Third-time round singer sometimes feels like “last pea on the plate” while bandmates credit Metallica with getting them moving again

I'm the man: Belladonna, centre, with Anthrax

Anthrax frontman Joey Belladonna admits he sometimes still worries about whether his bandmates regard him as a permanent fixture on his third tour of duty with the thrash outfit.

He first fronted them between 1984 and 1992, then returned for in 2005 before leaving a year later. When they fired new man Dan Nelson in 2009 they first asked nineties singer John Bush to return, but despite playing a handful of shows he didn’t want to commit.

That led to Belladonna coming in for a third stint in time for the 2010 Big 4 shows with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. Now the band have completed work on long-awaited album Worship Music, due out next month.

But the singer can’t quite shake the suspicion that he might be elbowed out again in the future.

He tells Metal Insider: “Dan didn’t work out, then they asked John and he didn’t want to do it. So who do they call but me? I guess it was like the last pea on the plate – you’ve got to eat it or there’s nothing else.

“Sometimes I feel that way. Then other times it’s like, ‘Let’s get serious and do something that did work, should work and will work.’

“I can’t get caught up in all the reasons why. They seem to have their finger on the pulse.”

He believes that’s a million miles from the failed anniversary lineup of 2005, which was originally supposed to feature both Belladonna and Bush, but resulted in the departure of both singers and the hiring of relative unknown Nelson.

“It seemed like when they called, they wanted to do it but they didn’t,” Belladonna says. “It seemed like, ‘Don’t get comfortable, we’re not asking you to join the band.’

“Next thing you know they call somebody who nobody knows – who they don’t even know. I would have bet money that wouldn’t work out. All I could do is say, ‘Well, have fun with that’.”

He’s made a point of trying not to draw comparisons between himself and Bush but says: “I don’t sound like anybody else and that’s one thing that’s cool.

“If they want a certain style like they did with John, then I guess mine wasn’t suitable. But I still think I could have done any of those records. I know I could have. It would have been no problem.”

And despite his nagging doubts, Belladonna’s relationship with his bandmates has never got to the point where he’d cut off contact. “The people are cool, and if they’re sincere enough and the business side is good and things can work out – let’s make this happen. If not, I guess it’s just not meant to be.

“I never hold it against anybody. It’s never been so bad that I wouldn’t ever hard stepped foot back there.”

Meanwhile, the singer’s colleagues have credited Metallica with giving them the push they needed to to get out of the doldrums they found themselves in following the sacking of Nelson.

Bassist Frank Bello tells Lithium the attraction of the Big 4 shows made them focus on resolving their issues: “Metallica really gave us that kick that I think we all needed to get it together.

“It really inspired us to be a band and to lock in with Joey again. We have this history together – why don’t we take advantage of it and really make it work?

“I think we all came together and did that. We became a band again.”

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