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Home > Features > Band Interviews > Charlie Benante – drummer of Anthrax Speaks about new music, politics and how the 90ties changed the music industry….

Charlie Benante – drummer of Anthrax Speaks about new music, politics and how the 90ties changed the music industry….

Interview by Tim Amoroso
Written by Silvie Mietzekatze

“it really irritates me that people complain about buying music when they spent 500 – 600 dollars on a phone”

Tim: When I heard that I was interviewing you I got really excited, you are my favorite, so thank you for this one…
Charlie: Oh wow, thank you.
Tim: So you got the KILLTHRAX ( ANTHRAX and KILLSWITCH) tour coming up…this is the second one, what are some memorable things that happened on the last tour?
Charlie: When you go on tour, especially after doing it for this long I think it is kind of like going to work, you know what I mean? And whenever goes to work, it’s nice to go to a place where the environment and the people are really nice and cool and friendly. It makes things go that much smoother, rather than going to work and having to deal with a bunch of shitheads, you know what I mean?
So the thing with the KILLSWITCH guys, they are just real down to earth kind of people with a good sense of humor and I think that’s why it works so well. I of course enjoy their style of music and the things they do. I just think it is a good meet up of music and minds – just a good time. And I really think the audience enjoyed it too. It was kind of popular so let’s do it again.

Tim: I did a little bit of research and you don’t make it a secret that you got some disdain for some modern music. Is there any new music or are there newer bands that you are listening to or have heard of that you like?
Charlie: Well, whenever I find something that I like I try to expose it to as many people as I possibly could, I feel if I can influence someone’s opinion on something new and it takes that band to a different level and it helps them than I fell like I have done my job. I always post about it. Last year I discovered this band called GRETA VAN FLEET – who had an EP out and I immediately started to blow that up and now I see a year later they are pretty much doing well and I am happy for them. That’s the same thing I felt about GHOST when I heard about them I said that this band is going to do really well. It’s just that’s what I have been doing all my life. Back in the day we used to take certain bands on tour to expose them to a bigger audience just to help them out. At the end of a day I like to say that it’s all about a song. There are so many bands that came out and yeah it’s the style or the vibe but at the end of the day there if there is no song for people to latch onto. For me you want to go and see something and you want to feel it. It’s not always about the visual – it has to be about both. There has to be a fucking song at the end of the day, there’s gotta be something you gotta take away that you hum when you are walking down the street.

Tim: You come from a time where music was sought after, we had a lot of young people that went to the record shops and listened or traded tapes. And told each other to check different bands out. Now that everything is pretty much at our fingertips – do you still have that desire to search out new music?
Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. I’m still very much a hungry person for that type of stuff. I still felt that there will be still be that type of movement again out there, I don’t know where but there will be something else out there that gets people excited again about music, because what is happening in the past years is that people have been going backwards in discovering things that happened a while back. What’s happening too is that people are discovering these bands that do no longer exist. Or all the members are kind of gone except for one and they missed the boat on it, because either they weren’t alive at the time or they just didn’t care about it. So what I’m seeing is a lack of anything new that’s exciting and good. So people are going a bit backwards saying: “oh wow how did I miss this”

Tim: I even found myself guilty of that too. You know in having that sorrow and regret. Like going back to the 50ties or 40ties. There came a time, I created a radio station for my community which showcases all local talent out of Ventura county and then we got attached with NO COVER and that’s all for the love of music. Because it seems everything right now is just about money, money , money… let’s sell a little boy to a bunch of little teenagers and let’s make money and we are losing the art of music
Charlie: Well back in the late 90ties is when music started to become different and the way music was marketed became different with things like the Britney Spears phenomenon and the boy band phenomenon and you know there is always teeny bopper stuff, but now it was being treated as the most important, the priority.
And when you see a magazine like ROLLING STONE putting these things on the cover it became something of a concern because it was like is this going to became a new normal? At that time you started to have tv shows like contest kind of shows like AMERICAN IDOL – were you can be famous over night. You didn’t have to work for it. You didn’t have to get in a fucking van and go across the country to tour to make a thing for yourself anymore. You know what I mean? It was just instant fame and all of a sudden that became the new norm and things like award shows started to feature more of this stuff and that to right then and there was the downfall of music. And it was the beginning of things like NAPSTER and people becoming more computer savvy and file sharing that to me was where everything started to go.

