I’ve been fortune enough to cross paths with Anthrax bassist Frank Bello more than once at this point in my lifetime; in 2010, I was able to photograph each and every one of his manic mannerisms on stage with his band. Then in 2019, I was even luckier to have the chance to speak with him on behalf of Rewind It Magazine. And just last month, I was finally able to take my wife and son see him and Anthrax perform at Welcome to Rockville in Daytona Beach, FL.
Already having a pretty good idea of what he’s like as a person firsthand, I can honestly say his life story reads as though one is having a direct conversation with him. Author Joel Mciver does his best to keep Bello’s often-jumpy thoughts in line, while the one and only “God of Thunder” himself, Gene Simmons of KISS, offers his most sincere thoughts on Bello in a heartfelt forward that sets the tone nicely early on.
Sure, I could see Bello’s often brash, street-wise (perhaps even “too blunt” at times) dialogue here definitely being a turn off for some. But if you can get over that (and the book’s lengthy title), chances are you might not only like Fathers, Brothers, and Sons…, but possibly even take something from the wisdom Frank tries to pass down to readers. From one bassist (and now father) to another, my respect for Bello has always been up there. But the more and more I learn about him, the more that respect grows even further.
In 2010, I was fortunate enough to photograph thrash metal legends Anthrax live (along with two other fellow heavyweights in the field, Slayer and Megadeth). The end result produced some of the best live shots I have ever personally captured, largely attributed to the charismatic stage presence of Anthrax bassist Frank Bello (see above photo). So it was my pleasure when Bello recently took the time to speak to Rewind It Magazine while in Canada on their current tour supporting Slayer on their historic final outing.
Frank describes said current tour as the go-to event of the summer for metal fans. The tour also feature such metal giants as Testament, Behemoth, and Lamb of God, which Bello says, “Is a great package, and for us, very family-like. We’ve literally grown up with a lot of these guys.”
The band also just released their latest live album/DVD, Kings Among Scotland. The concert itself was filmed at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, which Bello praises; “We always have great shows there, and such great fans. But the footage really makes you feel like you’re there, and that’s what I really love about the DVD.”
Although the band performs the Among the Living album in its entirety on Kings (along with several other staple tracks), they don’t have as much luxury to do so on their current tour, sharing the stage with four other bands. Bello explains, “We have forty minutes on the stage every night, so it’s really just hit ’em hard and leave. It’s been a really great experience though, most of these shows have been packed, if not sold out!”
I also couldn’t resist asking Bello if he and the band ever felt the urge to resurrect more obscure, almost forgotten numbers such as the Beastie Boys-inspired “I’m the Man” (or anything off of the band’s 1984 debut album Fistful of Metal, for that matter). Frank tells me, “The hardest part at this point is picking the songs and set lists. Everybody has their favorites, and that’s great, but it’s definitely hard to make everyone happy at the same time – but we try! You never know though, we like to mix it up and surprise people.”
Aside from Anthrax, Frank has also done some acting over the years, and he currently has a side project with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson dubbed Altitudes and Attitudes. Frank explains, “It’s a different side of Dave and I that a lot of people seem to really dig, and I’m really proud of it.” Expect a full length album from them by early next year.
With Frank’s own band mate Scott (Ian, Anthrax guitarist) having recently penned his own autobiography, I had to ask if he foresaw writing one himself someday. “Eventually one day I’m sure I will. There’s a lot of in-depth stories that I have, not only about the band, but my life in general.”
Keep up to date with the band on social media or Anthrax.com for show dates near you. Central, FL fans can catch Frank and Anthrax here next month at the Orlando Amphitheater on June 15.