bass player, he's so much into Steve Harris and Geezer Butler. Joe's new, he's not even on the record. He's really good, so much into it. The guys working all day, take a shower and come right over to my place and we practice.

So you are very close.

The guys always going out, I'm busy watching TV. After they leave I was kind of chill down and they go out. I don't smoke or drink and they like to go out, so they do it. But they do come over every day, Monday to Friday. We practise 2 ½ hours straight, it's so hard. I think it's gonna be fine. I'm not that much in bands, more in sounds. I think that there are a lot of people who can't wait for. For me it's like I do what I like to do even if the stuff is not in any­more. I mean the 70's music is up again.

Everything comes back.

Yeah, if I listen to the grunge, it's like a lot of bands say "I can't do that" and try to make money with it.

Jumping on the band-wagon.

Yeah, cut hair, sing like Nirvana.

They loose their own identity. After a while the people won't believe you anymore.

They don't even care. To me, you know, I do the record that I'm totally into.

No more to say. Test it! Give him a chance, personally I prefer his debut, not the new Anthrax.

Claudia Ehrhardt


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