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Joey Belladonna Had Never Heard of Anthrax When He Auditioned

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The members of Anthrax look back on lead singer Joey Belladonna’s first audition with the band — including how the vocalist had never heard of the thrash metal act before the meeting — in the latest edition of the ongoing 40 for 40 docuseries about the group.

This spring and summer, the series celebrates the band’s 40 years together with new videos issued thrice weekly (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), all leading to a 40th anniversary virtual performance from the veteran New York thrashers on July 16.

Watch the latest installment of Anthrax’s 40 for 40, titled “A New Hope – Armed and Dangerous,” down toward the bottom of this post.

“No, I had no clue — I didn’t even know what I was going to visit,” Belladonna remembers of his Anthrax knowledge before his audition in late 1984. “There was no indication of any style. [I had] never heard of them. [I] just flew there on a propeller plane from Plattsburgh, N.Y., to Ithaca, of all places.”

The singer’s initial ignorance notwithstanding, Belladonna’s Anthrax audition would inaugurate a fruitful partnership. But at that very first try-out, before the musician proved he had the goods in the singing department, his then-glammy looks clashed with Anthrax’s no-nonsense aesthetic.

“I’m in ripped jeans and an Agnostic Front T-shirt, and in walks this guy who looks like he should be in Whitesnake,” Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian amusedly recalls. “And the dude fucking nails it. And we all just look at each other like [opens mouth in astonishment].” [via Metal Hammer]

Drummer Charlie Benante adds, “I wasn’t up there in Ithaca and they played it for me over the phone, and I was like, ”That’s it, sign him up, let’s go.’ The first song he sang was a song called ‘Medusa,’ and he fucking nailed it. When Joey came into the band, it was right — it just sounded like, that’s it, that’s the band right there, don’t touch it.”

Belladonna replaced singer Neil Turbin in Anthrax following the band’s debut LP, Fistful of Metal. The singer swap came after a 1984 NYC concert with Anthrax, Metallica and Raven led to each band’s signing with a major record label. The fateful triple-bill show was “one of the greatest nights in the history of metal in New York City,” Ian says.

Look back on that history with the new 40 for 40 below. A previous episode found Ian recalling his reaction to Metallica’s demo. Details on Anthrax’s July livestream concert will be announced shortly.

Anthrax, 40 for 40 Retrospective – Episode 4

13 Bands Considered Pioneers of Thrash



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