Blasting-Zone.com recently conducted an in-depth interview with former ANTHRAX/current DEATHRIDERS frontman Neil Turbin. Several excerpts follow:
Blasting-Zone.com: How did you initially become involved with ANTHRAX? Did you have a hand in forming the group or did you join after the fact?
Neil: "I didn't start the band, but when I joined the band, I significantly boosted their position. I was someone who was an experienced singer. ANTHRAX was not my first band. In fact, at my first gig, I played for five hundred people. At my first professional gig, I played at (legendary New York City club) CBGBs with my band NEW RACE. ANTHRAX had actually called me first. In Good Times magazine, I had taken out a 'singer-available'-type ad and they had called me up somewhere between June or July of 1982. It actually may have been much earlier than that. These guys had their own PA, had some pretty cool songs, so I got a hold of (ANTHRAX rhythm guitarist) Scott (Ian). ...I had gone to school with Scott. We had actually been in the same class in the tenth grade. I knew I wasn't his favorite person, even then. At that point, I talked with them and we agreed to get together after some deliberations on the phone. So we got together at my house in Queens and we played demo tapes for each other. We shared thoughts and what are experience levels were and what was on the plate for ANTHRAX at that time. They actually had a show in two weeks. They already had it booked, but what they didn't have was a singer. They had been using Scott's brother Jason Rosenfeld. He did one or two gigs with them and I guess they weren't exactly overjoyed or thrilled with the outcome because he was a fourteen-year-old kid. The band, at that time, had a very IRON MAIDEN sound going on. Not a very original sound. It was a sorta hard rock meets heavy metal band. The material, to me, was kinda weak. There were some cool ideas, but it was weak in sense that it just wasn't quite there. I'm not trying to take anything away… it was just kinda getting there. It needed development. My intentions were to write songs with the band. I was an experienced writer as well. I had been writing for years. Writing songs is great, but if you're not writing for that particular singer, it's like pissing in the wind, ya know? So I think it's very mission critical that you write for your singer. Just the way things evolved, during my time in ANTHRAX, we were never writing for the singer. I just kinda wrote the song and hoped that I could sing it. They didn't say, 'Here is the key we are writing in.' There just wasn't that level of songwriting."
Blasting-Zone.com: That must have been frustrating…
Neil: "Well, it wasn't anyone's fault. It was just where we were at. Back then, it was a lot more hit-or-miss. There was a lot less intelligence about how to go about things. And a great deal of that comes from experience. So I ended up joining the band and we did our first show two weeks later at Great Gildersleeves in September of '82 and the rest was history, I thought. I stayed in the band through thick and thin. I wasn't gonna fall out because I got wishy washy or something. I hung in there as bad as things got. It wasn't my intention to jump ship, but it was definitely at a point where things were pretty much at an impasse. Things were pretty bad before we went on tour. There were people that were jealous, let's just put it that way. People were saying stuff and basically adding fuel to the fire. There was already animosity within the band and a very bad lack of communication. One of the things that was prevalent was that there were people in the band that wouldn't say things to your face. They'd rather say it on the phone. The band didn't like me. That's what it really came down to. There was behavior that was just disrespectful. There was basically all these people talkin' smack all the time. How much fun would that be, ya know? These guys weren't much into letting me have my peace or rest or anything. It was the opposite of being a team. It was more like every man for himself with all these egos running wild. Unfortunately for me, I was in the position of being the frontman. I was getting attention…I was pretty intimidating, so people would give me attention, ya know? I didn't have to ask for it and I didn't have to demand it. It just came…it was just there. I guess some people might have been jealous and I think some people might have been jealous that I had my own ideas. I wasn't a person that was going to be told what to do. I was part of the team, but I wasn't taking any orders and that's what that band really became. There were a lot of things going on at that time and the songwriting had changed. (Future NUCLEAR ASSAULT/S.O.D. bassist) Dan Lilker wasn't in the band anymore and the songwriting team had been myself, Scott and Danny. When Danny was out, I tried to start writing with (then-ANTHRAX lead guitarist) Dan Spitz, but that wasn't happening. Every song came out sounding like like VAN HALEN or DOKKEN or something (laughs). It wasn't a style that was complimentary or in the same vein. …That's when I wrote 'Armed And Dangerous', 'Gung Ho' and 'Raise Hell'. The next generation of songs came out of me. The rest, of course, is history. I was out of the band a week after our August 3rd 1984 show at the Roseland Ballroom. It was premeditated. The band never communicated anything with me before. They knew it was a dying ship. The fact that I was getting thrown off of the ship before the second half of the tour was already predetermined. There wasn't a whole lot of integrity in that band. Let's just leave it at that."
