Heart of Steel: Interviews

Neil Turbin 
Former Anthrax Vocalist Returns With New Album

Interview by Keith McDonald
Pics courtesy of www.neilturbin.com

It has been some time since Neil Turbin and Anthrax parted ways after recording some great metal with his former bandmates. As Anthrax has continued on with two different vocalists since Neil's days with some great deal of success, Neil has kept bust himself. Most recently, Neil has released a new studio album 'Threatcon Delta' via his own Middle Finger Records, a joint venture through Metal Mayhem Records. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Neil about his new offering. You can check out his website at www.neilturbin.com.

Tell me about the new album? Will there be a single or video?

Threatcon Delta is a metal milestone for me. It represents what I've been up to or what I've done for you lately! Musically it spans the many facets of my musical career. I wrote the album primarily with Vernon Anderson (six songs) and Ronnie Borchert (three songs). I pulled in a few more songs including a re-arranged and re-worked cover of a Jimi Hendrix tune and an AC/DC track. Add to that a couple more songs that I wrote and collaborated on. This I believe helps maintain continuity on the album, so all the songs sound like they belong. The material covers a lot of ground, which I think is a good thing. It's not a one-dimensional sounding album. People already know I can sing Thrash Metal. I think it demonstrates that I can sing anything that's put in front of me. It's also the first as a solo artist. I've always been a team player, but sometimes the team would self-destruct! I've always been focused on "the band" or for the better good of the collective group. This time I had to do things differently. I had twenty of my friends help me make Threatcon Delta happen. The musicians that played on this album wasn't for the purpose of name dropping, or to ride on their credibility. It was simply a matter of, hey Mitch, Vernon, Jeff, Claude, Steve, Paul, Andy, Kurt, Tommy, etc. Can you help a brother out? My vision was to record and produce an album that would represent who I am and what I'm about. Threatcon Delta represents what I sound like today. I don't live in the past tense. Two yesterdays aren't worth one tomorrow. In fact the next album will be heavier and more thrashing than Threatcon Delta. Next steps to look forward to! As far as a single or video, not yet! Something that I am in the planning stages on is a video for a single. I've had a meeting with Digital Pam Productions on this and plan to move forward with the live band first. We did shoot some live rehearsal footage in November 2003 at Jet City Studios in Manhattan Beach, CA with Vernon Anderson (Invicta) and Mitch Perry (MSG) on guitars, Dario Seixas (Firehouse) on bass and Henry Moreno (Imagika) on Drums.



Do you plan on touring?

Recently an offer for a tour came in through the label. It was for a twenty-city club tour supporting what I consider a hair metal band. Two problems, starting a tour in two weeks and right before the holidays leaves very little time to get commitments and to prepare. Sorry, I just won't do things half-assed. The other is being on a bill as the opener for a hair metal band. Ain't gonna happen. There were some other issues as well, which I won't get into right now. It has to make sense. I think doing some dates in early Spring 2004 is what we're looking at. Bands that sound like Motörhead, Iced Earth or Symphony X would be a better tour package combination. A tour is possible. Some local dates, fly dates and festivals are more likely. Local dates to me means (San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Sacramento). In the meantime we're taking it one step at a time until we have a "well oiled machine".



Do you find that the European metal scene is stronger than here in the States?

I think Europe has a better environment for metal bands. I also think metal has been re-emerging in the United States in a big way. Many of the reunion tours and metal tours just didn't exist over the last ten years. Let's not forget about other great places for Metal such as: Australia, South America, Asia, and Eastern Bloc Countries. I would like to play in places like Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Russia, China, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Canada just as much as I would in European countries with strong support for Metal such as Great Britain, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Italy. I think there is a larger percentage or concentration of youth that are listening to and growing up with Metal in these countries as opposed to the United States where Rap still seems to be more popular. I still think there are plenty of places to play here in America where they go crazy for Metal.



How would you describe the new material?

Aggressive Metal! The musical compositions are heavy, aggressive and to the point. My music scopes from Thrash Metal to Heavy Melodic Aggressive. The vocals are full throttle all the way. Definitely meant to be played as fucking LOUD as your stereo goes!



What about Middle Finger Records. Do you find it difficult to be an established artist on a new label?

Actually it's a joint venture between www.middleFINGERRecords.com and www.MetalMayhem.com.  Threatcon Delta is released through both labels conjunctively. Part of that was to avoid the new label dilemma that your question touches on. Thanks, I didn't know I was considered an established artist. I don't have any problem getting out there and proving myself!



How does being the former lead singer of Anthrax help? Does it ever hurt?

