Frank Bello is a busy bassist. He’s talking to us after just returning from a film festival for his new movie, “Greetings From Tim Buckley” and he’s already had to reschedule our interview twice due to all the buzz and rehearsal leading up to his band Anthrax heading back out on the road. They’re heading out again with Testament and Death Angel for a new set of dates including their first ever tour of Canada in support of their most recent album “Worship Music”. I’ve probably interviewed Anthrax more than any other band over the years and it’s always as much fun as you could ask for in a conversation; in fact we talked to Frank back in January and decided to catch up again with the always energetic, always fun to talk to and always full of gratitude Mr. Bello. Read on……
Legendary Rock Interviews: Hey Frank. You recently went to a big film festival for your movie, “Greetings From Tim Buckley” . How did it go over at the festival?
Frank Bello: It went great man! They were nice enough to fly me out to it, it was the Toronto Film Festival. The reviews were great. I mean, I have a smaller part in the movie, I’m a character actor in it and play Richard Hell but I got a lot of nice compliments from people which was really nice to hear. It was a totally positive experience.
LRI: Are they thinking it’s going to receive more of a theatrical run or is it going to make a DVD/Blu Ray run soon?
Frank: I’m really learning as I go as far as how this whole process works. As for the Film Festivals, I guess that’s how they sell the films and I guess the deals are made from there. I’m not sure if it’s going to any more film festivals or what the next step was. I did the Toronto thing on Sunday, the 9th and came right out here on the road with Anthrax (laughs).
LRI: Do you have any more acting gigs on the horizon or….?
Frank: I’d like to. I’m touring with Anthrax for the rest of this year and what I’d like to do is maybe get in some more acting work next year while we’re all busy writing the next Anthrax record. We’re going to be doing more touring but I’m definitely planning on doing some auditioning and working towards more film work. I enjoy it, I genuinely enjoy it, it’s very different from Anthrax but it’s a lot of fun, a blast actually.
LRI: I would think these side things like your acting and other stuff would keep you fresh and focused in the band.
Frank: It’s one more creative thing. I’ve always been a big movie guy, growing up in New York and I’ve always studied and worked on acting. It’s another outlet and I’ve done some theater and film stuff but for the most part I’ve been on the road all these years. When I actually get the time to do it I always have fun.
LRI: I had read something about Anthrax recording a covers EP with songs from 70s bands like Boston and Journey and stuff. Is that true, when will that see the light of day?
Frank: It’s not going to be a covers EP exactly, what we’re thinking about doing with it is re-releasing “Worship Music” with some B-Sides. Anthrax has always been known for our B-Sides and covers, they’re usually things we’re always jamming on, that’s how they come about. We did “Smokin” by Boston, we did “Anthem” by Rush, a Thin Lizzy song, we recorded em pretty quickly and that’s it.
LRI: I had heard Journey and and could already picture what you’d do with “Stone in Love” or “Anytime”….are you officially saying that the Journey track is off the table (laughs)?
Frank: No. We haven’t completed a Journey song yet but we are talking about doing that. I can tell you a lot of people will be surprised by what they hear, they’ve always known us for doing creative covers like “Got The Time” or “Bring The Noise” so this will be equally surprising.
LRI: Is that strictly going to be on a re-release physical copy of “Worship” or will the band make some kind of separate iTunes or vinyl release of the material?
Frank: You know Megaforce Records is going to find some creative way of getting it out there and making it available to you or accessible. As a fan, I love stuff like that, I love these songs, I’m a fan of this music and these bands we’re covering. Then after that we’re going to go back to work on writing a follow up to “Worship Music” in 2013 but right now we’re still touring to support it so it sounds like a good idea. After this current run with Testament and Death Angel we take a month off and go right back out on the road to tour with Motorhead so we’re not done touring for “Worship” just yet, there’s plenty of life left in the album and new people who are just now hearing it.
LRI: It was September 13, 2011 when “Worship Music” came out and you are still out there kicking ass a year later. Compared to twenty years ago does any of this touring or promoting seem any easier with all of your experience?
Frank: I don’t think anything is easier (laughs). If anything it’s harder in Anthrax, especially the touring. You have to realize, we’ve all got families and kids for the most part and it’s really tough being away from them for so many days of the year. We try to keep it to three or four week runs at the most but it can be trying. We just did the Mayhem festival here in the States which was five weeks, this new run of dates with Testament is 3 and a half weeks and the Motorhead thing will be another four and a half weeks. Being away from your family at this stage of the game, at this point in our lives, it’s hard but we know this is what we do. This is how you operate in a band these days, this is how you promote your band and sell records and try to get to where you need to be. We got really great reviews and response from fans to “Worship Music” but we still know we’re in a rebuilding process. We’ve gotten a really good start but there’s still work to do and we’re still excited about doing it.
LRI: It sounds like you’ve already got plans for 2013.
Frank: We do. We’re taking January off I think but we’re going to Australia in February to do Sonisphere and we’re already mapping out touring for next year beyond that.
LRI: I just reviewed KISS the other night and everyone knows the setlist beforehand, are we getting a fresh set this time out with Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel?
Frank: Yeah, always. How were KISS?
LRI: Pretty damn good, especially for a rock band in their 60s.
Frank: Cool, cool. That gives us all hope (laughs).
LRI: Do you understand the fans need to check out websites and setlists and study the show before they go see a band? You used to have no clue what a band was gonna play before google.
Frank: I get it. I’m a fan. You wanna know what’s comin, if one of your favorite songs is in there. I get it. It’s not really the same with Anthrax because we’ll just toss songs into the set, it’s never really the same every night, we like to switch it up. I think people are gonna be surprised this time out though because we are bringing out some old songs we haven’t done in years which is always fun.
LRI: You guys went from worldwide to universe-wide when your music was played on Mars a few weeks ago. I heard this and was instantly smacked by a classic Scott Ian soundbite “Yes, there will be moshing on Mars” (laughs).
Frank: Yeah, it’s a pretty cool story man, google that! The robot rover thing had a playlist for wakeup and they played “Got the Time” along with Beatles and Sinatra songs and stuff. It was the NASA Curiousity rover and we were the only metal band on this playlist of like 10 songs or so. It’s crazy, blew my mind when my manager showed me it.
LRI: Your album, Testament’s album, Metallica’s album, they were all really strong return to form type records. They received mostly positive reviews but there’s always going to be some contingent of the population who has to talk shit or criticize. I listen to those albums from all you guys all these years later and I’m just blown away by how thrashy and pure they are. Does it ever surprise you when you hear the naysayers or nitpickers?
Frank: I just think they’re entitled to their own opinion and everyone can express that but I don’t waste my time on focusing on all that negativity. I know and you know this band is working hard and I just try to stay focused and stay positive. In Anthrax, at this stage of the game we are really working hard and I think a lot of people are really responding to this band and where we’re headed right now. It’s hard, in this day and age, people have really short attention spans and there’s no airplay or MTV for bands like us so we just have to go out there and slug it out and connect with people and re-establish that relationship with them. We go out there and we bring it out on the road. In a sense, it’s nothing new. It’s what we’ve always had to do so in a sense we’re accustomed to that It’s hard to be in this business and you have to want it and we do.
LRI: You’re getting set to go onstage tonight and not only play classic Anthrax but watch Death Angel “Frolic Through the Park” and Testament “Practice What You Preach”. Is it still fun times with old friends after all these years?
Frank: It’s the third leg of this tour! How many bands in this situation do a third leg of touring like this all these years later? I am having a blast with my life. I write songs and play bass in a rock band, this is everything I’ve ever dreamed about, this vibe that we’re having together onstage and our connection with the audience is all I’ve ever dreamed about. I think Anthrax is hungrier than we’ve ever been as a band and I know I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been as a bass player. I’ve never enjoyed those moments of stepping onstage and rocking more than I do now. I’m very, very fortunate and I’ve been very, very lucky to be where I am, I don’t take any of this for granted. I play music, and I’m aware how lucky I am to be able to do this. Life is short, I am enjoying it and having a good time, that’s what this band is all about.
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