|Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: February 24th, 2005
The very beginning of your career the first band you did stuff with was Bible Black?
Yeah, it was a little short, short span of time centering on Ronnie James Dio and the Rainbow era centering around their first LP, "Man on Silver Mountain". It was really cool, there was definitely some good material I wished we could have gotten a record out that would have been fun. I guess the way things worked out was for the better and what happened was… I don't know the real, real story - but Anthrax of course was in the midst of looking for a studio out there then had stumbled on some material I had done, and I guess may have liked it at that time and Carl Kennedy, former RODS drummer, which was producing them, basically mentioned my name. I guess through Bible Black friendship which was in Ithaca too, which is where Anthrax was in the studio still, and they called me and asked me if I would audition. Not really an audition, they just asked if I would join them. I didn't have to submit anything which was really good. I never heard of the guys before never even heard their music before to tell you the truth Bible Black was still doing some covers and stuff like Rush and whatever you want to do, we were doing it.
That was ‘85...
Well I jumped ahead, there were some other cover bands but they didn't have much significance really, '85 was right then and there when I got the call. When I was with Bible Black was the summer of 84. I came in late November with Anthrax.
You were working on "Armed & Dangerous"?
Well, when I walked in they played me a little of their first record. Then of course, I got a glimpse of what that was going to be like if I was going to cover any of that stuff, and then they played some "Spreading the Disease" (the "Armed and Dangerous" EP was already together) those two were like simultaneous and just banged it out and it wasn't very long before I started singing.
Was the music you did with Bible Black the same of different from Anthrax?
Bible Black was like old Sabbath… doomy. Not even blues, like old Sabbath but definitely cool.
When “I'm the Man” came out did you expect it to be that big?
Not at all. I didn't expect anything of it. It was really confusing, when you walk in a room and they are playing something like that rapping and because I heard about Beastie Boys coming in and I heard all kinds of stuff and at that time, I was just going with the flow. It is confusing, just like the SOD thing that happened right after "Spreading the Disease" and then boom they are going in there and doing the record - boom it was done - then all of a sudden there was this record out and people calling up for our song... damn what's going down? It was getting a little confusing… a little worried there for a while because I didn't know. You join this band and you're thinking this might be your little bit of something that can roll and then the next thing you know there are three other things going on at the same time. It worked out for the good.
So what was your favorite album you recorded with ANTHRAX?
"Spreading the Disease" is definitely dear to my heart because that first odd moment of walking in and just going at it the studio, new band never met ‘em before - the tunes are pretty dark for me every song. But "Among the Living" is great too, you got great songs on there; you got Eddy Kramer mixing. "Persistence of Time" was a fun record too. Every record has its own moments for me. It was always a different venture into another realm of years worth of difference going on... just going in and doing another record you're always setting a goal to reach each time.
In '92, you left Anthrax...
Yeah it was early '92.
Then the first album you did right after that was Belladonna in '95?
How did that go over?
It did good, I got signed with it. I shopped it for a while between '93 and '95. Meanwhile I was recording other songs, which eventually came out now. Those were some of the songs… anyhow from '95 there was a situation when I had a deal and wanted to go in and record it like “studio,” but what we had was really cool even though it was an 8-track cassette; but the deal was cool for a little while then it fell through. There was nothing there, so out of the box it was good… enjoyed the sound of the record, some younger players - green players doing it but it was exciting coming out with a record and I promoted a tour… did that '95 to ‘96 was pretty cool… a tour to do.
How is the feel of the studio with Anthrax vs. your own band, Belladonna?
You know it's definitely a different element because you're dealing with songs. Like my stuff - you build them from the bottom up and so you see it all go down whether everybody has some say or just me - everybody kinda collectively. Sometimes the songs are already done and people come in and play on them but the Anthrax stuff everybody knew what they had to do really. Just get down and get to it… a bigger budget, bring in a big producer to sometimes most times in our case. Now, after my first record anything I ever put out now is all pretty much in house - get it done; not so much flash and trash... just get it out. You gotta do what you gotta do. It's great now to be able to put out records when you want to and not have to worry about somebody like, “Well… not sure if you want to sign" or "We don't know if we like it. I gotta get my staff involved." It takes a long time for someone to come around. That's why it took me so long in between my first one and second one. Then band people, you know musicians, going on and on about living far from me, and some people just don't want to play certain music who wants to play longer than another, the style of music is so much to consider this is kind of relationship when you're trying to get people committed. I have plenty of songs since I guess '98 up to 2000. Up to 50 songs, and sometimes I get new people coming in and they all want to write new stuff. And we never finish the old stuff, so I have a lot of demos that are not actually ready to go out unless you get some new people to re-record them. And when you get new people, they want to do new songs. Right now, I got enough songs and a got new band and we are already doing new songs.