Blasting-Zone.com: What are your feelings regarding the group's recent failed reunion attempt with [singer Joey] Belladonna?
Neil: "It doesn't concern me. What does it have to do with me? I've evolved over the years and have been involved in a lot of different musical endeavors. If people didn't hear about them, who's problem is that? I'm sorry if people weren't keepin' up on me. I didn't disappear, I didn't die and get resurrected. I've always been pursuing what I believe in. I haven't had to look back in a long time. Granted we're not in a signed situation or out doing major tours, but DEATHRIDERS is a force to be reckoned with. Other bands that play with us know what we bring. We're only upping the ante from here. I think it's very exciting where we are because we don't have to go out and do cover songs, ya know? I don't have to do this. I do it because I want to. Don't believe everything you read. There's a lot of rumors and B.S. out there. As far as ANTHRAX is concerned, I could have hung on no matter how bad it got because that was my mental state of being. I helped bring the band a very far way. At the point where a new singer stepped in, the skids had already been greased. All the palm trees were already aligned. All ya had to do was march down the aisle, ya know? All they had to do was put out another album, but everybody already knew about the band by then. People talk about it like there was some big thing that happened and it's like, 'Yeah, the band got another singer and became a lot more well known because of all of the work that had been put in.' At that point, the band moved to the next level because they had that momentum. More power to 'em for what they've done and what they've accomplished, but at that point, it stopped being a concern of mine. Why would I care about the reunion? It's not even relevant to me. To be quite honest with you, DEATHRIDERS is in a bit of a different musical direction than ANTHRAX. DEATHRIDERS is in a more power metal and neo-classical thrashing vein."
Blasting-Zone.com: What type of setlist will you be working with when you do eventually tour?
Neil: "We're gonna play songs that people wanna hear…and we've got a lot of strong songs. I won't say that we've gone out and done a massive amount of touring or anything. The opportunity hasn't really presented itself because for one thing, we don't have an album that's out and you need that. You need to have that product and the business behind it. But we're not too concerned with that. We love what we do and we love playing out live. That's what it's all about…but we haven't oversaturated ourselves out here in California. When we play out, come see us because you might not see us again for a while. We don't have to play the Sunset Strip ten times a month. We're just not doing it. And there's not really an interest for it. I'd rather play in places less traveled like Idaho and Alaska or something where they actually appreciate a band that sounds great and plays metal. I love California, but there's a lot of choices. If you're the only game in town, then yeah, people will come to see you, but when you've got a million metal bands in town playing every single night. And another things that's out there is this pay-to-play nonsense. To me, that's disgusting…that should never even be a question, but the grim reality is that these people wanna make money. They could care less about artists. So I don't deal with those people because I'm just not interested. I'd rather pay some place else, ya know?"
Blasting-Zone.com: Does that mean we won't be seeing DEATHRIDERS touring with the next Ozzfest?
Neil: "On Ozzfest? Personally, (I think) Ozzfest is a great buzz word and I hung out with my good friends from DRAGONFORCE at the last one. And I went to the ugly one before that. They wouldn't let me in the door with the chains that I wore around my neck or my arm, but they let a fuckin' crate of eggs in there. How do you get a pallet of fuckin' eggs in there when they've got people at the fuckin' security door with wands wanding everybody and not letting anybody in with a chain around their arm or their neck? And they made you take off your shoes. I felt like I was going through fuckin' secondary screening at the airport. It was disgusting. By the time I got in there, it felt like they had touched every part of me. I was pissed. And then to see that show…with all these guys in their vests hitting IRON MAIDEN with fuckin' eggs… I was right there and it was pretty fucked up, ya know? It just made you want to go and do something about it. It's disgraceful that we've lowered ourselves enough as a society that someone can jump up on stage and start hurting someone. It's just like throwing something at a sporting event or some other event where you're in the audience. With a band like IRON MAIDEN, it unfair because they signed some stupid fuckin' paper work that said they couldn't do something or say something…and Sharon Osbourne tries to play it off like it's no big deal. I think it would be interesting to see if Ozzy was onstage and someone starting hitting him with eggs what she would think of that. Would she thinks it's so cool then? To me, that's a serious issue. I'm not gonna wait around for someone to come up on my stage, ya know? Anyone that jumps up onstage with me is takin' their life into their own hands."
Read the entire interview at Blasting-Zone.com.