How Anthrax Drummer Charlie Benante Became the Band’s Main Music Writer
Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante recently summarized how he came to be the influential thrashers' primary music composer during an interview with Drum for the Song, a podcast hosted by Dane Campbell, son of former Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell.
Anthrax this year are celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band, the occasion leading its members to newly reflect on their origins. In addition to doing so in interviews, the members of Anthrax have also launched a retrospective video series called Anthrax 40.
"How it happened was, I couldn't really convey what I was hearing in my head through drumming to someone else," Benante tells Dane of his songwriting journey. "So I had to teach myself how to play another instrument, which turned out to be guitar because it came very natural to me; it was easy. And that's how I would do it — I would just put tons of riffs on tapes … listen back and compile them and just make a song out of them, and then bring it to the band. And that's how it happened."
The drummer added that it was directly after Anthrax's first album, Fistful of Metal, that guitarist Scott Ian "basically took over a lot of the lyrics, so that was his department. I stepped up and took over the main musical side of things. And that's how it was, and that's how it is." (After the 1984 debut, the act parted ways with early singer Neil Turbin and began writing what would become 1985's Spreading the Disease.)
Elsewhere in the interview, Benante discusses his upcoming solo release, an effort called Silver Linings that collects the cover songs the Anthrax member recorded at home over the past year or so of downtime due to the coronavirus pandemic. It arrives on May 14.
As part of Anthrax 40, the group recently shared how lead singer Joey Belladonna was unfamiliar with the band before joining and recalled when Ian first heard Metallica's demo tape, among other memories.
Hear more Drum for the Song on the podcast's Patreon.