In 1998 "Spells of Fear" came out how was recording that one?
That was my first time receiving some more gear… different equipment, and the guy I was doing it with I really didn't even know. The guitar player, Danny Spitz's brother, might have even played bass on this guy's record. Then one thing led to another… let's get together and he's mailing me stuff; I mail him back vocals and drums. We even got a deal before I met him… and that's another one of those deals that fell right through. The people were there and gone and he was there and gone too. I mean everybody was here and gone. It was a wicked quick project, it was cool to do it, but it's not my favorite way of really doing things because you don't follow through. You know then of course everybody comes calling later, “Hey let's go out, let's all do something together.” If they just stayed together and kept doing it instead of you leaving... I hate to be so hard about it but people somehow don't get it ‘til later.
Last year "Artifacts" came out how was that? Was it demos that you had…?
That was the period between '93 and '95 we had Pauly Crook and me. We had just demoed for like 6 months and we had like 26-27 songs… and they were actually really good demos. They were real cool and we were going through a phase of writing and at the same time doing demos. We weren't specifically demoed for a record; we were doing demos to write songs. I have lived with these songs since then until now. I've always liked those songs and I like the way they are recorded for what we had. The small 8-track cassette (what the hell is that?) I've always wanted to put it out, I just thought "Hey, why not?" it's kind of a shame that people don't get to hear this. So I had a chance to do that. I think it's cool to release something like that. Maybe the fans would maybe want to hear what it sounded like originally.
What was the favorite band you toured with?
It plays different roles. Sometimes like who treats you in different ways; who you get along with; who did you hang out with more. Ozzy when we went out with him it was a great tour. Packed, great songs, Zakk was cool. I didn't get to hang out with Ozzy a lot he was in and out; he was off and running sometimes. Maiden those guys are really cool. Everybody is real talkative, and you get to hang out and powwow with those guys a lot. Great tour-- they like to teach you some little tricks of the trade and things to do. How to hang and all that kind of stuff, but then at the same time you got to just great tours and they're packed it's really hard to pick one out. This one was cool too but it was a different kind of tour the Clash of Titans another different kind of tour, everybody is on their own and it's almost like a battle and I really don't have any favorites I was really happy that someone had us on their tour and brought us into a good time.
Are you recording anything now?
Yeah I'm working on stuff right now I have a ten pieces structure for songs are in demo form, ha more demos. I got Artifacts II , which ready to go for the print there are not copies made, and not covers and all that kind of stuff but the music is done.
I heard rumors about Anthrax getting back together for Dynamo Festivals?
There are tons of rumors. I really don't know what to make of those.
That's why I wanted to ask you.
I'm not really sure what's going on with that, I don't have any definitive replies for that. It's not really my doing if there is any doing.
I just read a thing that Sharon Osbourne is getting you back together for Dynamo Festival on May 7th.
I know nothing about this Sharon thing either - I know one band that's going to be on there and that's about it. I don't know anything about us. That's a surprise to me.
So those rumors aren't true?
I never heard anything about it. I don't know anything specifically about anything; Anthrax is touring right now; Frankie's with Helmut; Andy's working on his own stuff. Who knows, if it does happen it would be really cool but there's a little bit of ways to do that I assure you.
So, nothing is confirmed?
I don't have anything confirmed… at all.
So what else is in the future for you?
Well I want to keep gigging. This Belladonna thing I really have been having fun doing that. Obviously that's really way for me to do things other than joining a band which never really sounds good to me because it's got to be the right band just getting into a band and having to settle in with somebody that's already got their stuff done I just don't want to be just a hired hand. I don't need to do that. I have been playing drums for a year now live and singing it's pretty cool, freaky ZZ top and Thrash its fun of course but if anything comes like these surprises you're telling me about maybe that will take me into another realm of cool things.
Anything about any shows coming up?
Right now I don't. Now with all these rumors floating about I will have to get closer to get down to the bottom of some of these things so I don't get too far ahead of myself.
Anything in Conclusion?
I just like to see everybody out a little bit more frequently. If anybody gets a chance they can visit my website Joeybelladonna.com It's always good to stay in touch on a frequent basis if you want to know anything about what's going on that's always a good way to start. I appreciate everybody hanging in there.