Greg Prato of Songfacts spoke with Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante. Portions of the interview appear below.

Greg Prato (Songfacts): What’s the most underrated Anthrax song?

Charlie Benante: This last album that we put out, we had a song called Breathing Lightning, which is probably the most radio-friendly song we ever had, but because of that “heavy metal stigma” that is always attached to us, we don’t get a fair shake in radio. It definitely was eligible for that type of thing, because when that song was being added to radio, I saw all the other songs that were on the charts and I thought to myself, “Well, this one has more accessibility than a lot of these songs.”

The reason why these bands that are on the charts with songs is only because they’ve had radio prior to that. So, I just think that this whole way the music business is run and structured – especially nowadays – is just completely wrong.

Songfacts: Which song by the other Big 4 has the sickest drumming?

Charlie: I like this one thing that Lars [Ulrich] does in the song Battery, where it’s after the lead section, and it just has this double bass thing. I just always liked that part. And there’s a song on Slayer’s Hell Awaits record, Praise of Death – there’s a fill towards the end of the song that’s pretty sick.

Songfacts: Is Flavor Flav any good on drums?

Charlie: Flavor Flav is very good on drums. Every day on tour [Anthrax and Public Enemy toured together in 1991, and appeared together in the video for Bring the Noise], I had a drum kit set up in the dressing room – a warm-up kit – and he would come in every day and just play. He was really good.

Songfacts: How do you feel about making videos?

Charlie: I hate it. It’s that cliché of “hurry up and wait.”

Songfacts: Were there any videos that you were particularly proud of?

Charlie: My favorite type of videos are the ones that they come and film us in our environment – not we go to them and we’re in their environment.

Songfacts: I find the ’80s era of videos on MTV – and their politics/policies – particularly interesting, as I wrote a book earlier about it [MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video]. And I recall hearing that MTV resisted playing a video that Anthrax shot in 1988, Who Cares Wins, which focused on the homeless situation in the US.

Charlie: That’s exactly what happened. And then Phil Collins came out with a song, and it had all these homeless people in it, and that was praised.

Songfacts: The song Another Day in Paradise, right?

Charlie: That’s exactly what it was. I just watched this CNN documentary series called Soundtracks, and they did one on 9/11. And the funny thing – and the f–ked-up thing about it – is it talks about how it impacted people’s lives, and they showed Billy Joel, Sting, the Dixie Chicks. It would have been nice to go into a different type of genre, maybe hard rock or heavy metal, and show how the whole thing had an effect on our band, and how we played that show for the policemen and the firemen. But they didn’t mention anything about that.

It’s just one more of those things: that mainstream mentality that so much is so overlooked that it’s just the cream of the crop that always gets mentioned. It’s just how I feel about the music business in general – it’s such a bunch of crap.

Read more at Songfacts.


2 Responses

  1. Benante is a beast on drums and a great musician. I think any song off of Fistful of Metal is underrated. That album is always overlooked, probably because Turbin is on vocals and Lilker is on bass. As far as “sickest” drumming of BIG 4, I think anything by Slayer’s Lombardo would win. Lombardo’s double bass work in the middle of Slayer’s song “Angel of Death” is classic!! When asked about sickest drumming, I can’t help but think that Benante names Lars’ drumming on Metallica’s “Battery” (a great song!!) simply to kiss Lars’ ass cuz he knows Metallica controls any hope for future BIG 4 reunion shows…and you don’t bite the hand that feeds….

    1. Agree with most of your post, Rattlehead. Benante is a KILLER drummer, but I would rate Lombardo as the best drummer of the BIG 4. ANGEL OF DEATH by Slayer is a awesome song, but I think his drumming on SEASONS IN THE ABYSS is the most interesting. I don’t believe Benante would kiss Lars’ ass, as you suggest. BATTERY is a cool song, and probably one of the best examples of Lars’ drumming. Benante seems like a pretty genuine guy, but I could be wrong!

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