The Australian Download Festival line up has been announced and it is huge! Headlined by Ozzy with Judas Priest, Anthrax, Alice in Chains and Behemoth; as the main drawcards, with a multitude of other heavyweights in tow. This concept has been such a positive venture for the music scene in Australia and it is fantastic, and quite fitting, to have the franchise move into Sydney in 2019.
Last year I feel that the Download franchise was testing the waters with an initial festival in Melbourne only, but with the obvious support it championed last year, organisers are comfortable and see the merit in rolling it out to another capital city for its second year installment. Anthrax, as mentioned above, are one of the key inclusions and I caught up with Charlie Benante, founding member, songwriter and drummer extraordinaire to discuss the festival and to see what Anthrax were up to –
Charlie, it is great to hear that Anthrax are heading back down under as a part of Download in 2019, how does it feel for you?
“We are really, really happy. We wanted to come back down there in a bigger format and play in a bigger festival, you know, something like this. This will help us reach a lot more people and showcase what we do well. So we are very happy to be coming back and being a part of this project.”
How did the offer come about for inclusion on the bill?
“We were just offered a slot and we said yes. That was it! Obviously, we really wanted to come back down to Australia, and as I mentioned this was the perfect situation for us. We didn’t even need to think about the offer, it was just yes, bring it on.”
It’s been a while since we have seen Anthrax in Australia, and so I am sure that a lot of fans are pumped to catch you guys again, why has it taken so long?
“That’s a good question. There was talk just a few years ago but it just didn’t pan out. I don’t know to be honest, maybe there was something in the works to do it this way. I wish we could have come back earlier than this but you know this is how the industry works. The important thing is we are definitely coming back next year and we won’t disappoint.”
What should fans expect from your set next year?
“Wow, you are gonna hear songs you haven’t heard before and we are really looking forward to play stuff from the last album. Obviously, The State of Euphoria album, as we are about to re-release it. But yeah, you will hear an Anthrax set and we will put in everything we can in the time we are given.”
Reflecting back on your latest studio album For All Kings, I loved the intensity and melodies on this album, how do you see it sitting within your back catalogue some two years later?
“I think it is awesome! It is definitely one of those records, you know between Worship Music and For All Kings we have some of the strongest material in our catalogue. You know after all of these years we are still able to turn it out, and come up with good songs, and make statements and not just putting stuff out for the sake of it.”
Is there any new material sitting in the wings for the next studio album?
“Yes! Not really at liberty to talk on this at this point but material is definitely shaping up.”
I saw recently that the band is re-releasing State of Euphoria, for its 30th anniversary and you have found some gems for bonus material, can you talk us through this?
“A lot of the stuff that is really cool to me personally is the demos and basic riffs that I have uncovered and I have had for ever. It is like how The Beatles did the Anthology album, you can hear the growth of the songs from its skeletal stage to its final. You can see the progression and the evolution of the material and I think this is exciting and people will really be interested in this when they hear it.”
With the announcement that Slayer are calling it quits after this current world tour, and I know you guys have done some dates with them, has Anthrax thought about retirement, or is it a dirty word?
“It’s not a dirty word, it is something that everyone is going to face at some point. At this point, for us, we are not even thinking about it. We feel there is still a lot more to be said and personally I have way more goals that I want to meet with our music. So we are not in the mindset, thinking about retirement any time soon.”
I know that during Iron Maiden’s last tour of South America Anthrax flew on Ed Force One and supported the band, and I must say what a lineup, but how was this experience?
“One of my favourite times of being on tour. I can’t say enough about that band, they are one of the greatest and they are still the same kind of guys that I knew way back in the day. They are great people who are really respectful, and if you know Iron Maiden, you know the level of professionalism of the outfit, and so to be included with them like this and just hang with them and be mates, it is amazing.”
If we could delve back into Anthrax’s rich history, what album and moment stands out in your mind?
“I have to think about where we came from and where we went. A lot of us were just kids from New York who had these dreams of being something bigger. You know, looking at these other bands that we worshiped and dreamt of being like. We never thought that we would ever play with them or be in the same sentence as them. This was a huge achievement, and so year after year these things happened, and this is amazing and still exciting to me, to think back on.”
To finish, I would now like to look forward, after the Download Australian Festivals next year, where is the band headed?
“I think that one falls in to the beginning of the year and so this is when we are going to be creative. So next year, after the Download shows in Australia, we will be writing and recording the next Anthrax album.”
It was a real pleasure to speak with Charlie today, an amazing musician, an icon and a nice bloke. Anthrax, on the back of their last studio and live album, have proven to the world that they still have so much to offer and that they are still relevant to the metal scene, over thirty years since their debut Fist Full of Metal. The band are an important addition to Download Australia 2019, and I can’t wait to see them in full flight on the stage again.
Interview by Mark Snedden
Tickets are selling fast to this event, so get yours here before they are gone.
Download Festival Sydney & Melbourne 2019
SLAYER | JUDAS PRIEST | ALICE IN CHAINS
GHOST | RISE AGAINST | THE AMITY AFFLICTION | ANTHRAX
HALESTORM | BEHEMOTH | ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES
I PREVAIL | CONVERGE | FRENZAL RHOMB | LUCA BRASI
CODE ORANGE | ANDY BLACK | THE FEVER 333
WAR ON WOMEN | HIGH TENSION | OUTRIGHT
RUINS | ALIEN WEAPONRY
PLUS LOADS MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED!
March 9th @ Parramatta Park, Sydney
March 11th @ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne