Podcast Episode 157- Anthrax Storytellers With John Bush

John Bush Anthrax


During this episode, we welcome John Bush back to the show to discuss the studio albums of original material he appeared on while he was in Anthrax. Similar to episode 156, the Armored Saint storytellers episode, I select a number of tracks from Sound Of White Noise, Stomp 442, Volume 8: The Threat Is Real, and We’ve Come For You All.

But we do veer from there to discuss the albums overall, videos that were made along the way, the “Ball Of Confusion” cover, which saw Joey Belladonna duet with John, and why he speculates the tour with both singers never took place. Why the band never completed the Maximum Rocks tour with Motley Crue and Megadeth, as well as how constant label, manager, and member changes with each one of these albums hurt the band during his tenure.

Would John Bush ever consider playing these songs again live? You’ll have to listen in and find out, as he answers that question directly.

Thanks to Nikki Law and John Bush for making this episode possible.

Support the bands you love, and help the podcast out at the same time, click on any of the links below to pick up any of the albums we discuss during this episode.

Here are some highlights from the interview, please listen to the entire show to hear his full comments on any one of these subjects:

On meeting Elektra’s president Sylvia Rhone telling them “I never would have done a record deal with you guys”: And this was after we had just finished making this record (Stomp 442) and you don’t know what to say to that. If that’s how you think, how can we expect that you are going to do right by the band? And they didn’t. So to have that going into this record we knew that would be a problem, and it was.

It sold half of what Sound Of White Noise did, and people can argue, it wasn’t as good as Sound Of White Noise. It didn’t have as many good songs as Sound Of White Noise, that’s all for the public to debate, I’m not going to think of that too much.

I have to look at it in an honest way and say that maybe it wasn’t as solid throughout as Sound Of White Noise, but I still think there were a few songs that were really, really good. For example, those first two (Random Acts Of Senseless Violence and Fueled), and to know going in that we were going to have that response from the label, it was a pretty downtime.

We knew we were going to be fighting a lot of uphill battles which we ended up doing. There were some great moments associated to that record but in the end, the results from the label were just terrible, and it hurt us.

On Dan Spitz teaching Dimebag leads for songs off of Stomp 442: I would empathically have to say that is not true, I don’t think Dime was learning leads on those songs from Danny, no, definitely not. I think he was already out of the picture, and it was why we got Dime.

We didn’t know what to do as far as leads on some of the songs, so we asked him to play on some songs. So, no, I don’t think that was the case at all.

Well, it wouldn’t definitely make sense, why would we have the guy that’s being let go tell this guy coming in how to play a lead, it’s just illogical. Charlie might have given him his opinion on what direction he wanted him to go in, because Charlie is basically the overseer of the music of Anthrax, that just what he is. He might have given him his opinion on it, but certainly wasn’t “hey this is how you should play it”.

On having We’ve Come For You All released a few months difference between Europe and the US, at the height of Napster’s popularity: Let’s do as many things possible to really fuck the band up. I do remember something like that, but why I don’t remember, what you’re saying sounds right, but I just don’t remember that happening.

You know maybe it was, we did the deal in Europe, and maybe we thought we could get a major in America? So maybe we didn’t give them the rights to the states. That’s the only thing that sounds right in my memory, and I think that that’s probably the case.

We knew Nuclear Blast was a killer label in Europe, and they were doing really well for people, but we didn’t want to give them the whole enchilada, so that’s why we didn’t give them the states, and that’s why it didn’t come out immediately here, which was a mistake. Now you’re forcing people in the states to pay import prices, and that doesn’t make any sense.

So then when the album officially comes out in the states, you’re going to have less people buy it because some people already bought it. Which was dumb, but Nuclear Blast did great for us in Europe.

On evolving as a band: I always felt that when I was in the band that the band did take chances, and I’ll give them the accolades that I think that they’re still taking chances, and always did take chances. And I think that’s very commendable, it just makes you feel like you’re more of a musician to do that, and not just rest on some laurels, I think that’s very important.

On how the business side of things hurt the band during his tenure: I do think that sometimes in the Anthrax World, in my 12 and a half years, I do feel like some of the business dealings were a giant albatross, around the band’s neck. And they probably hurt us and didn’t give a complete fair and true assessment of how those records were.

I think if I explained to you, and I did, what was associated when each of those records came out, it wasn’t a proper view of what would have been if everything was consistent, in terms of the business. In the 80s everything kind of rolled along, but that’s life.

I’m not making excuses for it, I just think it probably would have been different if everything would have been handled better. But that’s life, it’s the way it is, it’s not something that keeps me awake at night, I’m still really proud of all of those records that I made, you know people still bring them to me all the time to sign them, and I’m always grateful that people have them.

And I hope that this interview propels someone to purchase one of those if they never did, and I think they’ll be happy, cause I think those records are cool.

On the possibility of playing some of these tracks live in the future: It’s not as if I’d want to go out and do a long tour, because I haven’t done anything like that with Armored Saint.  I just haven’t wanted to do any long tours really, that’s the starting point I’ll tell you that.

Somethings come up, and they’re great, and you say the Armored Saint and Queensryche thing, it sounded like a great thing, and a great tour for the band, so we decided to do it.  And that’s what happened and that’s cool.

Other things are going to come up, hopefully, I mean people want to see us, both Armored Saint and what I did, by playing these Anthrax songs.  If it comes up, and it’s the right scenario then I will embrace it.

I think it could be time to do that, I don’t know what yet, but I am open to it.  Because the timing seems to be right, next year is 25 years since the Sound Of White Noise came out, so you can connect some sort of an anniversary to it.

And I’ve said this, and I’ve probably said this to you, or someone else, because Blabbermouth will write about it.  I’m 53, and I’ll be 54 in a couple of months, I feel great vocally, I feel great physically, but I’m also honest about my age.  I’m not 25, when I did those Anthrax albums I was in my early 30s, late 20s, and those songs are demanding.

So I don’t want to say, yeah I’ll do those songs in 5 years when I’m SIXTY.  So with the timing, it could be now, but it has to be right, it has to feel right, it has to be the right scenario.  And it would probably just be me, not me acoustically, those guys, and that band, Anthrax is rolling, and they should keep rolling, and I don’t want to do anything to like stick a spoke in the wheel, because that is not my objective, and I just think it would be bad for them, and that’s not my goal to create any sort of havoc there, I don’t want to do that.

But if something comes up, and it could be cool, saying that, I would be open to it, and I have this feeling, we titled the Saint record Carpe Noctem, you know seize the night.  I don’t know what the future holds, so I’m more open to that than I ever was, because it’s just the realities of life, and what’s happening.

But it has to be right, it has to feel right, I’m certainly not going out there to do it because it’s a cash cow or anything like that.  The primary reason to do it, and it is the reason for doing anything, is for fun, quite frankly.

So that should be the goal if that happens, and if anything else aligns, and you can do it, and not lose money, make a little money, if it feels like the right combination of musicians and there’s stories, then I think that will happen, that’s real safe.

If it can be something like the Queensryche shows which were four weeks, and my wife doesn’t want to chop my head off, it was all good.  So it comes to doing the right thing, the right for the right amount of time, and having it be cool, and if all those things align, then I’m open.

That’s pretty much been my mindset for ten years, certainly five years, so that’s kind of where I am still.  I don’t want to tour six months out of the year, I think I’m a better performer and singer when I have a limited amount of time where I play because I care about it that way, and I don’t want to go, ok it’s another show, here I go again.

Let me clear my mind, ok, how’s my voice? Kind of crappy?  Ok, let’s go.  I don’t work well that way, these days.  And I don’t want to do it that way, I want to do it on my terms.  It is kind of selfish, but it’s being honest.  And everyone that works with me knows that.

So if I go out and do Anthrax songs from my era, I don’t want to go out and do a club tour, absolutely not, I just don’t want to do that, it would take away some cool factor.  Could I do some festivals? Yeah, if there’s interest, we’ll have to wait and see.