Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeath. Imagine sharing the stage with these three metal icons for some of the most killer metal shows of all time. Amazing right? It’s all in a day’s work for guitarist Rob Caggiano and the boys in Anthrax. The legendary metal band was part of one of the most incredible lineups and concerts metal has ever seen. Out on the road in support of their latest album “Worship Music,” Anthrax is hotter than ever and is out to prove it to each and every metalhead. Rob was nice enough to talk to Maximum Ink’s Aaron Manogue about the new record, the Big Four show for the ages at Yankee Stadium, his experiences in producing and how Anthrax has transcended the ages to stay on top, where they belong.
Maximum Ink: You started tracking the record about four years ago in 2007and it was released in 2011. That’s quite a long time for a record to be built. How did the album change over the years from when it first started?
Rob Caggiano: Well, like you said, we started in 2007 and we got pretty far. We got all the way up to the mixing stage but unfortunately the lineup wasn’t exactly stable at the time and things got a little crazy. We basically had to put the record on ice for a while until we figured out what we were doing and who was going to be singing for the band. Fast forward a few years and Joey Belladonna comes back for these Big Four shows and one thing led to another and he finally felt comfortable enough to want to sing on the record. So we went and opened the books again, so to speak, worked on what we had and made the changes to what we needed to fix. One of the cool things that resulted in having this much time with the songs is we basically pushed these songs as far as we could push them. You know what I mean? It wasn’t trying to beat the gun or whatever or be on schedule. It was kind of like, let’s take these songs and make them as good as they can possible be and that’s what we did.
MI: What did it do for the band and album to have Joey back in the band? Did it put a little fire under you guys to have him back?
RC: The first step was these Big Four shows and when he came back it wasn’t even solidified that he was going to be back in the band for real, moving forward. We needed to make that happen organically. He needed to feel comfortable with things and of course that’s what we all wanted. At first, it was just “Hey let’s get together and play these shows and see what happens from there.” And it just kind of built on itself from there.
MI: Tell me about what it was like to share the stage with Metallica, Megadeath and Slayer on the Big Four shows.
RC: It was phenomenal. It was the most fun I think I’ve ever had on stage. Those shows were great and the cool thing was that each band has their own sound and their own thing and it really comes across live. It was just a great vibe. Backstage everyone was getting along and there wasn’t any weirdness. The Metallica guys treated everyone really well. It was just awesome all round.
MI: Being from the Bronx, I bet the New York show was just insane. How nuts was it the day or two before the show? I bet you had cousins and family members coming out of the woodwork that you had never met before asking for tickets.
RC: Yeah! Hometown shows are always really hectic and chaotic. That show was extra nuts as you could imagine and it was very surreal. For us, we’re all Yankee fans and never in a million years did we ever think we’d be playing Yankee Stadium. It happened and I don’t even think it hit me yet. The thing is, we had our record coming out that week and we had all this crazy stuff going on the entire week. We had the Jimmy Fallon show, we had a million interviews, we had this radio show we had to fly to in Arizona and then the Yankee Stadium show. It was just great. The entire week was like a tornado and we haven’t stopped since so I think when I’m home just chilling out by myself, that’s when it’s going to hit me.
MI: Do playing shows like that make other shows seem kind of dull? You go from playing in front of 50-60,000 people to maybe 1-2,000.
RC: No, no, no. Absolutely not. Some of the smaller shows are unbelievable and we like all the different venues. We just love how the crowd feeds off our energy and vice versa. 50,000 or 6,000, those could all be amazing shows.
MI: Talk to me about the song “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t.” That’s one of my favorite songs on the new album “Worship Music.” It has a dark ominous tone with somewhat of a zombie feel to it. Is that something you guys are really into or something just came out of the blue?
RC: Zombies? Yeah, we’re definitely into zombies here. Who’s not into zombies? Come on! I think that’s definitely a theme that has been reoccurring and popping up. That song, you could look at it in a different way as well. For me, it’s the whole motto of this band. You just got to fight through all the craziness to stay alive and that’s just how it’s been.
MI: You’ve been with Anthrax for about a decade now. How has the band evolved from just joining to where you’re at now?
RC: Honestly, I think Anthrax sounds the best it’s ever sounded in my opinion. I think Joey is singing better than he’s ever sang and we’re playing tighter and the shows have just been really, really good. We’re really excited and proud of how it’s going right now. Musically where we’re at right now, in terms of the new record, we wanted to take it to the next level from where the last album was, “We’ve Come for You All.” With Joey Belladonna coming back into the band, it really injected that classic Anthrax vibe into the songs.
MI: Talk to about your producing with some bands like 36 Crazyfists, Ill Nino and Cradle of Filth. Which side of the industry do you prefer?
RC: I like it all! I just like making noise to be honest. I just love it. I’ve always loved producing and recording and it’s one of my passions just like playing, performing, writing and all that other stuff. With a record like the Anthrax record, it all gets rolled into one thing. I just love doing it!
MI: Since you’re a producer, do you get into other music that’s out there right now or do you focus a lot on your own stuff?
RC: Yeah, I guess I’m the total opposite of what you just described. I’m a total music junky lunatic. I buy so many records it’s not even funny, every week. I’m constantly listening and checking different things out, different genres. To be completely honest I don’t listen to that much metal only because I think I get burnt out on it a little bit. Of course there are always bands I’ll listen to like the classics; AC/DC, Van Halen, stuff like that. I’m real into jazz, ambient stuff, electrical stuff. I listen to everything, I really do. I just like to keep my ideas inspired and stay fresh.
MI: Do you think influences you when you come back to write for Anthrax?
RC: Absolutely. When you have a huge palette to work from and a lot of different influences, the end result of whatever you’re working on is going to have more depth. I always tell people to listen to as much music as you can. There’s so many closed minded people, especially in the metal world that they don’t give things a chance and I’m the total opposite. I find the good in almost everything.
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