ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello recently spoke with Dom Famularo of The Sessions Panel. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On his biggest influences:
Frank: "Geddy Lee, Geezer Butler, Steve Harris — who's now my friend, and Geezer is too. You know what's weird? When you become friends later on. I try not to be fanboy. It's hard, because I can be talking [normally], but I still feel like, 'This is Steve Harris I'm talking to'... I still feel like that first time I saw him live on stage, [and] the first time I heard the first IRON MAIDEN record. What that did for me... at this point, I've told him so much, and he goes, 'It's okay.' He just shuts me down. Geezer's the same way. He's a sweetheart of a man. He'll give me a look — 'Okay.' That's it — I'll just shut it down [and stop] asking too many questions. But I want to learn. I still want to learn, and I want to know what amp did he use on this record. 'Steve Harris, did you use flatwound strings on every record?'"
On how he joined ANTHRAX:
Frank: "I was the roadie/tech. I didn't really know what the hell I was doing... I was friends with them, [and] being friends with the band really helps get in there. I heard through the grapevine they were going to be auditioning bass players, so of course, I put the word in — 'Look, I play. You all know me. I'm putting it out there.' Long story short, got the audition, scared. You know what's weird? You can be friends with these guys forever. [It] doesn't matter. The audition... [Charlie Benante, ANTHRAX drummer and Bello's uncle], I think he just held back, but he was hoping, wishing [and] pumping for me, but at the same time, he said, 'Learn the parts. Learn the parts'... I was nervous. Even though I was friends with these guys, I was hanging with them all the time, I was shaking. It just worked. After the first song, then it was like, 'Okay, it's hang-out time.' I got through the first song — I think it was 'Metal Thrashing Mad'... I got through it, and I said, 'Okay, I can do this. I don't know what's going to happen later, but I know I can do this.'"
On what he learned from playing with HELMET:
Frank: "I took a hiatus from ANTHRAX. I think at that point, we needed to take a little break from each other. Page Hamilton asked me specifically just to play with a pick. I found that made me a better bass player, because it was a whole new process. I knew how to play with a pick, but I didn't dig in with a pick [before] like I did there. For the first jam we did, I learned 37 songs. It was all pick, and I'm a natural finger player. I really thought it made me a better bass player because I was listening more."
On not feeling complacent:
Frank: "Maybe this is just me, [but] I don't feel like I've done anything. I think I've done okay, but there's something else... I feel like there's so much more to get. Even songwriting-wise, I think there's a whole different vibe I need to get to. I'm glad that's there — that energy, that fire in my belly — because I'm hungrier now than I've ever been. I can say that honestly. I have no intention of stopping, because I can't wait until the next page. It's just the way I live life... I can't sit still, because I'm afraid I'm going to lose out on something. There's something else out there that I have to achieve. In this music world, there's so much more. I want to write that next great song. I want to do that thing I've never done. I don't even know what it is, but I know it's there... I love that that drive exists, because it energizes me, and it gets my energy up, and I want to make people feel good. Music makes people feel good, right? That's why we do it. I think I'm at this point where I just want to make people feel good, including myself. I want to connect. When we play in front of an audience, it's a connection between [us] and an audience. I want feel that. It's not just the performers — it's all of us together, what kind of energy we're making together at that show. That's what we do it for, and that's what we live for."
On ANTHRAX's current momentum:
Frank: "Since we did that 'Big Four' thing — METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX — there's been this whole new generation of fans that came in that maybe never heard of ANTHRAX or maybe [had only] heard the name [and said,] 'Maybe I'll check a record out,' and became an ANTHRAX fan. Thank you METALLICA for putting the 'Big Four' on. We're finding this whole new thing go on, along with our own fan base, which is just a really great thing to see even at this time in our life. The last two ANTHRAX records, people are saying it's our best work yet. To hear that? Are you kidding me? For all the pain and hardship that goes into these records... there's a lot of stuff that goes on — a lot of fighting. Not fist-fighting, but personality clashes, and I think that leads to the intensity of the record... We're getting along better than we ever have, which is crazy, and we're more excited about ANTHRAX now than I think we've ever been. That's what I'm really excited about."
ANTHRAX is currently working on the follow-up to 2016's "For All Kings", the group's first album with guitarist Jon Donais (SHADOWS FALL).