Star Scene: Joey Belladonna (Anthrax)


Joey Belladonna’s scene is adverse to his stage persona. The ANTHRAX singer states: “My individual scene is calm and collected; I achieve that by staying out of the way, stay right out of the way. I’m stealth. I ride alone. I come back to base; I get notes and information, and go back out alone. Come when I am needed and get out of Dodge.”

Clockwise from Left/front: Scott Ian, Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Joey Belladonna, Jon Donias

Belladonna has influenced many with his metal, melodic, vocal style. He, himself, was influenced by pop/rock classics. He states: “The Beatles, I first heard songs, melodies and harmonies, just the ringing of those songs, and then I went from that to Kansas, to Yes and KISS. Just like some crazy crazy playing. I mean I was a drummer really at first. Most bands I was in, I was actually a singer/drummer cause no one round me sang, that I liked, so I did it.”

Belladonna wasn’t being arrogant; he just knew what he liked. He continues: “I like a lot of music, I listen to stuff people don’t dare to listen to cause they don’t find it interesting. [pullquote]The key for me is to listen to all that stuff; it keeps the great information flowing. It’s so inspiring to hear all that stuff that people play and how they perform.[/pullquote] Many people I l still like. I listen to music all night long, honestly, I just listened to Chicago 21 a little while ago, and Kim Mitchell, he used to be in Max Webster. I listen to all kinds of crap that people don’t even know of. There’s a lot of information and stuff I listen to and that puts me in a better state versus someone who listens to something different or they put it on and I don’t find it interesting at all. I walk out the room if I don’t like it. It’s funny what makes people tick.” Belladonna takes his own advice to ensure his vocals are decipherable and melodic. Adamantly he states: “Seriously, sometimes if the vocals aren’t appealing to me, I am out. I actually put as much effort as I can to make it sound like you can sing to it and that’s not easy to sing over because there’s stuff moving so quickly, and there’s so many words, it’s so hard to pronounce and spit it all out and the keys are moving and I know it sounds boring but that’s the hard part about it. I don’t do any warm-ups, I’ve been singing a lot lately. I just try harder keep reaching for different things, I just pay attention to how I’m doing it and I try to grab for better things I know that may sound a bit plain but that’s the only thing I do, I just keep pushing for higher things to get accomplished.

Belladonna continues: “I take a different approach – I don’t think about the lyrics, I try to work out the vocals over the music, and I put as much emotion into it that I can. I literally print the lyrics out and we just kinda throw it up to the wall. Obviously, give me a basic starting point of how the thing is phrased and the emotion of the piece, but that’s all a small point in time and from there on you have to take it on full blast so I guess that’s my process.”

The result is ANTHRAX’s 11th studio record, “For All Kings”, and though the songs do not have a running theme, there’s a significance to it all that comes straight from the heart, and Belladonna’s vocals excel. Translating the new music live is exciting for the lead singer. He states: “The new album is working out well live. They’re a handful though cause they don’t stop they flow in to each other and I don’t get a break. Evil Twin was a bitch. I mean it came together but at first it was a lot of work. You try to go fast and spit out the lyrics. But I make it work, the vocals, the singing and pronouncing the words, it’s so gung-ho, non-stop. I will procrastinate for a bit but eventually I make it work.”

Though there have been a few in their thirty plus year career, ANTHRAX survived the turmoil and the member changes. Belladonna states: “We always have fun, we could have a lot more fun, but I mean there are a lot of personalities and people have their own cocoon. I am doing my own thing some of the old days of horsing around, everyone has got some course of action they have every day. Right now I’m by myself doing interviews. I don’t even know what everyone else is doing. We try to have as much fun as you can, otherwise why would anyone want to do it. If it’s boring and we’re alienating each other, I can’t even imagine it being so hostile that no one would want to see each other. I mean, not that we do that; that would be horrible.” Belladonna adds: “Touring is great. As time goes on you have to adjust to being on road from being home but I’ve been doing it for so long, you know what to do, how to pack, how best to travel. It’s hard to do home stuff while you are on the road and that can get complicated. Yeah but once I get out, I set my mind to what I am doing. I don’t get that crazy. I am pretty stable.”

Belladonna is enjoying the new material and hopes fans do too. Although there are no plans for a tour down under, he thanks the fans and says there’s hope. His impressions of Australia are that “it is very elegant but it’s a long-ass flight. I mean it’s awesome when you get there. I remember the first time we went there, we went straight to New Zealand I counted 24 hours. I had some good times in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. I can’t see us coming any time soon, unless it’s towards the end of the year – and even then. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we need an offer and I haven’t heard anything.” So, until the tour, Belladonna ends with a resolute goodbye message: “Thank you so much for hanging in there, hope to see you soon, enjoy the new album, you have plenty of time to learn to it, listen it, and have fun with it.”

ANTHRAX’s latest release ‘FOR ALL KINGS’ is available now via NUCLEAR BLAST


Clockwise from Left/front: Scott Ian, Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Joey Belladonna, Jon Donias

About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.