Anthrax’s Charlie Benante’s ‘My Quarantine List With a Little Help From My Friends’
"I fell in love with these songs and artists all over again"
With everyone sequestered and self-quarantining due to the coronavirus, we’ve asked our favorite artists to come up with playlists that keep you entertained. Here is Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante:
I was one of those people who became consumed with the news, the 24-hour cycle of the depressing and frightening onslaught of not only COVID-19, but all the other BS that’s been happening in our country and our world today. And I realized it was having a very negative effect on my psyche, and that I needed to stop and find a creative outlet to channel my feelings in a positive and proactive way. Having been self-isolating at home with my girlfriend and daughter, I found I had all kinds of time to rediscover a lot of great music I hadn’t heard in a long time, in many cases, going back to the 80s.
I fell in love with these songs and artists all over again and that re-ignited my creative drive that led to the quarantine jam series I’ve been doing on my YouTube channel, “YO! Watch The Beat.” I asked a bunch of my musician friends if they wanted to be involved in a jam to help out here and there, and they were all willing to do it. It all got started when I hit up Ra Diaz, the bass player from Suicidal Tendencies, and guitarist Alex Skolnick from the band Testament. Both said, ‘yeah, let’s do it,” and the trio – and my Quarantine Playlist – was born.
“YYZ” – Rush
“La Villa Stranglato” – Rush
The passing of Neil Peart in 2018 really hit me hard, and a lot of Rush songs have been on my mind since then. I just wanted to go back to those days when I was younger, rushing home from school to play my drums to some Rush songs. So now I’m staying home in quarantine and playing Rush songs.
Ra, Alex, and I started by doing a series of Rush songs, “YYZ” and “La Villa Stranglato,” those were the ones that didn’t have vocals, and none of us are singers. We posted “YYZ” first, and it got such a huge response that we followed it up with “La Villa Stranglato.” That was big too, and everyone was asking for more.
“Freewill” – Rush
“Red Barchetta” – Rush
Next, I got vocalist Brandon Yeagley from the band Crobot to join the Charlie-Ra-Alex trio for Rush’s song “Freewill.” Brandon sounds like Rush’s Geddy Lee, so I knew he could kill it, which he did. That one got a great response as well, so then we did what would be our last Rush song, “Red Barchetta,” all of these some of my favorite Rush songs.
“March of the S.O.D.” – Stormtroopers of Death
“Chromatic Death” – Stormtroopers of Death
The next two songs on my list were done as a quarantine jam with Scott [Ian], from Anthrax, of course. Scott and I had a side project back in the late ’80s, and the bass player was Danny Liker. So, Scott called Danny up and the three of us did one of our S.O.D. songs, “March of the S.O.D.,” another instrumental. That also received a huge response, so we decided to do another one, “Chromatic Death.”
“Doomsday” – Discharge
“The Final Blood Bath” – Discharge
Recently, I started getting back into that old punk, hardcore type of music, the kind that shaped the music that I had wanted to make when I was a teenager. So, I contacted Randy Blythe from Lamb of God and asked him if he wanted to do “Doomsday” and “The Final Blood Bath,” both from the ’80s punk band called Discharge, and he was in. So, Randy, Scott, Danny and I did those two, because they took us back to a time when we were young and loving punk rock and hardcore music.
“Yer So Bad” – Tom Petty
I am a huge Tom Petty fan, and this is one of my favorite Tom Petty songs, it’s one of those songs that you cannot get out of your head after you hear it. During this quarantine, I’ve been playing a lot of Tom Petty songs on my acoustic guitar. When I was playing “Yer So Bad,” my girlfriend Carla remarked, ‘That’s a really good song, I haven’t heard it in years…” So, I decided to record it, asked her to handle the vocals (Carla is the vocalist with Butcher Babies), Ra played bass, I played drums and guitars, and we knocked this one out of the park. Tom Petty, he was just awesome, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Tom Petty.
“Jimmy James” – Beastie Boys
Ra and I did this, one of my favorite Beastie Boys songs of all time. I chose it because I had just gotten an Alesis mixer so I could sample different pieces of different songs and play along with it. I had just seen a new documentary on The Beastie Boys a couple of days before, so was totally in a Beastie Boys mood.
“Block Rockin’ Beats” – The Chemical Brothers
Another one we did was from the Chemical Brothers called “Block Rockin’ Beats,” and I used the Alesis mixer for that as well. This particular song was on my playlist when Anthrax was in England doing festivals back in the late ’90s, I just loved it, loved the way they were using technology, it took me on a journey.
“bad guy” – Billie Eilish
Ra and I also did Billie Eilish’s “bad guy.” I thought it would be a great song to remix and make a bit heavier, so we put a chunky guitar on it, made it more metal, and Ra and I just rocked it out. My daughter is a huge Billie Eilish fan, this is a song she always plays, and I wanted to do it so maybe she would say, “Oh, that’s kinda cool.”
“Teardrop” – Massive Attack
About a month ago, I was playing the Mezzanine album in my car, and just loving it, it’s just flawless. “Teardrop” is from one of my favorite tracks from that album.
“Waiting Room” – Fugazi
A good friend of mine who is with Funko Toys hit me up and said “I love these jams you’re doing, I’m going to throw one out to you,” and he threw out Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” I hadn’t heard this song in forever, so I put it on and thought, “Oh my God, this takes me back to such a great time,” and I contacted some quarantine jam friends of mine and we’re about to do this song. This song always brings me back to touring in the 80s, playing this on the tour bus and on my Walkman, it just has that vibe.
“We Were Born to Be Loved” – King’s X
King’s X, an amazing band that started in the mid-’80s, released a great album called Faith Hope Love, and one of the songs, “We Were Born To Be Loved,” has one of the best riffs in it of all time.
“Packaged Rebellion” – Anthrax
I went back into Anthrax’s catalog for this one; it’s from our album Sound of White Noise. I rediscovered it when I started working on an upcoming Anthrax deluxe edition album. It’s on my Quarantine Jams list because I just love the song. We don’t play it anymore, but I think we should bring it back into the set because it’s just that good.
“King of Rock,” “Rock Box” – Run DMC
I’ve been on a Run DMC kick recently. When most of us in Anthrax first heard Run DMC, it was like our ears grew to be enormous, just listening to the sound that they were making. Run DMC’s music appealed to the rock audience, and we owe that to Rick Rubin. “Rock Box” is one of their songs from their first album that appealed to the rock type of audience, and I think that was the gateway into rap for a lot of those hard rock people. So “Rock Box” and “King of Rock” have always been favorites of mine.