It appeared like Anthrax have been on the prime of their recreation once they completed touring for his or her debut album Fistful of Steel and ready to put in writing their second file, which was scheduled to be launched by way of a joint take care of Island Data. However whereas they have been quickly to hit a pivotal level of their profession, the creation of Spreading the Illness — which got here out Oct. 30, 1985 — it didn’t come with out operating over some main bumps within the street.
As quickly as Anthrax completed touring for Fistful, the band fired vocalist Neil Turbin. They’d already written a batch of recent songs are have been on the point of work on them with their deliberate new vocalist Matt Fallon, who used to sing within the band Metal Fortune (which additionally featured future Skid Row guitarist Dave Sabo).
The band entered Pyramid Sound Studios in Ithaca, N.Y., and recorded drums, guitars and bass for many of the songs. However Fallon wasn’t as much as the duty. Whereas he sounded tremendous onstage, he lacked confidence and self-discipline within the studio and regardless of how laborious Anthrax tried, they have been unable to get him to ship first rate vocal takes. So Anthrax put Fallon on a bus and despatched him residence.
As soon as once more, Anthrax have been in a troublesome scenario with out a singer. “We have been so determined, we have been truly entertaining the thought of changing into a four-piece,” guitarist Scott Ian says. “Like KISS, we’d have two singers. Frankie [Bello] could be Paul [Stanley] and I might be Gene [Simmons], as a result of Frankie had a clear singing voice and I may do a hardcore type of factor. We’d cut up up the songs, and that was actually our plan B, as a result of we didn’t know what we have been going to do, and we couldn’t sit on it for much longer. No one was thrilled with that concept. Principally me and Frankie weren’t thrilled with it, however we figured If that is what we’ve to do to complete the file than let’s do it.”
As fascinating as Spreading the Illness might need sounded with Ian and Bello on vocals, the band’s producer Carl Canedy, who was within the Rods, prompt Anthrax monitor down an area singer named Joey who had lengthy curly hair and sang in a band known as Bible Black, which used to play reveals in Upstate New York. Not lengthy after, Canedy positioned Joey Belladonna in Plattsburgh, N.Y., enjoying in a canopy band. A fast cellphone name later and Belladonna agreed to check out for Anthrax despite the fact that he had by no means heard of them and didn’t know something about thrash metallic.
“He confirmed up carrying these actually, actually tight denims, these boots — I can’t even clarify — simply s–tty poseur leather-based boots,” Ian says. “I believe even certainly one of them had a sequence on it, and he had an animal print shirt that was reduce somewhat too brief, no sleeves, very poseur-ish. I’m his garments with my jaw open, standing there in an Agnostic Entrance t-shirt and my ripped Levis with suspenders hanging down and Doc Martens on. I assumed to myself, ‘What the f— have we gotten ourselves into right here?’”
Since there was a microphone arrange and since Belladonna confirmed for the audition, the band requested him to sing one thing. He auditioned with songs by Journey, Foreigner and Deep Purple. Whereas Anthrax didn’t vibe together with his alternative of audition materials they might inform Belladonna had magical pipes.
“Immediately, Carl was like, ‘That’s your golden ticket proper there,’” Ian says. ‘”Hearken to that man’s voice. You guys can be not like some other band on the market. That is going to place you miles forward of anyone.’”
Anthrax provided Belladonna the singing place, however earlier than they introduced him into the vocal sales space they skilled him on the ins and outs of thrash metallic. They performed him their previous music, taught him their previous songs and booked a brief string of dates for him to carry out at and catch the vibe of the reside Anthrax expertise.
“He mentioned, ‘I’ve by no means seen a band such as you guys. I don’t know this scene,’” Ian recollects. “So we mentioned, ‘Okay, properly the easiest way to study it’s to immerse your self in it. So we’re going to do these reveals and you may really feel what’s going on on the market for this music, and then you definitely’re going to return again and then you definitely’re going to sing the album, since you’ll have skilled it, and also you’re actually going to have it in your intestine.’”
The technique labored. Belladonna was swept away by the power of the crowds and returned to Ithaca with a brand new power and starvation. However many of the music for Spreading The Illness was so quick he didn’t know precisely the best way to phrase the vocals or match them between the riffs. So Ian labored carefully with Belladonna and went over the vocal melodies for the brand new songs line for line till he may completely repeat them. Then they gave him some artistic liberties to brighten the vocals as he noticed match.
“It was nice to see Joey make these songs his personal,” Ian says. “The one drawback was that we have been taking so lengthy as a result of we have been actually ranging from scratch and we have been costing our label a fortune, going increasingly over funds by the day.”
The final monitor Anthrax recorded for Spreading the Illness was album opener “A.I.R.,” the one track they wrote after Belladonna joined. Simply because the singer was wrapping up his vocals for the file, Charlie Benante began messing round with a guitar and got here up with the riffs for “A.I.R.” Satisfied he was on to one thing, he performed it for Ian and Bello, who instantly latched onto the Metallica-inspired opening and rapid-fire fundamental guitar rhythm. It was the thrashiest track on an album, which already featured skullcrushers like “Armed and Harmful,” “Aftershock” and “Gung-Ho,” and it set the stage for the band’s subsequent artistic leap.
“It was such an vital track on the time,” Ian says. “It was super-heavy, it had this vibe and it type of confirmed us the place we needed to go, and foreshadowed what we did on Among the many Dwelling. We cherished it.”
In 2015, Anthrax launched a particular deluxe version of ‘Spreading the Illness’ in honor of its thirtieth anniversary.
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the writer of Elevating Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Steel Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral Historical past of Steel, in addition to the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Man From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Misplaced Gospels In accordance with Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Entrance e-book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.