Anthrax Summer Scandinavian Invasion 2003
With Vocalist John Bush
by Arto Lehtinen
Pics by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjälä
Anthrax - the pioneers of speed "mosh it up" metal have
returned back to the limelight with the brand new album We Have come for
you all. Before the speed metal tornado went on in the nightfall of the
Swedish landscape, on The Sweden Stage, it was time to have a nice
conversation with the vocalist of the band, John Bush, who appeared to be a
nice polite and great person to talk about metal music in general and of
course about the brand new album… Caught In A Mosh! And They definitely
blew the whole stage up… See the
Sweden Rock article.
Return To Among The Living
Anthrax have returned from
a four-five year hiatus….
Yeah five years.
Yes right, and you have a new album out called We've
Come For You All and I
have noticed there is a huge fuss around you as you have done more
interviews than the time when STOMP 442 and VOLUME 8 came out. Are the
media more interested in Anthrax or can it be that thanks to Nuclear Blast
for this fuss going on?!?
Well thanks to Nuclear Blast, and I mean I don't think people lost
their interest in Anthrax, well maybe some people did...but some people
come and go, but it is more probably a compliment to the record company
who is doing the job and getting the information out to the people about
us. So it is given a compliment on that.
What kind of writing process was undertaken for the new album and
how long did it take to get all the material 100 % finished?!
Well, a little long. I mean, probably it was little longer in the end
than we would have wanted. But the reality is that when it is going to be
5 years, one or two months don't make any difference in that point because
there is already five years. Our point was to make the best record
that we can ever possibly make, to make it sound amazing, to make the best
record that Anthrax has ever done and released and has state of mind and
that's why it took a little bit longer.
Maybe we disappeared in the beginning, but again the goal of this band was
not to hurry to get the album out quickly and get out on the tour, but the
goal is to make a piece of art that we thought we could make,
because the music is what we love and this is what legacy leaves
behind. So we are still here and it took a long time and we haven't played
in Sweden for seven years, we haven't played in Norway in seven years and we
haven't played in Finland seven years...
Seven years !!!!!… That's a looongg… Time flies…
Yeah. We are gonna come out and rule that you will forget everything
All the things and crap you have faced because of one big strike in
NY and in general other related things like this anthrax (biological
terrorism) thing. Did all
these setbacks and negative things bring any kind of extreme aggression
feeling to you when doing the new material for the album?
Well I don't think these attacks hadn't anything to do with our
objectives in writing this record. I mean the whole bands is from New York
and of course the band felt close to what happened and know people in the
city. But I live in LA and I was born and raised in LA, but these guys are
from New York, but I have spent several months during the last 11 years in
New York so I feel very close to New York, but we felt in the same way
that a lot of other people felt, just violated. But I don't know if it really made a better record or more angry record
because of that. Because I don't think that influenced us to do that.
People like Bruce Springsteen - he made a record inspired by 9/11 and
nothing against The Boss, he is amazing what he does, but my attitude is
that when we aren't gonna write a soundtrack of 9/11. We aren't gonna say
this our soundtrack to what happened. The written songs are more based on
us, more about our feelings and things related to our life. Maybe a couple
of things of 9/11 influenced, especially on a song "Refuse To Be Denied" a
What is the purpose of the use of Pentagram by the way?
I know we call it Anthraxgram. It is a funny thing that our webmaster
said "Look if you turn this way and upside down there is A". And
we were like that's cool which be can used as an icon for the band right
now. Well right now it is just for fun. It looks cool.
Nothing against the ultimate hard core black metal fans?
No no, it is more like tongue in cheek and a little bit fun, that's
all. We just call it Anthraxgram.
The front cover looks damn great, who did it anyway?!
He is the artist Alex Ross, he is a comedy
book writer and very very
talented and has done a lot of cartoon stuff. Our webmaster once again
came thru and sent the email to ask for the doing of the Anthrax cover and
he agreed and told he would love to do that. He did the amazing job as he
turned all of us to superheros.. It's pretty cool indeed.
What about lyrics as being the most important thing in the whole
Anthrax concept as well, for example "Safe Home" is about….?
No, it is like a love song quite honestly, written with a positive
vibe, which is cool, cos we have written a bunch of songs which are quite
negative, escaping the real life, cos it is easy to do that. It sounds
easy to write a love song that's positive, that still sounds heavy and
emotional and it is very changeling and good for us to do that. It is cool
and great song.
Spreading The Metallic Disease
Do you think the retro thrash phenomena is bringing you back to the
limelight because the new generation is getting more interested and
discovering like "Wow Anthrax!"?
Well you know, it is gonna always happen. It is a cycling of the
music that happens. We are in the point now that we have been around 20
years and new kids are trying to discover new bands to find out who those
bands are influenced by and those bands are telling who their influences
are and a lot of those bands were influenced by like Anthrax, Metallica,
Slayer, Megadeth or whatever...the four big bands that came out in the 80's as
far as blazing crushing metal. I think that always happens like for
example we started discovering the music we were finding these bands which
kinda influenced us like Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, UFO and the stuff like
that. So it is a big cycle passing down. So it is a good thing, positive..
Tonight we feel like one of the younger bands on the bill of the day…hah…
I mean like Wishbone Ash.. Look… Nothing against them at all, it is
Well Sepultura is a little bit…
…Yeah Sepultura, Blind Guardian… That's good.
So do you definitely follow the current metal scene?
Sure! We want to be curious about what it is going on, who's hip, who's
good, who's bad.. Who we think. But we are just fans, just like anybody
else and our opinions are strictly our own. The guys are fans. It's not
necessary that I am John Bush this is who I think suck or who I think is
great, cos who really cares after all?! I am just a person. If I think someone is good or sucks that's my opinion.
Unless there is something good to
say or something bad to say then I won't probably say anything.
When you joined Anthrax in the very early 90's there was some kind of
fashion thing in the underground metal scene among the die hard black and
death metal people by going around saying "Stop this light metal,
stop this mosh it up thing" and other things which were considered a
wimp, Did you ever notice that in a way?
A lot of people put a lot of emphasis to the way how some bands used
to dress in the 80's...Shorts… That was really a couple of years that was really going on at
that time, but people remember that because it was different from what was going on back then.
But I think it was a short time in the band's career. Nobody really asked
about what we were wearing a couple of years ago and tonight we are
actually wearing a custom in sand because we are the single in one other
that you will see on the stage.
But we can do this, our thing, and we don't really worry about what else is
going on. We follow bands and we like and dislike bands like everyone
else, but we don't necessary let that influence what we do, how we dress,
what we think, because we are Anthrax and we did that rather than going to
compromise who we are and how and why the band is built to follow
To be honest, nothing against you, does it bug you that the old school
thrash/speed metal people still keep comparing you and Belladonna together?
You know, there are always gonna people who feel connected to the
first singer, just I like did for example as for Van Halen and especially
Ozzy, it is difficult when Dio came in and Brian Johnsson, well of course
Bon Scott died, so they (AC/DC) had to do something. So I understand that
and… That's what I can do by saying that ok, hopefully you give it a chance and like Anthrax.
Then you still like what we are doing because of
the same philosophy in the style and the attitude in the band, but a different face. I have been in the band 11 years now, if someone has a
problem that doesn't listen to Anthrax anymore, which is ok, well what I
can do? I am not going to try begging that you gotta listen to it. You should give a benefit
and listen to it. If there is somebody who
doesn't think that we didn't come out with a real blistering record then
they don't like metal as far as I am concerned. But I do understand that,
cos it is difficult when a singer is changed. But it wasn't my decision, I didn't go
around saying that they got rid of that guy and got me in. So why I am gonna do
that? But hopefully people give a try and
listen and give a better chance as we still make good albums anyway.
You have tried to cooperate with Belladonna for some tours,
but it fell apart.
Yeah one tour we did it, because of the record company a couple of
years ago in The States, and it didn't work out. He had a very demanding way
of seeing how he is supposed to be paid as he wanted the money that we
should have played in arenas and whereas Anthrax play in clubs and
theaters and we told him what we are doing and making and this is what we
are paying you and exactly paying ourself as well and he said "no I
want five times or I am out". We were like, well we are not doing that
and if we do that we are gonna loose a bunch of money to pay you and the
places where we are playing don't justify us to do that. So he bailed out and
didn't do that, and we thought that we are gonna do the tour anyway as we
would normally. So we did it and he missed out on a chance to go
out and expose himself, to inform people that he still around.
