Anthrax's Charlie Benante talks about new EP "Anthems"

Charlie Benante is the drummer for the legendary thrash metal band Anthrax. The band is set to release a new EP titled “Anthems” in March. The EP will consist of six cover songs and one special remix of the Anthrax song “Crawl” and the album version also, which was originally released on the bands 2011 full-length release “Worship Music”. Media Mikes caught up with Charlie prior to the bands appearance on this year’s Metal Alliance tour to discuss the new EP.

Adam Lawton: Where did the idea to do a covers EP come from?
Charlie Benante: We have been doing cover songs here and there going back as far as our second record. We have always been open to do those things. Some of the covers we have done in the past sort of became hits for us. Originally there was talk of re-releasing our last album “Worship Music” with this covers disc as a bonus. We didn’t want to make our fans have to buy the album again so we decided to release it as its own EP. We were able to keep it inexpensive and to the core of what we are. That’s just 5 guys in the studio just having fun.

AL: Was it hard choosing which six songs to put on the release?
CB: There were a few songs that we didn’t quite get to as we were really concentrating on the six which are featured on the EP. These 5 were the ones that really hit us all so we spent the majority of our time working on those. We all had ideas of songs that we wanted to do. Rush has always been one of those bands that we all love. To tackle one of their songs was not an easy task. I was totally up for the challenge and it worked out good.

AL: Can you tell us about the re-mastering of the song “Crawl”?
CB: When we were working on “Worship Music” with Jay Ruston he and I had a talk about doing something similar a few remixes that were done to the song “Black Lodge” off the album “Sound of White Noise”. There were some really cool orchestral things that were done on those mixes so Jay took some time and found someone to do it. The song I think came out really good.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands upcoming tour?
CB: The Metal Alliance tour is mixture of bands that have been around for awhile and some that are a little newer. For us it gives us a chance to go out and play some songs that we haven’t played in forever. We will be doing songs mostly off the “Among the Living” album so that’s going to be the special thing about this tour.

AL: Can you tell us how things are going with Jon Donais of Shadows Fall filling in on guitar and how he was brought in to the lineup?
CB: Rob Caggiano I guess had talked with Jon about filling in for him. We had gotten wind of that and were like “ok”. (Laughs) I have known Jon for a long time and he is a great guitar player. Scott has been jamming with him out in Los Angeles and from what I hear everything is going great. It will probably take Jon a few shows for him to feel comfortable with everything.

AL: Has there been any talks of starting work on a new album after this tour wraps and how do you generally go about working together with member scattered across the U.S.?
CB: Yes. I am sure we will tackle that at some point. We have two or three songs left over from the last recording sessions that we want to work on again. We hope to work on stuff during the summer before hitting the festival circuit which starts in August. Usually when we start working on a new record we will meet up in Chicago. If not there I go out to either Los Angeles or New York. The last album was written in Chicago which was pretty helpful.

CD Review: Anthrax "Anthems" EP

Producers: Jay Ruston, Rob Caggiano
Tracks: 8

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

For months we have been hearing rumblings of an Anthrax EP consisting of various classic rock staples and on March 19th the wait will finally be over. “Anthems” produced by Jay Ruston and Rob Caggiano features 6 classic rock covers and 2 versions of the song “Crawl” which first appeared on the bands Grammy nominated album “Worship Music”. Though the songs chosen to appear on the release might not be the biggest hits from the original artist’s catalog’s fans of both groups will surely appreciate the edgy renditions that are fresh while still staying true to the original versions.

Being a fan of cover songs/albums I have been keeping tabs on this release since speaking with Anthrax lead singer Joey Belladonna at this summer’s Mayhem Festival. Though he couldn’t give me too many details at the time I was quite pleased with what I heard on “Anthems”. Probably my favorite track off the EP is the song “Big Eyes” which was originally written and recorded by Cheap Trick. The haunting choruses instantly grab you and before you know it your singing along and pounding your fist. I also enjoyed the remix of “Crawl” which features a more orchestral arrangement making the song sound very robust. The other songs contained on the release are not to be discredited as they all feature very strong performances and production however they seem to be common staples that a lot bands cover so I probably could have done without hearing another version of AC/DC’s “TNT”.

If you’re a diehard Anthrax fan or just a fan of the originals and looking for a fresh spin on some great songs do yourself a favor and grab the digital version of the release or for the more traditional music listeners head to the store and pick up a hard copy of the EP which will feature one of 6 “re-imagined” album covers created by Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante and artist Stephen Thompson.

Track Listing:
1.) Anthem
2.) TNT
3.) Smokin’
4.) Keep On Runnin’
5.) Big Eyes
6.) Jailbreak
7.) Crawl (Album Version)
8.) Crawl (Remix)