Tim: How bad did that whole thing impact you, the whole NAPSTER thing, – how did this effect your band financially?
Charlie: The fact of the matter is, there was as time when I felt music was being sold at a high rate anyway it was crazy. The prices they charged for music and I think people were starting to get a little pissed off about it. And all of a sudden here comes this file sharing thing and people started stealing music and I do blame as big as apple is and as much as I love my iPhone and things like that I have to put blame there too for killing the music industry and nobody really looks at that. And it really irritates me that people complains about buying music when they spent 500 – 600 dollars on a phone. It’s just that the priorities are just absolutely all over the place in our days.

Tim: So you mentioned AMERICAN IDOL – and I’m not a big fan of it however I have watched it a couple times and is it me or do they not promote creativity? They promote “ can you fit the mold of” what I think a musician should be. On the surface and not really musicians as artists, right? It’s not this robot and that’s what they are creating – it’s a bunch of robots and then to brainwash our society to say – oh this is music …
Charlie: Yeah, just because a girl can sing in the living room does make her a star.
Tim: Yeah it makes her a good parrot.
Charlie: (laughs) yeah it makes a good parrot and she can mimic that Mariah Carrey song or that fucking Whitney Houston song but let’s see her do a whole record. And granted if you look at the odds of all of the AMERICAN IDOL winners you will probably name two that will become really successful and sustain this.
Well Heavy Metal music is not going to be the award-winning thing. We picked the style of music that only appeals to a certain type of demographic. I mean look at rap music when it came out people were saying, “ that’s not music” and then look at our days it’s like everywhere. If you look at the top ten it’s mostly that rap r n B type of stuff.
Tim: and event that is watered down.
Charlie: Yeah that is so oversaturated by people who don’t really make music they make little stupid formulated little things …dumbed down…I crack up sometimes about it and ask myself “that’s a real song?” and it will just the the same type of beat and you got some guy singing about how much he likes weed or whatever and it’s just like…wow…this is where it comes to.. and back in the day when you had real poets like CHUCK D. and KRS One all that type of stuff that was so good nobody tried to mold themselves after those guys?

Tim: When and what was the last thing that inspired you?
Charlie: Oh that’s a good question… usually a show…I go and see a show and not all of them will be inspiring but sometimes one will kind of or two will inspire me – that RODGER WATERS show that I saw a couple months ago that was really inspiring both on a intellectual level and a musical level and on a spectacular level just what he was doing how he was doing it and the sound was completely…my senses were just like overloaded.

Tim: Nice! I always like to figure out, or know what kinds of things inspire other people I watched a musical the other day and I wasn’t even expecting anything – THE GREATEST SHOWMAN with Hugh Jackman and I was super inspired by that and I don’t even know why…
Charlie: You are absolutely right, certain things will inspire me, I watched this documentary the other night called THROPHY and it was basically about hunters – the killing in Africa of species that are becoming endangered and these hunters spent so much money and then there is the whole thing that they are doing it to conserve and I think it becomes such a political thing that they need to keep the population down, but statistically speaking the population has gone down so much and the human being that I am. Watching some of the footage – shooting a big a elephant and then hearing the thing crying cause it is in pain that is pretty
Tim:…intense…
Charlie: yeah…and the hunters were happy cause this is what they went to do down there cause they are hunters. It’s a totally different mindset, but fore me being on the opposite site and watching it and just hearing the animal suffer, I don’t know man, just spiritually … I mean if you are starving and you have to provide for your family and that’s what you need to do and we live in a different age and by all means that elephant is going to die…but if it’s just for a trophy then I have a real hard time with that. If I posted something about it, I would get about 65 percent positive and I would get 35 percent of just like the opposite site. I posted something about two weeks ago when Trump said something about he has a bigger button and his button works and it came down to …because he was watching Fox news…and this is what they were talking about and often times he just tweets after he watches Fox news of that Fox and friends shit and I posted something like : “fox news is gonna get us all killed”.
Tim: That’s the truth! He just reacts of it…
Charlie: … yeah…he reacts of it and he doesn’t fact check…he doesn’t read news papers. He says he doesn’t read. And the thing that surprises me the most about people who are pro trump is that they live in this bubble too and they think they other site lives in their bubble and I don’t live in a bubble….most of my friends voted for Donald Trump…and so I did say – let’s give him a shot, let’s see what happens and then it just became a circus and it just got worse and worse …and finally I am like ‘fuck this…this is not shots anymore…this is not happening”
And so I really think people have to think what is best now in our days and not feel embarrassed….maybe that what they do…they feel embarrassed we were wrong.. And some people have a hard time admitting that they were wrong. But I never understood where that whole Make America great again – I don’t understand what America they are talking about…are they talking about 1957 America? Are they talking about 1987…I don’t know…
Tim: yeah…I think they are trying to be so vague. Just to catch someone’s attention cause everyone in America, honestly we are just a bunch of complainers I mean like you mentioned it on the social media. Everyone feels like they have a voice now and they can go and rattle things off
Charlie: and they criticize people in bands and actors …and say just shut up and play your music…I have gotten this so many times and that in it self is so disrespectful because my voice is just as important as yours. If I’m not happy with something why shouldn’t I say something about it? I mean I don’t come from the : I love Hillary or I love Obama or I love George Bush I come from a place where I love America. I like living. No matter what you think about if the earth is round or flat if there is global warming if there is a climate problem…at the end of the day we all have to breath and it doesn’t; matter if you are a fucking billionaire you can have as much money in the world as you want you still have to breathe the same air as I do.

Tim: I know you are a huge start wars fan. Who are rays parents?
Charlie: I could tell you before I saw this movie I had my views and I had my thoughts on it and after this movie came out, I was like : I don’t give a shit who her parents are this movie is terrible.
Tim: You didn’t like it?
Charlie: I hated it.
Tim: What didn’t you like?
Charlie: I didn’t like the Mary Poppins scene in space. I didn’t like the fact that how they did Luke. I don’t believe Luke should have went out like that. I don’t believe
Tim: Was it hard to say goodbye to him or do you think he should have went out a more glorious …
Charlie: I mean he is Luke Skywalker, look what he has been through and I don’t agree with the way they wrote him out, I don’t agree with the way that they wrote out Hans solo either… so there is elements of the movie that I didn’t like.. but I did like the FORCE AWAKENS a lot better than this one…I felt that this is definitely a movie to market toys again because they introduces a lot of little things that would go well with little kids. And I was getting a little pissed off about that.
Tim: I didn’t even catch on to that but you are right…
Charlie: I didn’t understand the whole Rose romance….I was like What the fuck is this? And there was not enough Chewbacca… I just left there thinking, what the hell as that?”

Tim:” You are a Star wars fan and you do like to collect toys, there is a show on Netflix called BLACK MIRROR.
Charlie: Yeah I know that show..
Tim: It’s ridiculous good and the new season inspires me on a daily basis. It makes you think.
Charlie: there is another show that I want to watch its’ called DARK. But have you seen the movie THREE BILLBOARDS? It’s a great movie and so is I,TONYA… THREE BILLBOARDS is fucking awesome man!

Tim: Thank you so much Charlie and good luck on your tour and also the DVD that is coming out.
Charlie: Thank you, I appreciate it.

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