With rumors swirling since ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante and bassist Frank Bello were seen together with former ANTHRAX vocalist Joey Belladonna late last month in New York, the band — Benante, Bello, and guitarists Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano — is elated to announce that Belladonna has officially rejoined the band. In his once and current capacity, Belladonna will make his first appearance with ANTHRAX this summer when the band joins METALLICA, SLAYER, and MEGADETH — the "Big Four" founding bands of the thrash genre — to co-headline a series of Sonisphere Festivals in ten European cities, as well as playing a handful of ANTHRAX-headlined shows (itinerary is below).
"I am super-excited about this," said Scott Ian. "Joey and the rest of the band came to see me play at a club in New York, I hadn't seen Joey for years, since the end of the reunion tour. Joey taps me on the shoulder, instant big hug, it felt like no time had gone by. The band dynamic is an interesting one — in ANTHRAX, Joey and I spent so many years of our lives together, we grew up together, we know each other so well, so it was like no time was lost."
Belladonna, an essential part of ANTHRAX's lineup from 1985 to 1992, sang on some of the band's most popular albums including "Spreading the Disease", "Among the Living" and "Persistence of Time". He had reunited with original members of ANTHRAX for the 2005-2007 "Among the Living Tour", but this situation is different. Explained Belladonna, "I had been in touch with Charlie and Frank, then I got a call from their manager who said that everyone wanted me back in the band. I thought, 'are you guys for real? You want me up there, fronting the band like it was before?' I was thrilled. We've already started to reconnect with the old ways of having conversations. Everything is easy going and feels really good."
"We're going to do these summer shows and gel as a band," explained Charlie Benante, "get comfortable playing with each other again, and the energy from that should go right into making new music."
Immediately following the final Sonisphere festival in early August, the band will fly back to the U.S. and begin writing and rehearsing for a new album that's expected to be out in early 2011.
"We've got an unusual luxury of hindsight," added Ian. "We finished an album a year ago, we've lived with those 12 songs since then, and we can look back on them and see what we really love and what we can make even better, especially with Joey back in the fold."
Added Benante, "There are five or six songs from a year ago that we don't want to change, we love them the way they are, other than having Joey making them his own with his vocals. Then there's another five or six that we may want to rework, and then there are a bunch of other tunes that are still in the early stages, that we want to finish.
"The band has been on an emotional roller coaster since last summer," Benante continued, "but I think everything that we've had to deal with during that time was pushing us toward this, to Joey being back in ANTHRAX, and the timing couldn't be more perfect or appropriate. To have Joey with us playing these shows with METALLICA, SLAYER and MEGADETH is the way it should be — as ANTHRAX's vocalist from '85 to '92, he was part of the 'Big Four.'"
"John was a real stand-up guy about the situation," said Ian, about John Bush, ANTHRAX's vocalist from 1992 to 2005 and for some of ANTHRAX's most recent live shows. "He knew we wanted to move forward at full speed, that we needed a total commitment to ANTHRAX, and he knew that wasn't what he wanted. We certainly wish John well. We've had so many great times with him, and we appreciate his stepping in last summer at the last minute, and performing with us since then. He will always be an integral part of the ANTHRAX family."
With worldwide sales in excess of 10-million, ANTHRAX is about to celebrate its 29th year as a band. Over its career, ANTHRAX has received multiple gold and platinum albums, multiple Grammy nominations, and a host of other accolades from the press, industry and fans.
ANTHRAX has scheduled the following dates:
Jun. 16 - Warsaw, Poland @ Sonisphere
Jun. 18 - Wil, Switzerland @ Sonisphere
Jun. 19 - Mimon, Czech Republic @ Sonisphere
Jun. 20 - Vienna, Austria @ Arena Wien
Jun. 22 - Sofia, Bulgaria @ Sonisphere
Jun. 24 - Athens, Greece @ Sonisphere
Jun. 26 - Bucharest, Romania @ Sonisphere
Jun. 27 - Istanbul, Turkey @ Sonisphere
Jul. 31 - Knebworth, UK @ Sonisphere
Aug. 01 - Lokerse, Belgium @ Lokerse FeeSten Festival
Aug. 03 - Hengelo, Netherlands @ Metropool
Aug. 05 - Moscow, Russia @ B1
Aug. 07 - Stockholm, Sweden @ Sonisphere
Aug. 08 - Pori, Finland @ Sonisphere