Anthrax still stomping through the '90s

June 27, 1996|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

For Scott Ian, the biggest problem Anthrax faced as it headed into the '90s was summed up in a story the band's manager told. "He was at his local gas station in Pennsylvania, and he was talking to the kid who worked there," Ian says. "He said, 'What do you think of Anthrax?' And the guy goes: 'Oh, yeah, they're great. I love those guys.'

"So our manager said, 'What's your favorite song by them?' And the kid couldn't really name a song.

"That said a lot to me," Ian continues. "Because as big as we were in the '80s, there was a lack of identity. People weren't able to latch onto one thing and say, 'That's Anthrax.' "

What does Ian want them to latch onto? "We just want to be a really, really heavy band that can write songs," he says. "That's all we want to be."

"Stomp 442," the band's current album, goes a long way toward achieving that end. Stripped-down and tuneful, the album's songs deliver the same surging power and immediate gratification a hotrodder feels when stomping on a muscle car's accelerator. (It's no surprise, then, to learn that the "442" of the title refers to the displacement of a classic Oldsmobile engine.)

But as with the muscle car itself, Anthrax must contend with the perception that its time has passed. According to industry pundits, heavy metal has been brushed into the dustbin of history as alternarock becomes most teen-agers' music of choice. As a result, bands like Anthrax are ignored by MTV, radio and the press.

"There's just all these other types of music out there that have come into the forefront in the last three years," Ian says. "But that doesn't necessarily mean that metal is dead, and it doesn't mean there aren't still really good bands out there. It's just a case of it going underground again.

"For us, we're in the same place that we were in 1985. We're in exactly the same situation as far as releasing an album and not having radio stations play it, or not having formats to promote it and market it.

"But there still is an audience out there. People are still buying our records, although it's going to take us a much longer time in 1996 to sell the same amount of records as we did last time. We just have to tour more and make people aware that we put out what we think is a really heavy and great album."

Fortunately, Ian and his bandmates are up for the challenge. "We just deal with things as they come, and do what we want to do," he says. "That's the one thing I can say, we've never changed our attitude in the last 12 years. We still make records and we still write songs, and we're still doing what we want to do. We can't help it if the whole world changes around us."

Pub Date: 6/27/96

Anthrax

When: Tonight, June 27, 9 p.m.

Where: Hammerjacks

Tickets: $13.50

Call: (410) 659-7625 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets

Sundial: To hear excerpts from Anthrax's new release, "Stomp 442," call Sundial at (410) 783-1800 and enter the code 6117. For other local Sundial numbers, see the directory on Page 2A.

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