New York’s thrash metal kings Anthrax will be back in Australia for the first time since 2013 when they play the Download Festival and sideshows in March.  They’re showing the River City some love first, hitting Brisbane’s Riverstage for a sideshow with Slayer and Behemoth on March 7. From there they play Sydney’s first ever Download Festival, which is sure to be a mammoth occasion when it takes over Parramatta Park on March 9. Next up is Melbourne’s second ever Download at Flemington Racecourse on March 11, and they finish up with a sideshow at Adelaide’s Entertainment Centre on March 13. Overdrive Music Magazine recently spoke to Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante about what songs they’re going to pick from their decades-long career, when they’ll part ways with Slayer, who his special travel companion is, whether he’ll have any downtime, and what career goals are left to achieve.

Multi-city punters will be happy to learn that Benante and his bandmates, Frank Bello (bass), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), Joey Belladonna (vocals) and Jonathan Donais (lead guitar) not only plan to draw on a large swathe of their discography, dating back to 1983, but also plan to change things up for each city. “I think we’re going to try and play a mixture of all these things and you may see different songs in different cities too,” he says. “I don’t really see us playing the same thing all the time. I’m hoping to play a collection of songs that people would be very happy with. You can’t please everybody, but we want to please as many as we could and of course please ourselves. We want to enjoy the songs we’re playing. I’m glad we’re not just doing two shows down there. We’re coming all this way, so I wanted to do as much as possible.”

When one of the big four plays a show, there’s a good chance another is close by – such is the nature of genres that arise from the same pocket of time and location. For Australian fans, the last time this happened was in 2013 when Anthrax and Metallica played Soundwave. Now, it will be Anthrax and Slayer at Download Festival 2019. Anthrax have been supporting Slayer on their final world tour, which began on May 10 in San Diego. From there, they played shows in North America and Europe, and finished 2018 with a Helsinki show on December 8. They resume their partnership in 2019 when they play the aforementioned Brisbane show. Benante says they will most likely finish up with their metal brethren at Download Japan on March 21. “I think we go to Japan, then as far as I know, that’s it.  They’re doing another run here in the States in May but we’re not doing that.”

Being on tour can be a lonely experience at times, but not for Benante, who took his daughter Mia along for the ride. “She knows Slayer and she knows Behemoth because she was on most of the whole summer tour. She knows all of those guys. It’s a good vibe. She’s either watching the bands or she’s hanging backstage with everybody, just enjoying it.” And while the band’s Aussie schedule is a tight one, Benante says his travel companion will make sure no day goes to waste. “I’m taking my daughter with me, who will be 13 when we get there, and she wants to see a koala, a kangaroo and other animals she doesn’t get to see up close. So, planning to go maybe on a boat somewhere and maybe get a glimpse of a shark. I’m hoping on the days off to take her to do some of this other stuff. I really want to see as much as we possibly could this time.”

With Slayer, Metallica and Anthrax all kicking off their careers in 1981 (and Megadeth in 1983), Slayer is the first to call it a day. The predictable retirement questions have been batted down by Anthrax, so when asked what career goals are left for the band: “Jesus, that’s a good question… I want to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Benante laughs.  In light of Scott Ian’s recent opinions on the Hall of Fame, take Benante’s comment however you please.  The main thing is that Anthrax will be around for a while to come and they plan on bringing their best for their four Australian shows.

Tickets for Download Festival can be purchased here.

Tickets for Slayer’s Download sideshows with Anthrax can be purchased here.