If you'll notice, there isn't a big sticker across my new album that says "Original Singer of Anthrax". I don't live in the past. I live in the here and now. I can tell you that people that I have auditioned for in the past before hearing me sing, have asked me whether or not I can "really sing". They usually equate Anthrax with screaming vocals. All I can say is check out Threatcon Delta and find out that I can both sing and scream! People that hear me sing for the first time that doesn't have any idea about my Anthrax past appreciate me purely for my vocal talent. That works for me just fine. I can tell you that the vocals for Claude Schnell's material could have been the soundtrack for a Broadway musical. I don't know if that gives you a better idea of what I'm capable of. I sang with Claude from 1996 through 1999. I don't bring up Anthrax unless someone else does. It's somewhat inevitable. I don't rest my laurels on Anthrax. They were one of the bands I was in. That's all! In fact they're apparently re-recording some of my songs for a third time! Not the other way around. It's good that both Anthrax and their fans know that some of their best songs were songs I wrote such as Gung Ho, Armed and Dangerous, Metal Thrashing Mad, Deathrider, Panic, Raise Hell, etc…



Do you speak with any of the former members?

Yes. Paul Crook emailed me to say that he liked my 20 Questions on www.Metal-Sludge.com and Greg Walls spoke with me about playing some guitars on Threatcon Delta. Greg Walls was the best guitarist Anthrax ever had. His professional attitude and work ethic was great and I enjoyed working with him. Too bad he and Scott couldn't get along. His playing was the reason I joined the band in the first place! Greg Walls has been very successful in the real estate market. Believe me, I was very ready to leave Anthrax when he and Greg D'Angelo left the band back to back within a month of each other while we were in a recording studio in NYC. I just hung in there, cause I'm not a quitter. My bad.



What do you think about Joey Belladona and John Bush?

I went to see my friends in Psychothrust who asked me repeatedly to come see them play at Paladino's in Reseda in July 2003. They happened to be opening for Joey Belladonna who was playing with an Anthrax cover band. Joey played two of my songs, Metal Thrashing Mad and Armed and Dangerous. Debra Stocker, Editor/Publisher of www.AllAccessMagazine.com who was also the show's promoter told me that Joey wouldn't come out to meet me before the show because he thought it would "confuse" Anthrax fans. Cool. Whatever floats your boat Joey!

My .02 cents is John Bush seems to fit Anthrax for where they're at right now with his lower pitched growly vocals. Joey with Anthrax was very tongue in cheek. A little too much whiny vibrato for my tastes. John Bush on the other hand has an approach that could be taken a little more seriously. I thought they also wrote better material after they got rid of Joey. Call me bias or whatever, but I still think songs I wrote with Anthrax such as Gung Ho, Metal Thrashing Mad, Armed and Dangerous, and Panic was the best material of their career. I guess the jury's still out on that one!



Do your Anthrax albums still sell well today?

Fistful is still selling twenty years later. According to the last ten years of Megaforce Records royalty statements, it has outsold Armed and Dangerous 2 to 1. Financially I have benefited very little from being in Anthrax, if that's the point of your question. I did it cause I love Metal! In the immortal words of Stevie Ray Vaughn - So Sad! Too Bad!



How many albums have you done since the Anthrax days?


  1. Kuni Masque - Polydor Japan 1986

  2. Kurt James Band - Eranan Japan 1988 Produced by Allan Holdsworth - Never released

  3. Robby Lochner - Satori Records 1997 - with Barry Sparks and Shane Galaas

  4. DC to Daylight - Satori Records 1997

  5. A Tribute To Limp Bizkit - Cleopatra Records 2002 - Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. I did it for hundreds in beer money. These days Fred needs all the help he can get!

  6. Nt Threatcon Delta - Metal Mayhem 2003


How do you feel about the metal scene these days and newer (hard rock) bands like Linkin Park and others?

I feel that the current Metal scene is alive and well. It's thriving more than it has in a long time. Let's face it, it will never repeat what it was in the 80's. It will always be new and different. Kind of like your parents liked a different generation of bands than you grew up on and so on. Nu-Metal with pissed off vocals like Linkin Park can be interesting at times, but at others it's somewhat boring since it follows a writing and production formula that they've used before and you can pretty much predict or expect. Cool production on their first album though. I think LP and Disturbed are the cooler of the widely successful Nu-Metal bands (not the underground), although I don't own any of their albums. That's what's being played on the radio. I liked the Maiden/Motorhead/Dio tour, the Halford tours, and Thin Lizzy. I like old school bands but I give the new school a chance too! There are some great bands out there I'd like to check out like Symphony X, Iced Earth and Meshuggah. Just saw Imagika! They Ruled! They just did their first gig with their new singer Norman, who sings his ass off! Sounds Great! I really like The Last Battalion MP3 you posted of theirs on www.Metal-Rules.com



What lies ahead for you?

The world with its legs spread wide open and a nice large rack! I've been working with Vernon Anderson from Invicta on some new songs as well as some old surprises. Been working with Dario Seixas from Firehouse ( ww.DarioSeixas.com) and Henry Moreno from Imagika (www.imagikametal.com) I've also been working with Jonathan Grell (Rhett Forrester), Steve Ornest, Guitars (Bullet Boys), Mitch Perry and will continue to write material for my next album. I will be playing some live dates as well. Check my site to hear new songs at www.Neilturbin.com or to buy a signed and personalized copy of Threatcon Delta. You can also drop me a line at my message board at www.UltimateMetal.com which I will respond to.

Stay Metal Thrashing Mad!