Since their debut album in 1984, Anthrax has toured the world, selling
millions of records in the process. They've toured with Kiss, Black Sabbath,
and Ozzy Osbourne. You might remember them from this past summer's "Clash
of the Titans" tour, which also featured Slayer and Megadeth.
Oswego, N.Y. native Joey Belladonna is the lead singer for "Anthrax." Another
case of a local boy who's made a name for himself in the world of rock.
We spoke with Joey about his rise from the bar rooms of Central New York to
the center stage of Arena Rock.
Q. Given the current state of the economy, just how successful
was the Clash of the Titans tour?
A. I thought it was good. We maintained a good status on this tour compared
to a lot of people that were doing the numbers. We did pretty good numbers.
For what was expected, we did really good. The bands got along real well. There
wasn't much friction. We all had a good relationship. All three bands felt
like they were headliners. Everybody had their own little ego, to a point,
nothing destructive. It's a lot of traffic when you got four bands (Alice In
Chains was also on the bill) and lots of trucks and lots of buses and lots
of people, but, other than that, it was good.
Q. Joey, do you consider yourself talented, persistent,
lucky, or all three? Why do you think you've enjoyed as much success as
A. Well, first of all, I gigged for years around the Central New York area.
The band that I'm in now, didn't do any of that. I don't know if it's lucky,
because I worked hard. My father would even say this is kind of old. You're
doing the same places every night, for three and four years, and making nothing.
So, hey, I got to get out there. Somebody's got to see me. It's definitely
persistence. I'm talented enough to do it, 'cause I actually felt when I was
playing with this band "Bible Black" before I joined with these guys, we did
the first "Rainbow" record. At the time Anthrax was recording and they needed
a singer, and I was in Ithaca, N.Y. at the same time. But, I was actually out
of town when they called, and somebody just told them they should check out
this guy. They didn't even ask for a tape, just a recommendation. I came down
and proved myself to them.
Q. What kind of a group was "Bible Black?"
A. That was real Sabbath like. Really like old sort of Elf (Ronnie James Dio),
Sabbath. Two of the guys from Elf and Rainbow, the bass player and drummer,
were in Bible Black with me.
Q. You were also in the band "Zipper." Where did you perform
A. Cornerstone (on Teall Ave.), Copperfield's. We played in Bald-winsville,
N.Y. We did a hell of a lot of things around the area. We did the Thousand
Islands Festival. Nothing was really that extraordinary for me. It was just
another gig. It was really fun. It was my first band I actually sang 'live'
and was ever away from home, and lived with no money basically. (Laughs.) It
was 1981. Then I joined a band called Triffid, which was out of town. They
were a three piece group which was very guitar oriented. Both those bands lasted
about a year. With Triffid we played a lot in Schenectady, Albany, Vermont,
Glens Falls, Troy, N.Y. We did Plattsburg. It was fun, but it was hectic at
times. I totally paid my dues roadieing. Half the stuff was way too heavy for
me to carry. Going up the stairs, down the stairs. Doing 35, 40 songs a night.
I was singing one extreme to another. I was doing from Rush to the Cars. It
was crazy. I even did that again after I'd been playing with Anthrax. One summer
two years ago I was playing at home. I put a band together with friends of
mine. We played out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We took almost a year
off. I said I got to keep my chops tip, so I played out on the weekend. The
band (Anthrax) was pretty flabbergasted about that. We were doing the Stones,
James Gang, old Free. It was really good for me. It kept me in practice. As
a singer, what am I going to do, yell in the cellar?
Q. I was surprised to find out that you bought a home in
Syracuse's western suburbs. I won't ask you where, because I don't want
people to disturb your privacy.
A. I've had people already investigating. I have to kind of steer them the
other way, 'cause when it gets to that I can't function. I don't mind when
I'm out at the store, I'm cool with everybody, but not at my house. I had bonfires.
I had people already out in the front, playing my music and playing football
out front, making themselves very acceptable, available. I was like, go somewhere
else. I didn't show them I was living there. They assumed I did.
Q. What I wanted to say is, shouldn't Joey Belladonna be living in Los
Angeles, rather than Upstate New York?
A. I'm such an Upstater. I really like the Upstate area. It's really relaxed
where I am right now. I love it. I wish the weather was just a little bit warmer
at times. I like the change of seasons. I'm in a really good area. I'm out
in the country, but yet I'm in the city. It's really good. I've got good views.
I can do whatever I need to do, and nobody bothers me. The traffic's not busy
here. I mean, I get enough of it, when I'm on the road.
Q. Being in a touring, recording band like "Anthrax" is
what you've always wanted, isn't it Joey?
A. Oh, yeah. For sure. I enjoy this a lot. Listening to Beatles records, and
saying this is cool, I want to do, this.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved