Then there was the time I almost met Anthrax…

Yeah, I know, “almost” meeting a band seems kind of pathetic.  But here’s the story…

These are the guys I almost had a beer with

Anthrax has been my favorite band, oh, since I was 15.  I’m not going to try to explain why, as I think someone trying to explain why a band connects with him or her is ultimately a tedious exercise, but suffice to say I think I saw/heard a lot of my personality through their music.  They had a fuckin’ sense of humor about themselves, and I appreciated that.  They read comics and Stephen King, as I did, and their guitarist at the time, Danny Spitz, used a guitar emblazoned with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – the original Eastman and Laird depictions, not the bastardized children’s cartoon versions.  Fuckin’ cool, IMO…

I had this poster up in my room...no, I didn't date in high school, why?

Anyway, I lived through the ups and downs of the band over the next twenty plus years, even going so far as joining the Anthrax Fan Club sometime after turning 30 (don’t judge – I’m loyal to a fault).  The website, as fan club sites are wont to do, posted updates about the goings-on of the members, and it was here that I learned that their drummer, Charlie Benante, collected action figures, just like me.  Yeah, sure, he was the drummer of one of the legendary “Big Four” metal bands, but I used this as evidence against my wife’s claims that she had “married a geek.”

Early in my collecting career I was only buying the Lord of the Rings figures that came out with the Peter Jackson films (today…eh, it’s best I don’t get into that right now).  I still have most of them in their original boxes, unopened – largely because I have no place to display them – but I do have the “Fellowship” figures displayed in my classroom.  So that meant I had another set of the Fellowship still in their boxes.

The Fellowship of the Ring figures. I sent my duplicates of Aragorn and Frodo to Charlie.

OK, back to Anthrax.  One day a message comes up on the website that Charlie was looking for a couple figures for his LotR collection, namely a Frodo and an Aragorn.  He joked around a bit about how he knew it was geeky (damn you, Charlie!), but it was better than wasting his money on drugs (the band has always had a reputation for NOT doing drugs).  He then asked if anyone out there had those figures and offered Anthrax “swag” in exchange for them.

Damn right I was on that.

I emailed the guy who was running the website (“Brent”, I think)  that I had the figures, and almost immediately (maybe a day later), Charlie is emailing me about what I’d want for the figures.  Now, I was thinking a set of signed drumsticks (though I don’t have a drum set nor any real musical inclination), but then I emailed my twin about an idea I had – I wondered if I could get the chance to meet Charlie/have a beer with him next time they went on tour and came to Dallas?  I didn’t want to push it – I had visions of Charlie suddenly thinking he had some sort of weirdo emailing him – but my brother encouraged me to go ahead and ask – all Charlie could really do is laugh and say “nice try – how about a pair of signed drumsticks?”  So I emailed my idea, telling him how I’d like to buy him a beer.  He had posted a message a few weeks before, a “Blast-Beat”, talking about how important it was to stay in touch with your musical roots, and I’m pretty sure I mentioned that Anthrax was part of my “roots.”

Here’s where it got very fucking cool – Charlie agreed.  He even said he’d get me and a couple guys into the show in exchange for mailing the figures to him.  I don’t recall that I asked for “backstage access” or anything like that, but Charlie agreed to get us in the door. I emailed my brother with the news and was the fuckin’ man for the next few months: “Your dedication to being a geek has finally paid off!”

Later that year Anthrax came through Dallas on a small club tour.  I had emailed Charlie a few times between when I sent the figures his way and the concert date – I’m not going to exaggerate things, it was largely me asking some questions about the band and his experiences with him giving some quick replies, though I did get a longer, more passionate email from him after I asked him about the Great White concert that ended up killing 100 fans because of the pyrotechnics the band used in the small club.  He was pissed at the carelessness shown.  But the emails were few because I didn’t want to be “that guy”, though I have to admit it was pretty cool to have Charlie’s email address.

I’ll also admit I was nervous about the arrangements – who knew if the band would communicate with the club to get us in?  I was going on faith, I suppose.  And if I wasn’t “on the list” then what did I do but hand over a couple figures worth about $20 total for nothing.  We got to the club and waited in line for a bit, shooting the shit with a couple other guys there.

Then the doors opened, and I went up to the woman taking the money and told her I should be on the list.  She looked at me like I was full of shit, and then walked away for a bit to where I couldn’t see her and came back with a piece of paper in her hands.  “What’s your name?” she asked.  I told her and she scanned down the paper and said, “Yep, go on in”, with what seemed to me a bit of resentment in her voice.  The guys behind us called us back and said they had to hear how I accomplished that, so I quickly told the story of the Lord of the Rings figures – they were impressed.

The show started off with some local band who tried to get the crowd going but couldn’t overcome the apathy.  They closed with Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”, though, so they left the stage on a high-note.  I seem to recall a second band being scheduled to come on before Anthrax, but there was apparently  some cluster in the scheduling and were no -shows.  Anthrax came on with their fairly standard “Blues Brothers” music moving into “Among the Living” and the show was on.  By the way, “Among the Living” kicks ass – you need to listen to it again:

Anthrax puts on a damn good show, no matter the size of the venue.  Frank Bello, the bassist, has a presence on stage that’ll make you think he’s playing for you individually the whole damn show.  John Bush, the singer at the time, knew how to work the crowd, too.  So after  about an hour and half/two hours of moshing and head-thrashing later, the place cleared out and the lights came on, and the techs started disassembling the stage.

The band members moved immediately to their bus and we’re left there hanging out, drinking the last of our beers, and I’m wondering if I’m supposed to go back and hang outside the bus and wait.  I should also mention this: Dimebag Darrell made an appearance after the show and I saw him getting on board the bus with Anthrax.  We decide to go outside with some other fans and see what happens, but after about five minutes of that, my brother turns to me and says, “You know what, we got in for free to a fuckin’ Anthrax show – that’s good enough for me.  We’re 32 and don’t need to be waiting outside a tour bus.”  I agreed and we walked back to the car, got in, and left.

Yeah, a bit anticlimactic, to be sure.  But there’s a bit more.

On my drive back home from Dallas I texted Charlie’s email address thanking him for the tix and such.  Charlie texted back saying sorry he missed us, telling me that he did have somebody look for us after the show, but apparently the meet-up just didn’t happen.  Again, though, how much can I complain?

My brother and I and a couple other guys have pit tickets to the upcoming “American Carnage” tour featuring Slayer, Megadeth, and, yep, Anthrax.   I’m tempted to pull out Charlie’s email address (one I’m not sure he still uses) and see if he might be willing to have that beer.

Anthrax is part of my “roots”, you know.

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3 Responses to “Then there was the time I almost met Anthrax…”

  1. Juggernaut Says:

    Do it! Send him a quick message. What could it hurt?

  2. bigredpoet Says:

    I love this story.
    I’d also love to take advantage of…err…I mean…stay true to…your roots.

  3. […] say that he had tried marijuana and had an allergic reaction to it.  I don't know…then there was Charlie Benante's point about buying toys rather than drugs]. It was the perfect storm of music and personality, and if it was Pyromania that led me to more […]

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