Joey Belladonna of Anthrax talks about Married...With Children and rejoining the band
Considered one of the "big four" of the thrash metal era, Anthrax (see our preview here) put New York on the map with its inventive take on infusing metal with a punk rock spirit. When singer Joey Belladonna joined in time to record 1985's Spreading the Disease, that band had its classic, and arguably most fruitful, line-up.
Andy Buchanan Scott Ian, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante and Rob Caggiano (L-R) are Anthrax.
Over the course of the next seven years, Anthrax pioneered a true fusion of rap and metal as well as expanded the idea of what metal could be by injecting a healthy dose of silly, and sometimes biting, humor along with warping the sometimes rigid lines of heavy metal's aesthetics.
Playful yet heavy, Anthrax made what could be unrelentingly intense music seem fun. We had a chat with Joey Belladonna, recently reunited with the band and spoke with him about how he joined, the appearance of Anthrax on Married...With Children and rejoining the band after the jump.
How did you come to join Anthrax?
Joey Belladonna: I got a call from management and they wanted to know if I wanted to check out a band called "Anthrax." And I said, "You know what? Why not?" It was my first flight on any type of plane at all from Plattsburgh, New York to Ithaca, New York. From there it was, "Wow, okay, I never heard of these guys before." Seemed pretty cool, though, pretty heavy. Seemed like they had everything going for them the way they wanted to do it. I wasn't sure what was going to come of it. I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to join because I didn't know if it was the best offer or the best thing for me to do. But it sounded good and I said, "Let's do this."
They were looking for a studio and they heard a demo from a band I was in called Bible Black. The demo was something we weren't even planning on doing and we had hardly worked it out. Apparently they heard me singing and wanted to know how to get a hold of me. So Carl Canedy, the producer, somehow hunted me down through the people that I was playing with. Bible Black actually was some guys from Rainbow -- they were part of the band Elf [the band originally fronted by Ronnie James Dio - ed.].
With Among the Living, the band became more experimental and humorous and I have to assume that you were integral to that shift. What influenced that change in sound?
It's so hard to say what influenced anybody or what turned the page. I'm writing an album now and where did those ideas come from? I don't know, collectively we just started doing it. Is it heavy enough? Is it not heavy enough? We're pretty humorous people and stuff like that starts to rub off on the songs.
Anthrax did music with Public Enemy and UTFO. Why was there such a strong link between your band and hip-hop that didn't really exist so overtly with most other metal bands in the 80s?
No, not at all. I was on my way home from, maybe doing the "Indians" video, coming in to do the UTFO thing. I was like, "Gosh, holy shit, I don't know." I forgot I even did that.
How did Anthrax become involved in that MTV contest to demolish that car in 1989 and what was it like actually going and doing it?
I don't think we planned on demolishing anything. We just knew somebody had won a contest so MTV, of course, arranged for us to go to that person's house and give the vehicle away. Next thing you know... I remember somebody said, "Now it's time to break the car." I think the person may have destroyed it long after us. She may have asked us to spray paint it or do some stuff to it. It was actually a jeep or something like that.
How did Anthrax end up on Married...With Children scripted and were your parts scripted?
Yeah, it was all on paper. You know, everything was logged in as a line for everyone. They change it daily on people and a lot of it's so strange. I think management or someone in the band approached doing something else, The Simpsons maybe. Someone had definitely been researching how we could get on that show.