ANTHRAX singer Joey Belladonna spoke to SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation" about his recently launched JOURNEY tribute band called JOURNEY BEYOND.
JOURNEY BEYOND, which also features keyboardist Doug Carter, bassist Paul Arntz, guitarist Matt Basford and drummer Justin Ward, made its live debut on March 6 at The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, Virginia.
Asked how the decision to form JOURNEY BEYOND came about, Joey said: "I thought about it for some time. There were times I just didn't really wanna do a tribute thing. I see [tribute bands] more than ever now. It's weird that I actually finally found the place and time to do it with the people that are willing to take on a project and let it unfold for the right reasons.
"I just like the music," he continued. "It's very appealing to me. It's something I've always loved. God, I could have done a BAD COMPANY, a FOREIGNER, a [Ronnie James] Dio one too. There's a lot of bands I would like to try, but I didn't know if I even wanted to really take it out. But it really took a while to find anybody to really even take it in the right way… I just wanted the band to sound good. I obviously wanna put on a decent show, like any other time…"
Belladonna also talked about his approach to singing material that was originally written and recorded by Steve Perry. He said: "Obviously, when you do [something like this], there's always open ground for [people to say], 'You didn't do that part, 'You didn't do this.' [But] I didn't wanna copy it note for note. Sometimes I just like to do my own thing with it. Represent it and do what you can, but I love to mess around with things. Not so much to try to be too different, but just make it cool and do it your own way versus trying to get every note. I'm sure some guys study every second of it. Even with ANTHRAX, I do songs different a lot of times. It's just fun that way. To do things off the cuff is fun for me versus trying to follow everything… I can study it all day, but I just don't feel like doing that. I wanna have a little fun doing my own thing with it."
When he is not busy touring and recording with ANTHRAX, Belladonna has been spending time playing drums and singing for a classic-rock covers band called CHIEF BIG WAY. The upstate New York-based group, which also features Dave Mickelson on bass, Joe Precourt on guitar and John Goodwin on keyboards, plays versions of songs from JOURNEY, AC/DC, ZZ TOP, BOSTON, CHEAP TRICK, FOREIGNER, PINK FLOYD, VAN HALEN, COLLECTIVE SOUL, THE WHO, THE DOORS, SHINEDOWN and BON JOVI, among others.
In a 2005 interview with MusicDish, Belladonna was asked about the rumor that he came to the table with a JOURNEY tune during his 1985 audition for ANTHRAX. "Actually, what happened was I went into the room and they said, 'Just go on in,' and they hadn't heard me sing," he said. "They'd heard of me and they asked me to come in, but we were going in to start tracking and stuff, to get the mic set up and all that and they said, 'Let's get you in there and get you warmed up.' I hit the mic and belted out some JOURNEY… I think it was [the song] 'Lights'. I didn't know what the hell I was getting into in the first place. I just wanted to lay some vocals or something. Just to kinda give an idea and that's what happened. It wasn't really anything more than that. I just kinda belched it out. I think I did 'Oh Sherrie' [written by Steve Perry], too, or something. I dunno why, but I just did. It was something off the top of my head I could do a cappella and it was kinda challenging. I thought maybe in range or something that would be kind of intriguing. It was definitely one they weren't expecting."
ANTHRAX's 2013 EP "Anthems" EP included the band's cover version of JOURNEY's "Keep On Runnin'" alongside classics by RUSH, THIN LIZZY, AC/DC, CHEAP TRICK and BOSTON.