The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival will deliver metal to the masses this weekend with artists such as Slipknot, Slayer and the legendary Motörhead taking the stage at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 1 p.m. The Jagermeister Stage will feature a special headline set by New York metal masters Anthrax featuring Frank Bello, Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Rob Caggiano and Joey Belladonna. The group’s latest critically acclaimed record, Worship Music, features the return of singer Belladonna and has reignited the groups desire to write and perform music worthy of the Anthrax name. We spoke with bassist Frank Bello about the bands renewed success, their feverishly fast paced sets and the Mayhem experience.
What’s new with Anthrax?
It’s a non-stop fun extravaganza with Anthrax. Always. We’re on the Mayhem tour just hanging out and waiting for the big rock show. Were about to go to the Rockstar tent where we come out and sign for the fans before our show. It’s an action-packed day on this Mayhem tour.
Talk about the “bare bones guerilla” approach that you are using for this tour.
I have to say that it is a bare bones guerilla set. The set is 40 minutes. There is barely time in there to take a sip of water. I can’t even exaggerate. It’s an action-packed best of Anthrax. It’s in your face. We’re headlining the second stage. We had the option to go the main stage, but the impact with the kids in front of us and having the pit and people going crazy instead of having them in scattered seats doesn’t make sense to us. It’s been amazing.
How important is it for Anthrax to be playing a festival like this?
We have never done anything like this in America. We’ve done this in Europe but we’ve never played an Ozzfest or a Mayhem Festival. This is very much new for us and we’re pretty excited to be asked to do this.
How do you physically feel when the set is over?
Drained. The other day it was 106 degrees on stage in the sun and wearing black and jeans and a tee-shirt; it’s not the easiest thing in the world. This is what we do and it’s great. I can’t say enough great things about this tour from the camaraderie to the summer camp vibe. It really is that good and more.
Talk about that camaraderie and seeing these bands on a regular basis.
Yeah, it’s a nightly basis and you get to see some free shows from great bands! (laughs). It’s great because we toured forever with Slayer and Motörhead and we’re really good friends. We’ve known Slipknot forever so it’s a really good vibe. We get to see the younger bands and we try to get to talk to them.
With Joey Belladonna rejoining the group, has that sparked a new mentality or is it more of a return to the classic Anthrax formula?
A little bit of both. It’s a new found respect for everything that we do and what we’ve done in the past. We know we hit home with the Worship Music record. We know it works and this is the Anthrax people will be seeing. We know this band is a genuine thing that people want to see and that we love so it’s nice to be back.
Where do you see Anthrax’s place in music history?
I don’t know. I just want to keep going. Mick Jagger just turned 71 and he’s still rocking. That inspires me. I just want to have a good time and play and write great music and play great shows. I know I’ve been very lucky doing this and I just hope to continue it.
What do you have planned after this summer Mayhem?
In September, we start an Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel tour in North America and Canada. We’re booked for the rest of the year, then we go to Europe with Motörhead. We will also be playing the Mayhem cruise in December with Lamb of God Machine Head and a bunch of other great bands. It’s been a great run and people are getting it. Thankfully, we’ve been very lucky and fortunate people have accepted us into this whole community. We’re just so excited to be out here.
You’re currently on tour with Motörhead and will be heading out on tour with Motörhead later this year. Is it possible to get too much Motörhead?
No! We’ve been touring the world with them forever. They’re good friends of ours and more like family. You look forward to seeing your friends and family.
Your latest record, Worship Music, is one of your most successful records in your career. How do you feel that after all these years your last release is not only well received by critics and fans, but you seem to be at the top of your game?
Imagine having this long career which we have. We are celebrating our 31st year coming up. After all these years, reviewers and critics across the board and fans are saying, “this is your best work yet.” All we can say is thank you and we are genuinely humbled. We know how fortunate we are. We knew we had something special because we are fans of this music, but to take over like it did? People really get this record. This is why we do it; it keeps you going.
— tom graham
The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival featuring Anthrax, Slipknot, Slayer, Motörhead, The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying, Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, High On Fire and more at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain Sat, Aug. 4, at 1p.m. For ticket information, visit www.livenation.com.