Charlie Benante talks Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, coffee and more in this extensive interview
The metal men of Anthrax are keeping extremely busy this year. Between releasing a special “For All Kings” box set, setting off on a tour of Europe that celebrated the 30th anniversary the band’s “Among the Living” album, releasing their own beer and, now, embarking on a North American trek with Killswitch Engage and the Devil Wears Prada, the guys have barely had time to breathe.
It’s all in a day’s work for longtime Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante. He spoke with Anne Erickson about everything that’s new with the legendary metal band in 2017, including the band’s current “Killthrax” tour, plus discussed his coffee brand, Benante’s Blend, and his love for a great cup of java.
Anne Erickson: It’s really cool that you guys just released your first signature brew, Wardance Pale Ale. Tell me about the idea behind this beer.
Charlie Benante: Many of us in Anthrax have been fans of craft beers for years now, and with the popularity of Iron Maiden beer, we wanted to try something new. We got in contact the brewer, had a good meeting with them, told them the style that we wanted to do and put it together. We tasted the first style that they came up with, and it was good. We just wanted to tweak it a little bit here and there, and then we got it to where we liked it.
What kind of taste were you looking for with Wardance Pale Ale?
Some of the things, on my part, that I wanted were for the beer to just have a really good taste to it. I wanted something that doesn’t really fill you up, and I didn’t want to have a super high alcohol content, either, because I wanted you to be able to enjoy one or two or whatever. I didn’t want something that was going to mess you up after two beers. We balanced it all out, and this is what we came up with.
You’ve got this tour right now with Killswitch Engage and the Devil Wears Prada, called the “Killthrax” tour. What made this bill a good fit for Anthrax?
We’ve known those guys for quite a bit, we really enjoy their music. I just think we’re going to change it up a bit and give the audience something really cool, and I think that’s what all comes down to. I think it’s going to be a really good package.
What are you most looking forward to on this tour?
I think we may go out there and maybe play a different set. We’re definitely going to play a different set than the one we’ve been playing in Europe. You’ll get to see maybe a few different songs you haven’t heard live before. Some of the songs we haven’t played live, especially here in America, we may throw in. It’ll be a mix of everything.
What do you most enjoy about playing the songs off “For All Kings” live? It’s a great album.
Thank you! We don’t know how some of the songs will go over, and that’s the thing, so it’s always a bit of a test, because some songs don’t work live and some songs really work live. Like, in Europe, we’re doing this “Among the Living” album, and with some of the deeper cuts on that record, we were pretty excited that people wanted to hear them, because they are not songs that we would do normally. But we actually had to learn how to perform the songs live, because we never play them.
Tell me about the “For All Kings” 7-inch box set that Anthrax recently put out.
That’s awesome. I spent a lot of time working on that, just to make it really cool for fans who are really into collecting things. I’ve always been that way, in that when one of my favorite bands puts out a really cool package, I love it. I lose my mind. I really wanted this to be really special, so there are all different colored vinyl in it, and there are b-sides and bonus material and demos. There’s a good amount of stuff in here to make any Anthrax fan really go, “This is awesome.” So, I’m excited about that.
What’s new with your coffee, Benante’s Blend? Do you still have the two varieties – the dark “Be All End All” blend and the “Forever Metal” blend?
Yes, and I think I’m going to introduce another one or two! My coffee is going really well. I’m actually going to merge with another company and will do a promotion with that. I’m really happy about it.
How much do you love coffee?
I love coffee! (Laughs) I love the whole thing about coffee, and that’s one thing I talk about when I do my “Talking Coffee” with other guys and musicians. I love to talk about the experience of the coffee with them, when they’re not on tour and are home and just what the experience is like. What do you do in the morning? Like, Randy from Lamb of God, he’s like, “Dude, I get up, and I have to grind the beans, you know.” He just goes through the whole format of it all. Tom Araya told me that his wife usually makes the coffee, and we all said the one thing that we all love is the smell that comes in the house when you brew your coffee or grind your coffee beans. It’s something that I’ve grown to love.
Photo credit: Jimmy Hubbard
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