Now you are touring all around, Sweden/Finland/Norway and the rest of
Russia for the first time, Bulgaria for the first time.
I think Soulfly even went to Romania...
Cool… There were a lot of Romanian kids at the show in Budapest,
So you toured with Motörhead, the typical question how was it?!
Amazing. Motörhead was incredible to play with. Especially here in
Europe as they are legendary here, well legendary everywhere. But
particularly playing with them in England was really cool and they are
great guys and a lot of fun, a lot of fans, actually a lot of young people
at shows, which was really surprising, they were all a bunch of
metalheads. There were a lot of young kids at gigs which is definitely
Nod To The Old School Metal
Does the name of Juan Garcia ring any bells to you?!
From Agent Steel, yeah sure I saw him a couple of weeks ago…
Really nice guy!!!
Well have you ever thought of doing the US Speed metal attack Vol II ?!? Cos
Overkill, Anthrax, and Agent Steel toured together in 86 or something?!
Haha… When their album is coming out ?!
Now it is out there and they are getting out to tour with Exodus,
Nuclear Assault here in Europe…
Well I gotta keep that on my mind!!! But anyway, we would like to come
back to Europe, but I don't know yet when, hopfully before the year is over.
Have you considered doing more of these old school festival tours? I mean
for example Testament, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel have returned back and
toured together in Europe, pulling a lot of people to shows?!
Well yeah something makes sense and something is right to do. We
would love to do that, but hey c'mon we are playing after Wishbone Ash
here. Yeah sure we do anything, whatever seems to be right to do, so we
will do. But if Metallica takes us on the tour, then we will take
everybody else on the tour… How's that ?!?
Krormhm…Arghh.. Death Angel opened for Metallica in SF and…
…..Death Angel opened three shows for us.
How was it?!
A couple of years ago you did this Thrash of The Titans benefit show
for Chuck Billy and Chuck Schuldiner. Was it some sort of home coming
feeling to play in front of the real old school hard core speed/thrash
freaks and all these old bands were there like Vio-lence, Heathen, Exodus,
Flotsam and Jetsam...?!
Of course, it is cool when you play with the people that you can
and have grown up with like Testament, Death Angel... It is cool and always
fun to play with these groups. It is good to do that, but when you put out a new record and your
to attract new and young people, because the reality is the older fans
have become older and some of them have stopped buying records. It is the
truth, people get old they stop buying records. Not just Anthrax records,
but records period. There is always gonna be new audiences and new group of
kids discovering Heavy Metal and we need to reach them too to keep the
band going on. We want everybody come to see us. I don't care if someone
is 80 years old and you are an Anthrax fan, that's great, we want
everybody to come. But the truth is to keep the band going on and maintain
the ball rolling to attract the new people. Yes that's great and fun and
we love to do that. But the priority audience is those who buy the records.
But do you think that you could do more of these benefit gigs I mean like
this TOTT and NY Steel?!
We are just doing the benefit for Anthrax, ha.. But the truth is
that we are trying to make our living and we just put a new album out and now
touring. As for benefit gigs, under certain circumstances, we do.
How did you personally feel when Paul Baloff of Exodus and Chuck
Schuldiner of Death passed away all of a sudden? You knew them…
Truly sad… Well I didn't know Chuck that well, but Paul for sure.
Paul died in a weird different way, but Chuck was really ill for a while,
which was really bad, cos David Prichard, the late guitarist of Armored
Saint, died of leukemia. I saw how he was dying the slow death, it was
very, very sad. Paul died suddenly, which was horrible. But the legacy
lives on the music!!!
To conclude the interview I can't help asking about the current status
of Armored Saint ?!
Well we are now doing Anthrax…
So on hiatus ?!
I thank you for this great interview and wish you a damn great gig!
Thank you I hope you will enjoy the show later...
Anthrax website: www.anthrax.com