For metal fans who have never seen Anthrax, or haven’t checked out the band in a while, now is the time. The veteran thrash metal band, which appears 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the House of Blues at Showboat Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, is featuring an all-star lineup that includes co-founder Scott Ian on rhythm guitar, longtime members Charlie Benante on drums and Frank Bello on bass, as well as Joey Belladonna, the band’s lead singer during its ’80s hey day.
The band, with Rob Caggiano on lead guitar, is touring behind “Worship Music” (Megaforce), its first studio album in eight years. The critically acclaimed record, which came out a year ago, also is the group’s first record in more than 20 years to include Belladonna on vocals.
Opening for Anthrax will be fellow metal outfits Testament and Death Angel.
Ian, ahead of the Anthrax’s first A.C. date in several years, talks about the band’s resurgence, how it got its music played on Mars and what it’s like to have Meat Loaf as his father-in-law.
Q: Why do you think “Worship Music” clicked with listeners?
A: We try to do our best every time. We felt like we made a great record, but we felt like we make a great record every time. You put your life into it and it comes out. Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don’t go as well as other times. This time, it seemed like it clicked everywhere, with fans, critics and a new audiences of kids.
Q: Is this your dream team with Joey back in the lineup?
A: Joey brought a lot to it. There are people who probably hadn’t bought Anthrax records since Joey was out of the band, who probably said, “I haven’t listened to these guys in a while — I’m going to check them out.”
We’ve been back together with this lineup going on three years. I think the record and amount of touring we’ve done in the last three years speaks for itself. It’s the best the band has ever been, and the album and shows prove it.
Q: How do you keep up your guitar work?
A: I can’t say I really practice. When we’re writing songs and going straight from writing to recording, I go for a long period of time playing guitar every single day, and on tour I’m playing guitar every day as well. There are not many situations where I’m not playing for any amount of time.
Q: You’re married to Meat Loaf’s daughter, Pearl Aday. What’s that like — do you jam with him? Do you call him Mr. Loaf?
A: Over the years, especially when my wife was still in (his) band, I did spend a lot of time out on tour with them hanging around. That was fun — I had no responsibility and got to hang out. I have gotten on on stage and jammed with him once for sure, but we don’t really talk about music all that much. We probably talk sports more, because we’re both Yankees fans, and I started playing fantasy football a few years ago, and he’s really into that.
Q: You’re the first metal band to be played as “wake up” music on Mars, on NASA’s Curiosity Rover unmanned craft. Do you have a big fan in NASA?
A: That’s the only thing we could figure — somebody at NASA likes the band. We were the only metal band on that playlist. Someone was into it. It’s a cool thing — we were all excited when we heard about it. But I don’t know what it means in the grand scheme of things.