Anthrax, Frank Bello Interview – ‘Father, Brothers and Sons’

2021-11-24

Anthrax bassist Frank Bello posing for the cover of his new memoir.

Anthrax bassist Frank Bello – Story by Anne Erickson

Anthrax bass player Frank Bello joins Anne Erickson to discuss his debut autobiography, “Fathers, Brothers, and Sons,” and Anthrax’s 40th anniversary in this featured interview

Even with the absence of live shows in 2020, the members of Anthrax were anything but bored. The thrash metal band’s members all have unique side projects, from Charlie Benante’s solo release of quarantine sessions to Scott Ian’s many guest appearances on a range of musician’s releases.

Anthrax bass player, Frank Bello, is no exception. Bello recently released his debut autobiography, “Fathers, Brothers, and Sons: Surviving Anguish, Abandonment, and Anthrax.” The book is a very personal glimpse into his life, from his difficult childhood to becoming one of the biggest musicians in the metal scene.

Bello joined Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio to talk about the autobiography, Anthrax’s 40th anniversary as a band and what it was like to help pioneer the thrash metal genre. Read the Frank Bello interview below, listen via the YouTube player and hear it via the Audio Ink Radio show on Apple Podcasts here and Spotify here.

On opening up in the book about his father abandoning his family and if that’s influenced him to be the opposite of his father with his own family:

Anybody who knows me, they know I’m family, all the time. It’s that family first, and then business and music. I love music, but it’s family first. It’s always been that, and that’s definitely instilled in me. Before I had my son- I have a 15-year old boy. The one thing I knew, even before I got married, I said, “I can never do what happened to me.” For me, hearing people talk about this that are starting to read the book and getting inside information on the book, connecting with me already on it about abandonment, it really feels good, because all this is about is- this book is almost like saying you can brush yourself off. You can come back and thrive from it. Because there are a lot of people hurting out there. There are a lot of people going through hard times. When you’re knocked down, for those of us who have been knocked down, there’s a way to brush yourself off and move on from that and turn the page. I guess that’s what I’m talking about. It’s as a tribute to the strong women in my life that made grew up the way that I have and the people in my life. I want people to find find their path. at. It’s like, you can it. If I did it, you can certainly do it.

On the emotional process of opening up in the autobiography:

Anne, when I say this to you, our writing sessions, there were times, and poor Joel, but I was just crying nonstop. Because it opens you up raw. Even reading this book, because you have to proofread it a million times, every time I read through some of these chapters, you just start welling up again. Poor Joel, man. We just had to take breaks. I said, dude, I just need five. I’d take a sip of water or a shot of whiskey sometimes- whatever it was just to get through the stuff with the whole growing up or abandonment. All that stuff opened a whole rawness for me that, to tell you the truth, I didn’t expect while writing the book. You can hear it in the tapes we have. I was like, oh my God, it was just a rough time. But, I’m glad I got through, because if I can touch somebody, if I can if I can get through to somebody and connect with somebody that needs help with their stuff, and they they can have a better life for it, that’s what it’s about. Because if I had that back then, it would have helped a lot. So, I guess for me, it’s all about paying back. I guess this is my way of kind of paying it back.

On what helped him get through the dark times in his life:

Well, family. My family is integral. They’re just a strong a strong force in my life. They’ve always been there for me. And therapy, to be honest. I went to therapy for this. I had a lot of rage in me- a lot of rage about wanting revenge, all that stuff, for my brother’s stuff. This is all the book. I went to a really dark place after my brother was murdered. I was going to have revenge. I went out for revenge. I went to a very, very dark place. It’s all written in the book. Even when I when I read that again, it just brings me back to that dark space. I didn’t even know who I was at that time, because it just went blank. The band didn’t matter. Nothing mattered in my life. It was just all that. It was just it was just a really dark space I was in.

Thankfully, I got out of it, because I was thinking again. I started to think again about the loss. If I were to do what I wanted to, my mom would have lost another son. It put reality back in my mind and in my life. So, I couldn’t do that to my family. I couldn’t, because they would have lost another son. I had to pull out of that. And that was a smart move. I would have lost my then girlfriend. She is my wife now. I would have lost everything if I would have done what I was setting out to do, and I’m glad I didn’t make that decision. It was a very, very dark place, and not even my wife knew about it until she read the book. I literally went hunting in the worst of ways. When I saw that, the worst of ways, I didn’t know who I was at that point. It was a very scary, dark time. When you don’t know yourself, that kind of scary.

On Anthrax’s 40th anniversary and what has kept the band together all these years:

Booze! (Laughs.) You know what it is? We are brothers. As much as brothers have their things- and look, we’re no angels. We have our brawls. We’re like brothers, and we have arguments about writing and stuff like that. But, we all know we’ve been through a lot together. Look, I’ve know these guys, God, since I was 16, 17 years old, and I’ve been in the same band. I got into Anthrax when I was 17 years old. So, these guys- I spent more time with the guys in my band than I have with my family at this point. So, we all know each other pretty well, I would say, and it doesn’t make sense to rock the boat, because we write what we feel is great music for ourselves.

We are so into what we do and the live shows and connecting with the fans out there that like this band, there’s nothing like that. We played our first show a couple of weeks ago for the first time since this whole thing went on, this whole COVID thing, our first real live show in Wisconsin, and we all had butterflies after all this time we’ve done this. We all have some butterflies going on. I saw that as a good sign for the band, because we are still so into it and hungry to do this. I’m glad we all have butterflies, and we had a raging time on that stage. I can’t think of not doing this. I’m looking forward to the future. After the 40 years, I think it sets it up perfectly now for a new record, a new tour- for everything in the future. So, it’s been a great ride, man.

On Anthrax’s future as a band and whether they’re looking at retirement:

We’re going to add to it, for sure. There’s no reason- when you’re having a good time and still, I feel like we’re at the top of our game, and we’re very – I can tell you this, Anne – we’re very, very hungry. The band very hungry and itching to put new music out and all the good stuff, touring again and to be a band again, especially after all the world’s been through. We want to tour the world again. It’s time. We’ve all been in our cocoons. Let’s come out of it. Hopefully sooner than later will be able to see everybody out there again.

On the honor of Anthrax being part of the Big Four, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer:

I love it. For me, it’s an honor. It’s an honor to be called one of the Big Four. But at the same time, there are so many great bands in metal that could have been part of that, like a band like Exodus. There are so many bands that are great bands to this day. Of course, I love it. It’s funny, because when you think of the Big Four, we came up with all the tours we’ve done over the years, and I think it was a really great thing for Metallica to do, because, let’s face it, Metallica didn’t need anybody else to play these big places, because they’re arguably the biggest band in the world. So, I thought it was really big of Metallica to bring us out and celebrate this music and take this Big Four thing on the road with them and play the stadiums and the big places we played. I mean, for God’s sake, you have to understand for me, playing Yankee Stadium as a Bronx-born New Yorker was the quintessential thing of my life. That’s the show of shows. I thought when we when we headlined Madison Square Garden, I said, “This is it!” I didn’t even have it in my vocabulary to play Yankee Stadium. Those words were never coming out of my mouth. I never thought it was possible. And with the Big Four, it made it possible, and I’m very, very thankful for that. As Bronx-born kid that grew up as a diehard Yankee fan, it made all the difference to me. It was just a really great time, and I thought it was a great celebration of this music for everybody- for all bands, not just the Big Four bands. The Big Four was a celebration of this music.

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