Scott Ian and the other members of Anthrax weren't around when Joey Belladonna, their lead singer some 21 years ago, entered the studio and again resumed the role for their latest album, "Worship Music."
It was at Belladonna's request. The heavy metal band had already finished most of the album by the time Belladonna was recruited, so he asked to work with just the producer present.
But Ian was confident that Belladonna hadn't forgotten the Anthrax sound.
"We never had any question about that because we had gone out and done this reunion tour back in '05, '06 together with Joey, and those shows were great. We became a better band then, playing that old stuff," the guitarist said. "The only unknown was, 'What's Joey going to sound like on a record in 2011?' And he quickly showed us what he was going to sound like."
The album debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 albums chart last month, their highest debut in 20 years. It came as the band celebrates 30 years together, a new tour and the success of their massive Big Four concerts with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer on both coasts and around the world. It also comes as Ian, 47, enjoys a personal milestone — the birth of his first child, son Revel.
In a recent interview, Ian talked about Anthrax's reunion with Belladonna, whether fatherhood has changed him and his disillusionment with the New York Yankees.
The Associated Press: What was it like when Joey first started working on the record after all those years apart?
Ian: He pretty much nailed it as far as I'm concerned, first time, on each song. What's amazing is he only started singing nine out of the 10 of these songs like earlier this year, like December or January, and he sounds like he's been singing them for 10 years, and I think that's something that's really, really hard to pull off, and he did it. Like, he owns the songs.
AP: Anthrax has been together for so long. What were the most challenging years? Was there a time when you thought it was over?
Ian: I never wondered that. The hardest time for me in the history of Anthrax was trying to make our first album, that was the hardest time, because we were nobody, we were nothing. It wasn't like we had a name or we were established or we knew anything about anything. ... Once we got our foot in the door, there was no way we were taking it out.
AP: You recently did the Big Four concert in Yankee Stadium. I know you are a huge Yankee fan.
Ian: I am a huge Yankee fan, and I'm officially on strike until Alex Rodriguez is off the team. I have said it from the beginning, when they first got him, I was against it. I feel like he's not a winner, he doesn't belong on the team, he's one of the most selfish players. ... The money this guy is getting paid, he should be hitting 80 home runs and driving in 300 runs a year. The guy didn't even bat .300. ... I don't know how you justify this. ... I can't invest my time anymore in a team that is going to make those kind of decisions. ... There's this whole Occupy Wall Street going on; I just wish all professional sports fans would just boycott going to the games.
AP: What's the most fun part about being a father?
Ian: It's like a switch got thrown and this love, where it even comes from, as a father, I'm hard-wired for it. The love is insane. The feeling that it gives me every day just to look at him is something that wasn't there before June 19. It's just an incredible feeling. ... Here's how it's changed my rock life; here's a sentence that I would have never said before June 19. It's given me this unbelievable joy I've never felt before.
AP: The Big Four shows were such a success. What do you think it says about the strength of heavy metal as a genre?
Ian: It really has lit a fire underneath not only the audiences around the world, but music in general because of the excitement it's generated. The shows we've done, the amount of people that have come out to see us, the buzz on the whole thing. ... There are so many people around the planet who want to be a part of it, and want to see this show.
AP: You worked on the new album for several years. Was there ever a point where you thought you would have to start all over again?
Ian: Never, because the songs were so strong, so it was never a case of thinking that we would have to start over again. It was just a case of, how do we move forward? That's the way it's always been in this band, just how do we move forward, what do we do to get past whatever roadblock is in our way and get things to happen the way we want to happen.
Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP's music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi