Anthrax will soon be winging their way down here to Australia to lay waste to the Soundwave festival. Despite the presence of Meshuggah, Trivium, Jane’s Addiction and Faith No Friggin’ More, all bands I would love to see (either for the first time in the case of the first two, or again in the case of the others), the prospect of seeing Anthrax is probably the most exciting thing for me about this year’s Soundwave. Oh, I saw Anthrax a few years ago when they reunited with their classic Dan Spitz/Joey Belladonna line-up, and that was pretty cool, but credit where credit is due: the post-Spitz/Belladonna line-up with Rob Caggiano and John Bush on guitar and vocals respectively is pretty bitchen. Now, Caggiano was a part of the Anthrax line-up which recently recorded the album Worship Music with new singer Dan Nelson. You heard about it, right? Yeah, it was supposed to take over the world instantaneously upon release. There was a huge buzz and big positive vibes surrounding the album. But somewhere along the way, Nelson was out and John Bush was back to help out on vocals for a few gigs. Well, with Soundwave rapidly approaching I caught up with Rob Caggiano to discuss the album, Soundwave, and the kind of geeky guitar stuff you’d expect me to talk about.
I Heart Guitar: I guess the big question people want to know the answer for is, is John Bush singing at these performances?
Rob Caggiano: Yes he is!
I Heart Guitar: Cool! I feel like a jerk asking this question because you’ve probably heard it a million times lately, but is he coming back on board for good, or is this an extended one-off?
Caggiano: Nothing’s really official right now. Honestly I can’t really give a definite answer on that. It’s looking really good. It’s feeling really good and the shows we played were amazing so far. And it looks like he’s going to sing on the record. So we’re just kinda taking it one day at a time and hoping for the best, but right now everything’s really positive and everything feels great!
I Heart Guitar: Cool! So what kind of stuff are you going to play at Soundwave?
Caggiano: I’d love to do some new stuff, maybe one or two songs off the new record, but I don’t really know. It’s really up to John. I know Scott (Ian) is getting together with John really soon to go over lyric ideas and vocal ideas and just talk about the record and all that stuff, and figure out a game plan. So it really depends on how that meeting goes, but I would love to.
I Heart Guitar: Yeah! There was such a buzz about the album when it was finished with Dan and I couldn’t wait to hear it. So how are you going to approach it – are you going to keep the music as-is, or change things with John’s input?
I Heart Guitar: What’s it sound like?
Caggiano: In my opinion, it’s pretty much ‘We’ve Come For You All’ to the next level. The faster parts are way faster, the melodic parts are real catchy. There’s definitely some stuff that’s reminiscent of the ‘Among The Living’ era, which is pretty cool. It’s a really well-rounded record. It’s killer. We’re really psyched on it.
I Heart Guitar: One thing I’ve always wondered relates to when you first stepped into Anthrax. Now, I’m a big Megadeth fan and I’m used to seeing new lead guitar players join the band
Caggiano: Right! (laughs)
I Heart Guitar: And I’ve always thought ‘Man, I’d love to one day join Megadeth.’ What’s it like to be on the other side of something like that?
Caggiano: Oh it’s been a blast! For one thing, Anthrax has been one of my favourite bands forever, so when I first started playing with them it was a bit surreal. Looking over at bald Scott Ian is very Twilight Zone-esque. But it’s been great. It’s been a blast.
I Heart Guitar: How did it all come about?
Caggiano: Well, y’know, the band is from New York originally. Now everybody lives in different cities, but we have a lot of the same friends. The music scene and the circle of people in New York, it’s kind of incestuous, you might say. We just had a lot of the same friends and when the whole thing came up and they needed another guitar player, I just really pushed for it. It ended up being really cool.
I Heart Guitar: Okay, being a guitar geek, I’ve gotta ask: what gear are you using at the moment.
Caggiano: That’s an interesting question. As a record producer and engineer I have tonnes and tonnes of gear. So I’m always using different amps and different guitars, effects pedals and stuff in the studio. But live I try to keep it simple. I have a really simple pedalboard of the Boss tuner, the (Jim Dunlop) Slash wah, an old (Ibanez) Tube Screamer, uh, what else do I have in there… Boss DD5 delay pedal, ISP Decimater Noise Gate pedal. And every now and then I throw in the (MXR) EVH Phase 90, but just for some lead stuff, like as a boost or whatever. That’s pretty much it though. I’m running a Samson wireless. My favourite amp in the world is a VHT Pitbull Ultra Lead. The thing is, in Europe it just seems easier to rent Marshalls. I mean, I love Marshalls as well. When we’re borrowing a backline or renting a backine I like Marshall JCM2000 DSL. It’s just a killer amp.
I Heart Guitar: That’s what I use actually.
Caggiano: Brilliant amp.
I Heart Guitar: What about guitars?
Caggiano: I’ve been with ESP forever. All Custom Shop, kind of based on the Horizon but a little different. The model that I have, they don’t really sell. They’re not like stock models. My main Horizon’s a neck-thru. Shaved neck, string through the body. They actually just gave me one recently with a Floyd Rose on it and I’ve been really digging it. I haven’t played with a Floyd Rose in ages, but I use it quite a bit on the new Anthrax record. I love it. And I use all DiMarzio pickups. They make definitely the best pickups out there. I’ve been using the Tone Zone a lot. I love it.
I Heart Guitar: So back to studio stuff: what did you use on the new CD that you might not be using live?
Caggiano: Well for one, the way I recorded the guitars, especially Scott’s guitars, I told him, “I want you to dig up your old Marshall head that you recorded ‘Among The Living’ with. Go into the storage room, dust it off, get it fixed, whatever the hell you have to do with it, but I want to use that amp.” My idea was to split the signal and blend the sound of that old Marshall, which is the classic sound of Anthrax, and blend it with a killer new amp, which turned out to be a VHT. Actually, he changed the name of the company, and it’s now called Fryette Amps. He’s got a couple of amps, one’s called the Deliverance and the other is the Sig X, and they both just crushed. And the sound of the two of them together was just amazing. The Sig X is great. I’m gonna actually pick one up pretty soon, I think. I love that amp.
Thanks to Riot Entertainment for hooking up the interview!